***** a full 16 months later*****
Okie, so we left off with us going to bed the day before our train ride to London.
We packed up our tiny airbnb and headed over to Telescope for some coffee before going to the train station. The girl that works there is awesome and I heard her speak fluent English, French, Danish?, and Dutch? maybe another? She is who 18 year old me thought I would be. Instead I was 24 weeks pregnant bumbling “Mur-See” while passing on a coffee so that I wouldn’t get acid reflux before the train ride. Good thing I am v happy where I am in life, lol.
We arrived to a ultra crowded, ultra hot train station under construction. We saw this giant line that wrapped around from upstairs, down a 2 story flight of stairs, down around the stairs, almost to the entrance of the train station. We thought, “oh no way is that our line, we are super early!”… We asked people in line which train they were waiting for and they said the 12:30 train to London— ours was the 11:15. Everyone was saying that our line was at the start of this and they were lined up after ALL the 11:15-ers. and you can see where this is going… We were trying to not lose it and was trying to ask a Frenchman working if this is our line and where we should go and he kept shrugging and pointing to an elevator. Ken ya not be a stereotype right now French guy!?
We finally rushed over to this elevator that looked off limits while I conveniently rubbed my pregnant belly and looked very tired hoping for someone to be sympathetic and usher us forward. We got up stairs and we were totally supposed to use the elevator to get to security! Thanks snooty Frenchman!
While going through customs, this British guy working asked where we were staying and we said at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch then he laughed and called us hipsters and let us through. -____-
We got through with a few minutes to spare, and settled into our seats and got ready to chill for a few hours.
While on the train, I tried to stop thinking about a terrorist attack happening and blowing up the chunnel while we were in it (I know….), but instead read some of the book I brought, The Nightingale, while looking out the window at the French countryside redirecting my daydreaming to WWII France.
The train ride was pretty uneventful and far more comfortable than an airplane (foot rests! makes all the difference). We arrived at Saint Pancras which is across the street from King’s Cross and ya know me…
Hopped into the Harry Potter shop next door to platform 9 and 3/4, bought the kids some Bertie Bott’s and then got a taxi to take us over to Shoreditch.
Up until this point, we hadn’t spoken to the kids at all because everyone told me not to call. I caved and called them on the drive and it was so sweet. Poor timing on our end while Erica was trying to get them all ready to leave for school drop off, but we got to talk for a few and it was nice to hear their voices and hear everything going well.
We checked into the Ace and it felt like a wonderful home away from home. English! Coziest bed! Giant bathtub that I immediately jumped into to soak my tired, pregnant body.
We freshened up, walked over to the Spitalfields and ate a burger and shake from Bleecker. I guess we were a bit homesick. (Don’t mind my crappy screenshots.)
Next up we went to the Tate Modern and then I made Daniel continue my lame half ass Harry Potter tour and cross the Millennium Bridge and along the way saw Shakespeare’s Globe theater and Saint Paul’s Cathedral.
^^ that building on the left had these great black scorch marks and I made a joke to Daniel that the British have to commemorate everything and said “Here we remember the Great London Fire!” and a few steps away we discovered a plaque that said it was in fact to remember the Great London Fire.
After tracking down where to buy Oyster cards (pubic transportation card), we hopped on a double decker and took it back to our hotel for the night.
Next day, we woke up early and grabbed a coffee from the hotel and took the Underground over to Primrose Hill. The underground wasssssss kinda awful. The first time a British gentleman immediately gave me his seat, but another time we rode it, it got so crowded at one point that me and my huge pregnant belly was pushed against the wall and all my claustrophobia hit me. I prefer above ground transport, please.
It was so dreamy!! The weather was so pleasant compared to Paris (which is probably a rare statement) because it was crisp and fresh from rain the day before, whereas we were melting in Paris. We walked around and overheard a little son in a soccer getup tell his dad, “I’ve got something on my trousers.” and I swooooooned. We checked out their little farmers market and walked over the the bus stop when I realized I had lost my oyster card and almost cried because we were cutting it close to our reservation at Sketch. We (Daniel) found a replacement at a shop and got on the double decker in time.
Sketch. It was everything.
And look who posted a photo here a couple weeks later….Kylie.
We only made a couple reservations for our trip in advance and this was one of them. I needed to go to afternoon tea somewhere and where else could we have possibly gone after finding out about this place. Egg bathroom! A caviar man! Brute Rose! Endless tea! It was so amazing.
We headed back to the hotel to chill for a little before going out for dinner at Palatino. The cacio e pepe was so, so good. We also got this ragu that had ground veal intestines that I don’t know why we said yes to it, but it gave me an intense heartburn and stomachache so we cut dinner short and headed back to the hotel. We passed all these pubs that were overflowing with people because a big, important soccer game was on. Daniel and I said that if I was feeling better, than we could head back out and find somewhere to watch the game. We got back in and I snuggled into bed and knew we weren’t leaving and just watched the game on his laptop.
We went to bed that night around 10:15 and typically when I am away from the kids, I keep the phone turned on next to me (not my normal at home airplane mode) in case someone needs to get a hold of me, but that night I was feeling like crap so I wasn’t thinking and kept it over on Daniel’s nightstand to charge on silent.
I woke up the next morning and asked Daniel to hand me my phone and he said, “Ehh…. I think something happened. You have so many texts and missed calls.” I snatched the phone and saw text after text saying, “Are you okay?”, “Are you safe?”, “Please call back ASAP.”. I instantly thought of a terrorist attack and found out that there was an attack a mile away from us at the London Bridge.
