Friday, November 26, 2010

Monopoly Money

Just yesterday we were diplomatic inmates in the Cairo aiport. In less than 24 hours we've gone from being captives in Egypt, back to Morocco and then missing the alarm to catch our early morning flight out of Morocco, surviving the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride to the airport and now we're in Paris! If you haven't travelled with 4 sleep deprived, itchy mosquito welted children on a trip to Paris before I know it may sound romantic, but let me assure you it isn't!

One of the many, many joys of travelling with 4 children is booking the hotel room. It's very hard to find rooms to fit a family of 6. And it's just not okay that our kids be down the hall in another room with access to things like "European television" if you know what I mean among other concerns. So in addition to breaking several traffic laws on the ride to the airport we're now walking the line of truthfulness and deceit. Since we booked a triple room three of us can go up to the room at a time we figure. Act normal and do not make direct eye contact with the desk clerk on your way to the room. If worse comes to worse act like you don't know French. Right, that will be easy. We actually really don't know French. Oh, can we have 3 more pillows and blankets brought up to the room please?

So we venture out into the enchanted city of Paris and head for Notre Dame. Are the kids in awe of the gothic architecture? No. They are in awe of a shiny gold King Tut standing in front of the cathedral. It's a sign of Egypt lost, but what does it mean? What will he do if you put a coin in his jar? The answer is not much. Egypt is taunting us in Paris. We all scratch our mosquito bites in unison. I think that might be the Egyptian salute or is that the "Walk like an Egyptian" pose?

As we send the kids to bed Craig tells them how we can go have breakfast overlooking the Eiffel Tower the next morning. They are so excited. The next day we find a quaint bistro. Breakfast is crepes for the kids and an omelette each for Craig and I, no Denny's grand slam here. Then you remember real estate 101. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. When our fairly meager (by American standards) breakfast is said and done it is whopping $100! Now if you've ever made a large purchase in your life like a car or house (or a trip to Egypt that you didn't get to go on because you didn't have that special diplomatic visa) there is that moment when you realize that when you've already spent thousands of dollars you get a little bit desensitized to $100 more. Granite countertops? Why not? It doesn't matter in the big picture at this point. It's all Monopoly money anyhow. I mean have you SEEN Euros? They are blue and pink and I'm pretty sure that they have that guy with the top hat it. YeeeeeessssssS, you landed on the Champs Elysees! That will be one million in rent please. Fork it over suuuucccckkkkkeeer.

Paris is a walking city. We walk and metro everywhere and hit as many of the major sites as we can. The top of the Eiffel tower, the Palais Garnier, the Seine, the Louvre, the sewer. Yes, the sewer. Hey everybody's gotta poop even if you live in the most beautiful city in the world. And what is more fun than poop? It was ironic that the entire time at the sewer tour one of the kids was doing that familiar dance. You know the one. And how much perseverance does one need to hold it when you can hear raging water and smell those all too familiar bathroom smells? We encouraged him to skip a step and just make a donation to the sewer gods directly, but to no avail. Where is socital descretion on the growth chart? This must be a product of the double digit years.

Question? Where is the world's largest collection of Egyptian antiquities? You got the Louvre in Paris. Now I would like to claim that I knew that before hand and this was such a masterly crafted trip, but it was just a happy accident. So not only did we see the Mona Lisa, but we actually salvaged a little bit of our Egypt trip sort of. Ok, not really, but now we have the mosquito bites from Cairo and the blisters on our feet from Paris. We are an international disaster.

On the last day we decide to see a palace and rule Versailles out because it's much too large, too much of a trek from Paris and you must take a guided tour. Have you ever taken a long guided tour with 4 kids? It sucks! So we settle on Fountainbleu. We walk to the metro, take that to the train, take that half-way to our destination until the train is out of service, catch the next train and finally arrive in the town of Fountainbleu and at the door of the ch√Ęteau de Fontainebleau. We're so excited for them to see a real historic castle. And they are really excited....... about the 2 self guided tour headsets that we are issued. Do the math. Four kids, two headsets in english. Note to self, do not make a happy child happier. The kids were much more entertained collecting used metro tickets while we were walking through Paris.

Lessons Learned:

1. Our minivan can reach the speed of 100 mph.
2. The difference between lying and just not telling the hotel how many people are in your room.
3. Never give money to King Tut.
4. We should schedule all our vactions around exotic prime pidgeon populations.
5. Or maybe we should just start a pidgeon farm and stay home?
6. Yes you can use Monopoly Money in France.
7. No matter how beautiful your city is there's still shit underneath.
8. The Louvre is big, the Mona Lisa is small. But neither one is as impressive as that growing collection of used useless metro tickets.
9. Skip the trip to the castle and give your kids an ipod. It's cheaper and lasts longer.

And the most important lesson: Always check to see if you need a special diplomatic visa. Duh. Or is the most important lesson don't try to make a happy child happier? Wait maybe it's don't give money to King Tut?

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