Castles and Living with Boys

Isn’t there some sort of law that nobody should have to live in hotel rooms with boys?  I’ve somewhat insulated myself from my sons’ messiness with a big house, confining the limits of leaving socks draped over chairs and boxers under chairs to their own rooms. Living in a hotel room with them?  Eh, not so fun.  I mean, they are a blast, but I’m not enjoying wading through piles of their clothes on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Paris was… well, Paris.  My boys, as it turns out, are only tourists when they want to be.  Waiting in line to go into St. Chappelle is a big no, but waiting in line to get inside an old Chateau with turrets way up high is a big ole yes.

Another interesting fact — men and women shouldn’t be in the same car together when the chick is driving in a foreign country for the first time, the boys are navigating and, well, all hell breaks loose. It went something like this:  Harry has the GPS – for which I am eternally grateful that we had that or there would have been one or two young men now walking down the side of a road outside of Tours looking for a phone to call home to their father – and he thinks I am a terrifying driver, which I am not, but I am a cautious one and a tidge distracted in a new place with new driving rules and also, might I add, very narrow streets, and my depth perception pretty much blows.  Just the drive from the rental car place back to the train station (did I mention how much I love trains?  why can’t the U.S. get a good train system?  I would take it everywhere, screw the planes, it’s just not comfortable or fun, but trains…. ah, yes) was traumatic.  I was ready to kill him, and he was being snarky and mean and condescending, none of which are normal modes for him, except when someone else is driving that he thinks isn’t driving up to his standards… he who has had his license for, what, two years?  Anyway, no less than three times before we got a kilometer outside of Tours did I want to just dropkick his butt out of the car. His brother, who started his own commentary in the back was next on the list, but he was quieter. My mom and my aunt thought I did great.  So we had a “Come to Jesus” meeting once we got to the hotel that was along the lines of “You may not talk to me that way…. ever… or you will just be dead, and yelling at me and telling me I suck as a driver does not instill confidence in me… and roundabouts aren’t normal in Colorado, and I’m being cautious and I’d appreciate you saying ‘right’ or ‘left’ instead of ‘there’ or ‘this’ or ‘that.’  It’s more instructive, not to mention helpful.” 

What has come out of all that after three days of driving in the Loire Valley?  Thank God we have a GPS that we take with us everywhere.  Our new code phrase for “Blew it,” is “recalculating,” but it must be said with a slight sigh and world-weary tone like the lady on the GPS who pronounces General Leclerc as geneerallllek-lerk.  We think Chateau are super-fun. It’s even more fun when you can’t get into one and spend an hour walking around the entire outside of the walls and moat-that-now-is-a-big-old-garden, looking for a way up and over, only to come back ’round the front and find the sign we should have read at the beginning… you know, the one in front of the now open front gate that says their lunch hour ends at 2 and they re-open for business.

Yeah, we.are.brilliant.

The smell that I’ll remember forever is the climbing roses outside of our hotel here in Amboise and… well, everywhere! They are in full bloom and magnificently perfume the air.  Did you know they grow so much better next to a stone wall?  Well, yeah!  so now I’ve decided I need to build a stone wall around all or part of my backyard during the landscaping I’m doing in July.  The boys have offered to build it (I’m anticipating we get a one-foot start before I call someone to come finish).  It will be perfect for yellow roses.  Who says you can’t bring some of your vacation home with you?

The picture at the top isn’t one we took, but it is the old chateau at Amboise that we can see from our hotel window, with the Loire River out the other windows. Our USB/SD card adapter FUBAR’d before I could get my first picture uploaded, and finding another one of those has been impossible thus far – if we get one, we’ll be uploading hundreds of pictures.  Tomorrow we are on a train for Avignon.  Miss you all!

  • Sounds like equal parts fun and frustration, which is how every successful journey should be 😉

    Have fun with the rest of it and never mind the driving…Avignon should be spectacular at this time of year! Enjoy all you can.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Ah me- MEN.
    ‘Nuff said.

    Love the Loire- but I think you’ll adore Avignon.
    This is a really great time to visit, too- it gets SO hot there in the summer.
    Kiss the swans for me, won’t you ?
    And DON’T hang out with the Gypsies, like I did, LOL…

  • Cynthia says:

    Thanks for the laugh this morning! I have three 17-year-olds, so I feel your pain! One is a boy, and although he is a dear, he knows how to do EVERYTHING better than me, or so he says. The good news is that these memories become very funny with the patina of time!

