By Dr. Paula Bloom
I just returned from my first trip to Europe. I’ve dreamed of going to Paris since I was a little girl and my desire intensified after four years of studying French in high school. While books and teachers can tell you about the history, the culture, the art and the food there’s nothing quite like wandering the streets and stumbling on quaint neighborhoods and smelling the fresh crepes, stinky cheeses and (my least favorite smell) cigarette smoke.
(On a side note: I had heard that the French liked to smoke but nothing could have prepared me for the amount of smoking we’d encounter. My children are exposed to so much public health anti-smoking information that it was kind of tough to let them be exposed to the cigarette smoke. It ended up sparking some really good conversations with the kids about why people do things they know are bad for them and the concept of addiction.)
For the first few days we had some lovely weather, but as the trip progressed the weather got colder and very rainy. Luckily, I had heeded the advice my mom has always given me about travel, “Paulita, it’s all about layers.” I had shirts, lightweight sweaters, scarves and a raincoat that got me through beautifully. Unfortunately, I had pretty much only packed warm weather shoes all of which were comfortable, some of which were waterproof (Crocs andTevas) and none of which kept my feet dry. One of the first things I did upon returning was to buy a pair of rain boots. I just got my Dansko Vail Rain Boots in the adorable black frog design 2 days ago and I LOVE them. Can’t wait for the next rain storm so I can wear them!
On the steps of the Eiffel Tower, sort of like mile markers on highways, there are numbers telling you how many steps you have climbed. By the time we reached the middle we were pretty tired. Every few minutes we’d take a rest, check out the view and then keep climbing. Finally, we saw the number we were waiting for: 668. The kids began cheering.As we prepared for our trip and asked the kids what they wanted to do in Paris their first request was to climb the Eiffel Tower. When we arrived we were told that you really should buy tickets in advance, since the lines can be about four hours long to ride the elevator up. We hadn’t really planned ahead. On our last day in Paris we decided to try going. It was a very cold, rainy and windy day and the lines were very long. We noticed one entrance that had no line. We investigated — it was the lines for walkers. Wait in the cold for a few hours in order to ride an elevator to the top or wait in no line, climb the 668 steps to the middle (that’s as far as you are allowed to climb) and take an elevator to the top? We took a family vote and off we went.
From Paris we traveled to Copenhagen. Come back soon to read a future post about castles, shoe shopping and what it’s like to eat danish in Denmark.It was pretty spectacular to see the view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, though probably more so with clear skies. The kids were excited to be up there (well, they were for about two minutes, until they started complaining about being cold and wet). We had arrived on Bastille Day and had, on our first day, seen the fireworks celebration at the Eiffel Tower. Our six days in Paris had come full circle.
Where did you go on vacation this summer? Did you pick a special pair of shoes? Let me know!