Trip: Second Half (Paris)

A week into the trip we took the Eurostar train through the Chunnel to Paris. It was such a fun experience, and a much better way to travel than by plane. We were able to spread out, enjoy the scenery, and face each other to enjoy some lovely conversations. Plus, the never-ending supply of provided food and beverages (wine) were a great benefit. You slept most of the way there.

Beautiful St. Pancras train station, where we caught EuroStar to Paris (also where our apartment was)

Beautiful St. Pancras train station, where we caught EuroStar to Paris (also where our apartment was)


Nana and Papa on the train

Nana and Papa on the train


Family that travels together...

Family that travels together…

When we arrived we went out for dinner then settled in for the night. There was no pack-n-play in this apartment, and I was delighted to find a rolled up bedroll in nana and papa’s room. I folded that in half, put a sheet on it and pillows around the perimeter, and we placed it in one of the corners in our bedroom. We were wondering if you’d sleep soundly on it, and thank goodness, you slept great the entire week.

We spent our first morning at Jardin des Tuileries, a beautiful park to the south of the Louvre, trying to let you play so that we could go to the museum and you’d hopefully nap. It was such a picture perfect Parisian morning. The leaves were changing, you were in a happy mood, we snacked on baguettes and coffee and relaxed in the park chairs. We found a carousel and you rode it, then you found a spinning piece of playground equipment that you loved. A sign stated it was for kids three or older, and when I looked over and saw that your dad had put you on it I think my heart stopped for a second as I thought you’d go flying off. But over and over, around and around you went, and you kept asking for more and more time on it. I couldn’t believe how you never tired of it.

Spinning playground thing

Spinning playground thing

Your dad was so excited to get a picture of you ‘photo bombing’ Mona Lisa in the Louvre, but amazingly, you feel asleep literally as we walked up to the painting and so, alas, your first Mona Lisa viewing (and accompanying photo bomb) will have to wait for another visit.

We visited the Arc de Triomphe, where you quickly made a new, older friend. You pulled her all around the viewing platform, around and around, and it was interesting to see you take the lead and guide such an older child around unhesitatingly. You had fun exploring and playing with your little friend, and we were happy to have you entertained while we enjoyed the view a bit.

Fast friends on Arc de Triomphe

Fast friends on Arc de Triomphe


Family on top of the Arc

Family on top of the Arc

I did capture the sweetest picture of you and your dad up there, one that I can’t wait to frame and have next to my desk at work.

Kisses for dad in Paris

Kisses for dad in Paris

We also took the train out to Versailles for the day, where strollers are not allowed and you fell asleep in my arms, where you slept as I enjoyed the tour of the palace. Outside we enjoyed a picnic with everyone by the water of the Grand Canal, where your dad paddled me around five years ago when we were here on our anniversary.

Picnic on the Grand Canal

Picnic on the Grand Canal


Checking out huge fish, swans and ducks in the Grand Canal with Papa

Checking out huge fish, swans and ducks in the Grand Canal with Papa


Lots of fun playing with Kyle next to the Grand Canal

Lots of fun playing with Kyle next to the Grand Canal

Aunt Jen spotted ponies in the distance, and I knew immediately that we’d take you to ride one, and knew almost as surely that you’d love it. We sat you on the pony and you immediately had a huge grin on your face, no hesitation or fear at all. We walked along the path and you just took it all in, happily looking around as we walked but mostly just staring at the horse. At one point the horse got spooked and lurched a bit then neighed, and you immediately signed and said ‘all done’ and wanted off; I held you for a minute or two and then you wanted right back on. When the ride ended you signed for more. I hope you don’t someday ask for a pony.

First horse ride at Versailles

First horse ride at Versailles

We celebrated Halloween in Paris by donning Halloween-themed temporary tattoos, every single one of us.

