Trip Trippin’ Part IV – Bonjour Bon Bons

Wellll let me say that our transition from the Beauvais airport to the Port Maillot Metro station was not a difficult one – Mommy walks really fast so we beat the lines to get the bus tickets and were on the next available bus before those lines got ridiculously long.  THEN came the stress I’ll call the Paris Metro Stroller Haul.  It’s not that difficult to get around the subway system, rather just like Rome, accessibility is another issue.  There are faster and more efficient elevators, but they’re not on every floor in every station (at least not the ones we’ve been in).  Thus, we again began the juggling act of Dani, backpacks, carry-ons, stroller, and the like up and down many flights of stairs.  This time with less sleep than ever.  One of the exits was strange, because you had to insert your luggage and stroller through a hole in the bottom left of the partition before going through the small turnstile yourself.  This took some strategic planning but we managed somehow without having to stuff Dani or our own butts through the hole 🙂

After tons of sweat and passing through many a urine-stank-soaked elevator, we arrived at our hotel 1.5 hours early, so we went to a Chinese restaurant across the street for lunch and to kill some time.  That was a big mistake.  Snobbiest waiters ever, who had these “get out of my way” looks about them when Dani got up to walk around.  They seemed annoyed that we weren’t speaking French, and took forever to deliver our ultra-chintzed, child-sized portions that ended up costing 20 Euros, or $28 HARD-EARNED CANADIAN DOLLARS!  For LUNCH!  Man, I’d have a shitload of fried tentacles, chicken’s feet, scramp rolls, tripe, siu mai, etc. etc. back home (Tremendous or Perfect, take your pic.  HOLLA!) for that much.  Now, I never, ever, get homesick.  But one thing I’ve been missing here (okay, two) are Timmy’s and FOOD.  GOSH all we ate in Rome was pizza and all we’ve been eating here is sandwiches and crepes.  We’d like to branch out into the smaller neighbourhoods and experience more of the local tastes, but when working with a child’s schedule and temperament, we’re lucky to sit and grab a bite at all!  That goes for shopping as well.  We barely bought a thing in Rome and we haven’t hit the department stores or any of the shops on the Champs Elysees (not like I’m able to fork out hundreds of Euros as it is).

I start to miss Rome when I see how SOME (not ALL) people look irritated when they see Dani running around.  Others think it is cute and will smile and wave at her, but that’s rarer than the former.  Also, it seems like no one waits in line, rather just rushes in and out of whatever lineup, doorway, subway train, etc. like it’s every man for himself.  In Rome, your children are LOVED.  Most people of all ages stop and smile and chat to your child, and there isn’t one time that a seat wasn’t offered on the subway because we were pushing a stroller or carrying her.  I have yet to see that here, although most of our servers and the shop keepers have been very nice.  Perhaps we’re just picking up the vibes of irritated locals during busy tourist season 🙂

On day 1, after we finally checked into the hotel, we took a nice long nap, were out the door by 10:00 pm, and hit the city.  We visited the Louvre, Palais Royale, and even the local carnival for some crepes and churros.  Photo ops along the way were inevitable.  The next day we slept in, made it in time for our Seine city bus tour (as you can guess, we got lost, LOL – prepare for PLENTY of getting lost whenever you’re in a foreign land), went to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, to Leon de Bruxelles for some dinner on the Champs Elysees, and then back to the Seine for our evening cruise.  We had booked this tour (which includes the bus tour/Eiffel Tower visit/Seine River cruise) through Viator.  Our Disneyland (which is where we went today) tickets were booked through the same supplier.  Let me exercise some caution.  When you order online, you’ll be emailed a voucher with a barcode.  Do NOT mistake this for your ticket.  We were lucky to find out in time that you need to go to Information and exchange the vouchers for actual tickets before you can join the excursion.  I’ve seen some people turned away and have to re-enter really long lines for this reason.  Also, don’t mistake your printed RECEIPT for a voucher, either.  Mommy had a dum-dum moment and for that, we had to return to our hotel after already getting to Disneyland.  Dani had a nice nap in between this fun little setback and the lines had disappeared when we got back, so it all worked out in the end.  Heh.  Heh.

