Our time in London has come to an end, and today we took the Eurostar to Paris. We left our flat at 10am to discover that both buses near our flat were not running for some reason. We left the way we arrived--wheeling our suitcases on the flagstone sidewalks to the Tube.
We made it to the Kings Cross/St. Pancreas train station in plenty of time for our 1:30 train, which was a good thing. We still had to visit Platform 9-3/4! (If you're not a Harry Potter fan, another reference missed on you...sorry!) There was a huge crowd of muggles gathered to pose for a picture pushing the trolley through the magical barrier, but since we did that already at the Warner Bros. Studio tour, we skipped on to one final HP gift shop.
We ate lunch, went through security and customs, and boarded our comfortable train car without a problem. Now we are on French soil, traveling through the countryside. First impressions are of small villages gathered around a church--the steeple rises above the red roofs of the homes--and windmills. The sky is beautifully blue and dotted with white clouds. We've all seized the opportunity for naps.
Upon arrival in Paris we braved the Metro to the stop nearest the apartment that we rented on Airbnb. The boys maneuvered our suitcases down more flagstone sidewalks, bustling with people. We found the tall, red double doors leading to our apartment and climbed a spiral staircase to meet Lillian, the apartment's owner. It is a quaint two-bedroom apartment, perfect for our short stay in the City of Lights.
We arrived at our apartment around 5:30pm, which was perfect timing to get settled before making our way to a restaurant for dinner. Apparently most restaurants do not even open until 7:30pm in Paris. In London we always found ourselves eating in nearly empty dining rooms, and when we asked why we realized that we are the "early bird" diners. That worked to our advantage in England, but it seems as though we will have to adjust to Parisian eating hours. Seth's calculus teacher, who also teaches French, gave us several restaurant recommendations, so we made our way to one of his favorites. It lived up to his recommendation! The boys both ate duck for dinner, and we shared two decadent desserts: crème brûlée and strawberries with pistachio cream.
After dinner we took a short stroll to the Eiffel Tower. A crowd was already gathering on the lawn and on the steps beyond for sundown. We maneuvered past the many street vendors selling replicas, along with fidget spinners and selfie sticks. We also ate chocolate-filled crepes (one of Reed's fondest memories from his visit to Paris last summer) and took photos with the Eiffel Tower in the background, thankfully finding some students from Utah who were willing to take one for us. There was a very strong police presence, which increased as it grew darker, so as soon as the twinkling lights came on the tower, we began our journey home.
We definitely feel like we are in a new country. There is a lively spirit on the streets, as people sit and eat at outdoor cafes even at 11pm. Last night a huge group of teenagers gathered in a park down from our apartment, and they talked and sang well after midnight. Poor Tim wrestled with his need for a breeze from an open window and the need for quiet. I'm not sure how much sleep he got! But I rather enjoyed it, as I felt like I had fallen into a French musical and I am playing the part of the American tourist.