Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Paris Edition

Tomorrow we pack up from our Montparnasse apartment and take the high-speed train south to Avignon, get in a car and re-settle for our last trip "chunk" in Arles in Provence.  And so, as we wrap up our time in Paris, it's always a good time to take stock.  We covered more ground than I might have expected and--yet--not nearly as much as I might have desired sans kids.

We markered in the routes we took around town.  Not bad, especially when you consider we were both carrying 20-30+ pounds for most of those blocks....

So, here it is.  The good, the bad and the ugly of travelling with a nearly-two-year-old and almost four-and-a-half-year-old in Paris, as exemplified over the past two days:

The Good:

Some fantastic moments with the kids in beautiful locations, usually those that most appealed to them:

Lunch at Luxembourg Gardens, Part II.  Yesterday, we decided we needed to slow our pace down and do something less ambitious and more kid-focused.  It was a hit to return to the playground and pond and have a picnic.

Watching the ducks.  You may have to enlarge the photo to appreciate the fact that Stella is hiding her lollipop out of view from the ducks....

Watching boule with Stella.

On our last full day in Paris, we decided to buy a day pass on the Batobus, a boat that makes 8 stops along the Seine that you can hop-on and hop-off.  Stella loved it once she got out on the back.

Stella and Tyler on the evening Batobus ride on the Seine.  I can now say seeing the Eiffel Tower from the water is my preferred vantage point.  [This was part of our daily routine in Paris--dinner at home, dessert and a final outing in the evening.  Sadly, as you'll see below, this started off more fun and devolved as the ride went on....]

Me and Otto, also early in the Batobus evening ride

Having good down-time in our apartment and watching the sibling love grow between Stella and Otto:

Stella occasionally asks Otto if he wants to sit on her lap;  occasionally, he's happy to oblige!


Stella the photographer--we occasionally let Stella man the camera, which thrills her and often amuses us with the results

Yes, you are indeed looking at a picture of Stella vacuuming.  With the post-croissant crumbs, it is a necessity, and both the kids love to help. 

I wish I could have a recording of Otto saying "Busytown" as you see this photo ("Ee-ee-ow!").  We read busytown, looking for Goldbug, Lowly, Dingo Dog and Officer Flossy many times a day.

OK, this should probably be categorized as "the bad" since Otto wacked his head while playing, but Stella playing nurse was just too cute.

For us adults, some of the sites and scenery was nothing to sneeze at:

Pont Alexandre (I think), right by Invalides, and very beautiful


In the Louvre

One of my favorite unexpected moments--we took the Batobus and got off near the Louvre with the intention of having a picnic lunch in the Tuileries.  We had nearly given up hope of finding something decent and not overpriced to eat when we happened upon a market off St. Honore, including this stall selling Senegalese food.  She was nice enough to give us forks, heat up our food, fry up some fresh samosas, and point us to some bathrooms.

The Bad:

Now I know it's a bit rich to complain when we're in Paris and on an extended vacation, but not every moment is fantastic.  The last few days, I admit to looking to Tyler and saying, "Let's promise to come back to Paris, just the two of us, when the kids are older."  So lest you think we're some kind of superhero travelling parents, know we struggle just as you might.

At the Tuileries--started off cute with Otto pointing up and shouting "statue" but when we saw me taking a picture turned into a grumpy face shouting "no!"

And we're now at the point on the Batobus evening grip when Stella is trying to climb up into my jacket, Otto is hanging off my arm, and this is after we've scolded them about fighting for possession of the same hand and generally making themselves unpleasant to be around.  This is also the point around which Tyler has to start threatening to take the one making the most ruckus off the boat and away from mommy to home via metro with daddy.  Oh, I feel tired just typing this and remembering the second half of the boat ride....  And that's not even mentioning my (unsuccessful) conversation with Stella about selflessness.  Sigh.

Last family photo in Paris.  Tyler had the temerity to pick Otto up since I had already lifted Stella...

The Ugly:

(Un?)fortunately, we don't tend to photograph the most ugly moments, like Tyler carrying Otto screaming for blocks up and across the bridge to the Metro station or Stella carrying on in the Metro when Otto gets a turn on my lap, but here's a small taste:

Trying to get a photo of Stella and Otto in front of the Eiffel Tower.  I guess we probably got in the way of more jumping....

Well, we can always thank goodness for inexpensive, good French wine for the bad and ugly moments that inevitably occur!  Once we ended up taking most our meals at home, Tyler would take whatever we bought, go to a wine store, show it to them and ask for something to pair for ~10 euro.  We got some delicious wines to drink!  (And today we got the rose in the afternoon and the Bordeaux as our post-boat reward.)

I believe in my first entry I thought we could have spent our whole vacation here.  Six days later, I think Paris was wonderful but also wore us out.  There are just *too* many wonderful things to do and see that we had a much harder time sticking to a kid-friendly pace, even when we knew better.  But we'll be back!  And the kids will be older.  And some day I'll be sad that they don't want to hang on me 24-7.  Right?

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