I'm not even sure where to start with this day, it was one of those for the forever travel memories category for sure.
It all started well enough. It was a travel day as we were headed to Paris via train. We cleaned Hannah's apartment to the sparkle level because I always feel like we are representing all family travelers when staying at AirBnb's. Families don't always have the best rep. Lyra drew a portrait of Hannah, Lucy left a small sculpture of found objects in London she had been collecting along the way, and I left stickers. We were feeling super on our game and had some time to spare before our train so we headed down to a local coffee shop I noticed the day before.
In the window there were several really well made stuffed animals sitting on the couch facing the window. It was a clear invitation for kids to come on in. When we sat down and ordered I noticed this little girl sitting in the corner. She was watching every move the girls made. I could tell she wanted to connect so badly. I asked Josiah to trade seats with Lyra so she could be closer because it was obvious Lyra wanted to connect too. In a matter of two minutes, the girls started chatting and in five, it looked like they had been friends for years.
I'll call her E here...but Lyra and E just clicked from the jump. It turned out E's mum and dad owned the coffee shop, so Lyra got the inside scoop on the shop and a free hot chocolate. E happened to be at the cafe because she was sick that day, so I just prayed those germs away and baptized Ly in Purell when we left because there was just no keeping them apart.
They talked and laughed, played hide and seek and E told Lyra all about school and life. She explained to Lyra "If you want to look smart, you must where a tie!" and then showed Ly two different ways to tie a tie. She told us all about her academy, going to sea side and wished she was going to Paris too. Lyra also learned about the word holiday vs. vacation. They couldn't have been any cuter.
During the middle of Lyra's new friend bliss, Jorge and I were chatting with not a care in the world when it hit Jorge. One part of the conversation jogged his memory- he had left all the passports at Hannah's. In one look we exchanged about 10 curse words between us but we moved into action quick.
I called and wrote Hannah, Jorge gathered Lucy and started the 10 minute walk back to the flat. There were three problems:
1. Entry to the building required a key fob.
2. The keys had been dropped in the mail slot. The only way they were coming out was with little hands. or something else...
3. The train station was 30-40 minutes away...and we just had a little over an hour of time. Ohhhhh shit. (be sure to read Jorge's version!)
Lyra was so engrossed in play and her new friend, so I gave her a moment before I had to break up the party. Josiah, Jack and I gathered up all the bags, and Lyra said a very long goodbye. They hugged three times and didn't want to let go, but we exchanged information so the pen pal love can continue.
We ran back as fast as we could and grabbed a wire hanger along the way at a laundromat just in case Lucy didn't have any luck. We arrived at the apartment to find Jorge folded like a pretzel in the tiny hall with Lucy holding the phone with the camera in the slot.
I took over holding the phone while Jorge worked....I gotta tell you, the whole thing was straight out of an episode of MacGyver. We had about 15 minutes if there was any chance to make that train...I was secretly praying, and laughing, and kinda loved the whole thing. I believed he could get it but it was a race against time for sure. In like under 15 minutes, that man hooked those keys and pulled them out of the slot...it was kinda incredible. We all high fived, feeling SO crazy proud and then started running for the bus. Adrenaline was pumpin', HE freaking did it!!!
Pic above- Total relief and pride while watching the video of J trying to hook the keys- he remembered to hit record during all that, BRILLIANT!
Right after the high fives but before the bus to catch the tube to catch the train, Lucy fell on the sidewalk in all the commotion. Thankfully she recovered somewhat quickly and we pressed on. I was convinced we would make that train, we HAD to, especially after conquering the key/passport crisis.
We ran to the tube and made it on just as the buzzer rang and the doors closed- it was the last leg, the run to the Paris train. The back packs were bouncing, the kids hyperventilating, Jorge and I dragging them along...when we finally reached the gate, the doors had JUST closed. We missed the train. The girls burst into tears, Jorge was in next step mode and I was trying not to laugh, it was pure and total chaos. Thankfully, I don't mind these situations at all- you just gotta roll with them.....and roll we did. The next train was in an hour, all was well in my mind but the kids needed some care. Jorge found this amazing little grocery store in the train station and the kids watched Totoro- because Totoro calms all icky feelings, it's a fact.
For some reason, Jorge and I thought we were just handing our ticket to the agent and hopping on that train, only to discover THIS IS NOT THE CASE. I'll spare you the details, but we almost missed the second train, but thank our lucky stars we made it! Paris bound!!
We arrived in Paris and headed straight to our Airbnb to meet Violet, our host's house keeper and friend. Violet was from Kenya and so delightful, we chatted for a bit and collapsed when she left. We decided to go try to find some dinner but surprise the girls with walking by to see the Eiffel Tower first...we literally rounded the back of the apartment and this was the view:
Lyra shouted, "There's the Eiffel Tower!!" It was pure delight for the first 2 minutes and then was hilariously and terribly anticlimactic. We may have reached our limit for the roller coaster ride that was the day. That was. so. crazy.
So we found a great little restaurant, grabbed some panini's, ate on the way home and dropped the kids off at the apartment. Jorge and I headed to a pub right next to the apartment and drank and laughed and practiced our French with a VERY fun and kind bartender and shook our heads to that day and re-lived the madness...and we were so happy to be alone and in this whole bigger adventure that is this family we made, together.