Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's a Small World

MacTroll was reading a tourist guidebook last night in bed. It said that 52 percent of dwelling occupants in Paris are single people living alone. Mmm, I thought. Maybe that's why they're so grumpy, they're lonely. I decided that since all the wine, pastry and chocolate wasn't enough to get France in a good mood, I'd try something different. We'd go somewhere where people were paid to be the happiest people on Earth. That's right. Disneyland Paris. And you want to know something? It was the best idea I've ever had.

MacTroll looked into the tours offered through the hotel desk, and they were kind of expensive 98 Euros each to just go to one of the two Disney parks with a bus that would pick us up and drop us off at the hotel. But we'd have to be on the bus at 7 a.m. Mmmm, the park doesn't open until 10 a.m., so that was lame. Plus, it was expensive. But we were going to Disney so we knew we were in for using up some cash. Instead, we walked a half mile and picked up the train for under 7 Euros each. The Disney stop is the last stop on the train. You literally tumble out halfway between Disney Village (their Downtown Disney) and the two parks (Disneyland and Disney Studios). Of course, it was raining when we got there, and I was feeling cold, so we picked me up an extra sweatshirt (40 Euros) to wear under my rain coat and then we went off and stood in line for tickets.

A one-day park hopper was 68 Euros each. One park ticket was 52 Euros each. So we decided to bite the bullet and go for the hopper. I was already feeling happy about the decision when our train was full of kids with excitable giggles and parents laughing. It made me miss my kid, but I was so happy to be around other people with children. Finally, lightheartedness and humor.

Suddenly, in the ticket purchase line, this woman with two friends and their six kids, turns around and asks me if I speak French. I answer, "Non" honestly. I know enough not to starve. Turns out she knew as much English as I knew French. So we made a go of a discussion. She was a Disney pass holder and had a coupon that she was using for her two friends, but was good for up to four adults. Two one-day park hopper tickets for 15 Euros each and would we like to buy our tickets with them to use the coupon?

Hell, yes!

We were very grateful, and as far as Parisians go, she just totally proved that our experience in the city is probably entirely a city thing. My friend Robin loves everywhere else in France outside of Paris. She also likes to refer to Paris as "NYC with a baguette up it's butt." It's a fair assessment from our experience. But when you get into the land of the minivans (suburbs) something happened. People got more relaxed. They were enjoying their kids. And MacTroll's look of "I can't effing believe my wife brought me to Disney when we're in Paris" went away, and he became much more amiable and open to the idea.

MacTroll before the nice lady gave us 106 Euros back in our pocket... (This is his, "I can't believe I'm here" face.)

After the most awesome French woman in history gave us use of her coupon. (See a distinct difference?)

We were in Disney for the day, on a rainy day, for less than the cost of lunch.

Speaking of lunch. MacTroll also read last night that Paris has recently become the most expensive place to live in the world. It costs more than Tokyo, which if you think about really is mind boggling since when MacTroll was in Japan in 2005, he often had to eat his breakfast and lunch out of vending machines because his NYC level per diem wouldn't cover food at even a fast food place. Lunch at Disney at a Planet Hollywood at Disneyland Paris was much less than lunch in actual downtown Paris at a Bistro. It was insane. How Disney can be cheaper than anything makes no sense to me.

We went on a few rides. The Star Wars Tours was much more fun in French than in English, especially when the guys says, "May the Force Be With You." :-) We also went on the Aerosmith roller coaster, which was a long line, but made me scream and laugh, which MacTroll always love. Their teacups had been altered so they didn't really spin. I wondered if it was to prevent vomiting, but we did our best to keep the saucer turning faster than everyone else. Most of all, people from all over Europe were smiling and laughing. They were, admittedly, much happier when there were younger children around. Once we were in line for the grown up roller coaster, the happiness went away and there were more sullen faces, but hey, such is puberty, right?

We were there from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. When we were done, we picked X-man up a Disney Pixar long-sleeve t-shirt (12 Euros). (He's growing out of the one I got him in February 2008, which was an XS.) Then we got on the train and headed back to the city.

Now we're relaxing before we head out for our last dinner in Paris. Tomorrow, we get on the bus and head back to the airport before flying home to Chicago to see our boy, who apparently has a bit of a cold and a cough.

This whole week, I've enjoyed being child-free, but one thing was certain: Every time I looked at my husband, I felt like something was missing. Sometimes at home I wonder if I ever should have become a mother, particularly when I think I'm royally messing up. But after being here, I know it couldn't have happened any other way, and that we have exactly what we want.

Love you X-man. Can't wait to give you a big hug. And I'm so much happier in the middle of nowhere than I ever could be living in an urban mecca. It's okay to visit. But I adore my home.

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