I left Omaha on Monday, October 17th and told my kids I was going to work and was going to work for a long time. They are 4 and 3, and I wasn't sure they would understand the truth. So this worked. I've never been away from my kids for more than 24 hours. This was the first time. And I know they were in good hands. But how was I going to make it without them?
The flight from Dallas to Paris was long. The guy sitting across from us was lucky enough to be seated in the 5 seat section with no one else seating there. He laid across all 5 seats and slept for most of the flight. I was envious.
Our first day in Paris we didn't do much. We found our hotel and tried to catch up on some sleep. It was raining when we woke up and decided to explore a bit. We left our hotel later in the afternoon and took the train to Gare du Nord. The hotel clerk told us that trains don't run after 9pm, but a taxi ride is about 15 euros. The taxi ride cost us 40 euros, and the next day we found that the last train was at 12:15am.
From the Monmartre Cemetery
Both Paris and London had this really cool bike rental deal. It's connected to the public transportation and trains. So say you get out of one of the subway stations and you need to make a connection to another station that is not connected with and underground tunnel. Well, you can take Velib...., get a bicycle, ride it to the next station where you are going to drop it off. We attempted to do this, but somehow it didn't work out for us. Here is a picture of a station with only one 'velo' left.
And another cemetery, Pere LaChaise where I got obsessed with the ornate entries to the necropoli and took bunch of photos. I think it was fun to play with my retro phone camera.
London was more orderly than Paris. It was mostly the trains/subways that gave me this impression. In Paris you would put in your ticket to get into the station and about 2-3 people are mere inches behind you trying to piggy back and get in the station. In London, almost every station had a uniformed employee observing the traffic of people.
On our first night in London we went to see a concert, Pop Will Eat Itself. Originally David bought tickets to see them in Bristol the night before. But see, David didn't quite arrange for transportation ahead of time. He thought it would be easy to arrange this once we are in Paris. This was not an easy task and especially not with our tight budget. But he was very resourceful to obtain tickets to see them in London on Saturday night. We were to meet a couple of people who offered David tickets at a bar called York (I think). We found it and while waiting and trying to recognize the people who would give us tickets, we met a former band member, Adam. Here is David pictured with him.
The rest of the time in London (2 days) was no pressure, more relaxed and do whatever we want or can afford. Staying in a hostel and sharing a room with 4 other people (different people every day) added to the relaxing atmosphere. The hostel, The Great Eastern, is a pub/coffee house/lounge that had all kinds of activies: games, yoga classes and a free jukebox after hmmm 8pm. It seemed that each night David and I monopolized. I was happy to see that they had a few Eels song, because my kids love The Eels, so much that they call E, uncle E (I'll save this story for another post). So hearing E's voice reminded me of my kids and made me realize that I've been away from them for some 4-5 days and I am still OK.
We visited TATE museum one day and I really liked an exhibit by Taryn Simon called 'A Living Man Declaired Dead'. I tried to read most of the notes accompanying the pictures, but oh there were so many. A few that leave an impression was the man who was a double for one of Sadam Housein's son; an orphanage in Ukraine; albinos in Africa.
We walked by The Globe Theater.
And went down to the banks of the river Thames.
Occupy the Londong Stock Exchange movement. This was quite interesting and a treasure for photo opportunities of all kinds of people.
We walked by Buckingham Palace and the surroundings.
The last night in London we checked out early from our hostel and spent at the airport. We had a 9am flight the next morning and it seemed to be too stressful to figure out how to be at the airport in time. On the flight back we were seated in the middle 5 seat section with only one other person, so this time I did get a chance to lay down and stretch my legs a bit.
And thanks to the free entertainment on the flight I found a show that I think it's hilarious: Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In Dallas, David and I went our separate ways, me to get the kids in Omaha, and David back to our dog and cat in Phoenix. The kids didn't appear to have missed me too much, they were excited to see me and I was very happy to see them too. They seemed to have had an endless play with their cousins, Marko and Sofia and I am sure they loved being spoiled by their grandparents.