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Trip report. Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy in 2 weeks during Easter. Am I nuts?!?!?

Trip report. Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy in 2 weeks during Easter. Am I nuts?!?!?

Apr 13th, 2007, 01:43 PM
  #21  
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Hotel Champ de Mars ...

What a cute hotel! Very tiny, almost missed it, taxi driver never heard of it. Daughter breathes a sigh of relief, we are finally there.

Check in was quick, head up to our room in the worlds tiniest elevator, enough room for daughter and I, and our 2 bags. Good thing I am not heavier, not sure the thing would make it to our floor!! We stayed in the "Tulip" room. Room small, but clean and very charming. Bathroom very small as well, but it will do for the 3 nights we are here.

We throw our bags on the bed and are immediately out of there. Rain has stopped, still a bit chilly but the sun is trying to peek out. We head directly around the corner to the Rue Cler, and WOW!! Just like the French cliche, flower stalls, open pastry market, wonderful stinky cheese shops, (oh how I love my cheese), vegetable stands, girl riding by on a bike with a baguette in her basket. Oh I love Paris!

We walk around a bit, taking in all of the sights and smells, daughter immediately falls in love with French pastries. She wolfs down 3 mini chocolate croissants before I can even take a bite of one. Kills me how she manages to stay so thin. And cold... We head up to the room to get her another sweater, and she realizes she hasn't brought another sweater.

So we walk... In one store and out the other, not a heavy coat or sweater to be found. It IS April, after all. Go back to hotel, ask Stephane where we might find something warm, she directs us to a store just around the corner of the hotel, in the other direction. We find it and daughter is smitten. Serious bargains and cute stuff. Of course none of it comes in MY size. She finds a very European black jacket for the grand sum of 5 Euros. Bonus! And we take off for our first view of the Tour Eiffel.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 01:53 PM
  #22  
 
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Which days were you and your daughter in Paris? A friend and I were there over Easter weekend (sob sigh, just last weekend).

Great report, and by the way, my mother and I still occasionally really really bug each other when we travel, and I am far from ateenager.

Leely is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 03:11 PM
  #23  
 
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How old is your daughter? I'm getting frightened as I am taking my 18 yr old niece to Europe as graduation gift and I hope she doesn't expect that I have to do it ALL and that she will HELP me figure things out!!?? Trying to be the one to figure out how to get us where we're going is always a challenge!
queener is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 03:51 PM
  #24  
 
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queener, I think it depends on the particular teen. People process adversity differently. One of my daughters reacts like threerohdes' daughter did - freaks out when things go wrong and gets frustrated at me - and my other daughter is much more easygoing. I know that my higher-maintenance daughter does well when she is on her own (she's had to deal with missed plane connections, etc.) but she really hates glitches. My husband gets pretty stressed out that way also. For our next trip, I have lined up direct flights and we're not doing much touring from place to place. He just doesn't find that relaxing.

With a parent/child situation, the child is used to the parent being the authority, and by the late teens, also has a certain amount of practice at 'blaming' a parent! There's a good chance that you, as an aunt, will escape that dynamic. At the same time, there will be some stress on your niece if she has to be on 'best behavior' all the time. Not that it's a bad thing - part of growing up is realizing that you can't just cut loose on people (such as the nearest parent) when things aren't going your way.

To make your trip go smoother, I'd look at your niece's basic personality and tailor the itinerary accordingly. If she is get up and go, then lots of fast paced moving would suit her. If she likes to soak up the atmosphere and handle things at her own slower pace, then maybe fewer destinations for longer time.

