Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 2 and 3 Paris

It's raining! It's been raining for two days now and we've had enough of it, quite simply, honestly. This is not the Paris I planned for. It's much less glamorous or beautiful or romantic when you are running for cover, waddle in your wet shoes from store to store or bistro to bistro and pack/unpack your rain gear 10 times a day!

For our second day sightseeing, we were holding onto a hope that it may not rain and so planned around seeing the city. We started off with Notre Dame and were immediately stunned by the long line snaking around the streets to get in. I don't do lines as a principle! I'd rather "waste" the time wondering around the unknown streets than being squeezed into any building (church in this case) - which by all account must be stunning and beautiful, but doesn't the magic stop somewhere between the lady that doesn't use deodorant in front of you and the annoyingly loud speaker behind?



We walked across the Seine towards the Latin Quarters in search of a restaurant and found a small market. Bought a few souvenirs and admired the local produce - cheese, giant oysters, fruit and vegetables.

We've been warned about not so friendly Parisians, but all what we've experienced so far is quite the contrary. The old lady next table at the bistro poured us wine from their bottle (I may have looked in dear need of some liquid happiness, given all that rain combined with LoLo's demands for sweets, ice cream or toys or all of the above at the same time). The same day, another lone lady waved Lola over offering her a small toy that came with her ice cream sunday. People stood up to give up their seats, smiled at LoLo, winked at them, moved their seats so that we can be seated as a family together.
I must say people were kinder in transportation much more than in NYC and visibly wanting to do the kind deed and not feeling like they had to. It maybe LoLo's charm (the fact that London doesn't stop talking and smiling and Lola flirting - minus when they are whining - but we won't mention those cases here) and the French love of kids, that we get such a warm friendly feeling, but I;d like to think it's more general and just the way people are here.

We passed by the Pantheon stopping for ice cream and crepes. I tasted the boozy Grand Marnier crepe for the first time and didn't really like it. The Latin Quarter is as charming as I remembered it to be - small shops and restaurants and streets buzzing with locals and tourists.



I bought Bensimon sneakers finally - simple pull ons that my Parisian friend, Viera introduced me to many years ago, upon my first visit here.

LoLo found a playground at the end of the day - just the time when it was sunny for about an hour and spent time on a spring see-saw going so fast, I was getting dizzy just observing them (but kids love this stuff, don't they?). It's funny to observe French parents and compare them to those at home. I keep searching for their "superior" techniques as described at the "Raising bebe" book and don't really seem to find it. Ok, so it's been only a week or so that I've been doing my French parenting observation, but still .. (oh and it's not that I am not biased at all lol) ... My only conclusion is, that it's just like sweet home Brooklyn - there are parents who follow their child from swing to swing hovering over them and there parents that sit on the bench reading a book, while their child is pushing aside others on their way up on the slide ladder.

One is for sure, I once again could not keep my mouth shut and when one mom watched her son grabbing the long-awaited ball from London's hand (first on line),  I had to tell her it wasn't right and gave her the mean mom look accordingly.  She seemingly was oblivious at my upset look and could not be bothered. Uhmm yeaaahh ... I've never been good at playground politics.

TIP: 
When traveling with LoLo, I always like to buy a kids book with local stories. (Most major cities have them published in English.) It teaches them about the city and makes them excited for the sights that we plan to see. And pssst .. if you want the real lazy guide to any city for yourself - just buy one as a gift to a child and you can find out all the major tourist attractions without ever buying a proper guide that you may be lugging from home ;) and may just discover more than a guide book will ever tell you. It is also a wonderful keepsake and a memory and keeps coming back every time you read the book. LoLo remembers much of Barcelona also, thanks to the books we've bought!

