Let the world travels begin

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Its' hard to know where to begin...our 16 day vacation was packed full of fun...I figure I'll just try to break it down into small chunks.  
We'll start with "getting out of dodge" and our time in Paris.

If you've been keeping up with my blog, you'd know that prior to this trip I had been living in Saudi for 5 months (the hubby 8)...so basically that means...I was WAY overdue for this trip!
After packing up the car, we headed out for our 4 hour drive to the airport.  We left around 9pm since our flight was leaving at 3am.  Yeah, I know...
Kids fell asleep in the car and the hubby and I stared out at empty desert and star studded skies.
Got to the airport, hubby dumped me, the kids and bags at the curb (and took off!  j/k) and went to park the car.  Bags, checked, on board the plane..and OFF goes the abaya!!!  whoo hoo!! no abaya for the next 16 days!  YES!!  (can you tell how much I like wearing that thing?)  So, we're all ready for take off and then...we wait.  We sit at the loading ramp for an hour waiting for ONE person!!!  (talk about pushing my low patience level into the red zone!)  Just thankful we had a few hours layover in Cairo and we wouldn't miss our connection...
And we're off!!!  Bring on the wine!  oh, yeah, we're on EgyptAir...no alcohol...sigh.

So, we arrive in Cairo and make a beeline for the nearest restaurant.  And yes, there we were, sipping wine at 8:30 in the morning...judge all you want.
Next flight is delayed as well, but we finally head off and make it to Paris safe and sound.  We find a guy to take us to the apartment...and then, as we're driving...it hits...I'm in PARIS!  What an incredible feeling!  And thank goodness for our driver...he was so helpful...he kindly called the apartment managers for us (since we speak no French, at all.) and got them to come let us in the building.  
Dumped our bags in the apartment (which was a very cute little one bedroom with a view of the Eiffel Tower from the kitchenette window) and marched right back out the door.  I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower!!  The walk was a bit longer than I'd thought, but still, there it was...in all it's glory.  Bigger than I pictured it would be, but just as stunning.  After snapping a few pix, it was time to find dinner.
We stopped in a local place and ordered a nice big bottle of Bordeaux wine.  Oh, yeah, we ordered food too...each dish was something that included some form of pork.  I was so happy.  :)  Back to the apartment to crash.

Day 2:
We woke to an absolutely beautiful day...I was worried that the next day might not be so nice, so we decided to get to the Eiffel Tower that morning.  Cooked a nice breakfast of eggs and bacon (and a couple of glasses of champagne) in the apartment and then set off again.
The lines weren't anywhere near as bad as I expected, but we opted to take the stairs instead of waiting in line for the lift.  (must have been hungover since our brains weren't functioning properly)
Panting like a pair of dogs (because of course the kids had no issues) we made it to the first level.  Walked around, shot a few photos and then back to the stairs.  By now I was really rethinking my workout routine (or lack thereof).  With shaking legs we arrived at the second level.  More photos.  We promised Sara, that for her birthday (which was the next day) we would take her to the top of the Eiffel Tower...so back to the stairs we went....  
NOT!!!  You think we're that crazy?  There's an elevator baby!  And that thing just went up and up and up.  We finally reached the summit and the view was incredible.  
Imagine this...you wake up each morning to go to your job.  You arrive at work and take two elevators to the top.  There you get behind a little bar...and serve champagne to silly tourists.  And I loved that man for being at work that day.  I just felt so cool, sipping champagne at the top of one of the most famous towers in the world.
Time to head back down...we took the lift back to the second level and then...yep, had to hoof it to the bottom.  When we hit solid ground, our legs (the ol' adults) were having shaking fits!  I kid you not.  If we stood still and didn't walk around our legs would just start violently shaking...yeah, weird.
We were ready to brave the metro and head off to the Arc de Triumph.  We stood in the underground for about 20 minutes trying to figure out which tickets to get.  Didn't help that the ticket person only spoke French.  Got the tickets and jumped on a train...girls loved it.  Got off right at the Arc.  By this time, the kids were starving (okay so were mommy and daddy)...so, I just snapped a few pix of the Arc.  Didn't even get close, but well, hungry kids don't make for good sightseeing.  
Popped into a little bistro, gave the girls my iPad, and the hubby and I had fun sipping wine and people watching.
From there we hopped back on the train and went to Montparnesse.  It's part of the 6th and 14th arrondissements.  The is a huge, ugly office building right near the train station that the locals view as a major eyesore.  (I tend to agree)  We stopped by the cemetery.  The kids weren't all that interested, but there are some very notable people buried there...former French presidents, prime minsters, actors, poets, etc.  Well, the hubby and I enjoyed walking around.  Just enjoyed walking around the town for a bit, girls rode a merry-go-round...totally happy now.  Then it was back to the apartment to get cleaned up for dinner.
There are no sushi restaurants anywhere near us in Saudi.  Therefore, our goal was to find some in France.  I know...not what people would come to France to eat, but we didn't care.  After a google search, we found a place.  Ended up being in a hotel (and therefore pricey).  Didn't have a selection of fun rolls like we get in the States, but we did get a large platter of sashimi.  I was a very happy girl.  

Day 3:
Today was my beautiful daughters 5th birthday.  When asked what she wanted Daddy to make her for her birthday breakfast, she said "French toast (ironic right?) with ice cream."  So, that's what she got.  :)  We promised her she could pick out another special treat later in the day.
Since this was our last full day in Paris, we had some serious sightseeing to do.  Jumped back on the metro and headed off to see Notre Dame.  It was a cloudy, cold day, but I didn't mind....(I kept reminding myself of just hot wicked hot it was going to be the next few months in Saudi) Notre Dame was stunning.  The line was a bit long to get in, but moved quickly, and then once inside everyone was asked to be silent since there was a mass being held.  We followed the wave of people through the church snapping pix as I went.  The girls enjoyed looking around and were very good at keeping quiet!  The wave dumped us back outside and next it was "to the Louve!" (if you've seen Euro Trip you get the quote).  
On our way there we discussed whether to actually go into the museum.  We decided against it.  Two little kids already getting squirrelly may not do too well in a museum full of priceless art.  Don't get me wrong, my kids are good girls, but we just didn't want to push them.  No fun trying to enjoy beautiful art while barking at your kids.  So, we took a bunch of pix posing around the glass pyramid (the girls loved that) and headed off for food.
After lunch, we took the train to Montmarte.  It's a picturesque little city on a hill that is 129 meters high.  (423 feet for you Westerners)  ;)  Sara got to pick out her special birthday treat and we took them to ride another merry-go-round.  Then we hiked up the steep streets to see the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.  There were people everywhere, lounging on the steps watching a local street band play.  There was a guy with a soccer ball...who would balance the ball on his head, while climbing a light pole (which was on the very edge of a steep drop off).  Someone call Cirque du Soleil!  The girls were fascinated.  
We took a quick tour of the Basilica, but by now, we were exhausted.  Time to find dinner.  Hardest part is that almost every restaurant is closed until 7pm, but we managed to find one.  A quaint little place with a roaring fire inside...loved it.  We all tried escargot for the first time and Sara had two!  She loved them.  Afterwards it was back on the metro to the apartment for some rest.

Day 4:
Today we were to head to the Loire Valley...home for the next 9 days.  Managed to figure out the metro and train schedule and got on board the TGV fast train to Tours.  Our time in Paris was over...it was a bit too short and I know we didn't get to see everything we wanted, but, that just means we have to come back!  :)  We had a great time...now off to the chateau!

click on the images to make them larger....



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