For my recent trip to Berlin with my 18 year old 'high-maintenance' daughter, I listened when she told me she didn't want to go lots of places in our 9 days but just really experience Berlin. We did a short side trip to Dresden, but otherwise stayed put in Berlin. We got to sleep in a few mornings, spent lots of time drinking hot chocolate at cafes, and had a great time.
noe847 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 03:53 PM
  #25  
 
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Oh, and if you set it up in advance that you are both in this together and give your niece some responsibility for planning and/or navigating, it will probably go smoother.
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Apr 13th, 2007, 04:21 PM
  #26  
 
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Very good advice.... Ya, I told my niece I would take her any where in the world she wanted to go - she narrowed it down to Europe and when I asked her to select her cities, she selected about 6 for 2 weeks - I visited with her about just breezing through some place or actually getting to see a city and we agreed that she would select 3 cities.... We are flying into Rome, going to Venice and then Paris - flying home from Paris. I also told her she could invite one other person to come along with us (but no boyfriend) and she chose her Mom (my sister). So we'll have my 18 yr old niece and my sister who have never been overseas and me -- who has traveled quite a bit in Europe. I'm sure it will go ok if I keep my cool when I can't figure out where we are, etc. -- esp if they are patient with me too!! We are really getting excited for the upcoming trip. I'm loving reading this trip report by the way!!!
queener is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 06:04 PM
  #27  
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We were there the first week of April. Daughter will be 18 next month, but because she has led a pretty easy life, her coping skills are not what they should be.

She is not spoiled by any means, but for some reason, this trip really brought out her bad side. I know in a few years, she will appreciate what I had to go through to make this happen for her, but for now, that appreciation is hidden.

Such is life. I will never forget the Mothers Day card my eldest daughter gave me a few days after her first son's birth in 2003. In it she thanked me for being such a good mom to her, even when she was being a witch and didn't appreciate me. Things work out.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 06:17 PM
  #28  
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Daughter and I head to the Metro station that we were SUPPOSED to have arrived at, and I check things out and vow to learn how to use this thing by tomorrow. I am an intelligent woman, maybe I am the one making it hard.

We walk towards the Tour Eiffel, easy walk from the hotel, and the moment the tower comes into view, daughter gets tears in her eyes. That alone made the days frustrations disappear. She was simply awestruck, and couldn't tear her eyes, or her camera, away. Today was one of her friends 18th birthday, and my daughter called to wish her Happy Birthday, in French, from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Magical...

After a wonderful few hours taking in the area, we headed back to the Rue Cler to find dinner. We ate at a little bistro right around the corner from the hotel, can't remember the name, but it is just on the corner by the pastry shop. Dinner not bad, great coffee and people watching.

We decide to try to get some sleep, tomorrow is a busy day, The Louvre is waiting...
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 06:23 PM
  #29  
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I am going to have to give this trip report a rest until tomorrow. I have been home 2 days, but work has been a grind sifting through the pileup on my desk, I have laundry to do, clean up all of the dust from the tilers who laid ceramic tile in my kitchen and nook, and I need to go get some groceries.

My son is also in town for the weekend, needs some mom time, and I have totally neglected my wonderful fiance while I tried to catch up on a little sleep.

I hope to be back at it tomorrow. Hope you are enjoying it so far.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 14th, 2007, 06:12 AM
  #30  
 
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hi, threerohdes,

loving the report. thanks you for taking so much time to share it with us.

your experience with your DD reminded me of the time we were in Versailles, discovering that there were no rooms in the inn. our DD, then 15, completely freaked out, thinking we would have to sleep in the car. DS, then 12, was fine, sure it would all work out. as it did.

perhaps it's girls???

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 14th, 2007, 05:28 PM
  #31  
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Today we have 2 important events, one, we go the the Louvre, two, I figure out the Metro if it kills me!

Daughter and I sneak in a few pastries from the open air shop around the corner on the Rue Cler, then find the Metro stop, which is less than 5 minutes from hotel. I take a look at the map, how interesting! This totally makes sense! Know the number and name of the line in each direction, put your Euro coins in a machine, take ticket, step up to the turn style, insert ticket, remove ticket and get on the dang train. Why was this so confusing yesterday?

Great tip here, there is a much much shorter line for the museum if you come in from the Metro. We had our ticket and were headed into the Louvre in less than 5 minutes, And BONUS!, daughter got in free since she was under 18. Just remember to bring ID. We didn't know, but they let her in anyway.

