Friday, January 05, 2007


On December 19 our son Ian arrived in Paris, where we spent the day doing a bit of shopping. We returned to Briare, and needless to say, the boat truly impressed Ian. Although he had seen its progress in photos, he did not imagine how great it was. The next day My sister Inesita and her son, Fernando arrived to the cottage they had rented. We spent Sylvia's birthday together and celebrated on Biesbosch with a wonderful raclette, great wine and good conversation. On the 23, the rest of the family arrived. My sister Mart, her 2 children, Angelamaria and Gabriel, as well as Inesita's daughter, Sylvia and her husband, Laurent, and Diego's daughter, Sara Maria. Marta's family took the apartment across from the cottage, so after everyone was well installed, we had a fabulous evening all together, drinking, laughing, eating, just being together. The 24, 25 and 26, were very cold days in Briare. We were brave, so we took walks along the river, went to see the Pont Canal, and explored the town a bit. On Christmas Eve, we had a lot of good things to eat and drink so we decided to spend it at the apartment, where we would be more comfortable. We decided to open our gifts then, and around 2 O' clock, we all retired to our own places. On Christmas day, the young ones went for a walk, and "Jurassic Park", us adults, as christened by our kids, decided to stay in and cook. We did all the preparations and cooking in the cottage, due to the fact that in the apartment we kept tripping the circuit breaker every time we tried to turn on any extra electric appliance.

We had foie gras with champagne, made confit de canard, potatoes and a salad. For dessert, we had a couple of fruit tarts we had bought, so needless to say, it was a great meal. Sylvia's sisters stayed up and cleaned the entire house before going to bed. The next morning, they were all going back to Paris, and the inventory for the two places was being taken at 10:00 AM.

Bill took the family's luggage to the train station in the car, and the rest of us walked in extremely cold weather. Because we were early, the wait was long, so we got sandwiches and drinks for the train ride, only to find out they were too hungry to wait, so all was consumed at the station. After they left, Ian Bill and I returned to the boat to relax and recover a little from the holiday. Sylvia did some laundry, we all packed, and the next day, we got up early, since we had a long ride ahead of us to Germany. It took us only 6 1/2 hours to drive to Aachen, were we wanted to take Ian ever since we went the first time. We got a very good hotel, in a great location by the old town, so we could walk everywhere. That evening, we went to our favorite restaurant, and walked quite a bit. The town was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and they were taking down the Christmas Market, that unfortunately we did not get to see. The next day we visited Charlomagne's Cathedral, did some shopping, and in the afternoon drove to the nearby Belgian town of Kanne to visit our friends Jamie and Anne, the owners of Orange Nassau. we have always wanted Ian to meet them and to see their beautiful boat. Anne Had prepared a very special meal for us, a fabulous fish pie and her mother's chesnut-chocolate dessert. We had a great time with them, slept on the boat and left for Maastricht, Holland, before noon. This is another city we love, and wanted Ian to see. There are great shops in this town. It was market day, the after-Christmas sales were going on, so the town was lit up. We had a great lunch, did a lot of walking and drove back to Paris, where we had made reservations for 4 nights. The rest of the family was there and we had made plans to get together again for New Year's.

Our hotel was near Nation and very close to Sylvia's niece's apartment. The cousins went shopping on Saturday all day, the adults took it easy in the apartment, and Sunday was New Year's Eve. Bill took some of them to a big store named Ikea to do some shopping, and some of us stayed in the city. Our meal was prepared by Sylvia in her apartment, where we started an early celebration with great champagne. A few minutes before midnight we walked to Nation from where we could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and we were able to see a few fireworks. It was very exciting being in Paris for this occasion, must most important was being all together. What a great time we had!

On New Year's Day, Sylvia and her sisters decided to do some sightseeing, so they went to the cemetery of Pere Lachaise, where most intellectuals and musicians are buried. They then went to St. Germain de Pres to meet Bill and Ian. By they time there were to meet, it was too late, so they went back to the hotel to pack, since Ian was leaving the next day.

It was so sad to say good bye to our boy. We loved having him with us and look forward to seeing him again when he comes to Florida to visit. Bill drove back to Briare, and Sylvia stayed 3 more days in Paris with the rest of the family, walking the town, shopping and doing more sightseeing. Most of them go back to Colombia tomorrow, except for Inesita and her children, who will be going to Berlin for a few days.

Next Monday, the 8 of January, we take the train to Brussels, from where we will be flying to Atlanta on the 9. Bill continues on to Florida, while Sylvia goes back to Bogota for the wedding of Paula, her niece, on the 13. She will be gone for two weeks, and will be joining Bill in Miami. The plan is to stay there until April, time to be back in France to continue our cruising on Biesbosch.

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