The gateway to our European travels was the shimmering Paris. After a long flight and layover, we arrived at our rented flat around 5 p.m. and I nudged everyone outside to fight off jet lag. We were staying near the Eiffel Tower so we walked over to say bonjour.
The sun swirled through her regal arches and summer bloomed in the surrounding park. People stretched in every direction and there was a steady chime of vendors calling out for buyers.
On the way back to the flat, we passed a Subway sandwich shop and the jet-lag hunger of the kids kicked into full gear. They begged to have a sandwich and so we found ourselves sitting on a rickety table while the boys debated how the chips “just taste different” and, in Paris, lunch can be dinner. And with that, the Americans had fully arrived.
We spent three days in the city and she proved to be a patient and charming host. As this was the first visit for the kids and husband, it can be quickly summed up in three categories.
Satiated with magical sandwiches, everyone fell asleep quickly on our first night. As the experienced international traveler, my body clock decided 6 hours was enough and I should experience 3 a.m. solo. That enjoyment lasted about 6 hours and I finally fell back asleep when I realized my slumbering family had no interest in the morning. We all woke up at 1:45 p.m. – a total of 17 hours of sleep for my male companions.
Emboldened by their sleep mastery, the next night Brady (9) and Zack (11) decided to stay up talking a while but then Brady kept us all awake until almost 2 a.m. with his constant grievance reports. It was too hot, the fan too loud, his brother’s breathing was annoying, his one eyelid hurt, he couldn’t find his eye mask, the ear plugs were too big for his ears, no one cared about him.
Our final night in Paris, the kids slept 12 hours straight. So in our 70 hours in Paris, the kids were asleep for 36 of them. Oh la la.
Determined not to visit another American eatery, I introduced them to crepes, Nutella, chocolate croissants, macaroons, and sauces on everything. I discovered that French servers would overlook our fumbling French as long as the boys wore their plaid bow ties and said “s’il vous plaît” frequently. They were then bemused when my native Chicagoan husband would greet them with “How ya doin?”
The kids were never as thirsty as when bottled water was 8€ a litre. Confusion at no refills. Where was the syrup?
One night in what can only be described as a Parisian miracle, Zack happily munched on salad at dinner.
“What is this sauce on the leaves?” he said.
“Why don’t we have this back home??”
There are 669 stairs from the base to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. And 669 going back down. Ironically, it takes longer to wait in line for an Evian and a hot pretzel on the second floor than it does to walk aforementioned stairs.
There are 284 stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. They are in a nice, cozy spiral with a handrail that becomes a close friend.
Our flat was on the fourth floor. The floors started at 0.
The benefit of sleeping half the time, is eating only two meals a day. I made sure to make up the caloric deficit with wine.
I went for a run one morning when my beauties were sleeping. It took my GPS watch 30 minutes to sync and my legs about that long as well.
My iPod was embarrassingly un-chic, although listening to Bob Marley had a certain je ne sais quoi. Pitbull, not so much.
Also, pigeons don’t appreciate being startled.
Stay tuned for Adventures of the Travel Nerds, UK Edition.