After reading text upon text and responding back to everyone and reassuring them that we were okay and apologizing for the 8 hours of worry, the general thought from the ladies closest to me when they were all trying to figure out if we were safe was that there was no way a pregnant lady with heartburn would leave a hotel room to go back out and the only thing funny about the situation was that they were all continuously analyzing my last Insta story which was this:
and my sister said the only way I’d get out of bed was if it was for dessert and around 9:30 that night I went down to the lobby and got a brownie and took an elevator selfie— they know me.
Daniel and I spent some time in our hotel room trying to figure out what to we should do because our plans for the day were to see so many touristy places. We decided to think it over at breakfast so we just headed down to the Ace’s restaurant and when I walked into the restaurant, The Smith’s “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” was playing through the speakers and Daniel and I turned and looked at each other like “COULD THERE BE A WORSE SONG PLAYING RIGHT NOW but how British humor is this”. No one seemed to blink an eye over that song playing. Everyone was acting completely normal and we didn’t overhear one conversation about it. This must be the British “Keep Calm and Carry On” in real life.
After breakfast we decide to adopt the keep calm and carry on mindset and decided to stick with our agenda and channel Mad-eye moody and CONSTANT VIGILANCE! We took an uber (because there was no way I was going back underground) over to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately you can’t go inside Westminster Abbey on Sundays so I couldn’t visit all my RIP royals.
We walked down the street and went to Mass at the less famous Westminster Cathedral. The organist was out of control in the best way. Every time we travel, I am so blown away by being Catholic and experiencing the universal Church. The Mass was beautiful. We loved that instead of the response “Lord, hear our prayer” we say in the US, they say “Lord, graciously hear us”. Why are they the most polite. It’s the best.
We walked over to Buckingham Palace and saw this along the way. People kept asking me if I preferred London or Paris and I think seeing this summed up my feelings. Paris feels preserved in time. You look everywhere and it’s old and beautiful and romantic. London was just a tad too modern for me. I loved it! It’s just not as dreamy for me.
Okay okay, back to Buckingham Palace. Kind of a let down! I expected it to be a little bit grander. Also no fluffy hat guards. It was still cool though of course. We were just starting to get burnt out from traveling and were eager to get back to Paris away from the terrorist attack cloud.
We had just finished reading The BFG with the kids so we sent them a video of the forest next to the Palace where we think the BFG hid to meet the Queen. Obv we were homesick (or just missed the kids).
Next we walked around St. James Park which was gorgeous.
After the park, we continued our walking tour and went over to Trafalger Square. Seeing a bunch of police with machine guns walking around was a little unnerving, but it was still cool to visit.
We hopped on a double decker to go to Granger and Co but it was closed! So then we looked up The Carpenter’s Arms and hopped in an uber and took it over to the east end. We got out of the uber and realized we were at a closed location of it so just figured we’d walk to the new location that was a good bit away, but no kids so we could walk if we wanted to! We got to the pub and it was so charming. This butter was the best butter I’ve ever had and I just feasted on bread and butter for dinner. Obv the only photo I have from the place.
We headed back to Shoreditch and walked around the Boxpark because there was this ice cream place I had been following on instagram for months that I had been wanting to go to but once we got there pregnant me was like, “nah” so then headed back to the hotel since we had an early train ride back to Paris the next morning.
The next day we got to the station, exchanged our pounds back to euros, and got on our train. The ride back was nice and uneventful. I napped. I read. So pleasant.
Back in Paris we checked into our hotel for the night at Les Bains and went over to Frenchie To Go for lunch. BEST HOT DOG OF MY LIFE.
We walked around and headed over to Atelier Brancusi. So tiny, so awesome.
We walked around more because that’s what you do in Paris.
We decided to head back to the shop Merci because we couldn’t get enough of it.
We were so beat so we headed back to the hotel to rest and pack up before our flight the next morning so we wouldn’t have to after dinner. We decided to go to an Israeli place, Minzon, for dinner and the long line was worth it because it was delicious.
We needed to hit up that ice cream place on Ile Saint-Louis one more time, Berthillon. We got a cone, walked around Notre Dame and the Seine for one last time. Even had an accordion player serenading us while the sun set over the Seine. Pure magic.
Side note, the following night while we were back in the US, a police officer was attacked by a guy with a hammer outside of Notre Dame who was then shot by the police officer….
We caught an Uber to go over to the Eiffel Tower to catch their little hourly light show. Honestly, it was the most perfect last night in Paris. One of the best nights of our lives.
Next morning we got to the airport smoothly, boarded our plane and then found out we were delayed because the entire country of Belgium lost power so we wouldn’t be able to fly over their airspace to our layover in Amsterdam which was already a tight layover in order to make it back to the United States aka make it back for Oliver’s kindergarten graduation. I burst into tears on the airplane and started praying to every single saint I could think of to come to my aid and beg Jesus to make it work. We finally got up in the air not knowing if we would make the connecting flight. We land in Amsterdam and me and Daniel SPRINT through the airport, a security checkpoint, and to our gate. I had to stop and send Daniel ahead because Felix in my tummy was like, “Nah, stop shaking me”. We get to the gate and the attendants working all told me to calm down, relax, they were not going to leave without me. SUCH RELIEF. We board the airplane, settle in our seats, and try to sleep. The flight is pretty uneventful in the best way and was actually not bad at all for an 11 hour flight. We land in LAX, speed through customs, but traffic is so bad on the 405 that we are set to be late or miss the graduation still.
We get word back that the principal and Kinder teacher are delaying as much as they can for us (tear emoji) and we get to the school and run into the auditorium to Ollie’s class singing “I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Joy”. The kids all climb on us and we all snuggle in the audience. WE MADE IT!
This trip was unforgettable and that is an understatement. We are so grateful that we had people to watch our kids so we could make this happen because I feel like our marriage and relationship is still riding the high of that much uninterrupted time together.
And guess what. I 10/10 would recommend Paris. Big surprise.
Make the trip. Especially for the cutest kid items ever.