Reading the Paris kids book the second after we bought it :) 

La Cite des Enfants 
Yet another cold, rainy day on Wednesday (57 F) made us look for things to do indoors and so we decided to visit the "children's museum" of Paris. It is on the outskirts of the city and so the travel there took us an hour and a half and we were very hopeful! The guide book for kids said that it's the "one museum not to be missed", so we were ready for major WOW factor - well, there was none of that! The museum is divided to two parts ages 3 to 7 and 5 to 12. I bought tickets to the part for smaller children - thinking LoLo were 5 (it's closer to their age first category), but many activities were geared for much smaller kids. Also, if you are a spoiled brat, like we are and happen to live in a big city (like NYC f.e.) surrounded by amazing museum, your children's museum is likely be just as great or better than this one. We're a bit bored by now with the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the place could use some extra TLC, but it's just as good in terms of fun as this giant facility with more interesting things than the one in Paris. And! You can spend as long as you want there! This museum lets you in for an hour and a half and then you have to leave. So, it's not a whole day program - thought with the track out there it may as well be.

Construction site at the Children's Museum 

TIP: 
If you have children 5 and you've already decided to go to this museum (I would not, but if you did .. ) .. buy tickets for the older category and not the younger. I haven't seen the older section, but would probably forget about the entire place if my child was 10+ years old and would rather take them to another museum and not here. Also, buy tickets online ahead of time!  

THE SUBMARINE 
For 3 Euros per person we walked through the submarine - just outside of the museum. We walked through the entire giant, black iron submarine (not in water) passing by the sleeping quarters and the kitchen and the captain's place. It was an interesting and short visit, but again .. not worth a visit unless you are a serious submarine fan.


Captain needs a lift! :) 

Next entry: Pompidue, a walk through Paris and Jarden des Tuileries 

Bisou Bisou, Elvi and the Gang xox



           

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bonjour from Paris!

Bonjour Everyone! Haven't posted in ages I know .. :( But now we are in France, in Paris, the city of love and fashion and I am inspired to share the journey of our second year of home exchange with you all!

As you may know, last year we spent an amazing month in Barcelona and loved it and I am now a religious home exchanger! There are really only three ways I will ever travel again ...

a. home exchange (the obvious)
b. on points of any kind - airfare, hotel, coffee card (whatever it takes)
c. camping (I will get back to this one again, but if you read my post about our trip to St. John this January, you know why. Well, the St. John experience is now enhanced and reconfirmed by our amazing, no, AMAZING week at Huttopia in the Loire Valley, which I will review here later.)

This year, we found a nice French family with three boys, who live at 15 arr. (I am not going to spell this out) in Paris. All was agreed on Skype soon after our first contact. The general rule of the thumb is, that if you find some elements of your apartment in theirs on the photos, you will most likely be comfortable at your adopted place.

We exchanged keys at a hotel upon our arrival and here we are!

It's exciting to walk into somebody else's world and imagine and experience what it must be like to live here, to be a Parisian. To run across the street in the morning for a fresh baguette or a croissant, to sit at the corner bistro on one of those charming chairs by a tiny table watching the world go by or to type away on your computer by a desk with a clear view of the open glass doors of the ornate facade of the building across the street and its inhabitants. The young guy in shorts, who is constantly on the phone, the chubby lady in a dress who takes a cigarette break once an hour or the family that hopelessly tries to get their young child away from the open balcony door.

Argh Paris ...

A week and a few days in France and we are all fluent in "Merci", "Bonjour" and "Au revoire".
We walk self-assured, map-less, Lola skipping, London making the sidewalk pillars an obstacle course, camera hiding (mostly) in my large satchel (notice the choice of words here), I-phone ready for a quick photo ... Oh my! We could be easily mistaken for Parisians ... Well, not quite! We need a fashion upgrade! Badly! Ok, so we didn't come for the Dior fashion show that just happened today and J-Lo was there (don't ask me how I know all this and nothing about world news!) but we are far from locally looking.  Stretched out jeans and t-shirts (at least no sneakers) ... Is it just me, or the stereotype, or our general, collective lack of fashion esteem that makes us feel somehow less put together, less sophisticated (I mean that girl today with a black hat and style made me want to run back home, paint my nails, get a massage, splatter some Dior 5 all over my body and wear stilettos .. or at least my shiny self-made sequins Dolce fake pumps or something that would put us on the map as a non-tourist type ...  I was jealous)

Something stunk in our apartment ... After LoLo tested all the toys, took over a castle in a battle over a princess, built a car track looping four times in the air and managed to find a box of marbles that were now a hazard to life all across the three rooms, we opened the fridge.

