Europe with Dad

In 2019 my dad retired from teaching at an Elementary school he has taught at for more than 20 years. I had finally convinced him to get his passport as he now had time to travel the world. Unfortunately, 2020 had other ideas with covid messing up the entire planet. My dad is not a person to sit idle longer than 3 minutes, so he decided to go back to teaching until the world opened up again. In November of 2022 I talked with my dad about taking a trip to Paris over his Spring break. He thought it was a great idea so I jumped on booking the flights, along with almost everything else we would possibly need.

We decided to leave the states on Thursday March 9th. Dad would fly up from Austin and meet me at JFK. I got to ghe sir port before his flight got in snd sweet talked the gate agent a while and Dad and I were bumped up to Business class on Air France. After all, this was dad’s first flight abroad, so it had to be extremely comfortable and enjoyable. We started our journey in the Air France lounge at JFK, enjoying the food, drinks and Clarins facials. Finally the time came to board and we were first on shown to our seats and made comfortable. I know dad liked the champagne, and food, but I think the hot towel they brought us was his favorite part.

A smooth 8 hours later, we landed in France. I made the poor decision to take a taxi to the apartment instead of the RER and with our incompetent driver, the taxi ride took over 2 hours. We finally made it to the apartment, and unload our bags. The weather was cold, and windy with a light drizzle, so not the best weather to wander around the city. But, we did anyway. I showed dad the Tour Saint Jacques, the Hôtel de Ville and grabbed a bite to eat. Then we went back to the apartment to sleep, knowing after a good night sleep, we would start off strong the following day.

Saturday March 11th, we headed for breakfast at Cafe La Colonnade, then we walked along the seine snapping a few photos and made our way to the Louvre. Again this was my father’s first time in Europe, so there was so much I wanted to show him at the Louvre. I was sad that the balcony at the cafe mollien wasn’t open, but we still saw plenty of gorgeous art. Many hours later we emerged and headed for a delicious dinner near the apartment. We ended off the evening with a stroll to the Cathedrale Notre-Dame.

Sunday March 12th, we hit the left bank and we hit it hard. It was a very full day. We started by passing by the Hotel de Ville where we saw a group of young girls dancing, almost in a K-Pop fashion, but none of them looked Korean. We walked up the streets and had a delicious breakfast at La Methode before finishing our journey up to The Pantheon. I have always loved the Pantheon, and I am happy to say that my dad loved it just as much as I do. The ability to pay respect to some of France’s (and the world’s) most amazing people is really breath-taking. After the Pantheon we walked over the the Jardin du Luxembourg. Walking around the gardens we admired the many statues of incredible French women, observed the many active Parisians, both young an old, playing & exercising all while we marveled at the beauty of this incredible place. After that we walked over to the Saint-Sulpice church, then headed toward the Eiffel tower, but first stopping for a nice lunch.

At the Eiffel tower we got many great photos, including one with Dad and the terrible towel. This is a family tradition of taking my mother’s terrible towel with us on vacations so that we can have her with us. (Side note, if Terry Bradshaw ever reads this, we would love to get you to sign the towel!). After the Eiffel tower, we walked over to the Hotel des Invalides, then made our way back to the Pont Neuf, specifically the Square du Vert-Galant to take a magnificent boat tour of Paris. The Vedettes du Pont Neuf offers incredible boat tours of the city with entertaining and informative host. I have taken this tour in the past and was glad that it was just as enjoyable my second time. If you ever visit Paris, i highly suggest you take the tour. Tickets are available here. After the boat tour, we walked past Louis Vuitton with their giant statue of Yayoi Kusama, impressive. Then we headed to Grizzli Cafe for a yummy dinner. After that we went back to the apartment and passed out.

