Tuesday, October 24, 2017

London & Paris: Before We Go...

(Jump ahead here to start reading about our trip to London and Paris in July 2017.)

Last year Julia whined to me, “Why does everyone else go to Europe and Asia and Africa and not us?” First of all, Africa? And second of all, that’s only because your friends are visiting family in South Korea and India.

Fast forward to this year and my 7-year-olds are visiting Europe for the first time, as am I.

London and Paris were on my mind for travel since they’re bucket list destinations. Luckily London was on Julia’s mind, too, as she had just read a book set there. Julia was pretty unbearable our last summer trip - threatening not to leave our Canadian apartment, whining constantly, and complaining that we never did what SHE wanted to do. (“What do you want to do?” “Stay in the apartment and do art projects.” And by the way, for the record when we’d get back for the day from sightseeing I’d offer her an art project, but she’d brush me off in favor of time on the tablet.) Her postcards all said “I’m in Canada. It’s OK. Love, Julia.” But to my mom she told the truth: “I’m in Canada. I don’t like it. Love, Julia.” So I was relieved that Julia was as excited about this summer’s trip as I was.

Julia's postcard to Gaga. Julia said she didn't want Bubby
to know how she felt since Bubby grew up in Toronto.

Julia wanted to go to all the places the kids visited in the A to Z Mystery, The Castle Crime, and I was happy to oblige her and use the book as a checklist of places to visit. We ended up going to Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye like the A to Z kids, but skipped the Jack the Ripper Tour. (I thought that was kind of an odd choice for grade schoolers, though on the other hand Julia was pretty fascinated by it.) Julia also hoped to run into Queen Elizabeth like the A to Z kids, but I had to break it to her that it would be extremely unlikely.

Our travel resources for the U.K.: Fodor's London and A to Z Mysteries: The Castle Crime.
Julia was also pretty excited at the prospect of using her British accent to try to fool people. I blew both kids’ minds when I revealed that we were getting to Paris by train through the Chunnel. They were most looking forward to that part of the trip though I warned them ahead of time that we would be going under the water, not passing through it in a glass tube, and that there wouldn’t be any mermaids (not that they had mentioned any but a friend’s daughter thought she would see some).

The kids (again, especially Julia; James just goes along with everything.) were excited to get new journals (their idea), but each wrote an exhaustive account of their first day and nothing after that. Julia’s even included what she ate for breakfast at home the morning of the day we left. To psych the kids up for London, we played the 80s board game Scotland Yard and showed them their first Harry Potter movie.

Required playing before a London trip

A few weeks before we left, my mom called, concerned about our trip because of terror attacks the month before in England. She and my brother offered to cover all of the money we’d lose in tickets and apartment reservations if we didn’t go on the trip. We still went.

The timing of our trip meant we’d celebrate July 4th in the land of our historic oppressor and Bastille Day in Paris. Incidentally, Wimbledon and the Tour de France would also be under way.

I packed the kids’ suitcases for London and Paris, and heaven knows I love a good theme. (And for the record I didn’t buy anything you see in the pictures just for the trip.)

Julia’s Paris clothes (and beret!). I ended up not bringing the Parisian landmark shirt.

Close-up of Paris skirt

Julia’s London attire: a too small double decker bus shirt she insisted on bringing because London
and two mod dresses. (I want her to fit in on Carnaby Street. It’s still 1968 there, right?)

And I can’t forget James! He’ll fit right in when we’re in England if we go back in time.

I have to say the trip went much better with a kid already enthusiastic about a place with some passing knowledge about it. She was so excited she drew this picture:

Julia’s drawing of what we would see on the trip before we left.

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