Lola, opened the fridge and shining eyes and bushy tailed she whispered in my ear: "Mommy! There is pudding in there!" (Side note: we never buy pudding! .. This poor, pudding deprived child knew that the opportunity was here ... ). Then she closed the door, upon which an odor that would make a skunk seem a desirable perfume of choice took over the entire apartment.

"Was it you?"

We pointed at each other in disbelief at what our noses were experiencing.
"It must be from outside" .. I concluded, until the next time we opened the fridge and started a search of all shelfs, nooks and crannies of the fridge. Our 10 minutes search in t-shirts pulled over our noses (bank robber style) produced no rotten food of any kind or body pieces (as we started to suspect).

It was unbearable! We made cross wind throughout the apartment  and proceeded to open the fridge only with extra caution and solely in necessary, unavoidable situations ( f.e. when Lola wanted another pudding).

Until we found it! It sat on the middle shelf, wrapped in perfect crispy paper, in a perfect clean box with some fancy french wording ... It wasn't old, it wasn't bad, though it was definitely dead, it was the cheese the family left us as a gift. I caution you, we are HUGE cheese lovers, we've had smelly cheese, we've tasted a few that made us not breath for a few second taking a chance at fainting or even dying from the lack of oxygen, but never, and I mean NEVER have we smelled anything so atrocious, stomach turning, skunklicious in our lives!

Geoffrey placed it in a plastic bag, tied it carefully and took it to the garbage downstairs.
.. and it still smells!!!

.. Oh ooohh ...  but I wanted to tell you all about our first day of adventure in Paris ...

We went to the Citroen Park and took a balloon up in the sky. We learnt that advance tickets are sold out for the entire month for the Eiffel Tower and that lines can be long and quite unbearable, especially with children, who are not so much amused mostly by the height or the construction of the building, so we won't see the tower once again but at least we got to see the city from high up ...

Always a reason to come back!





xox LV


     

Sunday, March 2, 2014

And the Oscar goes to ...

We are having so much fun with these Oscars ... 

On the red carpet ... 


OSCAR


(Pssst don't tell LoLo, but it's a Barbie wrapped in foil)

And finally reporting live from the event:
https://vimeo.com/88031131

xxx LV


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day flower bouquet

Even if you don't like Valentine's Day, these cupcake liner flowers can be a cute gift for Mother's Day or any birthday.
You may attempt to make an entire bouquet. Hershey's kisses work well for the center, but you may put them on a skewer stem and attach a mini peanut butter cup or a ferrero rocher chocolate.


London and Lola also tried making these and I am not claiming theirs came out this way, but we had fun making them and can not wait to give them out to their teachers and classmates! 

Happy Valentine's Day!
LoLove, Elvi





Today in winter wonderland! - Prospect Park

Every Tuesday is LoLo and mom day! Last week Tuesday we spent in Prospect Park. We love Prospect Park and don't go nearly as often as we should,
because all covered in snow it felt a like we just stepped into a winter wonderland.


The entrance to the park was like a magical alley leading to surprises ... 

A lone runner passed by us, while the sun amazingly lit the glistening white trees and ground ...


The picnic house and tables were also covered in a white coat ...

The snow was so deep - it was a workout to get to the sledding hill 

And this is the moment when you arrive .. backwards from the hill ...


"Yumm, this snow is delicious" .. as it kept falling from the tree branches

Isn't this beautiful?

Three hours later we were on our way back home ... Full of nature ...

We love you Prospect Park! :)

                                                                      Elvi