Monday March 13th, Dad suggested we not walk as much as we had the day before. I mean 60,000 steps seems like a lot for some people, I guess. Dad suggest we go to Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre and then the Arc de Triomphe. I don’t think he realized how far the journey would be walking from the 1st arrondissement to the 18th, to the 8th and then back to the Marais. We made our way up to Sacre-Coeur, go some beautiful views and then made our way down the hill through Montmartre. Dad suggested he get himself a motorcycle with a sidecar and offer to take pretty ladies up the hill. Not three seconds later 4 motorcycles with sidecars passed us headed up the hill. I must get my psychic powers from my dad. We then made our way to the Arc de Triomphe, the views here are stunning. Dad got a full 360 views and was so excited to be where the Tour de France ends, so when he watches it this year he can tell people he was there. We then walked down the Champs-Elysees stopping for some Italian food for lunch. Then we walked to the Place de la Concorde to visit the oldest monument in Paris, the Obelisque de Louxor. The sun began to set so we headed back to the apartment for a good nights sleep.

Tuesday March 14th, we had our day-trip to London. We started early at Gare du Nord and took the Eurostar to London’s St. Pancras station. When we arrived it was chilly and drizzly. We stopped in an Irish pub for a breakfast and when we left it was warm and sunny. Overall the weather was very good the entirety of the trip. In London we made it a point to see the obvious sites, as a day trip isn’t enough time to see everything in detail. We walked Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Covent Garden, The British Museum and Kings Cross. We wanted to see the Harry Potter shop on platform 9 and 3/4, but the line was way too long. So we snapped a photo out front and left. The day trip was fun, but was really just a taste of London. Before our journey back to Paris, we stopped at a pub called the Angel for lunch. Dad had fish n chips, I had bangers and mash as well as a pint of cider. Very British.

Wednesday March 15th, happily back in Paris we started the day walking past the smallest house in Paris. Then we went to explore the Musee d’Orsay. A few hours later we were incredibly hungry, and stopped for a delicious lunch where dad was marveled by the strawberry crepe. We then dropped off a few souvenirs at the apartment and headed to the Place des Vosges, the Place de la Republique and over to the Porte Saint-Martin. Dad stopped by a boulangerie to get a baguette and then questioned how a country with so much delicious food, did the citizens stay small enough to fit inside their elevators?

Thursday March 16th. We were originally supposed to visit Normandy on Thursday to see where my grandfather, my dad’s dad landed during World War II. The France Tourisme company called me the day before and notified me that they had to cancel our trip as they were unable to locate a tour guide. I was incredibly upset by this as i knew it meant a lot to my dad, but we had a fun day in Paris anyway. We started by walking the small streets of the Ile Saint-Louis, the down the Jardin Tino Rossi admiring the art and gardens. After that we circled around to the Bastille, where dad saw a Hippopotamus restaurant and had to take a photo in front of it. We went back to the apartment to kick our feet up before the big dinner that evening.

I made a reservation at La Grand Colbert, my most favorite restaurant in Paris for Thursday night as an early birthday dinner for my dad. The service as always was exquisite. The food was delicious and beyond compare, the atmosphere is magical and raises one to a higher level of class. a group of 4 women were seated halfway through our meal and sadly they were the American tourist that makes everyone else look bad. They looked as though they had stepped off a housewife tv show (I hate you Andy Cohen, and everything you stand for). One had no idea how to order a drink, another was confused if tartare meant rare and a third one could only talk about her plastic surgery. Not one of them even tried to speak a word of French, only speaking in English loudly. It was disgusting. I apologized to the waiters for having to deal with a group like that. The waiters were incredibly kind, attentive and helpful. At the end of the meal the waiters brought out dessert with a candle for my dad’s birthday. Le Grand Colbert is the greatest, and if you want to have a great dinning experience in Paris, I highly suggest it. PLEASE, if you do go, and do not speak French, remember these words: Bonsoir, S’il vous plait, Merci.

Friday March 17, our last full day in Paris. Dad wanted to see a venue called the Stade Roland Garros. Some sporting event takes place here and my dad was very excited to see it in person. We then made our way back to the city center, stopped on a few bridges for photo ops, then back to Notre-dame and Hotel de Ville for one last goodbye. Dad then went back to the apartment and I headed out for a couple drinks with friends.

Saturday March 18th. Our exciting journey must come to an end. I was so happy to be able to share this wonderful experience with my dad. To be able to show him in detail why I love Paris so much. I think he started to fall in love with it too, and I cant wait for his next adventure abroad.

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