Saturday, November 5th
We left Praiano in The Beast at 3:30 am. We left at 3:30 in the morning. We thought the Amalfi Drive would be a little easier at that hour, and it was, but it was still twisty and turny. Tom, poor guy, had to go through all the turns in the dark facing backwards. He got sick. Messy sick all over himself. It’s not like we could just pull over anywhere on this ridiculous road, so we had to drive until we found a spot big enough to stop. We cleaned up poor little Tom and threw his clothes away. The car seat would smell like very strong hard cheese for the rest of the trip, and we had a ways yet to go.
We got to the Naples airport and returned the car. So long, Beast – You served us well. It was a bit of an ordeal to get the kids and luggage and stuff to the terminal, but we made it and checked in and everything. I don’t know what the baggage people thought about the smell of the car seat. We flew from Naples to Rome and then from Rome to Paris, France. Because, hey, if we weren’t totally wiped out yet, why not include another country for just one day?
We landed at Charles de Gaul and tried to collect our things. The stinky car seat came out with everything else except . . . Gabbie’s bag. It was gone. I mean GONE, gone. The baggage people, who thankfully spoke perfect English, didn’t even have a record of it in the system when they scanned the tag. Poof. Gone. All of Gabbie’s clothes and souvenirs and things. She was bummed. Heidi and I probably could have been a little more sympathetic about her not having a change of clothes (or underwear) for the next day, but we were all tired, the car seat smelled, and we just wanted a little bit of a break. We got one.
I’ve maintained all along (haven’t I?) that VRBO is the way to go for a trip like this. I still believe that, but for that one night in Paris we stayed at the airport Marriott. We needed it. We checked in with probably the friendliest front desk staff I’ve ever encountered at a hotel and even got into our two adjoining rooms a few hours early. Housekeeping agreed to wash the car seat liner for free, and we finally had a nice, big, hot shower. It was tempting to just lounge in the rooms forever, but we still had some adventuring to do. This was our only night in Paris. We recuperated for about an hour and then headed out again.
We had to take the hotel shuttle back to the airport and then get on a train into downtown Paris. Charles de Gaul is a confusing airport, and I don’t just mean because of the language difference. Most signs were translated into English, and we’d recently navigated multiple Italian airports (meaning, the Paris airport shouldn’t have been so tricky). There’s just something about CDG that kept getting us twisted around. Eventually we found the train. It takes about 30 minutes of very un-scenic riding to get into town.
We had two main goals for Paris on this trip – Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame Cathedral. We accomplished both goals, but we failed to attend Mass at Notre Dame like we’d hoped. We never even glimpsed the Eiffel Tower.
Sainte-Chapelle is the place where the entire upper half of the building is stained glass. It was difficult to get a decent hand-held image of that, and it’s nearly impossible to capture the magic of the space.
Notre Dame was, well, Notre Dame. Inside and out, it’s breathtaking.
But, speaking of breathtaking, once we were done with Notre Dame, it was cold and dark and starting to rain. I think at that point we’d pretty much had it, so we descended back into the subway and got on the train back to the airport.
After some time wandering lost in CDG again, we made it to the hotel shuttle place and back to the Marriott. Blessedly, the Marriott hotel restaurant was excellent. It would be a shame to visit Paris and not get a decent meal. I don’t know how much better the food might be outside of the hotel, but it was pretty darn good inside that one. And our server was a quirky kind of interesting. He really took care of us and Tommy especially. That was our last night in Europe.