We are safely home, and glad of it but already missing Paris. As the week went by I gave a lot of thought as to how to tell our many, many stories. By the day? By location?
Babygirl, on our arrival home, was immediately asked what she had liked the best.
"You can't ask me what my favorite part was when the whole trip was so good!" Amen.
So here goes:
There are few things as stressful to me as getting ready for a trip. Organizing everyone and herding all of my cats, er, kids through the process, continually head-counting all the way? Ugh. But Make-A-Wish does such an awesome job of setting up the trip it removes most of the stress. And this is my first vacation in years that involves only one person under 18!
Our wish granters were at our house when our ride arrived - a big SUV with plenty of leg room. True, our driver was oddly unhelpful with the suitcases, and with Hubby unable to lift (seriously, we're doing this with a man who is 36 hours post-op from an appendectomy? We are clearly nuts). He drove us to the airport in record time, which is to say he hit 85 mph at least once when I looked! Our wish granters were somewhere behind us praying to avoid speeding tickets. The were not happy campers LOL.
On our local-to-JFK flight we had an interesting reason for a landing delay. As we were approaching the runway, landing gear down, an elderly lady got up from her seat and sauntered to the restroom. She didn't speak English, the flight crew couldn't get her out, and the landing was aborted. Because of this, we had to SPRINT from our local flight through the NYC heat and humidity via what was clearly a construction zone. Citygirl was meeting us for the NYC-Paris flight, and she was steadfastly refusing to board until we arrived. She was somewhere past Xanax-level panic when we finally appeared, sweating and swearing and deeply relieved to have caught the flight.
Traveling in Paris is walking, tour buses, walking, subway, walking, taxis, walking, escalators and walking. Being driven in a taxi in Paris is a hair-raising event that makes NYC and Boston drivers look positively patient and mannerly. (Random note: the cross/don't cross signs at intersections feature little green men.) Tour buses vary from full Greyhound-sized to cute 8 passenger vans. (Random note #2: Tours are very useful - but free days allow for more unstructured enjoyment of the monuments and city.)
Our return was even more adventurous. The flight from Paris to NYC was utterly uneventful aside from the idea that we arrived only 2 hours after we left (gotta love those time zones!). I spent much of the flight preparing blog posts from my notes. (Babygirl looked at both the unedited notes and the final hand-written version and said, "Are you SURE you'll be able to read that later?") Weather in NYC delayed our landing. Customs was absolutely horrific. We were in line with approximately 1500 people in front of us at the time our NYC-home flight was supposed to be boarding. I managed to snag an official, break out the Make-A-Wish/sick kid/appendectomy combo and get us to the front of the line. By the time we were done there was 10 minutes left to scheduled flight time. (At this point Hubby was gently trying to talk me down, pointing out the overall hopelessness of the situation. I looked him in the eye and simply said, "I need to go through this, okay? If we don't make it we don't make it but I'm going down fighting." Good man - he knows when to let the rage just run it's course LOLOL.) He waited to re-check our bags while I sought out another official and ran down the sad story again, with vigor.
Bless her. She gave us water bottles (much needed, really), pushed us to the front of the line, got the bags checked and told us that our flight out was delayed so if we hurried we'd still make it. We were flying Delta for both flights - all nearby, we were reassured.
Well, nearby if you mean the entrance to the 3-mile shuttlebus ride! Once again we arrived at our gate sweating and swearing, covered with the ground-in grime that only 24 hours of travel can lay on you, only to discover that our flight, while still technically on the board, was indefinitely delayed.
Thank God for Starbucks. It isn't Paris coffee, but it will do.
We were scheduled to arrive locally around 6:30. It was after midnight when we touched down, got our bags, and met up with our wonderful wish-granters, who, despite not knowing for sure if we were going to make it, had waited all those hours in the airport for us. They loaded us into a huge party-bus limo, and we were home by about 2 AM.
Between us, we have about 2000 photos.
I promise I'll get some of them up. After I've had more coffee. A. Lot. More. Coffee.