September 17, 2011
OK, we found it.
By definition, if you stay at 20 places, one of them will be the worst. Usually, you wait until visiting each of the 20 to declare a best and a worst.
I do not feel a need to wait. I think we have a winner for our worst. Our current locale (the Aix Hotel) is unburdened by the showy attributes of other inns (such as good location, AC, or non-criminal employees). The Aix does not need such frivolous niceties. It is what it is.
What is that? The Baskin home on a Saturday night.
The Aix was a late addition. When we planned this trip, we left 3 nights without specific plans. SOme of our earlier travels had made us wish that we had allowed for more spontaneity in our schedule. We, however, were not traveling then with 6 people in Europe.
After a lengthy effort to find accommodations in Salzburg, we decided that spontaneity is WAY overrated when you have 4 kids arguing about who is staring at whom. While in Tuscany, we booked the remaining two open days. One for tonight and one for a week from now.
Perhaps it was the allure of the Tuscan hillside or the pool that our pension provided (see the attached picture), but my research was not as good as normal.
In any event, I booked an odd place. Have you ever gone to a professional printer office? Picture the neighborhood that these companies occupy - warehouses, blacktop parking lots, cold facades. Now take away the charm and you are with us at the Aix. I also realized that my one year of high school french was not going to help with the nefarious-looking French speaker at the front desk.
Of course, the kids are really impressed. They are at that age when finding flaws in their parents is simply delicious. “Ha, ha, mommy got a ticket!” “Nice choice on the accommodations!”. Perfection is tolerated, errors are celebrated.
To atone, we drove into Aix-de-Provence for dinner. This charming town was the area where Paul Cezanne did much of his painting. It is lovely with fountains and an esplanade that featured native Provencians enjoying a fall evening.
We had a lovely stroll, ate some kabobs while walking and returned to the Aix to rest up for tomorrow. Our agenda tomorrow is to visit one of the oldest castle in Europe - Carcassonne. After visiting this site, we will head to Andorra as a gift to Terrill. She loves the idea of an entire country that is smaller than Burnet County. She has talked about visiting Andorra for years, though we do not understand why. This should get a good smile out of her!
PS It is worth noting that we drove around Cinque Terre, a group of 5 cities built into cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean that are all within 9 miles of each other. After seeing the beauty, we also assessed the fact that there would be no way to park our car there on a Saturday. But we have added it to our “place to go when we are just a couple” list. Here is a quick shot: