Friday, 22 March 2013

We’ll always have Paris

It’s safe to say that hubby and I did not enjoy our first holiday as parents. We booked a ‘cottage’ for two weeks in Wales (you can see we weren’t thinking straight) when our first daughter was just shy of six months. What fools!

We packed our car like we were moving house. We took a travel cot and all madam’s usual bedding including a lovely soft cot mattress, a high chair (not a travel one mind but our large leather one from home despite the fact there was one in situ), a pushchair, the baby carrier, dummies, tons of toys and books, nappies, wipes, plenty of kiddie clothes to cover every eventuality – and yes, the teeny tiny baby herself.
All aboard the holiday express!!
In fact I was so overwhelmed by packing to meet the imagined needs of my offspring that when it came to gathering my things, I sort of zoned out. I headed up to Wales – yes Wales - with a pair of flip flops, my trainers, a few t-shirts, shorts and a pretty dress in case we went out (ha, ha, ha!!). Note the lack of outer garments.

But despite there being a heat wave in the UK (which we could conveniently observe by watching Royal Ascot on the telly); Wales was cold, so cold. I had to buy not just a jumper, but a hat, scarf and gloves since we were actually rather close to this mountain called Snowden (you may have heard of it, I understand it is quite well known). I refused to buy a coat only because it was summer for crying out loud.
Pack your bags
And crying out loud was another charming feature of the holiday. Our daughter just would not sleep in this unfamiliar environment. All night, every night she screamed. While I was used to not sleeping by then, and pretty much since then, the husband had never had it so bad. After a week of the torture we were broken people and begun to discuss cutting our losses and going home. We would still have a week together, at home, in the sun, with the chance of some sleep, we reasoned. It sounded good.

In the end we decided to stick it out. And fortunately for us, the weather improved and the baby settled down a bit. We were able to have some good days out – memorably at Conwy Castle. We also found a kiddie friendly café to eat cakes in. Oh, cakes, my friends in times of need.

Looking back it was a steep learning curve. I’ve certainly never packed as much stuff again – and now I drive a Mini I can get everything myself and the two girls need for an entire week into it and still have leg room. We also know to hang the expense and get more than one bedroom – at least one of you needs to survive until the morning. I also tend to pay a bit more attention to the area I’m visiting if I’ve not been there before. Never again will I find myself navigating thick fog while dressed for the beach.
Plenty to do
One far more successful holiday was a trip to Paris when the baby had somehow morphed into a pre-schooler and was now accompanied by a two-year-old partner in crime. For a city it is incredibly child friendly – with loads of indoor and outdoor attractions. Apparently this is because there are lots of working families in Paris, but typically those families live in apartment blocks with little or no garden space of their own. Consequently the government does a very good job of providing such facilities both during the working week and weekends. And it is of course also home to something even more important to two little girlie girls – Disneyland Paris.
Look! - Tigger is breakdancing outside Sleeping Beauty's castle...
So we have just booked another week in the City of Love. We’ll take the Eurostar and navigate our way to our apartment in the Latin Quarter. And if we can’t carry our luggage easily or pull it along – it’ll be left at home. In the mornings the kids and hubby will head out to buy pain au chocolates, by lunchtime Daddy will be sampling du vin, and by dinner Mummy could well be sporting Minnie Mouse ears. Sparkly is best.

Chocolate for breakfast!

We plan to sail toy boats in the Jardin du Luxembourg pond, get interactive at the Cite des enfants, check out the Eiffel Tower, La Louvre and the Pompidou Centre (minus the child-lost-in- the-lift situation we experienced last time maybe). We’ll eat macaroons at La Laduree and browse in Bon Ton and maybe get a book in Shakespeare and Company. Good times. And I’ll be sure to pack a jacket – in case of freak weather.
Climbing on the culture
And of course we will go to Disneyland Paris because it is amazing and there are real princesses to talk to and you get to ride on a magic carpet and fly in an elephant and go on a boat where little dolls sing ‘it’s a small, small world' endlessly and then there’s a parade and you can see all the princesses again and boo at the baddies…

Hopefully the girls will enjoy it just as much as I will!!!
Sail away with me
Do you have any holiday disasters to share – or any advice to avoid them (I probably need it…)? Let me know in the comment box below!

1 comment:

  1. When our boys were 5 and 9, I came up with the idea that I should take Ben (the older one) on a Mommy-son trip to Gettysburg. (Gettysburg was a significant battlefield in the American Civil War, is a charming town, is only about 120 miles from our hometown of Philadelphia and I had friends who lived nearby. When Jeremy, the younger one, heard about this plan to leave him home with Dad, he cried as though his heart was breaking. It was really piteous. I relented and decided that we would all go. Ben shook his head and told me, "You'll be sorry." He was right. Jeremy was so badly behaved that in our family whenever something goes awry, we "remember Gettysburg".

    BTW, Jeremy is now a 25 year old travel blogger and is away with his brother at Ben's bachelor party. Moral: This too will pass.