I am sitting in New York as I write this. We arrived a few days ago very dirty and weary from our 2 weeks in England and France with all three children still intact. Since we had to fly through London to come back to the US and Lydia's brother and sister-in-law are helping to run a church retreat center in France this year, it was a good opportunity for us to see a bit of Europe and not spend too much money doing it. We did get to see some amazing things and we certainly made many wonderful (and not so wonderful) memories!
Here are some of the things we learned:
1. European cities are breathtaking
2. European cities have lots and lots and lots of stairs...everywhere
3. Children don't like climbing the aforementioned stairs even when you are already carrying all of the luggage and the stroller
4. The cities are also very dirty places, especially when your kids decide that it is fun to crawl along the metro floor and lick iron gates
5. If you don't take your child to the bathroom immediately they will pee all over the train station floor (the upside is that with so many people around no one cares or notices)
6. Driving in France is very calm and enjoyable (except in Paris)
7. Driving in England is not so calm or enjoyable.
8. If you exit from a British roundabout in the wrong lane, you will get honked at
9. If your three-year old says that his stomach hurts while you are driving through the French countryside, it means that he is going to throw up all over your rental car
10. When your six-year old touches a painting at the Musee Louvre, you will get yelled at...alot
11. When your six-year old steps off the sidewalk into a bike lane in London, you will have to reassure the girl who hit him that it really wasn't her fault and that he will be fine
12. A written contract is not a guarantee that you will have a place to stay
13. All McDonalds have free wi-fi, which is a good place to go to find another place to stay at 9 pm
14. If you can't stop eating all the amazing French food, you will gain weight
15. European cities have great playgrounds
16. The publics toilets are not so great
17. Family vacations involve a lot of suffering and a lot of great memories!
The highlights of the trip were riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower (Liam), the mummies at the British Museum (Serra), riding on all the airplanes, trains, and buses (Kamu), spending time in the French countryside (Lydia), and exploring a medieval castle when no one else was there but us (Josh).