(these events occurred three years ago on a family trip to Europe)
Our first experience with serious jet lag. Ugh. We made it to Paris and the flight was uneventful, especially given the events of the 48 hours prior to boarding the plane. Nobody barfed or spiked a fever or set off security alarms. The number of times I was asked, "How much longer now?" reached the hundreds, I'm sure, but I can't say that wasn't expected.
The girls and I spent three hours awake in the middle of the night playing games. I finally made a deal with them that if they were allowed to watch Dumbo (thank God for the portable DVD player!!!) they would lay down and try to go back to sleep. The three of us finally fell asleep again around 5AM Paris time and slept until noon.
As soon as we awoke, E. was like a child possessed. She was determined that we get to the Eiffel Tower pronto! (Or, in French, 'allons y, vite! Vite!') Riding the Metro is incredibly simple and we were there in no time. After having fallen in love with the NYC subway, the girls treat mass transit as if it were a ride at Magic Mountain.
After staring in awe at the sheer height of the tower E. began pulling us toward the elevators. In lieu of expensive souvenirs, S. and I gave each of the girls their own disposable cameras to be in charge of. I literally had to stop E. from taking 24 photos from the top, she was so thrilled by how far we could see in every direction. The girls spied the carousel ride across the street from us and as soon as we got off the elevator to the ground level, we were off. What a dream! I can't believe I'm here right now!
It was terribly hot and humid so we decided to board the Bateaux Parisien for a river ride on the Seine. What fun to see the locals along the grassy banks, picnicking or playing guitar or saxophone here and there - all of them in various stages of undress as they soak up the sunshine. The boat passed by Notre Dame and I swear I'm watching a movie. I can't possibly be sitting on a boat with my husband and two daughters floating down the Seine past this impossibly gorgeous cathedral! Even my 9th grade French is proving to be quite serviceable. I am able to get by without a hitch despite the fact that I can't seem to recall my teacher's name or face. The reputation of the French for being incredibly rude is, so far, completely unfounded. The vast majority of the people we've come across are kind and helpful and are happy to speak English if I get stuck.
We are, due to the fact that we're traveling with two children under the age of six, woefully unable to explore anything in depth. We managed a cursory walk-through of Notre Dame and, although E. kept repeating, "Isn't it just beautiful?" she wasn't willing to linger very long. I was bowled over by the sheer size of this gorgeous place and the immensity of the quiet space contained inside. Like my high school French, the rituals I grew up with as a child came back to me and I had to restrain myself from dipping my fingers in the holy water and crossing myself as we entered. S. joked that I would burst into flames or be struck by lightning. I'm not so sure he's wrong about that.
What a terrific day! We finished up with cheese fondue and came back to the apartment to collapse.