  • Justine says:

    Ah, vacations with kids are always the best of times…and the worst of times. Many memories are being made though, and I often find that the cranky moments make for hilarious memories too, even if they are not all that funny at time! I do think you are brave to have gone with them at this age on a European adventure, medal worthy even. When I was in college I went backpacking through Europe for 3 months and I’ll encourage my kids to do the same, I’ll come and join them for dinner and then send them to their hostel while my husband and I retreat to our hotel.

    When my kids start getting sassy I spin a fantasy of kicking them out of the car and then driving up the road a mile, pulling over and enjoying the peace while they catch up.

  • Catherine says:

    I remember round-abouts. Oh, my, so scary when I first experienced them–and the drive around the Arc de Triomph about killed me the first time. In our little town, there’s this wannabe round-about on a secondary three-way street. That’s scary, too–people don’t know what to do *at all*. DH refused to go down the road, it confuses him so.

    Take care–and the boys will surprise you much later on as they wax about all the good memories! And you’ll laugh with them for hours. I bet you’re laughing for hours as it is.

  • violetnoir says:

    Lol…A “Come to Jesus” meeting. That totally cracks me up, Patty. But honestly, roundabouts are a big ole hassle…and scary, too! Bravo to you, Mom, for getting everyone safely to your destination.

    Hugs and have a blast! Thank you for posting.

  • tmp00 says:

    Tell the boys if they don’t like it they can ride in the trunk…

  • Mariannetm says:

    Can so relate to what you wrote. Nothing seems to be more stressful than a good holiday.. My husband is just like your hb when it comes to driving. Travelling through Europe can feel like putting your life at risk all the time. Your kids are the best for they live it at the fullest. This is a great adventure for all of you and later you will have only good adventurous memories to think about. If there is one thing that I absolutely deeply dislike to do, it is: visiting castles! Avignon is nice and me too I would suggest to go east to the Provence, the Alpes Maritimes and the Cote d’Azur – don’t forget Grasse.

    Perfume Posse is fine weblog. :)>-

  • Louise says:

    Thanks, love the update. I love Amboise-it was the first chateau I visited on my “orientation” to my year abroad. Fortunately, I remain a chateau freak, so would love endless visiting.

    These are dear memories you’re making, try not to fall over the dirty boxer on the floor :d/

  • March says:

    Take all their money and their shoes and leave them by the side of the road in the rain, and say hasta la vista …. oh, wait, wrong language! Don’t forget to keep the GPS ….

    nah, seriously, you guys will look back on this and laugh (although I am pretty sure a million years ago the teenaged Cheese did the driving, God help them). It still sounds like a big riot.

    I almost got this tee shirt once for my then-17YO nephew (it comes in a wall sign too):

    TEENAGERS – Tired of being harassed by your parents?
    ACT NOW!! Move out, get a job, pay your own way, while you still know everything!!

  • alba says:

    The last time I visited the Loire castles my now 17-year-old son was only nine, and he also insisted on visiting every single castle. I was the one who got fed up after four or five… I wanted to drive on to Paris and see some city life!
    Avignon… I love that town. It’s relatively near Barcelona, so we sometimes go there for two or three days. Drive around the country, if you can. The villages in the Provence are idyllic, those places that smell of fresh bread, lavender and sea breeze (or, at least, that’s the idea I want to keep in my mind!). Enjoy your journey and be patient with the big boys!

  • Silvia says:

    What a laugh you lot are ! These will be memories you will all treasure forever, roundabouts and all.
    Enjoy the rest of the trip. >:d<

  • Benoit says:

    It is not so easy to drive in France. I hope you have no trouble with french drivers

    I understand your problem. Concerning the boys … I understand them (except during travel)

    There is so much to do in Paris than waiting for a museum is difficult. I am born in Paris and my first entrance at St Chapelle was at 25 … 🙂 … so dont worry about it.

    When you are near a chateau with only a forest around it is more difficult to say no 🙂

    Good trip to Avignon

  • sallycantdance says:

    I’m delighted to read your travel narrative, P. Besides the humorous honesty (book-worthy: Finding France with American Boys) there is also a more personal enjoyment. I’d always wanted to see France, and then suddenly got a digestive disease that prohibits my flying anywhere, ever again. Last I heard, I can’t afford the boat. So I am living vicariously.

    Can’t wait for the pics!