Over the past few weeks, G and Daddy have ventured out into the lively Bangkok streets and managed to discover one of the largest malls in Bangkok, Central World. Let’s just say NINE STORIES of shopping! WHAT? It was crazy, awesome! Each floor is for someone or something different. Floor 1 is Jewelers, watches, some clothes, etc where, say, floor 2 and 3 is women’s shopping and men’s shopping, respectively. Floor 4 was more my speed with electronics whereas floor 6 was more G’s thing with kid’s clothes and play areas, or as G likes to say, “play or-eas”. Back by the Toys ‘R Us there is a huge play area and kids zone where kids can run around and jump, play, go on rides, and just be kids. There are also lots of shops for things like kids painting, a clay store, tutoring, and, well what mall wouldn’t be complete without a “Build-A-Bear” store?
Another great attraction for kids is the Dusit Zoo. What a great place to see some amazing animals! On the cab ride over we travelled past the Royal Palace where the Queen of Thailand and her family resides. We also saw the Thai Parliament buildings in the same viscinity. It was fairly “hot & humid” the day we decided to head to take in the zoo but, then again, everyday has been like that so far while here. Upon entry to the zoo, there was a tram that we could ride around the entire campus and jump on and off as desired to visit and take in the different sights and areas. First up, the giraffes and zebras. Then we were off to see the monkeys, penguins, hippos, and the “big” cats (bobcat, lion, tigers – bengals and white bengals, cheetah, leopard). We saw camels, bears, crocs, and other reptiles. Toward the end of the day, it began to rain but that didn’t stop us from feeding the elephants, visiting the lemur & squirrel monkeys, and finally seeing some parrots and flamingos to end our FUN day!
Another new day and new adventure. This day we decided to check a place called the “Fun-Aruim”. It was very similar to Boomiland and Fun City back in the Cote d’Azur. These are a two of G’s favourite places! It was a total kids’ playland and G took full advantage of an unbusy afternoon of kids. She played for 3+ hours with a half hour lunch break staggered in there! One of the coolest things Miss G found was a ball pit where you can feed balls into 2 tubes (hooked up to a giant vacuum-like device) that suck them up to a plastic holding box overhead. Once a substantial amount of balls are collected, the vacuum will shut off and the balls will dump out all over the kids. Everytime this occurred, G would laugh her head off! I got a good chuckle out of the kids that, instead of putting balls in the tubes to be sucked up, sat there and allowed their hair to be sucked into the tubes. Of course, the kids themselves thought this was quite hilarious too! Despite this place not being as big as Fun City in France, i have to say that I was quite impressed with the quality of food in the restaurant. For the fact that France takes their food so seriously, I’m quite sure that the Thai’s took this category hands down!
Traffic in Bangkok is a little crazy to say in the least. Then again, I thought that of France when we moved there too! However, today we ended up heading back to the hotel during rush hour traffic. Definitely NOT ideal! In the end it turned out that our taxi driver didn’t really know exactly where our hotel was. Seriously, isn’t that why I hired you? Good thing I paid attention to the route we took to get to Fun-Arium and had a “rough” idea of how to get home and after an hour in the cab, we were back at the hotel. Safe and sound.
Here is a picture slideshow of our adventure out. Click to enjoy!
Au revoir, mes amis!
After a LONG couple of days of travel, we arrived in Bangkok, Thailand! Wow, what an amazing place so far although we have only been here 2 days. We are looking forward to exploring this amazing city over the next month! Yes, that’s right 1 “entire” month. Personally, I have never had 4 weeks of vacation but I’m certainly not going to turn it down! While Katherine’s time here is work and vacation, Miss G and myself will be on 100% vacation trekking through the city locating the zoo & aquarium for starters. First observation is that Bangkok is pretty Westernized; good and bad. Albeit, it’s nice to see a few familiar things when out and about!
