Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paris, the summary

I just realized it's been a while since I wrote and I forgot to summarize our trip to Paris, sorry.  I have a little bit of an excuse - want to hear it?  good.  The day after we returned from Paris Paul left for Bahrain and doesn't return until today.  Needless to say that left me with a mountain of laundry, two very tired boys and a lot of housework to do so my brain hasn't had the ability to write.

I've spent the last few days doing laundry including all of the sheets and blankets, battling another mold infestation, switching all our clothes from winter to summer and sorting through to accumulate two trash bags full of donations and cleaning up the house from 3 weeks of neglect.  whew.  This weekend we will tackle the yard which currently resembles an overgrown jungle.

But let's talk about fun stuff for a while, shall we?  Paris, ahhhhh Paris.  We had a great trip.  I did a bit of research before going trying to find "kid friendly" things to do in the City of Lights and while I found lots of articles stating "Paris can be fun for kids" I truly had my doubts.  You see, if you've been to Paris as an adult and kid free you experience Paris a totally different way and I wasn't completely sure I was willing to give up my ideal version of Paris.  It turns out the articles were right, you can enjoy Paris with kids!  It's a completely different experience but one I'm so glad I had the opportunity to enjoy.

I decided at the last minute to take a stroller and boy am I glad I did!  We must have walked for miles each day and poor William is not able to keep up, we would have been absolutely miserable if both boys had tried to walk those distances.  We chose not to use the Metro system as it is so easy to stroll from place to place.  Our apartment was in the 15th arrondisement, just south of the Eiffel Tower.  It was the perfect location, close enough to the action but far enough out of the center to give us a feel for real life in the city.  We had a playground just across the street from our apartment and we played there quite a bit.  It was such a lovely scene, a variety of children playing together across language barriers and cultures.  I thought this would be our life here in Italy, multi-cultural experiences where my boys were able to play with children from all over the world; but alas, that was not to be.

Our first day we took the boys to the top of the Eiffel Tower, they thought it was so cool!  We had lunch at one of the restaurants on the Tower, yes I know that's a touristy thing to do but it was actually good food at a reasonable price and the view can't be beat!  We sat overlooking the Seine watching boats go by, sipping wine, eating salmon and finishing with a most divine chocolate dessert.  The next day we took the BatoBus, a shuttle boat that goes from stop to stop along the Seine river, and we went to Notre Dame.  The boys also liked seeing this as they had learned about the gargoyles on the church from Scooby Doo.  Yes, I'm a bit embarrassed I can't say they learned about it from an educational film during a homeschooling lesson, but it is what it is.  After Notre Dame we walked over to the Jardin de Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) and found a playground for the boys to run around.  This playground was fantastic!  Of course you had to pay a small fee to get in this one but it was worth it - the boys left covered head to toe in dirt and completely exhausted.  We walked back to the BatoBus stop and before the boat pulled away from the dock William was asleep in his stroller and Lewis had found two seats where he could lay down.

I've already written a summary of our Tuesday, it turned out to be a great day despite our visit to the clinic for Paul's hand.  On Wednesday Paul had his meeting (the real reason for our trip) so the boys and I had a rest day.  We hung out in our PJs for most of the morning and then went to the playground, had a light lunch out and waited for Paul to come home.  We went out to dinner that night, yummy Indian food and then went for a stroll around the city.  Paris is much different at night.  All the tourist buses have left, it's quiet, subtly lit and peaceful.  I wanted the boys to see the Eiffel Tower at night and also to experience the flashing that occurs on the hour.  For the millennium celebration they lit the Eiffel tower with flashing bulbs and they still use them each night.  Now let me tell you, it doesn't get dark in Paris until at least 10:00pm making it very hard to get little boys to sleep at a normal time.  By Wednesday night, 10:30 was their normal bedtime so it wasn't strange at all that we had them out and about at this time of night.  We were playing on a playground in the park in front of the Tower when she started flashing - the look on William's face was pure delight!  He just sat and stared and said "wow!".  Unfortunately I didn't see Lewis' reaction as he and Paul had gone to find a restroom but Paul said he was also amazed at the sight.

Thursday was a rainy day but we went out anyway, we had no plans just walking and discovering.  We were in the Jardin de Tuilleries just in front of the Louvre when the weather took a turn for the worse.  We went inside for cover and originally planned to only see the pyramid and get a snack but found out children are free for the museum so we decided to go in.  Now Paul and I are not museum people, needless to say neither are Lewis and William, but it's the Louvre and you need to do it once so we did - did I mention it was pouring rain outside?  We got our map and headed straight to the Mona Lisa, slowly pushed our way to the front and as she came into clear view I leaned down to the boys and said "look, that's the Mona Lisa, she's one of the most famous paintings in the world."  And Lewis said "yeah, I know Mom, I've already seen her on Little Einsteins."  Good grief.  Well, at least they're learning something from the shows they're watching?  I have to admit, I don't get all the hype about this painting.  We viewed several other paintings by da Vinci that I personally liked better, but what do I know about art?  Nothing.  Paul and I both agreed it was a bit anti-climactic to finally see her, but we can say we've seen her in person.  We moved on to the Ancient Egyptian exhibit which we all liked more, they had an actual mummy!

Friday we spent another long day at the Jardin de Luxembourg enjoying the playground, the fountains, a nice lunch (sushi again, yummy!) and a lovely snack on the way home.  All week I wanted to stop at a corner cafe, have a creme brulee and a glass of champagne and Friday was my day!  I convinced Paul to stop and bribed the boys with ice cream - it was a fabulous last snack in Paris!  I'm not sure Paul enjoyed it as much after paying the bill (eating in Paris is crazy expensive) but I'm very grateful for that little indulgence.

And Saturday we came home!  I will share this, for the first time coming home from a trip I didn't dread being back in Naples-answered prayer?  I think so.  I'm finally gaining peace about being here and for that I am truly grateful.

Wow, after not writing for a week I just talked your ears off (or eyes since you're reading it).  Now that we've unpacked from Paris it's time to start thinking about Crete!  We leave for Greece on Saturday June 12 and I can't wait!

Both boys are still missing their Oma - the distraction of Paris was good but as soon as we got home they remembered and said "let's go see Oma".  We all miss you! 

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