Our next stop on the train through the southwest of France after Arles was the village of Collioure. I was completely enamored as soon as we arrived. We only stayed for two days, but I could have stayed for the rest of the summer. The colors of the buildings and the clear blue water were quintessentially Mediterranean, and the lifestyle was relaxed. Our last morning, I woke up before my boys and went for a walk through town and to the water just as the locals were beginning their days. I went into a boulangerie for a croissant aux amandes and enjoyed hearing the southern dialect of French in the conversations between the regulars and the bakery’s owner. It was a beautiful, peaceful morning.

For more of my photos, visit here: Collioure Album on Flickr

Our last night in Collioure, France was playing in the World Cup. My dad and step-mom offered to babysit so that Rudy, my brother, his girlfriend and I could go out for a drink and watch the match. The only place to have a seat free was a bar called Les Templiers. The first thing I noticed when we walked in were the walls absolutely covered from top to bottom in amazing paintings. I didn’t think much more of it while we enjoyed the match and our wine. After France (sadly) lost, we started up a conversation with a man who was visiting with his mother at the table next to us. The woman, in her 70’s and from England, had been vacationing in Collioure since she was 19 years old, and told me the story of all the paintings. It turns out that the owner (now deceased), was a great art appreciator and would accept paintings from artists of the time in exchange for lodging, food, and drinks. You can imagine my amazement when we learned that among these artists were Picasso, Matisse and Miro!

After checking out of our hotel and a last walk by the water, we made the walk up the hill to the tiny train station and made our way to Barcelona. Rudy, Noah, and I stayed only one night in Barcelona and said goodbye to my family early the next morning to head up to San Sebastian.






While my family was visiting, we took a seven day train trip from Lyon through the south of France, ending up in Barcelona. Our second stop after Marseille was Arles. The city is well know because of Van Gogh, and many of his iconic paintings were created while he lived there. We enjoyed our one night in the city, walking around the small cobblestone streets and checking out the landmarks.


Hiking the Calanques of Marseille

Just outside of Marseille are the amazing Calanques, enormous rock formations which create inlets and private beaches that can only be accessed by hiking or boat. To get to the beginning of the hiking trail, we had to take a water-taxi leaving from Vieux-Port, one bus to the end of its line, and then an even smaller bus to navigate the narrow streets along the cliffs. The last bus dropped us off in a small port called Callelongue where there are a few houses and a single restaurant. The hike from the port to the private beach takes around an hour. We started hiking just before lunch time, and ate at the small restaurant on the sand once we got there. It was a surprisingly perfect day, not as hot as I’d expect for July in the South of France. As with most places we’ve been this year, I hope to go back someday.

All of my photos from the Calanques are here: Calanques on Flickr

One Day in Istanbul

On our way back to Lyon from the Nesin math village, we stopped for one night in Istanbul. My husband had many Turkish office-mates during his time at Ohio State, and one of them had since moved back to Istanbul before our trip. When he heard that we were coming to Turkey, he insisted that we come visit. He and his wife met us at the entrance to Hagia Sophia and gave us a whirlwind tour of the city. I’m completely enamored by it. I’ll be back one day.

Highlights of the day: Afternoon Turkish tea looking over the river, the amazingly beautiful mosques we went into each time there was a call to prayer, and desserts plus more tea at nightfall in a local restaurant that opened up onto a view of the city while the moon rose.