I wonder how many people have been following along on our journeys and thought “Oh my gosh, that is so fun, all the time… how amazing… dream come true, almost like Genovia!”
Don’t get me wrong… this trip has been EPIC. We’ve seen, tasted, smelled, touched, heard, and experienced Europe. We’ve been to famous landmarks and eaten famous foods, and we have fun stories to tell.
But, there are plenty of downtime. Like they day we didn’t get out of the hotel until noon, or the time we got back at 9, and had hours to not be a tourist, but to be a hotel occupant. And then, weird days like today.
We are about 8 miles outside of Paris, in a smaller town called Creteil. It’s plenty nice here, but it’s just a city… hardly anything to do (a park down the road, a few restaurants (but nothing French), some fruit markets (very small stores)… and lots and lots of apartments. There’s hardly anyone out on the streets… so it has a somewhat vacant feel to it (although we are on a main road, and there’s plenty of traffic).
To make matters worse, today is a holiday here (Whit Monday, related to Pentecost Sunday)… so about 3/4 of everything is closed. The plan was this:
1. Get up, do laundry
2. pack, check out (by noon)
3. store our bags at the receptionist desk, then go grab some breakfast/lunch
4. walk around town, and check out the graveyard/church thing half a block down,
5. start going to the airport around 7pm
6. fly to Rome from 10 to midnight
7. uber from airport, about 30 minutes, arrive at hotel by 1am.
Here’s how it really happened:
1. Get up, get laundry going (ugh, someone else was using the washing machine, so I had to go down every 20 minutes to see if they were done yet… not fun. Left my clothes on the washer to claim my spot in line, hoping no one steals the clothes)
2. Get wash done and switch to dryer. Luckily notice that dryer wasn’t working before I ran upstairs… otherwise I would have come back an hour later to wet clothes :/
2. Get everyone else packing by 11:35 (some were already awake, some weren’t (not naming names… teens have a capacity to sleep a lot :p)
4. Check out of hotel, check bags in with front desk, and put clothes on a second dry cycle…. still not dry.
5. Walk to the restaurant street, with about four restaurants, and hope that something is open.
6. Get fruit and candies from the small market,
7. Go to chicken fast food joint, get burgers and fries (while Ellie eats a quarter watermelon with her bare hands (until she asked for a spoon) and same ate a naan-bread-looking thing from the pâtisserie.
8. The Trio goes to hang out at a park down the road and I go back to get our clothes out of the dryer before someone else does, and do some JibberJobber work.
9. Got clothes out, packed what was dry, and hung a few things over our luggage (ugh).
10. Started to do some work (pay bills), and then the Trio surprises me by showing up (like 10 minutes later). Bored? Nope, had to pee.
11. Now we are sitting in the hotel foyer, essentially camped out until 7ish. It’s 3:30pm right now. I have plenty of work to do.
So there you go… like I said, any trip is going to have downtime. We’ve been able to talk about our plans for Rome… here’s what we are thinking:
Arrive tonight at 1am and if everything goes well, get in our Bed and Breakfast fine. I overlooked the fact that they close early and you have to make arrangements with them to check in after ours (which is like 8pm!!).
Tuesday: Go to the beach. Haven’t done that on this whole trip, and Sam just got back from the Dominican Replublic and thinks that life is always better at the beach.
Wednesday through Friday: Get hop-on-hop-off, skip-the-line passes to everything, and do the Rome tourist thing.
Saturday: open, probably beach
Sunday: Church, if we can figure that out
Monday: open, at night we fly to Barcelona!
Like I said, this trip has been epic, but for all those at home doing chores and all that, just realize that we are here doing chores and having downtime, too.
For now, I’m hoping that we have no problems getting into our hotel tonight, otherwise we’ll sleep on some park benches in downtown Rome.
From France, for the last time, au revoir!
UPDATED THE NEXT DAY
I wrote that about 3:30, thinking we’d have a pretty standard travel day. It wasn’t exactly “standard.”
After waiting until about 6:30 pm we finally decided to get an uber (earlier than planned) to the airport. We got dropped off and checked in, then were on the hunt for food. We wanted a sit-down, and NO SANDWICHES. By now, we are tired of sandwiches. There were only three options, and the whole “pay $20 euros for a hamburger” just wasn’t setting well with us. In disgust of the options, we finally choose the most Paris-y looking restaurant and sit down. It really was the most parisy environment we were in… super cute. The sliders were only $27. UUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH.
Our meal wasn’t too expensive only because I didn’t order a $27 plate and just shared with the others. “How do you like your steak?” Me and William had ordered a plate with three little burgers. “Um, are they burgers, ground beef, or steak? Are they on buns?” No sir, these are three steaks. “Oh, well in that case, medium.” A while later, he brings out three sliders, which are little hamburgers, not steaks, cooked with too much pink in the middle. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
We finished our meal, not in love with the food, and head to our gate. So, a little bathroom talk… the bathrooms at this airport were some of the nicest looking I’ve ever been to. That’s why I was struck at this crazy sign… it’s a sign I’ve never seen over a urinal, anywhere:
I also have never, ever, ever seen anyone trying to drink out of or fill a water bottle from a urinal :p
After a while we get on, row 4 (I’ve never been so close to the front, except when I got lucky on Southwest), and took off. Flying over France at night was beautiful… we saw the Eiffel Tower from above (that was cool), and then flew over a bunch of sleepy French villages… really beautiful.
After two hours, we arrived in Roma! But, the airport was not staffed well enough, and we had to wait for a team to bring us the stairs to get off the plane. Finally, we get off, get on a bus, and get to the terminal. The lady from the B&B is waiting for us, and WhatsApping us wondering were we are (we made “late accomodations and will you pick us up” arrangements just 24 hours earlier and I wasn’t positive she’d be there… and we needed her to get us into the B&B, which doesn’t have a 24 hour reception desk!).
I left the Trio at the luggage carousel while I went and met her, to chat and make sure she would stay until we were all ready! She was great, but it was getting late (now after 1am). I asked “what is the latest you have picked someone up?” She replied “you guys.”
Finally, the Trio comes out with our bags and we go to her 2-door mercedes and we’re on our way! She is a gracious hostess, with all kinds of information and advice. She let’s us in, instructs us on the keys (“black is for the street entrance, green is for the inside entrance, silver is for our room”) and the bathroom (“yours is the one of the left… don’t use the one on the right, other rooms share that one”), and we’re alone.
It’s 2am. We’re exhausted. But we are also in beds, in Rome!