Welcome to another Europe Edition of Flashback Friday. My husband and I were crazy enough to take an 18-month old on a month-long tour of Europe while I was 4 months pregnant. It was ADVENTUROUS to say the least :) This is from May 2008 – our first day in Paris.
We spent four hours on the train yesterday getting here. We took a train from Bath to London and then from London to Paris. It was a long day of traveling and we were tired. We got to our hotel and thanks to the great map we had of Paris, we didn’t get lost this time. Europe is paved in cobblestones. It’s cute and charming but after walking everywhere on it, my feet are starting to hurt.
Rick Steves picks some cheap hotels with great locations, but they also come with some quirks. Our hotel in Paris is a five minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and right next to a Metro (Subway) stop, a supermarket and a laundromat (by the way, if you call it a “laundromat” in England you will get blank stares. We never figured out what they call them. We finally got communication going by asking where to wash our clothes.). But the hotel also has what Rick Steves calls a “beam-me-up-Scotty” elevator that could barely fit one person and maybe your luggage if you sit on it. We made three trips on it to get all our stuff to our room. Our room is so small that there’s enough room for only one person to walk around the bed and that’s it. My son’s porta-crib barely fits. We managed to wedge it in-between the door and the bed. If you want to leave while he is sleeping you have to do some serious gymnastics. Our room comes with a view of the Eiffel Tower. We can barely see the top of it, but still. It’s a view!
The next day, I was eager to go see the Eiffel Tower which was literally just around the corner. My husband is a lighter sleeper than I am. He didn’t sleep well the night before and he’s tired from the traveling yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I understand but the EIFFEL TOWER is right outside. I couldn’t sleep anymore if I wanted to. I feel like a little kid at Christmas. I get ready, pack the diaper bag and get my son ready all by myself so he can sleep in. When I’m done, I nag my husband to get up.
“Just let me sleep a little longer,” my husband moans. It’s 10 am now.
“But we’re in Paris! Why don’t you sleep when we’re in Utah with nothing to do?”
I get a moan from him as a response. I wait what seems like forever until I feel like I’m going to go mad waiting in our tiny hotel room to see something I’ve always dreamed about.
“Can you get up now?” I ask him. He doesn’t say anything.
“Come on! We’re young and in Paris! Sleep when you’re dead! Ugh. I’m leaving without you.” No response. I can’t take it anymore. I’m going to see the Eiffel Tower now or die of excitement. I pack up the porta-crib so I can get the stroller out in the hall. He doesn’t take me seriously until I start strapping my son into the stroller.
“Wait! I’ll be ready in 10 minutes, I swear.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my husband it’s that he’d need a time machine to get ready in 10 minutes. Most likely, it will take him an hour. I plan to be back at the hotel before he’s done getting ready. I shut the door and leave without him, fuming mad that he slept in for so stinkin’ long. We have a limited amount of time in Paris and I intend to see everything. I’m mad that we wasted half the day when it’s so gorgeous outside. Much warmer here than rainy old London.
I realize as I get outside that I forgot my money and passport. I pause for a second to decide if I should go get them. My pride is more valuable and I leave without them, hoping that I won’t need them.
I cross the street and come to the end of the park, Champ de Mars, right across from the Ecole Militaire with the Eiffel Tower at the other end. The Eiffel Tower is stunning and so much bigger than it looks in pictures. The sky is bright and filled with fluffy white clouds. It’s perfect. All it needs is my husband to share it with. Stupid husband and his stupid sleep.
It’s Sunday and everyone is just lounging around the park and relaxing. I take a leisurely walk with the stroller and admire the gorgeous, clean park. I take out my camera to record it when this lady comes up to me and asks if I speak English. I say yes, happy to help. She shows me a piece of cardboard with lots of writing on it that basically says I should feel sorry for her and give her money or food. Ha ha, wouldn’t you know I’m not even lying to her when I tell her that I don’t have money. She ignores me and points to my camera like it proves I’m rich. Annoyed, I dig in the diaper bag and pull out a smashed Nutri-Grain bar, mad that she’s taking the little food that I brought for my son. She turns and walks away when I give it to her. After that, whenever we were asked if we spoke English, we said no. Which is ironic since they were asking us the question in English.
After she’s gone, I take some video of the Eiffel Tower and the park then start walking again. The park is massive; maybe even a mile long. My son falls asleep from our walk, so I sit down on a bench and bask in the nice breeze. I start eating the smushed sandwich that I brought when someone sits down next to me. It’s odd since there are many empty benches all around the park. I turn to look at them and what do you know – it’s my husband. I’m completely shocked that he found me in the huge park. I can’t help laughing and he’s positively beaming with the accomplishment of finding me.
We walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower together and I’m still in awe at just how big it is. There are long lines of people waiting to take the elevator to the top of the tower. Long lines are not good for toddlers and heights are not good for me, so we decided to skip it and just take a million pictures.
We had lunch at a cute cafe next to our hotel and dinner at an American-looking Chinese place. Two American tourists came in to the Chinese place while we were eating. They look like they are back-packing through Europe with their camping gear strung all over their back. We hear them start to argue with the owners about how this is abominable food and they want their money back. The owner says no and the American tourists start to leave, threatening to never come back. The owner says in response that he doesn’t want them to come back and that he hopes they keeps their promise. I love it here. Then the owner comes over to us and asks how the food is. We tell him it’s good. It tastes like regular old American-Chinese to me. I mean, it’s not a five star restaurant or anything, but I can’t figure out what those Americans were complaining about.
We also took a walk down Rue Cler today, which is an outdoor market. There’s fresh produce, meat, bread and cheese everywhere. There’s a flower shop on one corner and artisan booths selling all kinds of stuff. It’s utterly charming. I notice people pulling a large tote bag that has two wheels and a handle. It looks like luggage, but it’s open at the top and most of them are full of produce, bread and flowers. That’s when I realize there are no plastic bags here. Everyone brings their own tote bad for their groceries. I like watching everyone go about their daily business. Life here seems quant and lovely. I’m a little jealous. Life in the Western US is not nearly as beautiful as it seems here. I try to soak up as much charm as I can to take home with me to Utah before we head back to our hotel for the night.