Finalement

Day 14

The final day of our holiday was not without drama, but I do like a bit of drama.

We woke up early and finished our packing. A final breakfast (I bloody love jus d’orange) and then we hauled our suitcases to the baggage store for the day. A last day in the parks beckoned, and we did and redid all of the doings that needed doing and redoing.

Although this holiday has been all kinds of wonderful we were ready for home. Which made it a really nice day.

A shuttle to the airport meant we didn’t have to brave the Parisian railway network again  with our stupidly massive cases. And, even though I fell asleep on the full bus, and woke myself up snoring (such a minger) it was a pretty straightforward transfer.

CDG security is harsh. People were virtually in their grundies going through the bleepers, and once we were through and seated at our gate ( my burning feet screaming “thank you” for the treat) it felt as though we were on our way.

Paris had other ideas.

Our flight was due at 20:25. Someone, somewhere, changed that to 20:50 without acknowledging that it was any different. It was like being in “1984” 

“Flight 357 to LHR is at 20:50. Flight 357 to LHR has always been at 20:50”

Still, we accepted our fate and waited and waited. The screens advised us that boarding would begin at 20:15. Which would have been fine, had the plane actually been there.

An announcement at 20:10 confirmed that we would indeed begin boarding in 5 minutes. This invisible plane. 

At 20:15, our plane rocked up. Full of passengers. Steadfastly, the announcements confirmed that boarding would begin shortly. I mean, they were just ignoring the physics of the situation. They even called passengers with small children to go to the gate first. Which we did. Even though there were still people leaving the flight.

We then stood there, on the actual gantry tunnel walkway that leads to the plane, for 30 minutes. All the time, the screens advising us that the flight would leave on time, and boarding was underway.

The massive liars.

Eventually, we were allowed on. At this point it was almost 21:00. But we were just grateful to be on our way.

The pilot informed us that there would be a “short taxi to the runway.” But all was well, because in the THIRTY MINUTES it took for us to take off, we were kept hugely entertained by a fellow passenger.

Essentially a poor man’s Bill Nighy crossed with Rick Wakeman, our late-fifties, pony-tailed, fake rayban-wearing, leather jacketed, shiny suitcase wielding fellow passenger, was either pissed, high or just truly obnoxious.

He was on a row of three single passengers. A young bloke, a young woman and our friend. He arrived (other passengers already on their seats) and stated loudly that he “needed the window seat.” The other passengers duly got up and let him in. Once in situ, he then proceeded to ask his neighbours to firstly put his bag in the overhead lockers, and then when they’d done that for him and sat back down, he took his coat off and got them to do the same. Then he called a flight attendant over, and asked to be upgraded to first class. The attendant told him there was no first class, only business class. He then requested that, and was told that there were no spare seats. He responded with a plea that his feet were in pain and it was a medical necessity.

Here is a list of the ways he kept us entertained throughout the flight:

  • Drew his knees up so they were digging into the seat in front of him, and shrugging every time the passenger turned round to protest
  • Replied to every sentence broadcast on the in-flight safety video.
  • Took his shoes and socks off, and cooled them down with an battery operated hand fan
  • Exclaimed “fuck this French shit” and then proceeded to bite bits of the fan propellers off and spit them on the floor
  • Took off his tshirt, turned it inside out and then put it back on the wrong way round
  • Requested an upgrade to business class a further three times with three different flight attendants.  On the final time, he responded with “c*nts” 
  • Had an argument with the flight attendant team leader about his feet, and when the attendant said “you’re not in pain, you are in discomfort because you have long legs. You’ve literally just said that” replied with; “I didn’t know my legs were this length before I got on.”
  • Also asked the attendant to go and ask if anyone in business class would swap with him.
  • Told his neighbour that he was “done with France” and then spent ten minutes saying “goodbye” to individual things that he could see around him – the windows, the seats, the view…
  • Restarted his fan, and fanned the woman next to him, with it (she swapped seats eventually with the young bloke in the aisle, who chivalrously took one for the team)
  • When the attendants started handing out the refreshments, he called them over early to ask what was “on the menu” in advance, so he could “consider his options” 
  • Took his sunglasses on and off around ten -twelve times, saying “ooh” every time.
  • Got a dictaphone out and narrated the detail of his flight into it, playing it back on random occasions to the person next to him
  • Kept up a constant stream of low level babble throughout the entire flight, completely undeterred by his neighbour swapping seats and then his new neighbour putting earphones in and steadfastly ignoring him

The flight, pardon the pun, flew by.

Though, at 45 minutes, it took less time to fly to Heathrow than it did to board the sodding plane… 

But it was kind of nice to see heathrow again, even if it was a lot colder than blistering Paris. 

