Thursday, June 5, 2014

Our French Adventure

Tonight I'm going way back in the years-ago files to share the story of a trip to Paris we took about fifteen years ago.

Addison was a little over a year old, and Tim's parents were visiting us in Germany. We decided to take a train to Paris so that we could see all the sights.

We had a wonderful time seeing everything -- the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and even Minnie Mouse and Euro Disney (as it was called at the time).

On the last day, we took a train out to Versailles. On our way to the station, we saw that one of the metro stations we walked past appeared closed, but we didn't think much of it.

We spent a wonderful day exploring Versailles and in the afternoon headed back to Paris to catch our return train to Germany.

That's when everything went wrong.

Unbeknownst to us, the entire transportation system in Paris had shut down. There was a complete transportation strike throughout the whole city. We were able to get back to the city, but there wasn't any metro or bus service to get us to the main train station.

We started walking, but there was no way we were going to make our train.

We changed plans and walked to the USO to see if they could help us find a hotel room for the night. (At that time, American military members could use the USO in Paris to help with arranging lodging.) There weren't any available rooms anywhere. There was a huge flower convention in town and every single hotel room in all of Paris was booked.

Meanwhile, while we tried to come up with plan B, Addison happily played in some of the luggage lockers.

One of the USO volunteers suggested that we walk to the train station even though we had already missed our train. We could exchange those tickets for a train heading towards Germany later that night.

We walked and walked and walked to the main train station. Along the way, we had several instances where we needed to go up a flight of stairs and either couldn't find an elevator or didn't want to wait that long, so everyone worked together to get Addison and her stroller up where we needed to be.

Fortunately, we were able to get to the main train station in time to exchange our tickets for a late night ride back to Germany. Unfortunately, our meager French language skills, limited train experience, and sheer exhaustion meant that we didn't pay close enough attention to where we sat in the train.

We all dozed on and off for most of the ride. The next morning, we woke up and heard the conductor announce a stop -- a city that we didn't recognize. He then announced that the train was heading for Munich. Apparently, the train had split in the night with the front half going to Frankfurt (our destination) and the back half going to Munich.

Thankfully we were able to get off that train and take a very slow commuter train back the other direction. It was at least twelve hours from the time we left Paris until the time we made it back home, a trip that normally took less than three hours.

The next day and she's still smiling!
I don't remember everything we saw in Paris on that trip, but I certainly remember the trip home. I'm not sure I had ever been so glad to get back to our little apartment in Germany.

Ben and MeI'm sharing a "years ago" story corresponding to each letter of the alphabet for the Blogging through the Alphabet challenge hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me. I often tell my children stories of things that have happened in our past, and now I'm taking the time to write down those stories.

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  1. Pretty sure it was Addison in that stroller... not Lauren. :-D Sounds like a trip to remember!

    1. I just changed it. I should've known I'd mix up kids' name sooner or later. :)

  2. that does sound like quite the adventure!! It's amazing to me how kids can take it all in stride. Of course, they don't realize how stressful things are for Mom and Dad - they are just along for the ride!

  3. I love the idea of sharing "year ago" stories. What a fun way to share family memories and keep them fresh.

  4. These are great stories, Cristi!

  5. a flower convention. that made me chuckle a bit.

    your story reminded me of the time we were in NYC. Ben and I ended up on the Bronx express when we were trying to see the Museum of Natural History on the upper west side. No stops all the way to the Bronx and then when we got there, no elevators.

    I was alone with my 20 month old in a NYC subway, his stroller, diaper bag and some shopping bags of course.

    If it were not for the kindness of strangers.

    Thanks for linking up with #abcblogging. I've featured your series on this week's favorites:



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