Monday, September 7, 2009

My Summer Vacation - 2009

I feel like a child who has gone back to school, and my first assignment is to write five paragraphs describing my summer vacation. I can summarize it in a few sentences.

We had a great yet very busy time in Santa Cruz for 6 weeks. It was terrific to see our family and friends (those we were able to see!) and soak up some Santa Cruz sunshine (okay, and fog if I'm being completely honest).

Then, our planned 10-day vacation from Frankfurt, Germany to Bouzigues was absolute hell, thanks to a faulty pool motor in Bad Reichenhall, Germany.

For those of you only interested in the highlights. That was it. For those of you who are interested in details, read on . . .

Santa Cruz was great. We stayed with my parents for about a week in Ben Lomond. Thanks, Grom & Dude! During that week, we had a mini family July Birthday party, complete with Alex. It was great to see everyone who was there.

Here are Dianne (my aunt), Max, and Thomas (my nephew) playing in my parents' pool.


After Ben Lomond, we stayed in a rental in Santa Cruz, which was delightful. The owner, Trish, is an amazing gardener, and we felt like we were in our own personal Eden (without the serpent) for 3 weeks.

Here are some pictures of the kids picking flowers in the yard and Max climbing the rope ladder to the crow's nest . . .

And here are my friend Melissa's children, James and Catherine.


I want to send huge thanks to Melissa for all of our great runs and visits and to Sharlene for all the great knitting adventures. You two made my visit!!

Thanks to all my other friends and family for the visits, too! Danny & Kathy, Marianne, Sue, Julie, Grandma Pat, and all the rest.

Next, we were back in Ben Lomond for our final 10 days in America. It was good timing, too, due to the huge forest fire in Bonny Doon (very, very close to Santa Cruz and my parent's house). All the smoke blew into Santa Cruz, so we were glad not to be there. My parent's house was almost in the evacuation zone, but the terrific firefighters got it under control before we had to leave. Yay! Thanks to all the brave men and women who fight fires. You rock!

On August 20th, we flew from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany. Mike found the greatest airline tickets of all time: roundtrip SF to Frankfurt for $400/each. That is an amazing price - probably an Internet error! So, we decided to make it a family adventure vacation. With the money we saved on airfare, we could rent a car and drive from Frankfurt to Bouzigues, stopping in various amazing places along the way!

The planned itinerary was:
  • 1 night in Frankfurt
  • 2 nights in Nurenburg
  • 2 nights in Bad Reichenhall, Germany (near Salzburg, Austria)
  • 2 nights in Bled, Slovenia
  • 2 nights in Venice, Italy
  • 1 night in Parma, Italy
  • 1 night in Antibes, France
  • Back to Bouzigues!
However, our second evening in Bad ReichenHELL, Josey suffered an awful accident in the hotel pool. I will put a full account of her accident at the end of this post for those of you who are curious.

As Mike pointed out afterward, we should have known better than to EVER have stayed in a place that started with "Bad"!

So, we ended up with:
  • 1 night in Bad ReichenHELL (several more for Mike & Max)
  • 3 nights in the Salzburg Children's hospital
  • 3 more nights in Bad ReichenHELL
  • Airplane back to Bouzigues

Debb and Eva were terrific and had the new house all ready for us upon our arrival - complete with food in the fridge & pantry and wine for Dado (and pina colada for me). Merci mille fois a Debb & Eva!!

We were able to see Wurzburg, Rothenburg, and a bit of Munich. Here are some good photos.

Wurzburg, Germany: The first photo is entering the village from the historical bridge. The second photo is the view from the bridge of the other side of the river.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany: This is a little cafe we visited, and the look of this cafe is a perfect example of the architecture in Rothenburg!




















Below are me and Josey outside the world-famous K├Ąthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store. It was indeed a fairytale shopping experience . . . like Disneyland for Christmas lovers. The second picture is a view of the village from the gardens.









Here are photos of the famous wooden altarpiece. In the words of Rick Steves (travel writer): "St. Jacob's church contains the one must-see art treasure in Rothenburg: a glorious 500-year-old Riemenschneider altarpiece, by the Michelangelo of German woodcarvers."