Family tattoos for Halloween

Family tattoos for Halloween


Emma's tattoo

Emma’s tattoo

The apartment in Paris had no bathtub, a logistical challenge thankfully easily overcome by the presence of a large kitchen sink. And thus, you had your first sink bath! We never bathed you in a sink when you were teeny as many people often do; we had a baby bath that we used from day one. So when we plunked you into the sink, it was quite the novelty. And of course now you’re big enough to realize that it was a bit odd. But, you had lots of fun, and especially liked playing with the colander that we’d improvised as a toy for you.

Sink-time fun!

Sink-time fun!

On this trip we struggled more than we ever have with keeping track of your shoes and socks on this trip, probably because you were in the stroller so much, and because taking them off provided you a source of amusement apparently. But we were constantly realizing you’d taken one or the other of these items off and dropped it, and we’d immediately stop and hunt down the missing item. Unfortunately towards the end of our trip the hunt was unsuccessful, and we left Paris minus one tiny Nike tennis shoe.

We ate a lot of french fries, in London on account of the copious amounts of fish and chips we were ordering, and in Paris because they seem to come with almost every meal. You have long been a fan of french fries, but just on this trip started enjoying them with ketchup. Or, to be more exact, I should say you started enjoying ketchup, because you’d just dip the same french fry into the ketchup, over and over, never actually eating the fry…

Our last day in Paris we visited the Eiffel Tower, where we were sad to encounter a huge line, and where we instead decided to focus our energies on the carousel, which I’m sure made you much happier than traipsing up a bunch of steps. The one at the Eiffel Tower is two stories, and you had fun on both the bottom and the top, though seemed to most like a stationary car, which didn’t go up and down, but which had steering wheels that turned and kept you happily entertained.

At bottom of Eiffel Tower

At bottom of Eiffel Tower


You're flying high at the Eiffel Tower; too much fun!

You’re flying high at the Eiffel Tower; too much fun!


Emma stare-down

Emma stare-down


Two-story carousel at the Eiffel Tower

Two-story carousel at the Eiffel Tower

Advertisements

Trip: First Half (London)

We’ve been in London and Paris for the last two weeks, and just got home Sunday. You did amazing, and made me so proud of the little traveler that you are. Brett made a comment that if we can travel with you at this age, we’ll be able to travel with you at any age, insinuating how your current age is probably one of the most difficult ages to travel with. But you did wonderfully.

Nana and papa were on our flights to London. It was great to have them along to help with getting all of our gear to the airport and checked in, and just generally helping keep you content and entertained. We had an overnight flight from DC to London, and we tried to get you to fall asleep almost immediately after takeoff. You just weren’t that tired, and were too stimulated by the lights and sounds, and it was difficult to get you to sleep. But once you fell asleep, you slept until we landed.

Once in London you had great fun running around the arrivals terminal while we waited for your Uncle Brett, Aunt Jen and Cousin Kyle to arrive. We made a little sign for you to hold for them that said those words (Uncle Brett, Aunt Jen, Cousin Kyle) on it, and thought it was so funny to line you up, holding your sign, next to all of the limo drivers. You were so cute with it, but tired of it quickly. Once they arrived we took the train to our apartment, and discovered we couldn’t access it for another four hours or so. Everyone headed to lunch, and we headed on a walk with you hoping we could get you to sleep. You feel asleep before we’d even made it a block away, so we went back and joined the group for lunch. Afterward we walked to the British Museum, where you woke up and enjoyed looking at the Egyptian section the best.

Exploring London with Papa and Kyle

Exploring London with Papa and Kyle


We were all exhausted and tried our hardest to stay up to a reasonable hour. You made it to around 7:30 pm, and we went to bed shortly thereafter. You awoke once in the night wanting milk, but otherwise slept soundly.

The week was filled with seeing all of the must-do London sites, most of which your dad and I had done, but a couple we had not.

Big Ben by night

Big Ben by night


Checking out Big Ben from Westminster Abbey

Checking out Big Ben from Westminster Abbey

Some highlights include:

* Your love of the red, double-decker London buses. Upon seeing them you’d say ‘bus’ and then immediately sign for more. We tried to explain that we couldn’t make them appear on-demand, but that if you kept a lookout for them you’d likely see some more. Your Aunt Jen bought you a ‘Wheels on the Bus’ book, which plays the tune when a button is pushed. You wanted to read that book over and over; we finally realized we needed to hide the book before bedtime because it got you too excited.