Upon arrival at BKK, it was literally impossible NOT to notice the politeness, courtesy, and the superior level of customer service that the Thai people provide! UNBELIEVABLE! France, you REALLY need to take some lessons in Customer Service from the Thai. The Thai are extremely willing to help you. We were greeted as soon as we stepped off the airplane and with radio in hand, a BKK rep tried to get G’s stroller up from baggage hold. Too bad we she was unsuccessful BUT it was due to fact that one load of bags had already been sent to Baggage Claim. Talk about fast! Shit, when we left France we were on a “restricted airspace delay” due to ground workers being on roving strike. Not all, just some. And, who knows, they were probably striking because their coffee machine was broken or had been removed from their breakroom! WTF is that? (no further comment.)
While filling out our visa card for entry to Thailand, a second BKK rep approached us and directed us to use the priority lane since we had a toddler traveller with us. REALLY? We don’t have to wait in that LONG-ASS line with the other 2000 people that just arrived?!? Thank you, sir for pointing that out! After a little bit of a wait in the priority line where we think the one and only Mr. Grumpy “Thai” dude was working, we finally had our visas processed. Not one smile from this gentleman nor did he speak during the entire process; he just pointed to what he wanted or wanted us to do. BUT alas, Miss G made Mr. Grumpy smile! As we were processed through and on our way to pick up our bags, G stopped to tell him, “thank you” and he leaned over where G promptly offered up a “high five” and proceeded on her way! He smiled and chuckled. We are pretty sure Miss G “made” his day!
Bags claimed. Now transportation needed which was pre-arranged with our hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel wasn’t there at the time BUT another hotel driver offered to call our hotel and let them know we were ready for pick-up. Unheard of! We don’t even think we get that kind of service in North America! Within 5 minutes our driver arrived. Just when we thought that was all, Mr. Non-Hotel-Driver took all our bags to the van AND assisted our driver with loading them. WHAT? Unbelievable customer service, AGAIN!
Asia, I know we just arrived but…we think we love you!. More to come BUT we’ll leave you with our first Bangkok gallery of pics. Enjoy the slideshow by clicking this pic below!
Au revoir, mes amis!
Wow…what an incredible day! No cars, no clouds, hot and sunny, and a beach on an island. Does it get any better?
Yesterday we decided to make a new play date with one of Miss G’s classmates, Bia. They are like two peas in a pod and are so cute together! We, along with Bia’s parents, Carlos and Rita, planned a play date on the beaches at Ile Sainte-Marguerite; famous for where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned and where the Hollywood movie was partially filmed.
According to Wikipedia…
“The Île Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the Lérins Islands, about half a mile off shore from the French Riviera town of Cannes. The island is approximately 3 km in length (East to West) and 900m across.
The island is most famous for its fortress prison (the Fort Royal), in which the so-called Man in the Iron Mask was held in the 17th century.”
While this trip wasn’t about touring Fort Royal (for another day), it was about languishing in the sun, enjoying a bottle or two of rosé wine, and great conversation with Carlos & Rita, who recently relocated to the Cote d’Azur from Portugal. Like us, they are enjoying the area and weather in the French Riviera and we all have so many things in common. It’s so great to meet new friends that are in the same place as ourselves; new parents, new country to live, etc. We have met so many fabulous people in the past year from all over the world. We are so blessed!
The Cote d’Azur is an amazing place to live and such a great opportunity for the kids! We are glad that Miss G has become great friends with Bia and now has yet another close friend to enjoy planned outings with. G and Bia walked hand-in-hand pretty much the entire way from the ferry to the beach! They get along so well and it’s so cute to see them having a conversation amongst themselves playing in the sand and floating with their water-wings in the water. Now, I think we just have to get all our other “France” friends together and have a “grande” time on the beach one day this summer! Hmmm, maybe a beach picnic is in store soon.
Here are some pics from our day on Ile Sainte-Marguerite! As always, click the pic below to enjoy the slideshow!
Au revoir, mes amis!
Have you heard…bobandkatherine.com is now available in your native language!
Parlez-vous francais? Oui!