Mona, Winged Victory, Napoleons apartment, Spartacus, wonderful paintings. Words cannot describe the beauty that lies within this huge museum, so why do I even try? Lets just say that it was some serious happy time for both mother and daughter for several hours.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat in the food court upstairs in the mall area, Daughter fascinated with the Coke that came in a glass bottle. Will wonders never cease? When I told her that when I was a kid, milk came in bottles, she laughed, go figure...

Still lots of daylight left, so we decide to go to Notre Dame. It had started to drizzle again, so I get in the very long line and daughter runs off to buy umbrella. She gets back just as I made it to the entrance. OH...MY...GOD... More indescribable beauty, sacred. Daughter awestruck again, wish so much that she can take pictures inside, but unlike some of the other people there, daughter tends to follow the rules. She lit a candle for her grandfather, who has been battling cancer for the last 5 years. We lingered for quite some time, neither of us wanted to leave.

As we left, a large group of kids were holding up signs that read "Free Hugs" My daughter held tight to her bag and indulged in a very spirited group hug. I had to laugh. At this point we were both feeling the happy buzz, so we wandered and wandered, just looking at everything that seemed remotely interesting. Found a shop selling old lithographs and interesting jewelry. Spent quite a bit of time checking that place out, then headed off to the grocery store to find something for dinner. Not in the mood for a restaurant tonight, just want to eat something and zone out in front of the TV.

Daughter heads back to the hotel room, I wander the grocery store, one of at least 3 in the immediate area around the Rue Cler. I discover the wonderful mineral water that comes in both the green and the red bottles, one extra fizzy, the other just regular fizzy. Love the packaging. I am getting a kick out of trying to figure out all of the french labels on the food, wonder if what I bring back to the hotel will be what I think it will be. Did you know that you get charged for your plastic grocery bags in some stores in Paris? What an odd thing to do.

Turns out most of the food i purchased was edible, all except a bag of Cheetos shaped munchies that looked like they would be spicy, as the bag showed them with red flakes on them. Daughter says they taste like peanut butter. No way, I better taste them. Yep. Peanut butter. Who would do such a thing?

We get to sleep around 11 and dream happy dreams.

threerohdes is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 04:50 AM
  #32  
 
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hi, threerohdes,

our milk still comes in bottles - delivered to the door 3x a week by our milkman. also he'll bring cream ,eggs, potatoes, juice, etc., if pre-ordered.

The butcher also has a van in which he does deliveries, and in some places, the fishman comes round once a week.

as for public transport, there is a bus once an hour stops at our gate!!! which rund between our nearest towns. unfortunately it stops at night and on sundays. our kids go to school on the bus, so they are well-used to the vagaries of public transport.

such are the advantages of living in rural cornwall.

glad your DD has had a chance to see how the other half live! the trip sounds great for both of you.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 06:11 AM
  #33  
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Ann,

I wanna live in rural Cornwall! Sounds like my childhood town, although I grew up in the state of Washington.

It just occurred to me how long this trip report has become. Seems I want to tell my story, but in looking over it, it's mostly filler.

I will try to condense the rest, we still have 8 days in Italy to go, including Easter Sunday in Rome.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 07:12 AM
  #34  
 
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Well, threerohdes, most often it's the 'filler' that makes a report interesting!
noe847 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 08:23 AM
  #35  
 
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hi, again,

please don't leave out the filler - it adds so much more to any trip report.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 05:12 AM
  #36  
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OK, so filler it is. I will continue to post throughout as time permits. I still have to get the pile 'o paperwork off my desk!
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 05:26 AM
  #37  
 
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Looking forward to more stories, love the details!
kraav is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 08:19 AM
  #38  
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Woke up to another beautiful April morning in Paris. Daughter wants to wander some more, possibly see the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées. i would love to go to the Musée d'Orsay, but this is her trip, so we head off to the Metro to go shopping and wander. By this time, we have the whole metro thing down pat, it really makes so much sense and is a quick, cheap and easy way to get from point A to point B. We bought a carnet of tickets and are using them up quickly.