So, we caught the shuttle back to the hotel where we had left the car, packed it, installed Smallboy with the iPad, and sat down. Turned the key in the ignition and…nothing. Dead. Dead as a door nail.

23:15, a 200 mile journey ahead after being awake for 18 hours, and a dead car.

So, we called Direct Line Recovery. Gave them the hotel address, and were given a 1-2 hour ETA. sat in the car, wrapped in blankets and waited.

For around 30 seconds.

A recovery vehicle pulled up behind us. The husband went to talk to the driver – turns out  he had been called out to the same hotel car park by another vehicle, who had somehow driven off and not waited. Our call was going to be his next but one, but while he was there, he fixed our car. Within four minutes of our call, we were on the road! How’s that for a response time?

A fairly drama-free drive up the M1 (apart from it being closed at junction 19) and we were home by 02:30am.

Holiday done and dusted, Morrisios in bed and it’s like we were never away.

Unti the next one, Viva La France. 

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Penultimate Park Life and Packing

Day 13

The penultimate day of the great Morris adventure 2015.

It looked like this

  • 7am breakfast – beat the crowds
  • 8am in the park. Buzz/Pinnochio/Rock n Roller Coaster (ouch – getting too old perhaps)/Slinky Dog/Ratatouille/River Boat Cruise/Thunder Mountain/Art of Animation
  • Told Smallboy that today he could spend the holiday money that Granny and Grandpa gave him. This was the entire focus of his day
  • Lunch at Sports Bar
  • Got Fastpass for Tower of Terror. Went for a snooze instead and forget to wake up in time( told you – too old)
  • PauseGourmand
  •  Dinner at Plaza. With too many other people. Ugh
  • Sneaked a spot for the fireworks – husband sneaked two rides on Indiana Jones
  • Bought Mr and Mrs Potato Head – with pirates and toy story accessories.
  • Hot chocolate and watched Disney Dreams
  • Wanted early night because of this:
  •   

  PACKING

  • Which is the reason that today’s blog looks like this.
  •  It’s half past midnight, I’m up at 6 tomorrow checking the baggage and then a last onslaught of the park, to sweep up all the crap we haven’t yet done. I’m not a writing machine , you know…

Back to the City for one last hurrah

Day 12

We got a seriously good deal for the whole Disney part of our holiday, which is why we ended up with 6 days. It’s been great, actually, because it’s meant that we’ve had plenty of time to do all of the things we wanted to, several things we never wanted to do, and loads of things that we didn’t realise we never wanted to want to do.

However, the downside is the mileage we’ve covered. I say downside, because in the 26 degree-plus heat we’ve been having, the lack of weather-appropriate clothing, and Smallboy’s small legs, it’s been hugely hard work covering the distances that we have. All of which has meant that we actually decided to take time out today, have a late breakfast at virtually dinner time  09:30, and spent the morning in the pool, jacuzzi and sauna. Like what normal people do on normal holidays.

“Come to Paris in Spring” they said. “The weather is changeable, so bring a coat and dress in layers. It will be mild, and cold at night.”

My suitcase is full of sodding long-sleeved tops, boots and two coats and it’s  hotter here than it was when we went to California in June!! I’m planning on wearing my pyjamas tomorrow, because they’re technically shorts. Or maybe my swimming cossie. If I team it with a pair of Minnie Mouse ears, no one will notice… 

Anyway…

Because of last week’s Louvre debacle, and having to re-engineer our plans ( I love a bit of “on your feet” adapting), we didn’t actually get to go up the Eiffel Tower. So, last weekend, we booked tickets for the famous monument, for tonight. 

We had an early dinner at Chez Remy, where you shrink to the size of a mouse 

   

 

…and then hotfooted it back to the beautiful city of lights. I say hotfooted. Three fekkin trains, it was. I feel so acquainted with Chatelet Les Halles RER station, I might as well move in… Anyway…

It was a grand idea, pre booking those tickets, because we got straight through, and avoided the mahoosive queue, arriving just in time for our 8pm ascent.

It might be a tad touristy (who’s idea was the weird champagne bar at the top?) but it’s breathtaking when you get up there. We last visited, the husband and I, in 1998, when he (prior to his husband status) had a little box with an engagement ring in it, burning a hole in his nervous little pocket. The idea was that he was going to propose at the top of the Eiffel Tower, but when we got there, it was full of a German coach party. Who were all drinking bier and singing raucously. It kind of deflated his romantic notion. (For those fact fans among you who want to know, he proposed a day later….outside The Louvre on the Place du Carousel) ( I said “yes”)

Anyway, this time we had Smallboy with us, and he absolutely loved it. It really is a bucket-list thing, and the view of the city is really something. And to stand atop the tower, at 9:30pm in April, wearing a tshirt and actually feeling a bit too warm, is quite special. We’ve really lucked out with the weather.