I’ll stop blabbering away now.  Tomorrow we will spend our last day in the red light district (woo-hoo!), visiting the Sacre Coeur- my favourite, and what I find to be the most beautiful place in Paris- and the department stores Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps for some shopping, if we can get there in time.  All in all, Paris is beautiful as always.  We’ll be very sad to leave tomorrow night.

Pics are below.

Au revoir for now.

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Trip Trippin’ Part III-Ciao Roma

Reflections of Roma

(black eye, sore scalp and all)
As I write this, we are on the bus direct from Paris Beauvais airport to Porte Maillot Metro station. It is 10:30 am here, and we’ve been up since 2:00 am preparing for a 6:40 am flight out of Rome. We’ve yet to eat anything, and once we reach Porte Maillot (a one hour, 15 minute-long ride) we’ll be on the metro and then the Paris RER train before we can check into our hotel on the other side of the map, near Disneyland (estimated travel time of an additional hour).  I think that’s enough “fore”ground information, so I can tell you all about our highlights of Roma.
I got teary-eyed our last afternoon thinking about leaving, and of how I’d miss all these beautiful cobblestoned streets, getting lost within them, and turning the corner to find something as spectacular as the Trevi Fountain (we ended up “finding” it at least eight times total throughout the trip), Vatican City, or the Pantheon.
The locals, few and far between in August (when they all head beach- and mountain- ward for their summer vacations) were very friendly for the most part. Dani was quite the celebrity, as she made even the sternest looking Vatican guards all goo-goo-ga-ga mouthed and making silly faces at her.
The splendours of Vatican City, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum really need no praise from me, as I’m sure it’s been written about thousands of times and depicted way more beautifully than I can describe.  Or more than I would perhaps enjoy to, since I’ve gotten less than three hours of sleep last night.
There are definitely things I will be glad to leave behind, one very important one I had already mentioned earlier: the lack of accessibility for infants in strollers.
When riding the metro, it’s faster to take your stroller up and down the escalators to save yourself a lot of grief.  We didn’t even bother bringing it along to the Vatican, which is very stair-ridden and crowded. It was a good decision overall, as we were able to take the “fast-track” route to the Sistine Chapel quite painlessly, with Dani content in Daddy’s arms all day long.  If you are unaware, the Vatican museums are gigantic, so unless you’re travelling with a bored, fussy almost-two-year-old, it is safe to say you can spend a half or even full day sightseeing in there alone. I have great admiration for those with art history knowledge, who can stare at a painting and know exactly which fabulous representation lies behind it. That’s not for me, however. I think museums are boring.
Another thing I don’t care for is the heat. I know people enjoy summer, and kudos to you all, but I get very dizzy and tired to the point of passing out when it’s too hot.  Plus, our hotel was a good 15-20 minute walk from the metro station (bless those dear souls who advertised that it was only a “short walk” away).  Add that to a 7- or 8-hour long day already, and you can see why we headed “home” early every night. I do wish we had taken some snapshots of the mighty Colosseum by moonlight,  however.
Rome is very dirty. There is graffiti everywhere, and not even the nice-looking Beat Street kind. There are no local regulations to pick up dog doody, so guess what you should be careful of before walking into it.  And gosh darnit, people smoke a LOT.  Stinky!
All in all, Rome is beautiful and rich in history, but old and inconvenient. This is my honest opinion only.
I shall leave you with some photos of our travels within this majestic city, as well as a picture of John’s black eye. If I could capture my aching scalp in a photograph, I’d do that too. Both are care of, and thanks to, our darling Dani. Apparently, she hit Daddy in the eye, and the next day I asked him wtf that ashy black sh*t was. Poor Daddy. And poor Mommy too. If you own or have ever owned a cat, you would know how they like to claw up their bed, a blanket, whatever, in order to cozy up for a nap. Dani does the same with my hair, only she yanks it really hard, smells it, and keeps it in her kung fu grip until she falls asleep.  It feels good mostly, but in the morning when I wake up, my scalp is throbbing and aching in patches. That’s what the final picture is of, when she finally slept at 12:00 am but woke up two hours later anyway when we were getting ready to leave. She will not be sharing any beds with us and it’s back to the crib when we get back to Toronto, but I don’t even want to think about that so good night it is… 1:40 am Paris, 7:40 pm Toronto.
Next post: Our arrival and first day in Paris. And: it smells like pee.
xoxo
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