We arrive at our stop and exit the metro station. Immediately, we are impressed by the beauty and the history of the surrounding area. There are gorgeous monuments, apartments, little "palaces", green parks and lots of budding and in bloom trees. Very nice.

This was a long day of just wandering in and out of shops, daughter likes the little funky places, I was amazed at the selection at the Louis Vuitton store. We have a Vuitton store in Portland, but it is tiny and the selection is limited. This place has absolutely every bag currently available. I love it, and ooh and aah over a simply gorgeous bag that must be brand new, as I have never seen it before. I want to own it, but in reality, it is much too large for me, and how in the hell can I justify 1,100 Euros for a purse? This is not the life I signed up for, I distinctly remember checking off the box that said I wanted to be wealthy on the life forms I filled out 42 years ago. Wonder if my forms got mixed up with someone else's?

Daughter is thoroughly disgusted that after all of the buildings and monuments we have seen, I have the gall to call a bag "stunning" Seems I just can't win here...

Continue past all of the super exclusive stores, and cross over to get a good view of the Arc. Very, very cool, lots of people stopped in the middle of the road to take pics. I attempt to do the same, in the little traffic island, but daughter having none of it. I sigh, and follow her to the safety of the sidewalk. Approached by beggars wanting to know if we are American. Interesting, are Americans more sympathetic to their little signs they open up as soon as they find out that you are Americans? I told her no, first time in my life anyone has followed me begging "please, please, please" What part of my perfectly accented American "NO" did she not understand??

Continue down the street where all of the "normal" people shop, nothing of too much interest here, so we stop into a sandwich shop to get lunch. Very good sandwich, place full of locals, very crowded. Finished our stroll and decide to hop on a metro and just ride and see where we ended up. Toss of the coin.

We ended up in a little neighborhood somewhere to the far east of the Musée d'Orsay. Again, no hard and fast plans, daughter just wants to relax, stroll and explore. Interesting side note, I was approached no less than 3 times by someone asking me directions in French. Must have seen my hideous looking European Ecco shoes. Butt hugging ugly in my view, but stylish in an "interesting" way and very comfortable. My French is poor, but I think I managed to convey to them that I did not know, as I was "not from around these here parts". Either that, or I told them that my fingers were green and growing rapidly. Who knows?

It's getting late, and we need to meet my friend who is returning from her weekend in Ireland, so we make our way back to the hotel. My impression is that the Metro is easier to understand than the RER, but we got back just fine with minimal confusion.

Friend had booked a shuttle from CDG to the hotel, but wonder of all wonders, nobody was answering the phone when she called for pickup, even though she had confirmed the pickup the day before. Taxi to the hotel was over 50 Euros. It was getting dark, so we decided to go up the Eiffel Tower one more time and take my friend along. It was gorgeous all lit up at night, and the line was short to go to the top. The wind had kicked up a bit, but it was still very clear when we got to the top. We were able to see for what seemed like miles of lit up Paris. Very cool. My friend called her husband from the top, and I called my fiance. Rather surreal, I hope that some day, my fiance will come back with me and finish the exploring that I didn't get to do.

It is very late now, so we head back down and daughter heads back to the hotel to sleep, friend and I set out to find an open bar. We find one, just steps from the Metro stop by the ecole militare, something "Terrace" and we have a bottle of wine and a cheese plate. Great end to a great long weekend in Paris.

Tomorrow we head out on our flight to Bologna, where we will catch a train for our 3 nights in Venice.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 08:32 AM
  #39  
 
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hi threeohdes,

love your report! do you have the name of the store where your daughter bought her 5e coat? or maybe even the street?

thanks,
tamara
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Apr 16th, 2007, 08:38 AM
  #40  
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Tamara, sorry, I am horrible at this stuff, but if you were standing outside of the Hotel Champs de Mars, take a left down to the major street and take another left, it is in the second block 1 store from the corner on the left hand side.
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