A few weeks ago I had this intense craving to get out and travel. I threw around a few ideas in my head, but I just couldn't seem to quash my Paris-lust. I called Nathan, just knowing he would say, "You are nuts because we are going to Australia in June!" but to my delight, instead he said, "Well, go ahead and book the trip. Paris it is!" So, I went ahead and booked it. As the days leading up to the trip kept passing, I began questioning our sanity and decision making skills. Who the heck takes FOUR kids to Paris, all under the age of 8, and one only 3 months old. Yep, we had lost it! The day of reckoning came quickly and before I knew it, it was 2:30am in Denver and we were waking the kids up to head on over to the airport. I hadn't slept hardly at all that night because my flying fear was kicking in big time. In fact, I spend a good 3-4 hours reading up on articles spouting safe flying stats and how to conquer your fear of flying. Of course, it didn't work, but somehow I managed to get on that airplane, once again.
Our flight from DEN to ORD was quite possibly the smoothest easiest flight I have ever experienced. Quincy and the baby slept the entire time, there was virtually zero turbulence, it was just awesome. We arrived bright and early in the Windy City and headed straight for the AA lounge. I just want to say that I don't know how we would have survived our 8.5 hour layover at that airport without lounge access. We had an entire family room to ourselves, besides about 20 minutes where a woman and her small daughter stayed and at the last 15 minutes two more kids came in. The room had computers with tons of kids games on them, a tv with every Disney and Nick station that has ever existed, and parental controls for the rest. A closet full of giant legos, cookies, fruit, a light breakfast, light lunch, etc. I even got a quick little nap in curled up in one of the chairs! The layover went incredibly quick and before I knew it, it was time to fly to PARIS!
Our flight from ORD-CDG was possibly the second smoothest flight of my life. There was virtually zero turbulence for the entire 7 hour flight. It was dreamy. The flight was also pretty empty and even though there were FIVE babies on board, you would have never known. Our babies didn't sleep much, but they weren't naughty either, and Grant, who got the spoiled treatment from the flight attendants, slept like a baby snuggled up in the entire row of empty seats just for himself! The flight attendants made him a cozy little bed, buckled him in, and for the next six hours he watched the back of his eye lids! A little aside about Grant. That boy does not need sleep. He can stay awake for ages and it doesn't phase him. He had woken up with us at 2:30am in DEN and didn't fall asleep again until a good hour in to our flight, which left ORD late, like 8 or 9 pm, if I remember correctly.
We landed in Paris bright and early. Before 7am! Nathan and I were started to feel the fatigue time at this point. Another side now: Our plane was old and only had a few tv's with one movie playing. I was super bugged about it, but my kids still managed to find ways to stay entertained, so it all worked out.
Okay, so land in Paris, load up our giant double stroller with luggage and children and head towards the train to take us to Versailles. For the first time ever, I wasn't completely lost in that concrete monstrosity and we got to where we needed to be within a few minutes. Of course nothing can't go so perfectly for so long. Sure enough, when we got to the kiosk to get our tickets, the machine asked for our PIN # and it dawned on me that I had completely forgotten to set one up! I was able to call Barclay and talk to a representative who sent me to another line to set up the PIN. Problem number two became immediately apparent when we couldn't set the pin up because we only had Nathan's card, and he was just an authorized user, which apparently the PIN is only a feature for the account owner. Luckily we had more cards, but unfortunately those cards were from Citi bank. I called Citi to set up the PIN and lo and behold, they don't offer PIN numbers for chip credit cards. Shoot! At around that time I wanted sit in the middle of the floor and throw a big temper tantrum, a worked came up to me and said that I could use my Citi card at the customer service desk! Thank you, Sweet Moses!
I head over to the desk and there is a big long line! I really hate waiting in lines. I walked to the back because I had no other option, obviously, and the next thing I know, the only worker at the desk is waving her finger at me telling me to come up there. Did I mention I had Lynden with me? So, I walked up all confused and yeah, she had just seen me holding my fussy baby so she had me come to the front of the line! It was fantastic and I wanted to hug her. This was just the first of several times we were shown kindness while we stayed in France.
Finally, we had our tickets! We came across our first fun situation where we had maneuver our gigantic stroller through the small control area and down stairs. Nathan ended up just having to fold it and lift it over the access gate because he couldn't get through! Good times. We got some seriously good workouts in during our stay with that stroller!
Our hotel was located right up against the gardens of Versailles. There was a gate to the right that led right in to the gardens. It was seriously paradise. Also, it was possibly the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in!
After waiting for over an hour for Nathan to get back, I finally decided to wake my kids up and go upstairs to wait for him instead. Okay, when I say my kids were dead to the world, I am not kidding. Two of the waitresses came over and we were trying everything to get these boys to wake up and they would not budge. The waitresses were the cutest things ever and were so gentle and quiet, trying to wake them up all nice and serene like! I was like, "BOYS! Wake up! Let's GO!" Nothing. Finally, after no joke, like 15 minutes, I just pulled them out of their chairs, they start bawling, and I practically drag them, along with the baby, back to the room.
The next day, which got started way later than we wanted to, which is kind of a recurring theme for us, we decided to go back to the Louvre and check it out this time! We took the train right to the entrance of the Louvre. That was super cool. I've been to Paris 3 times now and had no idea there was a metro station basically connected to the building. We made our way over to the gigantic line and got ready to wait for hours on end to purchase our tickets. Once again, just reaffirming how much French people love children, the security guard noticed us standing in the massive line waiting for tickets and told me to follow her. We walked ALL THE WAY to the very front and were able to go right in. It was amazing! I'm not even exaggerating when I say that we would have waited at least two hours to get through security. I was incredibly grateful that we did not have to wait. I think we probably would have given up after 30 minutes, to be honest. Once inside and once our tickets were purchased, we made our way right over to the Mona Lisa. I carried Lynden in her carrier and Nathan used the stroller the Louvre loaned us for Q dog! After the Mona Lisa, we kind of just wandered through the museum with no plan or idea of what we wanted to see or where we were going. It was stroller "friendly" but still a lot of work to use anything with wheels. We took about a million elevators, it seemed like. After wandering aimlessly for several hours, and somehow managing to basically get kicked out again because it was closing time, again, we left. We were all starving, as usual, but the cafeterias were already closed. We figured we would just head to the Eiffel Tower and eat there or somewhere on our walk over. We happened upon a McDonalds and the kids could not have been any more excited. They thought it was pretty awesome that there was an upsairs, as well! The boys and I found a small table in the upper part of the restaurant, which was awesome because that place was insanely busy, while Nathan ordered the boys Happy Meals. So, how did McDonalds in Paris compare to McDonalds in the US. They were the exact same nasty chicken nuggets and french fries we all know and love. After the boys had some food in their bellies, we began our walk over to the Eiffel Tower. It was really chilly and somewhat windy that evening. The kids were pretty beat, as well, and pretty much begging us to get to the tower so they could sit down and relax. By the time we got there, I think all of us would have been okay forgoing the trip to the top and heading back to the hotel instead. In fact, Quincy asked us like a million times if we could go back to the hotel. I sat out by the entrance with the kids while Nathan waited in line to get the tickets. It was soooo dang cold and all the dudes selling illegal souvenirs were bombarding us! "Jus 1 Euro! 1 Euro! 1 Euro!" "Sorry, I don't have any euros! No Euros!" My kids made it worse because they got all caught up in their sales antics, i.e., shining stupid flashing Eiffel towers in our faces and making it all look exciting! After like 30 minutes of it, I decided I would rather stand in line with Nathan for who knows how long rather than try to explain to those guys that I literally had not a single Euro on me!