All too soon, we had to depart. We did get to see it lit up (whilst on it and afterwards too) and for the first five minutes of every hour during darkness, it sparkles… Which was all kinds of fab.

 

See?

We then made the long journey back to Marne La Vallee. And let me tell you, if you think the train to Disneyland is going to be quiet at 11:15pm on a Thursday night, you’re wrong.

I mean, I realise that people live in houses near to the various stops, and they’re probably much more pissed off with my presence than I am with theirs, but I wanted a sit-down.

And you know what I think about people!! Some of them had rucksacks.

Anyway, back to the hotel by midnight and up at 6 for our last full day in the park. 

So glad we “chilled out” today…

 

Theme Park Etiquette, Continental Differences and a Question of Rucksacks

Day 11

You know by now that I’m in Disneyland Paris, and that I’m having a whale of a time, so I’m not going to go into the minutae of my experiences today – essentially, if you love Disney, you’ll love Disneyland, and if you don’t, well – then, you won’t!

So, even though today included Peter Pan, a trolley bus ride, the sleeping dragon,  Animagique, Armageddon FX, The Backlot Tour, Stitch Live, Ratatouille, Crush’s Coaster, RC Racer, Slinky Dog, Monsters Inc, The Tower of Terror and Phantom Manor, I’m going to focus on other things…namely, theme park survival and bloody Europeans.

(Disclaimer: I realise that I am English and from Great Britain, and am, therefore, European, but this is about continental Europe, and “celebrating” the difference.)

(Disclaimer 2: I am possibly being a tad xenophobic here. Please don’t be offended. Some British people are terribly shitty too… It’s just that mainly, it was Europeans that I came across today.)

Having been to various parts of France several times, and visited, amongst other places, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary and Corsica, I don’t feel as though I’m a complete stranger to being amongst Europeans. Equally, I have been to Disneyland in California, Disney World Resort in  Florida, and am currently on my 5th visit to Disneyland Paris, so I am fairly well versed in the art of a Disney survival.

However, I still get just a little hacked off at the bloody rudeness that seems par for the course in a Disney Paris day.

Look, I know that Europeans don’t have a concept of queuing in the way that we stoic English people do, and I can tolerate the pushing in and the laissez-faire attitude that prevails, to some extent, but after almost two weeks in France ( and three days in Disney) it is starting to, frankly, get on my jolly well nerves.

Thing is, you can forget all about the concept of “personal space” when you’re here, as it doesn’t bloody well exist. That piece of the universe that you are (albeit temporarily) occupying? It’s not yours. It’s, basically, fair game. And just because your actual body is in that actual space, don’t for one single second assume that you are entitled to remain in it, because you’re not. People can, and will, attempt to occupy that same space at any and all times (and here’s the mind blowing bit to an English person like myself) whether you are in it already, or not. So you can either vacate it, or share it (physics notwithstanding), the latter option usually requiring some kind of time travel, or quantum leaping or something. Because these people will mow you down if you don’t move. And they won’t give a shiny shite. 

And, quite honestly, I have moved on from my ever-so-polite “excuse moi” requests to strangers, to a full-blown “fekkin move” demand.

So, just in case any of the continental Europeans who I met today are reading this, here’s some advice for you from the black-haired, quite angry looking, middle aged woman with the passive-aggressive muttering:

1) If you want to get past me, just say “excuse me” or “pardon” or whatever it is in your language, and I will happily, gladly and even joyfully skip out of your way, and allow you to pass. You will smile, I will smile and the world will seem that little bit lighter. Don’t, however, walk into me and keep on moving, as though you haven’t just barreled me over; don’t knock me out of the way with your bloody rucksack/balloon/bag/other; don’t – ever – run over my feet with your pushchair and continue to roll, as though it were a tank or similar; and don’t flick your fekkin fag ash over any part of me.  For these things, in any and all combinations, only serve to piss me off, to piss you off and to increase exponentially the headache-to-Brit quota in the park. The world is nicer if we simply acknowledge each other

Addendum to point 1: if you have done any of those things accidentally, simply say “sorry” or equivalent, and don’t just storm off as though it was me that was in the wrong simply by existing/breathing.

2) If you are waiting to go into the toilet cubicle, then please stand away from the frigging door. That way,  I can get out and you can go in and the earth will continue to turn. If you don’t move away from the frigging door then we have a bottleneck situation, where I can’t leave, you can’t enter and there’s just no point in either of us existing any more. This also goes for all of you people who want to board the trolley buses while I am exiting, and anyone standing in a doorway or exit. FRIGGING MOVE, YOU MORONS.