Some photos of Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the castle Walt Disney used for his inspiration.


And the Marienplatz (center) of Munich, Germany, which was very charming! I wish we had more than an hour to spend there (and a healthier Josey who could walk around and enjoy everything!). The first two pictures are of the New Town Hall, the first being a view of the Glockenspeil (gigantic cuckoo clock) that rings 3 times a day. Unfortuntately, we missed it.


Now . . . if you are interested in the details about Josey's accident, here is an email I wrote to two of my best friends after Josey and I returned from the hospital.

I just got back from spending 2.5 days in the hospital in Salzberg, Austria with Josey. She was playing at the pool here at the Bad Reichenhall, Germany Radisson hotel . . . the jet that was supposed to be the equivalent of a hot tub jet had just had the motor changed. So, the jet was the strength of a fountain - a high powered fountain. Josey sat on the jet, and she completely lacerated the inside of her vagina. :(

It was horrifying. She was almost literally gushing blood - including blood clots. Here I am, in a foreign country, emailing my aunt the doctor asking her what to do! After a few hours of Josey laying down but the bleeding not slowing, I took her to the local emergency room. They sent me to the Kinderklinik (university kid's hospital) in Salzburg where they would have "gynecological equipment for children". Those are words you never want to hear in your life.

This actually required 2 taxi rides - one to the local hospital around 11pm and another to Salzburg around 11:30pm - all in the pouring rain with thunder & lightning & taxi drivers who couldn't speak any English! Here I am, trying to keep acting like I'm not worried, while the second taxi driver is practically skidding around corners! He redeemed himself when he waited for 10 minutes with us in the abandoned emergency room until an English speaking nurse arrived to admit Josey. At the time, I wished I could speak better German to thank both taxi driver for their kindness as Josey is bleeding all over their seats.

In Salzburg, they had to sedate her for surgery and pack her full of 3 meters of material to compress the walls of her vagina. They had to catheterize her, too, because the compression pinched her urethra closed. The doc was very kind and spoke excellent English (thank goodness). The doc said that the lacerations were all shallow (not deep into the tissue and not deep into her vagina), but there were a lot of them. Stitches wouldn't work, so compression was the only option. Josey had to stay for over 48 hours before they sedated her again for another surgery to remove the material. She had the material and catheter removed this morning.

Besides contracting an infection for which she received IV antibiotics, she didn't have any complications.

I stayed with her the entire time. They provided me with a fold out bed to sleep in next to her (public room with 2 other patients). The nurses were all incredibly nice, and most spoke at least some English. The nurse in training, Stephanie, spoke excellent English - she was a godsend!

I've been in a state of near tears since we left the hospital today. I was super mommy while we were there . . . never panicked or freaked or anything. Now I'm having a hard time keeping it together.

Mike has had several discussions with the hotel director, and they've signed docs from our European lawyer (thank goodness for our friend Taco from Bouzigues!!) taking full responsibility for the accident. They will pay for everything plus some.

We are now stuck here in the evil hotel for 2-3 more days. The doc wants us close in case the bleeding should start again. So far, Josey had the operation to remove the material at 10ish this morning and it's 4:30pm here now, she hasn't had ANY bleeding. YAY! However, we have to stay just in case. I have to say - I HATE this place now.

Some vacation. No Italy. . . No Slovenia . . . Radisson will be paying for us to fly to Montpellier from either Salzberg or Munich ASAP. I'm not going to make Josey suffer in a car for 12ish hours. NO WAY. That poor little thing has been through enough.

She was so brave. I'm so proud of her! Of all the things she was afraid of? Taking the pain pills.:) She said she gagged when she took the first half, so each other time was an ordeal. Surgery? No problem! Swallow a pill? End of the world.

Okay . . . I just had to decompress to my two favorite people. :)

BTW - Got a lot of knitting done in the hospital (Sabine 2 is finished but for finishing work and beaded bind off), but I desperately need exercise. My body feels soft, mooshy, and bloated (Josey said my feet looked like sausages!). Maybe I'll run tomorrow. :)

Thanks for reading my rant! Love,
Gayle

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