Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Christmas to Remember

After a long and wonderful break, I finally returned to teaching full time this week. (Granted, I haven't had a lot of students since many are still striking, but I'm not going to go off on that tirade again.) While I enjoy my work, I confess that spending more time in the office has caused me to reminisce longingly about our fabulous Christmas this year. My parents flew out, and we had an amazing time exploring some of the surrounding areas. So at long last, here is our photo travelogue:

Shortly after my parents arrived, we took off to spend a couple of days in Switzerland. On the way, we stopped at the stunning village of Annecy. You can see why it's called the "Venice of France."

We continued on to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the alps. While the 45 minute open-air gondola ride to the top wasn't an option with little ones, we did take a train part of the way up and had a fabulous time playing in the snow.

Of course, Papa Kay was delighted to find a Diet Coke.

We continued on our trek to Bern, Switzerland where we stayed at the LDS temple hostel.

More than six years ago, Jason kissed me for the first time in front of the Provo Temple (cheesy, I know.) Well, he seized the chance to repeat the smooch...

The Berner Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) was also fun. I'd never had a fried waffle before, and I probably shouldn't ever again. Still, it was a great, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Back in our Lyonnaise apartment, we celebrated a traditional Christmas with family, food, and of course, plenty of presents.

Our good friend Annie shared Christmas dinner with us--as did her fabulous sheepdog!

Of course, no Christmas would be complete without the Nativity story.

We took some great day trips to some of the surrounding areas, such as to the amazing caves at les Grottes de la Balme.

As fascinating as the caves were (and they really were incredible), I think the local horse was probably just as memorable...

We also enjoyed taking a trip to a ski resort south of Grenoble, l'Alpe d'Huez. Unfortunately, we didn't make it in time for skiing. We did however, get to go sledding.

We also took a short lift up to a chateau where we relaxed a bit and enjoyed the view. There's nothing like sunbathing in winter!

Unfortunately, our lift tickets were only one-way, so we had to walk down. Brooklyn got a bit tired...

Back in Lyon, we showed Grandma and Grandpa the giant ferris wheel in the Place Bellecour that our family dared during the Festival of Lights.

We also had fun exploring Lyon's famous traboules, the ancient passageways once used by silk traders to quickly traverse parallel streets with no perpendicular connections.

We visited the elephants at the Parc Tete d'Or...

...and paid our respects to the rabbits and turkeys at the market.

A little creativity can turn an unimaginative building facade into an amazing canvas. (Nearly everything you see is a painting.)

However, we may have had the most fun discovering why Lyon is often considered the gastronomic capitol of Europe. We enjoyed some incredible meals (even if some of the cuts of meat were rather unfamiliar.) You should have seen the waitress using hand signals to explain to my parents that the dish included "museau" (the cow's nose) and trotters--the feet. My Dad still brags about having eaten what he calls the "unholy trinity" of foie gras (duck liver paté), tripe sausages, and frog legs. I prefer to dream about my pastry-encrusted goat cheese served warm over a bed of greens and gratin dauphinois (thinly sliced potatoes that are layered and baked with milk, eggs, garlic, and lots of good cheese).

And, of course, let's not forget the crowing glory--the ice-cream filled profiteroles for dessert.

I think I'm going to pull out this picture the next time one of my French students gives me a hard time about American serving sizes being too large... While my three course meal may have left me stuffed to the gills, fifteen euros has never been better spent...

All in all, it really was a Christmas to remember.


Mrs. M said...

I love the painted building! I remember driving by it on my afternoon in Lyon...

Crys said...

You were one of the temple kissing couples...GROSS :) It looks like you had a fab Christmas. It is so nice that your parents came out to spend it with you and your "vacation" looked super fun!

chou said...

Beautiful! It's almost like being there with you. :)

Anonymous said...

My, Oh My ... The Christmas photo sampler you have compiled brings back wonderful memories! (Who is the silver-haired old man? You must have colored his hair and added facial wrinkles...) We all had such a wonderful Christmas & New Year's holiday together. Thank you so much for being such gracious hosts. I'll treasure this family time -- forever.
Bye, Bye...

Tanja said...

These pictures are just wonderful. Thank you.

Please, what is a fried waffle in German? ... and the Swiss Temple has a temple hostel - could you tell me more about the hostel - I called the temple in 2002 and they told me - only private quarters. Oh, and how much did you have to pay for the Swiss "Plakette" / mount fee?
I was thinking to drive down the Rhine River to Freiburg - then go to the temple and drive further south towards Lyon sometimes this spring / summer.
Do you have spring break / Easter break in April and summer break around July / August this year ... by the way .. when are you going back to Illinois?
I should have written you an eMail - sorry. Have a great weekend.

Bruce Richards said...

Brittney says she had a great time in Annecy when she was there and she climbed to the top of Mt. Blanc. The silver-haired guy could be on a Coke commercial. He looks kind of like the polar bears.