So I think when I gave up the ghost of our weekend in France we had just spent a rough night in a cave (troglodyte) in Amboise. Amboise, I think I mentioned, is where I lived for a year when I was a Young Lass. Thanks to the Rotary Club exchange program, my life was pretty much changed forever and I didn't have to pay thousands of USD to experience it. Actually, rather indirectly that year in France led me to Amsterdam today, since I came here (long, looooong ago) for work because I was able to speak French*. So thanks Rotary for my job, home, and indirectly my family I have made here as well, I guess!
Staying in a cave was pretty cool but I think I would miss the sunlight after a while. We had breakfast and headed out towards memory lane. Most of the shops had all changed but of course the chateau had not. I was able to find two of the families' homes I stayed with while there - one still had the name on the door but the other was unmarked, so difficult to say. I think I had a good frame of mind while coming here. First of all, when you spend time like this in a place that is so different, you can't really say it is yours. So I wasn't devastated that I didn't remember everything or that things had changed. On the other hand, I was really blown away by how beautiful and "other" to the US the town was. I could definitely see how as a 16 year old I would have been blown away by it all.
Having scratched the nostalgia itch, we hit the the road en route to our last stop before heading home, Rouen. This is a really amazing city, a biggole city to boot. We were staying in a not very exciting Ibis hotel but as it was Easter Sunday I think we were just pleased that it was available and even better, the restaurant was actually open. OH was feeling a wee bit better so we all decided to attempt Dinner With Baby 2. This time did not go as smoothly. I am grateful for our friends O and W who took OH and I's stress with aplomb and kept cool the whole time. Munchkin was exhausted but too excited to fall asleep so it took a couple times exiting the resto with her in the stroller to calm her down. Lesson here - noisy restaurants where your child's crying won't be as noticeable are best. Because it was raining and everything we closed this was pretty much our experience that evening of Rouen.
The next day we went into town and managed to see all three of the big Abbeys and Cathedrals. Rouen is a surprisingly lovely town. I'd not expected it to look so much of the Normandy region being so far in land but it has those classic house fronts that remind you of the region. OH has loads of pictures, fear not, we just need him to get better so you get so see what I am referring to. Would definitely go back and spend more time there. It is of course, also of fame for being the town my father studied in when he was a university student way back when. Though that should probably read "studying" from the stories he tells, which seem to lack much mention of classes.
The drive back from Rouen was long and until the Dutch border uneventful. Evidently there was hideous traffic that evening and we hit the tail end of it. O and W had invested in a Tom Tom live update service (review: mixed) which after a few false starts got us around the worst of it. We were all exhausted when we got home so burritos ended the trip and that was that! Sadly the next morning O and W had to leave to return to South Africa. It is at times like these that I wish there were teleport machines.
* Yes of course they speak Dutch in the Netherlands but NL is part of a region called Benelux which includes French-speaking Luxembourg and Belgium to boot.