3) There is a special place in hell reserved for you people who are walking along, contributing to the healthy flow of pedestrian traffic, and who suddenly stop. If you’re going to stop, either take a cursory glance around to make sure there isn’t someone directly behind you (there usually is), or move to the side, safe in the assumption that in Europe’s busiest theme park, there is a small likelihood that you will not be on your own.

Either way, if you suddenly stop to look in your bag/talk to someone/take a selfie/other, then do not look at me as though I am the devil incarnate, when I walk into you. It’s going to happen, isn’t it, you twat?

4) if you want to photograph fekkin everything something, then just make sure that you’re not walking across and in front of someone (see points 1 & 3). Especially don’t take videos by criss-crossing and weaving your way sideways to the flow of traffic. This makes you a bellend, and I am likely to photobomb you, in a very British way.

5) And, in its own special category: rucksacks.

Right, I have a question for you. This is for anyone who it applies to, and specifically to the many people I saw today. What the hell is in your rucksack?

Seriously, though? I’m not talking abou small rucksacks, or bags – obviously it’s sensible to have a bag. I’m talking about full-on, luggage-style rucksacks. What’s in them? It’s not food. Bags are X-rayed before they come into the parks, and I’ve seen several people forced to throw picnics away at the gate. It’s not jackets, caps, sunglasses or cameras, because serial rucksack offenders usually have those as well.

What is in them? Are you people setting up tents or something?

On this holiday, there are 3 of us -I have a small handbag with the tickets, sunglasses and a camera. The husband carries Smallboy’s tiny rucksack. It has wet wipes, sun cream and water. We carry money on our persons. We wear our hats.

What else do people need, in such vast quantities?

Some families have several rucksacks. Look:

  Three rucksacks. Three adults and two children. Cameras, hats and jackets stored separately. What is in these beasts?

  

Two adults. Two rucksacks. No kids. Wtf?

 

What is this guy hauling? 

Genuinely interested in finding out.

The other thing about rucksacks is that they virtually double your body mass (I’m sorry for going on about this, but it has really become something of a mission.) People don’t seem to realise that they are manoeuvring around as wide-loads, with the rucksack. You can’t just be swinging round willy nilly – you’re going to smack someone in the chops. And in a queue situation, your rucksack is literally increasing thg queue time for the normal people. Not to mention the fact that you people can’t get though the barriers within the queue, without a massive amount of fuss, and getting on the ride and sodding storing the thing takes an extra 30 seconds per rucksacker. Multiply this up and the 70 minute queue time becomes 85.

So, be prepared to provide me with a detailed inventory of contents, or leave the frigger at home.

6) Queueing. Yes, these European Theme Parker’s queue jump. Yes, we knew this in advance. Yes, we realise it’s cultural. But, frankly, I cannot get my head around the fact that it’s anything other than bloody rudeness. If you see someone standing in front of you, who has been waiting for longer than you, then it’s their turn first, you ignorant shite bag. This goes for rides, toilet queues, parades….anything. Simply seeing a teeny weeny space in front of someone, and assuming you are entitled to fill it (see point 1) makes you a knob.

Quite honestly, the melee of people waiting for the entrance turnstiles to open, was akin to some kind of battle field or Black Friday sale. If we all wait our turns, life is smoother.

7) And, while I’m at it, there are more than two speeds. Slower-than-a-snail and Lightning-McQueen’s-faster-brother are not the only options. It is perfectly acceptable to walk at a tolerable pace. The afore mentioned two speeds, are largely to blame for points 1 and 3 above.

8) PDAs

Look – I like a bit of love, me. I’m not a cynic. But there is a time and a place, people, for gratuitous displays of carnal desire. The queue for the Tower of Terror at 4:20pm is neither of those things.

I was queuing on my own (the husband stayed with Smallboy, who was categorically NOT going to go anywhere near that ride) and had a French couple with three kids in front of me, and a Spanish couple with one child behind me. Those two couples were constantly going at it with the full-on tonsil tennis. Twice I had to move the couple in front on, and how the couple behind me managed to hold off without booking themselves a room, I just don’t know. I’m happy they were in love. Really. But, I don’t need to see the bulge of a guy’s tongue from the outside of his wife’s cheek. And as for the roaming hands – I felt like I was in some 18 movie audience, with a row of horny teenagers. But the worse part of it was, the French couple’s youngest daughter (presumably in the absence of any parental attention) felt the need to entertain me throughout the queue. She danced, she sang, she jumped up and down, she span, she swang, she chatted in French… It was hugely annoying, particularly as I’d managed to bag half an hour off from my own little bundle of firecrackers.

So – PDAs? Non!

And now I have resolved all of the issues that have been weighing down heavily on me in the 28 degree heat, I feel as though we are all closer as a continent.

Bon Nuit, Europe…