And the word of the day is, surreal.
As we took off from Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, my breath caught in my throat. After months of planning, and literally years of dreaming of this moment, it was here. In the days leading up to our departure, I dreaded the event that would destroy all our plans. I just couldn’t believe it could actually come to pass. And yet, here we were, on our way to Iceland en route to Paris. It was surreal.
We landed at Orly, which I imagine was much quieter and less hectic than Charles de Gaulle this time of year. If you have the option to fly into Orly, take it. I’d decided that, even though I’m a big fan of the Paris Metro, we would not subject ourselves to slogging all our bags from one end of Paris to the other. I’ve done it before, and while it’s not terribly difficult, many Metro stations have stairs only– no escalier— to whisk you from ground level to the depths of the rail line. Not wanting my son to have this be his first experience of Paris, I opted to splurge for a Chauffeur Privee, the French equivalent to Uber. Best decision ever. We were driven in our modern-day chariot right to the front door of our apartment while taking in the sights and the close calls of the Paris expressway.
We said our good-byes to our “chauffeur” and made our way to the apartment. Our host was there to meet us (grace a dieu, because I’d had nightmares about arriving and finding that a) there was no such apartment and I’d paid for nothing more than French air, or b) I’d accidentally booked the wrong dates; I realize both of these are irrational, but cut me some slack. I was, after all, taking my son thousands of miles away from home. What could go wrong? A lot!) We settled in and breathed a huge sigh of relief. After having been up for roughly 24 hours, we had arrived!
Now, I’m a stubborn jet lag-fighter, so even though we were severely sleep-deprived, we were not going to snuggle in for the long sleep. That would only set us up for more jet lag, and we did not have time for that! Three full days awaited us in Paris. That is not a lot of time to see a city with more museums than people. So, I set my alarm and allowed us 1 hour for a nap. After that, it was up and at ’em. We found the local epicerie and stocked up on the essentials: a baguette, cheese, wine, and a few fun ready-made snacks. Gavin opted for the marinated baby squid while I settled on a tortilla espanola (nothing like a Mexican tortilla, it’s made with layers of potatoes and egg, something more akin to a very dense quiche). We went home, noshed on our French goodies and were fast asleep by 8 (or, 20h, if you want to be tres Francais).
The next day, we were bright-eyed and busy-tailed at 8 am, jet-lag free and ready for whatever Paris would throw at us! It was time to meet la Tour Eiffel!