Sunday, 7 October 2007

Our first guests

Thursday night, Sean's family from Brussels came to Paris for a visit. It was a fun visit. Their son, J. accompanied Quinn and Maggie to and from school on scooters. During the visit, the three kids had a good time playing hide and seek, making spy plans and playing in the front yard. Hee, hee, we have no front yard. But we do have a very wide sidewalk down below where they can scooter, jump rope, toss and whatever else they dream up.

Our guests were kind enough to drive down with boxes we had sent them. Our only problem now was where to park the car. We needed a special pass for parking which we didn't have, and we had to move the car from its overnight position, so we decided to drive M and K's boxes to their new apartment (which is awesome!) Traffic in Paris was a little rough in their ultrachic neighborhood, but we went ahead and parked illegally while we saw the apartment and tried to figure out what to do with the car next. The logical plan was to park it back in our neighborhood for simplicity's sake.

While stuck in traffic on the rue de Rivoli, we decided to drive down the Champs Elysees (or "Sean's a lee say" as we like to say). I began feeling giddy. I was excited at the possibility of driving down the famous avenue which ends at the most craziest of driving destinations, the Arc de Triomphe.

Ignoring Jane (the bossy GPS voice), we turned onto the Champs Elysees from the Place de la Concorde. We all began to giggle. M, Sean's brother in back, and myself launched some silly shouts out of the car onto passersby. At one point, we realized we better behave somewhat, as we are driving Sean's older and smarter brother , D's car with diplomatic plates.

We moved closer and closer to the arc de Triophe, and I know Sean was going to make the most of it. He is the only person on earth, other than random tax and bus drivers, that I would drive around the Arc de Triomphe with.

We boldly approached the circle of traffic that constantly surrounds the Arc. Amazingly, as we pull straight into this busy circle, the cars to the left slow or stop and allow us to enter the circle, except for one van to which we come extremely close. We buzz excitedly around the circle. As we try to get to the outside of the circle, it gets trickier. A woman reading a menu and talking on the phone while driving barely scrapes by without incident. Unbelievable. As there are 8 streets that head outward from the ARc, we had to pay close attention to the street signs. Thank goodness for the good reader in the back, M.

We head away from Etoile and contine our trip without incident to our neighborhood where we were lucky to find a spot. I finally figure out that you have to buy the special parking permit at the "tabac" where alchohol, coffee and cigarettes are sold. Go figure.

We all had dinner together at our apartment, and all shared about our day.

Saturday morning had (almost) everyone packed into the station wagon again, this time to see M. play soccer. After an agressive game, her team tied, and M. collapsed on our couch for the next few hours while the kids played around the apartment. The adults and M. went to experience M and K's new neighborhood, as well as experience Nuit Blanche. As far as I can tell, Nuit Blanche was a night where galleries were open late, and there were cultural and art activities taking place in various locations.

At one point, we lined up to get into a Catholic church (my mother's dream- people waiting in line to get into a Catholic church) to have a multisensory experience. People were chanting(?), there was a light show on the altar and ceiling. Bodies were stretched out on carpet taking it all in, which was a cool way to experience it (and a good way to raise my leg from my dog bite-see future post).

The next day, our Brussels family took off in the wagon, with our children waving and chasing the car down the street. Quinn was very sad to see J. go. We're hoping to visit in November when spirits may be sagging. Nothing like the town of Tintin and seeing cousins to cheer up a couple of kids.

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