Note: This post is largely without photos because they are on Cait's phone and I haven't been able to transfer them due to lack of wifi and losing my camera connection kit for our iDevices (we came without a PC so we have to transfer between devices). So a separate posts with pictures will come later, but for now, we need to move on and get to the good stuff coming up.
Current update: We are almost a week into Cait's classes, which are going well. We are still in a hotel in the Villa Nouvelle until our dream apartment becomes available next week.
We all slept in a little late after going to bed late the night before. Cait and I took turns having a breakfast of crepes, coffee and orange juice provided by the hotel. I was firmly corrected, however, when I tried to gather my own food, like I have at any other hotel's breakfast and sat down to be served by the staff, which would have been nicer if we weren't in such a hurry to get out on the Parisian streets for what little time we had left in the city.
We gathered all our stuff and made our first stop of the day, the Basilica du Sacre Couer which was really beautiful, but really high up a hill. WE got as lose as we felt like going, and then retreated to a playground at the base of the hill and admired the Basilica from afar while Atticus and Lulah played with a herd of Parisian children.
Our next step was taking the metro down to Notre Dame, which was really beautiful, even from the distance that our kids insisted we keep. I have to say that after my faith crises and introduction of doubts about the existence of God, churches have become more...complex places for me to visit, but I can still appreciate the skill and work that went into such a building.
On our way to Luxemburg Park, we grabbed some crepes for lunch, which were very good and probably our only really authentic French food, most of which was too expensive for our budget. It's a little disappointing that sampling the fine food in all the countries we visit (excluding England, which apparently has none) was not a part of this trip, but combine the cost with our kids non-existent history of being good in nice restaurants and restaurants are put on the list of "maybe for another trip" along with museums, nice hotels, and leisurely reading time in a non-playground section of a park. But, as we keep telling ourselves, even if our kids don't remember this, having them with us makes this trip its own kind of special. Right? Right.
Anyway, we made our way to Luxembourg Park, which Cait was especially looking forward to as the site of Marius and Cosette's first meetings in Les Mis (it's one of my favorite books as well, so it was cool for me too). The park was really beautiful and had the best playground for kids we've ever seen. It cost a few euro to get in, but it was large, well maintained and shady and kept our kids entertained for hours and could have done hours more if we didn't have to leave to catch our train.
We got some ice cream, found a small grocery store for snacks and made our way to the train station by subway. When we got to the train station, we had a hard time printing out our tickets and finally realized that we had bought them with a little used credit card, for whatever reason, and that we had to have that card to get the tickets. We worked with the ticket people for a long time, but things were looking bad until we found the card in a random pocket of the baby backpack. What a relief.
We boarded the train and made our way to the sleeper car where our little room was. It was almost a mirror image of our sleeper train room on one our trips in Egypt, and it was just big enough to be comfortable, although Lulah kept insisting on going out in the hall to toter around while the train swayed her back and forth.
We struggled for a while to keep the kids quite for the neighbors and they eventually fell asleep, although it took us adults a little longer to get comfortable on the small beds we were sharing with a kid each, and the heater that Atticus had decided to turn on kept clicking, trying to ignite, until I could figure out how to turn it off, but eventually we all got some sleep as we made our way slowly but surely to Madrid.
Summary: Lovely day in Paris, start of the train ride to Madrid.