* We took a ride on the London Eye – a first for all of us – and it was so fun. You loved it! You enjoyed running around and looking out at all the different views, and also liked to look down. The ‘eye’ part gets pretty high, and we were amazed at how much you enjoyed looking down the entire ride, never showing trepidation or hesitation.

London Eye - the structure

Looking through the Eye

So much fun up high, high above London

So much fun up high, high above London

* We sought out a park one day so you could burn some energy off with your cousin, and landed at the Princess Diana Memorial Park in Kensington Park. It is amazing, one of the best parks we’ve ever been to. It is staffed and only adults accompanying children are allowed. It is large, with unique and different equipment than we’ve ever seen, including many that make sounds, and overall it was just a great, peaceful place. You made some friends and didn’t seem like you ever wanted to leave.

You can't resist the boys over there with those British accents.

You can’t resist the boys over there with those British accents.

* One afternoon your nana, Aunt Jen and I took you to Harrods. We headed for the kid’s toy floor, and although it was a bit overwhelming to me, you had a blast. You found some electric cars and loved the multi-thousand dollar Ferrari.

"Mom, can we get it?"

“Mom, can we get it?”

Luckily we were able to distract you from the cars with a play stroller (a pram) and a baby doll, and you pushed it all over the store. Jen watched and played with you while I picked out some books and tried hard to choose a teddy bear for you. I wanted badly to buy you a Harrods teddy bear on your first trip to London. But you could’ve cared less about the bears, and you have many at home, so I decided to forgo the purchase. In the end you got a handful books, one entitled ‘The Tiger that came to Tea’, which has become a favorite. In the book there is a page where a little girl offers the tiger sandwiches, and every time we read it you reach out to the plate, pretend that you’re grabbing a sandwich, and then offer it to either myself or your dad, and then also get one for you to eat. Sometimes you give one to the tiger. It is fun to see you starting to engage in this type of pretend play, and also to see how giving you are (with your pretend sandwiches).

* We took the Tube many times while we were there, and you took to saying ‘choo chooooo’ whenever we’d mention train or when we’d go on one. Sometimes you’d say ‘bye bye choo chooo’ when we’d get off or when one would zoom past. I’d never previously heard you say train or choo choooo, so I’m not sure where that connection came from.

* One of my favorite restaurants in the world, Wagamama, is in London, and we took you there. At Wagamama I ordered a fresh juice, which I presumed you might enjoy sharing with me. It was celery, lime, apple and mint, and you loved it. I took a picture of you blissed out while drinking it, and it just melts my heart. I’m so glad to know you share my love of Wagamama. While eating there I was reading some information on the restaurant on the menu and discovered that Wagamama means naughty child in Japanese. I found it very fitting for you my cute, smart, energetic, and sometimes naughty child.

Blissed out by the juice at Wagamama

Blissed out by the juice at Wagamama

* The apartment that we rented had a few toys, and one was a wooden caterpillar with a long string that you could hold onto and pull it behind you. You have a frog just like it at home, and we actually pondered bringing it because it’s been really useful on past trips to keep you entertained walking up and down hallways and around hotels. Well this was the same; you loved it. Whenever we were home you’d grab someone’s hand and the caterpillar in your other hand, and head them both to the door. You spent most of the walks with Papa, walking up and down the halls, but I know Jen and others did some walks with you as well.

* On this trip we used elevators a lot, mostly in our apartment building and in the Tube stations. You quickly learned the word ‘push!’ (always said excitedly!) and would either just start pushing buttons (if they were low enough) or ask to be raised up so you could push the button. In almost all elevators there the alarm button is way down low, in perfect reach of your curious, pushing little fingers. We learned quickly to keep an eye out for those and to steer you clear of them.