Si parla italiano? Sì.
Habla usted español? Sí.
With english being our first language with french as a distant second, we obviously compose all our blogs in english. HOWEVER now, you can have our blog translated to your language of choice. Pretty sweet, EH? HAHA! Yes, that’s my Canadian in me coming out. HEY, wait a second…I didn’t see “Canadian” in this language lists?!? WHAT THE…?
Also, don’t forget you can subscribe to our RSS Feed. That way all new posts will be delivered automatically to your inbox or favourite RSS reader. What’s that? You need the steps to subscribe. Glad you asked. You will find them here from a -> past post.
Au revoir, mes amis!
After a couple of LOOOOONG flights for a recent trip back to North America to visit family, we decided we needed something a little less scheduled. Plans for a train trip to La Rochelle fell through due to train scheduling so we opted for a trip to Corsica. It sounds like a great set up for a relaxing trip, right? A ferry ride to the island, a rented bungalow/cabin a stone-throw from the beach, my beautiful wife and amazing daughter…perfect!
It was Miss G’s first time on a passenger/car ferry. We put on her psi-bands in the morning prior to getting in the car. You see, Miss G doesn’t do too well in the car driving in France. Can you blame her though? All those twisty-turny roundabouts. Heck, who doesn’t want to puke? As we were unsure of how she would do on the boat, we figured we’d stay on the safe side. I have to say though, so far, when using the psi-bands Miss G has not gotten sick (especially since she got sick on both flights on our trip to North America).
After arriving in Corsica late on a Saturday evening due to a delayed ferry departure, it took us a bit to find our rented bungalow at Cala Bianca Residences. The Cala Bianca property is only a short 11km drive from the port in Bastia and boasts quite large number of bungalows with about 150 or so!Our bungalow was the perfect home away from home; a two bedroom place with a full kitchen with open living room, and a semi-private patio for late afternoon sun. It had everything we needed.
The next morning was quite wet. The clouds were abundant and dark in hue with brief periods of dryness. The rain stopped long enough for us to take a walk to the main clubhouse and check the grounds out. We went down to the beach despite the wet sand and gloomy weather. We met a very friendly Frenchman at the Cafe where we stopped for “un cafe, une verre de vin rose, et jus d’pomme”. Due to the weather, I think we were his only customers that day.
The next day the sun beamed bright and it was a beach day! Following breakfast, we were beach-bound to soak up some sun. Despite the day being a bit breezy, we managed to enjoy a few hours on the beach. With only a few other people on the beach, we pretty much had the sand all to ourselves. Building sand castles, dipping our toes in the cool water, and collecting sea-washed shells was so much fun with Miss G. She LOVED it! Later, we had an old-fashioned, charcoal bbq of burgers, grilled asparagus with red peppers, potatoes, and for dessert grilled pineapple. Delicious!
A welcomed email informing us of another late departure from Bastia back to Nice meant that we didn’t have to get up at 530am to catch a 7am ferry. A 1.5 hour delay meant that all three of us could get a little bit more sleep prior to heading back home from a short but relaxing getaway in Corsica.
Click the picture here for the slideshow of Corsica in pictures! (…be patient though as the slideshow loads.)
Au revoir, mes amis!
Well…it was supposed to rain this afternoon in the Cote d’Azur despite it being a beautiful morning, luckily the rain held off all day. No rain was perfect for us, since we decided to take a trip down to Cannes to see what was happening at this year’s Film Festival. Miss G wanted to see and hang at the beach today and the weather cooperated by giving us perfection!
Katherine made an awesome breakfast of scrambled eggs with red peppers, garlic, red onions, spinach, and ham. Miss G finished an entire “pain au chocolat” all herself, we got ready and headed for “la gare” enroute to Cannes.After wandering around on “La Croisette” and checking out all the promotional billboards, beach restaurants, and people, we decided it was time for late afternoon lunch on the beach. There is nothing like an amazing afternoon of hot, sunny weather and having lunch on the beach! A bottle of Rose and two refreshing salads for us and “steak hache avec frites” for Miss G – a perfect day in Cannes I would say, yes?!?
