After 15 days away from our home sweet home we are finally back. Only 4,000 miles, 2 flights , 8 passport checks, 10 movies watched collectively and several questions about why we have to board by zones (read: there seems to be a passive displeasure amongst the kids that we don’t seem to have very good luck with zones) we are finally settled back home in Fort Mill. This home seems to reside in a much, much warmer and more humid climate, seems to be devoid of much edible food and might or might not have received a letter about unruly lawn upkeep. No matter, as it was deeply missed and has more than one bathroom. It is good to be back.
I feel a strong need to sum the trip up but have found it profoundly difficult to do so. I’m going to keep it simple and focused on the positives. We walked. A lot. We rode metros daily. Will is awesome at navigating subway lines. We saw thousands of pigeons and counted most of them. Charlie was enamored by them. We saw all of the sights in Paris we wanted to see, even if we bagged the 11pm tickets for going up in the Eiffel Tower. The kids understand the feelings that cities can evoke. While they liked Paris, they LOVED Belgium. I love them for seeing the distinction. Stewart loved dining at the cafes, shopping at H&M (please don’t tell her it didn’t originate in Paris) and seeking out gelato. She has a spirit for travel that I hope never goes away. Charlie has the legs and “I’m not tired” attitude to thru-hike any trail. I hope he will take me with him. And Cindy…her patience with our daily itinerary and my march about Paris in the rain to see the Tour de France whiz by a few quick times is almost what I love about her most. Truth is, it is her ability to make experiences for our kids happen and her day-in, day-out friendship and that smile that says “relax, this is all what makes a good life” are the things I love about her the most.
This trip was one my family will never forget. I will always be grateful for the opportunity we were given here and the shared experience that I so deeply value with my family. Best case, this is one of many great travel opportunities to come for us as a family. Worst case, we have hopefully provided our kids with a set of great memories and given them a spark to go out and explore this great and fascinating world.
Some last observations from our day of travel:
- A Paris cab will charge you for wait time, even if he arrives for pick-up earlier than the scheduled time.
- Tip: apparently if you give your boarding passes to a 6 year old to hand to the boarding agent you can board with any zone you please. Nice work Charlie.
- Dear Philadelphia Airport TSA Team: please go visit the Heathrow Airport Team to understand how to secure an airport AND help travelers make connections. Novel concept. On the bright side, we made it in spite of your efforts. Pointing those fans on the customers in line also wouldn’t hurt.
- Dear American Airlines: ice cream for all on the flight back is a really nice touch that seemed to excite more than just me and my three kids.
- Dear Charles de Gaule Airport: maybe a touch less emphasis on super high-end shopping and a touch more emphasis on drinking fountains and general hydration.
- Stewart and Will, although at times a bit like an elderly married couple, travel EXTREMELY well together.
- We are already experiencing baguette withdrawal. The kids don’t understand why their hot dogs are served on these weird soft buns.
- And last, my boy takes his in-flight movie watching comfort VERY seriously.