Two Days in Paris: Part One
We arrived at the airport two and half hours early to catch our flight. Thankfully, I checked-in online because the line was incredibly long. We didn't have to check our bags. I decided to carry on my duffle bag to make it easier to push her in the stroller. Have you ever tried to push a stroller and suitcase at the same time? Yeah. Not happening. We had two full days in Paris, and I needed to be as strategic as possible. Going through security is always a headache, but try that with a small child. I had to breakdown her stroller, take off our coats, and then get my bag searched while trying to hold her in my arms. Sadly, we lost a few good hair products. I was so happy when it was over.
The Birmingham International Airport has a play area for kids, so Ayo danced away until it was time to board the plane. Upon boarding, I talked to the airline hostess (or whatever they're called) about pre-boarding with her since I was alone and needed more time. She agreed. If you're traveling with a small child, always ask for this accommodation...it makes all the difference. 30 minutes later the wheels were up, and Ayo was fast asleep.
By flight, it only takes an hour to get to Paris from England (Paris is an hour ahead of the UK). We arrived at the Charles De Gaulle airport at about 9:30 p.m. Since they made me check-in my stroller at the gate, I walked through the airport for twenty minutes carrying a 27 pound child, a heavy duffle bag, and my computer bag. After I picked it up, we headed for the taxis, only to find the line was long, like very long. I was anxious because I needed to get to my room and check in by a certain time and we were already behind schedule. I decided to use the Airbnb services and rent a room in central Paris, in the Picquet neighborhood. We hoped into the first cab, of which the driver only spoke French, and headed to the room. This is where I made my first mistake. From my calculations the room was 30 minutes away from the airport, but my driver was able to let me know that wasn't true. In fact, it took an hour. It cost me 70 Euros. Anyway, we arrived to be room safely, and the owner was pretty nice. The room was small but only 15 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower by foot. It was a perfect location. Unfortunately, the apartment elevator was standing room for only one or two (small) people. I had to push Ayo up against the wall in her stroller to fit, especially since we were on the fourth floor. It was late and I was tired from our little journey. I soon discovered that the WIFI wouldn't connect. We spent our first night quietly in the dark.
We had a beautiful view of the Parisian neighborhood from our room. We got dressed and headed to a cafe nearby for breakfast. Ayo doesn't talk yet, and I don't speak French. Let's just say trying to read a menu in another language was a little stressful, especially when your child is crying for food. I ordered a croissant, orange juice, and hot chocolate, all of which taste amazing. Right after finishing, we walked across to street to a local market and "vendor" shopped. It was a very cool vibe, given the exchange of different cultures and languages. We left the market with no clear plans except site-seeing. The Eiffel Tower was up first.
Arriving the night before, we passed the Eiffel Tower on our way to the room. I knew it wasn't far away, but I didn't know which direction. We cabbed it. Unlike England, where you can hail a cab that allows you to put a stroller in without breaking it down, this one did not. It was comical trying to watch me get Ayo in the car while she slept. But it happened. A few minutes later we were in front of the tower. My cab driver failed to mention we weren't far away and I rang up a 13 Euro tab just going up the street. Taxis in Paris are freakin' expensive. Nonetheless, this couldn't ruin the moment. I longed to see the Eiffel Tower forever. I remember watching movies with it framed in the background, wishing I could be there to see it in person. It's beautiful. I mean it's only made up of iron and metal but it's so break taking, and for me stood for freedom. We stayed there for an hour while I got shots from every angle. It was chilly and the lines to go to the top were out of this world. Literally, everyone and their mom was trying to go up. We had to pass because standing in a long line would have only made Ayo irritable, and who needs that.
The next stop was the Arc de Triomophe. Getting there was inserting. As beautiful as Paris is it's also antiquated. Most subways and trains have no lifts (elevators). This means I had to pick up the stroller with Ayo in it, and carry her up and down the stairs. This would be the case for our whole trip. Also, the gaps between the train and the platform can be wide depending on the rail line, so making sure nothing dropped out while in transit was also important. Once we arrived, we walked around the Champs-Èlysèes area, which is filled with stores and eateries. Next, we headed to the famous Lourve museum. The pyramids stood glittering in the sun. There were lots of people with selfie sticks trying to get that obligatory picture, me included. The same story of long lines and not being able to go into the museum applied here.
Our final stop was the Cathèdrale Notre Dame de Paris (I've pronounced it wrong my entire life). Like in the animated Disney movie, there are gypsies that fill the streets. Only these gypsies are panhandlers and not pretty, using deformed children to illicit an emotional response to give money. Other than that, the church was beautiful. The architecture was magnificent; every detail was perfectly carved out. Fortunately, we were able to walk through. There is a vow of silence in the church and no talking allowed. My daughter didn't get the memo. Every time I tried to stop and take a photo she whined, making our visit a little short. When traveling with a very young child it's tough trying to experience everything to the full extent. From what I saw, the church is well preserved. Next time I go, I hope to sit and meditate; it was so peaceful inside.
As if started to get darker, we headed back to the room, but not before picking up some take-out. It was the perfect ending to a long day. Long-behold, the Wifi started working. That was all I needed.