Starting note: For those keeping track, we are now on our third day in Fez, have endured a number of harrowing adventures which we will soon share, and are on the hunt for a good apartment. For now though, all is well.
Back to our summary: We woke up as late as we reasonably could, gathered up what remained of our stuff, got some breakfast and headed out the door, saying a rapid goodbye to what had felt like a too-quick stay with our friends.
We caught the bus to the train station, caught a train into Kings Cross, walked over to La Pancras international train station and then waited for our turn aboard the Eurostar, while Tallulah slept, after she dozed off while we waited for our turn to go through security.
We had a fine train trip and set next to a lovely quartet of older British tourists headed for a stay in Paris. The one women in the group was delighted with our kids and we sang what mutual songs we knew for a good while, including trading off "God Save the Queen" and "My Country tis of Thee." Traveling under the Atlantic Ocean through a marvel of modern engineering in the Chunnel was a bit underwhelming, but a tunnel is a tunnel.
When we first got off in Paris, we were a bit overwhelmed and put off by how crowded and chaotic it was. Going into our hotel, which was in one of the poorer parts of Paris didn't help much, neither did the unfriendly hotel concierge or the damp and dingy room (all products of our admitted cheap streak). But when we made it into the heart of Paris for an afternoon of exploration in the most iconic city in the world, all of our dim mood vanished.
The Eiffel Tower was successfully impressive, the area around it refreshingly clean and green and the weather was perfect and the only complaint was the sun was in the wrong part of the sky for us to get great shots from the grounds in front of the tower. We did get to lounge in the great just-past-noon sun for a while while Atticus and I played imaginary tennis and only decided to leave when both the kids thought the next fun thing would be to collect cigarette butts (when the Europeans get the memo that smoking isn't cool, the whole place will be only yet more ideal).
We took a nice walk across the Seine and through some of the swankier shopping districts of Paris, stopping to take some pics and work with the now-grumpy kids. When we reached the Champs-Élysées, we were a little daunted at how far away our intended target, the Arc de Triumph, lay, so we hopped on the metro, and after several failed attempts to get under the very busy traffic square around the Arc, we eventually made it and stayed as long as our chilled and grumpy kids would stand.
We made it back to the hotel fairly late, and needed to find food. The only thing that I could find that wasn't a fancy restaurant was McDonalds, so we committed the grave sin of having our only real dinner in France be at a McDonalds, sorry food gods and denizens. I brought back the food, which was predictably awful, and we decided to go for a walk. We wanted to get some ice cream, but again, McDonalds seemed our only option. We got the ice creams and continued to walk up to the base of the Basilicaf du Sacra Coeur with the hopes of scaling up the hill that it stood atop both to see the chapel as well as look out on the lit-up Eiffel Tower, but were disappointed to find it had just been closed and that there were several non-American food shops at the base that were still open to serve those who had just exited the grounds.
So combine that with the fact that Atticus was on a sugar high and wouldn't go to sleep, thus interrupting our plans of watching the copy of Les Mis that we had on our iPad together while we romanced each other, and our night one evening in Paris ended on the same sour note on which it began, unfortunately. That is, however, the way it goes when traveling rapidly across Europe, you only get limited chances to get things rights. We did have a some very lovely moments in the afternoon, and many more the next day, however, that, on reflection, will more than make up for the dour moments. I'm almost positive that Cait and I will have the opportunity sans kids, and we'll realize that while it is nice to be alone and free to romance, being there with all the people closest to us lends its own magic touch to all experience.
Summary: Bus and train from Cambridge to Paris. Explore Paris on a lovely spring evening.