Following lunch, we were off to find the carousel. Miss G LOVES the carousel. It’s a double-decker carousel in Cannes! We rode the Ferrari and spun around in the Tea Cup. As it was getting late in the day, the people attending the premieres were starting to come out. With barricades up, black cars, police, people in tuxedoes and sleek dresses were everywhere around us. We weren’t completely sure but we think we caught a glimpse of Matthew McConaughey. Also scheduled to attend today was Reese Witherspoon and Elijah Wood. There were probably quite a few “French” celebs; however, they are all “foreign” to us!
Click here for the slideshow to see our day in pictures!
Au revoir, mes amis!
It was somewhat of a happy and sad day, all in one. Miss G started school about a week and a half ago. Yep…she’s a big girl now..just ask her! In France, kids are eligible to start school at 2 years of age.
The fact that she knows quite a bit of French already (more than daddy), we wanted to continue her experience to the fullest and learn as much French as possible before we head to whatever the next destination will be. (I hear Asia might be asking for us to visit for a couple years?!?) Granted, that is still a couple years away so by then, G should be completely bilingual. With that being said…daddy will be in trouble! I had better find a French tutor in exchange for their practicing English with me. Thus far, I have been reluctant to pull the trigger on this one unlike Katherine, who has met a fabulous French woman with whom she exchanges linguistic notes/lessons.
Au revoir, mes amis!
Sitting around last weekend hanging with Miss G, I was able to capture this video of here answering the stereo remote. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to capture her “speaking” on the remote with her good friend, Olivia, and asking her to come over to play LEGOs. It was precious!
It’s kind of a “long” video (5 mins) BUT…we found it quite funny especially at the end. I mean, really…”is this what I do on the phone all the time?” She has to get it from somewhere and it certainly isn’t the local playground with other kids, right? Hahaha!
Au revoir, mes amis!
Food, food, food…and living in the Cote d’Azur…
Today I am thankful for living in a place where I can walk with my wonderful husband and amazing little girl to the Marche Provencal (provencial market or open air farmer’s market) to get basil-marinated sun-dried tomatoes from a local artisan.
Food here in the South of France…
My little girl has never eaten a chicken nugget (of any kind), macaroni and cheese or a Happy Meal…she’s never eaten from a commercial fast food establishment. She ate her first hamburger patty 2 weeks ago and I didn’t think 3 times about her getting E-Coli from it…probably because it was from a “real” restaurant & not a fast food joint, but mostly because we weren’t in the States.
In France I don’t worry about water flouridation, GMO crops and E-Coli-ridden meats…but G still eats 90% organic food. After all I’ve learned in the last 2 years about our food, its sources and the potential hazzards associated with them, I’m glad that I can worry just a little less about my fledgling being poisoned by the very things that are supposed to nourish her.
I must admit that I was mostly blind to all of this until about 18 months ago, about the time that G was starting solid foods. Since then I have tried to really educate myself on what goes in and on our bodies, especially hers. In doing so I have been truly shocked and appalled at the US Food System…in fact the world’s food system.
Growing up…I never ate this shit…NEVER, NEVER, NEVER…but then, that was 20-30 years ago, before Monsanto and all of the pharma-farming started ruling the food supply. I know now that most people didn’t have that option 30 years ago and even fewer have that option today.
I grew up on a small farm in Minnesota, 20 acres of 5 acre parcels; three 5 acre fields and one 5 acre section that contained the buildings including our house, garages, etc. At the peak of our farming we had 60 head of beef cattle, 100 chickens and a 1 acre garden consisting of everything from corn to watermelon. We rotated our fields between grazing and alfalfa that we baled for hay. We grew or raised everything we ate except for the dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese. Those dairy products all came from local family farms from people we knew…because back then it was cheaper to keep it local.
