Tuesday, October 26, 2010

En Vacances en Automne

Our Autumn city-break looms.
This year I am a wee bit less enthusiastic about going away as our destination is Paris, currently gripped by protests and strikes. Unfortunately, the day we travel has been declared an industrial day of action, so there is the prospect of arriving (DV) in the centre of Paris and being unable to get the metro to our outlying hotel. We chose one well out of the centre for financial reasons: they're so much cheaper than hotels in the city-centre. We also chose one from an international chain as (a) they're one of the only places you can get a reasonably priced family room (the two youngest still being fairly happy to share accommodation with us - we couldn't afford it otherwise) and (b) the buffet breakfast facilities mean that you can stoke up for the day ahead on endless croissants, ham, cheese, jam, cereal, yoghurt and coffee. I've looked at maps and have worked out that it's about 6km from the Gare du Nord to our hotel - not ridiculously far, but far enough to walk at the end of a day of travel, and probably in the dark. There exists also the possibility of a taxi, though I imagine that if the metro is on strike, or running limited services, the taxi queues will be ridiculous.

I don't like having to plan with worst-case scenarios in mind, but this time I just have to.
What if the protests turn to riots (police, tear-gas etc.)? Go in opposite direction immediately.
What if the tourist attractions are shut tight? (I know the Eiffel Tower was last week)
Plan stuff that just needs to be walked through and looked at (Champs Elysees, Montmartre, plenty of churches...).
We will make the most of it, whatever the situation is, and if the worst comes to the worst, we have the trusty credit-card to bail us out.

It's funny the reaction I seem to get when people ask what I'm doing half-term and I reply 'Oh I'm going abroad (to Milan, Barcelona, Rome wherever..)'. I get the strangest 'old-fashioned' looks that rather convey the impression that they think 'It's alright for her!' or 'Hmmmph!'
This really p*sses me off!
All our planning is done on a shoestring, on the internet hunting for cheap fares and accommodation, cashing in the Tesco Clubcard vouchers for Airmiles, buying railcards, saving month by month for our trips throughout the year.

You see, it's a question of priorities: Some folk believe that having a pristine home, furniture and stuff is important to family life. Some folk (like us) prefer to spend carefully set-aside money on broadening their children's minds and horizons which, unfortunately cannot be done by plonking them on a DFS special in front of a 42" plasma travelogue, or dragging them around the local attractions (again).
Daughter #3 and the Bright-Eyed Boy are fairly well-seasoned little travellers by now. The first trip to Rome (about 5 years ago) was done with (our) fingers crossed, but they were both so good, trotting around with their little back-packs on a ne'er uttering a single word of complaint. They seem to love the continental lifestyle and atmosphere as much as we do, and it's a real pleasure and privilege to be able to take them along.

However there seems to be an undercurrent of envious Schadenfreude when I say we're off to Paris - a general smirking that things might not run smoothly and maybe we shouldn't bother going.

Nonsense! Say I: We will not be put off! We shall prepare for the worst, and expect the BEST - as always.

And when we get back, I'll show you our photos...and you can show us yours.....he he he!

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