Do you remember what it felt like when your wedding night had come to end and that overwhelming feeling of relief hit you and you said to your new spouse, “That was the best time of my life, but I’m so glad it’s over.” Upon arriving home after a 2.5 week vacation in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Iceland, there was an enormous sigh of relief when we walked through the front door of our home. After planning this trip for the past year through online research, reading books, and studying the German language, it’s hard to believe the trip is behind us now. We saw so many amazing sights, tasted some of the best food, and shared some unforgettable experiences. It was by far, the busiest vacation we had ever been on together and yet, the most exciting. Planning a trip half-way around the world is a lot of work, but when you add a toddler to the picture, it changes the whole dynamic!
We put much thought and preparation into this trip, as you should when traveling abroad. However, there is plenty to think about for two adults, but as I mentioned before about the dynamic of your travels changing with a toddler on board, there was much more to consider for her. Were we going to pack the car seat along or trust the rental car company would have a decent one on hand? How many diapers should we pack? What type of clothing should we pack for her? Did we make arrangements at all the hotels for her? How will we manage the luggage, car seat, the stroller and our daughter in the airport? Can we manage if there are no carts at the train station? The list went on and on and on. So much to think about! All that thinking (some of it, unnecessary), and everything always worked out to our benefit. I will add that one of the best purchases we made before we left was buying a Combi umbrella stroller. It was FANTASTIC for quickly collapsing and carrying over the shoulder on the subways, up stairs, through tiny doors, etc. Great purchase! I own a B.O.B. jogger stroller and there were MANY occasions in which we said to each other, “There is no possible way we could have taken our big stroller here.” The Combi umbrella stroller is light, great for long walks (I can vouch for that), stands alone when folded up, and has a shoulder strap for easy carrying.
Our first destination was Paris, France and as everyone knows, this is considered one of, if not, the culinary capital of the world. With our 21-month old daughter traveling with us, we knew there was a great possibility we wouldn’t get to experience the fine dining in Paris. We were always on the lookout for ‘family friendly’ places to eat that also offered a variety of traditional French cuisine. While we thoroughly enjoyed every single meal in Paris, there was one evening that was simply unforgettable. We stumbled upon La Petit Fine Restaurant and immediately took note of the exquisite menu items, including the children’s menu. Keep in mind that the locals don’t usually eat dinner until after 7p.m. So when we are used to eating and feeding our daughter around 5:30 – 6:00p.m., none of the restaurants were open for dinner yet. We were a little hesitant to walk in after 7p.m. and expect Kelly to sit still and eat that late at night, but she did wonderful. The staff barely spoke English, but right away catered to her. This was a white linen, 5-star service restaurant with a children’s menu. Kelly enjoyed a fresh filet of salmon with seasoned french fries and Gelato for dessert (mind you, this was from the children’s menu), while I enjoyed the BEST pork chop I have ever put in my mouth! And my husband also had an amazing dish. They were so helpful with keeping Kelly entertained and everyone around us was more interested in visiting with her, than worried about her disturbing their dinner. It was the best ‘culinary experience’ we could’ve asked for in Paris.
TripAdvisor.com became our best friend before and during the trip. I can honestly say that there was not a sight, hotel, restaurant, or activity with great reviews on TripAdvisor.com that we didn’t enjoy. Everywhere we stayed was based on online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations and none of them failed us. Prior to leaving home I downloaded the Trip Advisor application onto my Ipad and whenever we had WiFi access, we would use the app as a guide for the area.
I could go on and on about Paris. It was probably our favorite destination throughout the whole trip. Full of culture, history, great food, beautiful scenery, and very nice people. We enjoyed our stay very much. Some of the highlights were definitely visiting the historical sights such as the Arc de Triomphe, Napoléon’s Tomb, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, and of course, the amazing Eiffel Tower. Many people don’t think of Paris as being a ‘kid-friendly’ place to visit, but it’s as kid-friendly as you allow it to be. For us, we were obviously always on the lookout for kid-friendly places to visit in between the historical sights that fulfilled our pleasure for the day. Paris is full of beautiful parks and playgrounds and many that offer daily petting zoos or pony rides. One of our favorite parks was the Garden De Luxembourg. It was never a problem to find a place to park the stroller, sit in the grass and let Kelly run around for a while. Paris was delightful. Loved every minute. The worst part about our stay there was probably the blisters that I managed to develop from all the walking. But that was no problem either, as there are pharmacies on every corner. Beautiful, historical, kid-friendly, unforgettable Paris.
To be continued…