As big of a pain in the ass this place has been to get accustomed to, after one year it really feels like “home” and there are so many things I would miss about it. We live in a beautful, amazing part of the world and are truly blessed to be able to take advantage of so much that this place has to offer…including food that seems a little safer and healthier than it would be if we lived in North America.
Think about what you eat, what goes in and on your body…THINK…THINK CRITICALLY especially about what goes in your kids’ bodies. EDUCATE yourself and don’t fall prey to the voices of the media that are bought and paid for. You live in a country that is free…take advantage of this and don’t just accept what you are fed.
Upon waking and diaper change, Miss G informed Daddy boldly that today she would like to go “train”….
Guilliana really likes riding trains…which is wonderful since we live 3 blocks from a large train station and there are many wonderful towns and cities (and yes even countries) within an hour or so train ride. The fearless and always adventurous Miss G also gets horribly, viciously car sick (just like her mommy), so if it weren’t for our easy access to rail transport we probably wouldn’t be getting out too much while here!
So there we were with an eager little traveler and no idea where we might go. Bob had done a bit of reading about St. Raphael and its suburb Frejus in the Var region earlier in the week when we were looking for things to do during this week off together. So we headed to the train station and got our tickets to Frejus!
Wow, what a fantastic and incredibly scenic ride! I honestly had no idea that there were red rocks similar to those in Sedona Arizona. The homes, ports and beaches along the way were gorgeous and actually a bit different from the areas west of here where we have visited previously.
Upon arriving in Frejus we took a short walk and didn’t see very much. We decided to head back to the train platform to see when the next train would come by to take us the 5 minutes up the road back to St. Rapheal. We discovered that we would have to wait another 3 hours…well, let’s make the best of it! So we followed the signs to the center of town to look for a restaurant to have some lunch and generally check out the little town.
The town generally struck me as more “working class” and definitely medieval, although it didn’t have the same 13th century feel that the incredibly picturesque town of Valbonne does. After strolling down a few streets we discovered the town center all decked out for the holiday season, complete with carousel and food booths. As we didn’t want G to get all worked up before we had a chance to eat, we made a quick detour around the festivities.
We went down another few streets and found what looked like a lovely little place with a decent-looking menu and decided to go in. Well the food at Le P’Tit Encas was really very good, and very reasonably priced! The service was lovely and the entire experience was quite enjoyable.
After we finished our nice, long lunch we headed back into the town center to see what we could find for G to see and do before the next train arrived. Once we got in we saw the cutest thing…PONIES!! There were 4 of the cutest little Shetland ponies giving rides to the little ones. So I quickly got in line and had Bob take G around to the various displays and whatnot while I waited for her turn. Guilliana was quite amped up at this point due to her chocolate Sunday and half of my raspberry & pistachio ice cream with raspberry coulis. SUGAR HIGH!
Once it was her turn, Miss G got on that little guy and grabbed the reins like a pro, completely ready to start her ride. To be fair, Guilliana has a rocking horse in her room nearly as big as the Shetland…so this wasn’t exactly her first rodeo, so to speak! Although the ride wasn’t very long, and G didn’t really want to get off, we had to only a short time to make our train for the trip back home. With the 15 minutes we had left, we took a quick tour of the Medieval church in the town center, amazing! We also sampled our first vin chaud (hot wine…we enjoy this in the States as well, it’s usually called mulled wine), not too bad.
We headed to the train platform and boarded within a few minutes, found some excellent seats and settled in. The bright and sunny day quickly faded to a gorgeous sunset over the Mediterranean and then slipped into inky night as we arrived in Antibes. Our little ball of energy was nearly zapped out at this point and ready for dinner and an early bed time.
We live in an amazing place, in an incredibly beautiful part of the world. We are blessed to be able to experience all of this together as a family. Although our road has been anything but easy since arriving here, the struggles make us stronger and reinforce to me that there is nothing I can’t handle while my amazing husband and beautiful little girl are by my side.
Here is the day in pictures…
Au revoir, mes amis!