Once we boarded our 8 hour flight and were settled in, I napped a little, as did Toren, but Debi has found that she can’t sleep when Toren is on her lap, so she didn’t sleep at all. As a result, when we arrived she was exhausted. We had a little scare once we arrived as well. I mentioned a few months back that we bought a backpack for carrying Toren, which we actually bought specifically for this trip. On our Oregon flight, we checked the backpack at the departure gate and they returned it at the arrival gate, like they do with strollers. In Paris, there was no backpack at the arrival gate. Apparently they don’t necessarily return strollers or backpacks. I scrambled around for a while until I could find someone who spoke enough English to tell me that the backpack would be at the baggage claim. Turns out it was. If it wasn’t, that would have been a major problem as our trip was heavily dependent upon having a backpack for Toren (as you’ll see).
Anyway, with that we resolved, I had only one real responsibility as far as the trip went and it was time to complete my assignment. As I mentioned in the previous post, Rosemary planned everything, and I literally mean every detail. She did an amazing job and made our lives very easy throughout the trip. However, since the rest of our group (minus Steve, who lives in Paris) was flying in from Salt Lake, we were on different flights. With no idea about the layout of Charles de Gaulle airport, Rosemary simply told me which flight she was on and that there was going to be a van outside their baggage claim waiting to take us to our condo. My job: Find the van. That would connect us with Rosemary, and she would take it from there.
It took a while, but we did, and luckily it was just after everyone else had arrived, so we promptly loaded up all our luggage into the van and headed toward our condo. Having a van to take us directly to our condo was nice as even the driver had a hard time finding the right street. But when he did, we saw Steve, who lives in Paris, standing outside the gate. Our condo was in downtown Paris: 19 Rue de Pastourelle. We were only about 1.5 kilometers from Notre Dame, and just a bit further from the Musee du Louvre. It was a great location. It was a very old building with a nice but overgrown and under-used courtyard. We were on the fourth floor. Here are some photos:
There were eight of us sleeping in the condo, but our group included 9 total (Steve stayed in his own apartment). Once settled in the condo (getting the luggage up four floors on that staircase was a challenge), everyone but Debi decided to go for a walk. Debi was so tired she just wanted to get some sleep. Some wanted lunch, others wanted to start sightseeing. It was about 1:00 pm Paris time when we left the condo. We went to a weird restaurant for lunch, Flunch, that was kind of a buffet/cafeteria, but also allowed people to order food cooked a certain way. It was a weird concept, but regardless of the aims, it took a while to get everyone’s food as the cooks had some difficulties with a couple of orders. Meanwhile, I was managing Toren on my own in a foreign country. I was worried Toren might have a hard time with just me, but he did fine. He’s been on a heavy bread diet lately (self-imposed, of course). He’ll eat just about any kind of bread, so long as you give him as large a piece as possible and it’s mostly just bread. So, I got him a roll, which he devoured, and tried to get him to eat some of the other food (which he didn’t).
After lunch we walked past the Centre Pompidou, a well-known modern art museum in Paris. We didn’t go in, but the building itself is something of a work of art (as are many of the buildings in Paris). Toren and Ethan got a kick out of some of the water fountains and pools they had around there. Because I didn’t realize we were going sightseeing, I didn’t bring my good camera (I did have my phone, so I took some pictures with that). Also, I thought we were going to return to Notre Dame to tour the inside, but we never did. So, I don’t have many photos of this walk.
From Centre Pompidou, we walked to Notre Dame, which was teeming with people. Here’s the one photo I took, which also includes the McDonald’s arches in the foreground (McDonald’s is everywhere):
On the south side of Notre Dame, between the cathedral and The Seine, there is a children’s play area with various toys, including a teeter totter. Since we were touring with kids, it only made sense that we stop to let the kids play. Toren and Ethan enjoyed some of the toys:
Something interesting happened at this point. Ethan and Toren were playing on the teeter totter when a little boy, Martin, and his sister (I forget her name), who were from Spain, joined them. Martin wanted to ride the teeter totter and asked politely in Spanish if he could. Ethan, who is 3 1/2, obviously couldn’t understand Martin. But he also didn’t realize that Martin was speaking a different language, and that is why he couldn’t understand him. So, when Martin asked politely again to play on the teeter totter, Ethan responded with, “What?” This pattern repeated itself several times before I stepped in to translate. Basically, Martin would say something to Ethan, and Ethan, thinking he should be able to understand Martin, would respond with, “What?” It was pretty funny. Here they are on the teeter totter:
The adults of our group also noted at this point that we were at Notre Dame de Paris, perhaps the most famous church in the world, and Toren and Ethan could care less. This was driven home when Suzy told Ethan we were going to continue our walk around Notre Dame in five minutes while we were at the playground (a good parenting practice so kids aren’t jolted out of what they are doing). Ethan’s response: “Why?”
From the playground we walked the rest of the way around Notre Dame, then started back to the condo. I was a bit anxious to get back just because Debi hadn’t eaten all day, but she needed sleep more than food and slept until we returned. Toren fell asleep on the way back in the backpack.
Once back, Steve and I went out to pick up fallafel at a famous fallafel place in the Jewish district, L’As du Fallafel. While there, Steve was telling me about job opportunities in his field (physics) and a couple of girls behind us overheard. They were MIT undergrads (one in physics, one in computer programming) and they were working in France over the summer on internships. One was working for the nuclear power agency in France writing a computer program to calculate flow rates for a new reactor. We chatted with them for the 20 minutes or so we waited in line to pick up our fallafel. While Steve will undoubtedly dispute it, I think they were interested in him. I was waiting for Steve to “bust a move” on them and at least get a phone number. But once they had their food, nothing. I probably should have pushed harder as Steve’s wingman, as they were definitely interested in talking with Steve about getting a PhD in Physics. But, alas, it was not to be.
Turns out the fallafel wasn’t a hit with everyone. Rosemary and Suzy didn’t love it, but Debi and I liked it, as did Brent and Gary. After that, Steve and Brent went out to get some crepes for dessert. While eating my Nutella and banana crepe, I updated my Facebook status over the wi-fi in our condo: “Eating a Nutella crepe in Paris with family. Life is good!”
After dessert, we called it a night and the adults went to bed, but the kids had other ideas. They were both still running on a different time zone, so they woke up around 1 and wanted to play. Both Debi and Suzy were up playing with them for about an hour before going back to bed.
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