It’s hard to believe that a year ago we were in Vatican City celebrating the magical start of the New Year. It’s been an unforgettable 2011 for us. One which we’d like to reminisce over month by month.
While we lived at the Sunset Beach Apartments in Çaliş, Fethiye, we took day trips around the area. We explored the lovely town of Fethiye and shopped at their weekly local markets. We went fishing in the Aegean Sea, Paragliding in Oludeniz, and visited the hauntingly beautiful ghost town of Kayaköy. I even got in 10km runs during Çaliş’ breathtaking sunsets.
You can read about Susan’s Country Report on Turkey here.
At the beginning of March, we drove to Erendaği for a family ski trip, and took a road trip to visit Tlos, the Saklikent Gorge, Patara Beach, and Xanthos. Mid-March we trimmed down our backpacks and began our month long exploration around Turkey, taking the bus from one destination to another. Our paths led us to Kuşadasi, Ephesus, Pammukale and Hierapolis, and finally Göreme, Cappadocia where we explored an underground city and flew in a hot air balloon. We crowned our Turkish immersion with a week in the shimmering city of Istanbul.
From Istanbul we flew to Milan, Italy to begin our Italian backpacking leg. We then took the TrenItalia (train) to Venice, staying on Lido island for 7 days while we explored the Venetian Islands of Venice, Lido, Murano, and Burano. From there, we took the train to Bologna to learn about how Lamborghinis are made. Then trained it to Florence (to inadvertently learn how babies are made) for an educational adventure in Italian science and art. We made a pit stop at Pisa to hold up its Leaning Tower on our way to Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera.
You can read about Susan’s Country Report on Italy here.
We left Sestri Levante, Italy (where Lucy learned how to ride a bike) travelling east on the train along the coast.
The Italian Riviera changed into the French Riviera in front of our eyes, where we stopped in Cannes to celebrate Easter. Among our days soaking up the sun on the French Riviera, we took an afternoon train ride to Monaco. Lucy turned 7 in Montpellier during our two week hunt for a place to live for our French Immersion year. We explored the best preserved fortified city of Carcassonne on Mother’s Day. Paris was our last stop, and for many of us in our family, a dream come true. We made it home to Edmonton at the end of May just in time to celebrate Edmund’s 5th birthday.
You can read bout Susan’s Country Report on France here.
Back home in Canada, we caught the U2 concert in Edmonton on June 1, and visited our family and friends for a much needed rest and soaking up of everything familiar. Susan turned the big double digits in Edmonton. Then we drove six hours north to the Smeenk farm, which according to our kids is the BEST place in Canada.
We went on a road trip to BC with our cousins and had such a blast. The rest of the month was spent preparing for our departure to France in August. We visited more friends and family, and celebrated our cousin Anjali’s baptism.
On August 11th, we flew to Paris with our luggages and bikes. From Paris, we drove all our belongings to St. Laurent de la Salanque in a Hertz moving van, returning to Paris after two very full and exhausting days of driving over 2000 kms. Karlsruhe, Germany was our next stop for five days to visit our good friend Lisa. Our family spent a day in Legoland and another day at Ludwigsburg Castle with her.
Peter turned nine in St. Laurent de la Salanque. The pink house we were planning on renting in St. Laurent de la Salanque turned out to be a disaster. So a week before school started, we frantically searched for another home to rent for the school year. Talk about angels watching over us, because we found a home in Agde that met all our needs (safe, clean, spacious enough for the six of us, close to school and amenities), and had excellent landlords.
Jenn went home to Edmonton for a week for her Lola’s funeral.
The school in Agde turned out to be better than what we expected. We soon discovered the rich opportunities of learning (like instruments and sailing) available to the children at their school. You could read about Edmund’s impressions of Maternelle here, along with Lucy‘s, Peter‘s, and Susan‘s French school experiences.
October was spent settling into the school year, and getting to know the new friends we made in Agde. We visited Les Gorges d’Heric, celebrated Brian’s 35th birthday and Canadian Thanksgiving with our friends. Our friend Lisa visited us for a week to ward off a little of the homesickness.
November was the rainy month in Agde. We had a heady experience when the kids brought lice home from school. Jenn tried to keep her homesickness blues at bay with a few weeks grasping at gratitude and keeping up with her runs around Agde.
As always, Christmas was the highlight for our December. We had a memorable Christmas in Agde and an unforgettable New Year’s Eve Party (post to come) with our new friends.
Looking forward to another great year to come.
Happy New Year everyone!
Love the Smeenk Family