Let me start by saying that this little fourteen-month-old Peter is a solid brick of gold! Along with his family he spent an entire day in a hot car (air conditioning broke in their “trusty” car) driving from his home in Woodford Green outside London to the coast where they sadly just missed the Ferry. During the approximately two hour wait for the next ferry, he happily ate and slept and then enjoyed the ocean breeze on the ferry crossing the English Channel watching the scenery go by. Then again, sweltered in the car for many more hours until they finally reached Paris.
All in all, it took about 11 hours to get from his home in England to Grandfather and I in Paris. And when he saw us, he seemed to remember those crazy people who keep showing up in his life. He is always curious, ready to learn and observe the world. Even though he’s learned not only to walk but run since we saw him a month ago, he seemed genuinely excited to get back in “his home”, the stroller where he continues to spend hours and hours doing just that… without a complaint. Solid gold….which Saydi and Jeff so richly deserve!
At 8:30 p.m. fon Friday Grandfather and I arrived from Sweden on a train about 20 minutes after the Shumways did at a our Paris hotel which Saydi had carefully scoped online. I had a miserable cold and Peter promptly went to sleep and so Emmeline and I had a little Grammie time while Saydi and Jeff, Hazel, Charlie and Grandfather went off to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle!
The next morning we were off for a wild and wonderful, hair-raising adventure planned by Saydi: bicycling through Paris! She and Jeff knew exactly where a terrific bike shop was and after hooking up two tandem bikes (Hazel behind Grandfather and Charlie behind me), a tag-along that Emmeline road in behind Jeff and Peter in a baby seat behind Saydi we wended our way through the spectacular scenes of Paris. Saydi had carefully calculated everything except the humongous crowds on a holiday weekend (how could we have known) and the heat.
I should say that probably the hero of this day was Jeff. Those with the Shumways blood really suffer with the heat and it was unusually hot for late May in Paris. Jeff and the kids started sweating as soon as they saw the sun. I am convinced that 80 degrees (which feels just barely warm enough to me) feels like 110 to them. But on we went, they dripping with sweat before we even started (and me, glad that I brought my sweater) without whining from anyone!
There were some gorgeous tree-lined bike paths which were spectacular and other bike paths that we shared with buses that were right now scary, but usually we were just concentrating on trying not to hit someone walking on the sidewalk in front of us. In addition to hordes of people there also hordes of bikes. Hardly anyone batted an eye at our little caravan! Charlie and Hazel’s bikes were attached to ours so it wasn’t a real tandem bike but they did supply some “Charlie and Hazel power” with their little legs that was nice (until Charlie’s chain broke and then it was a “free ride”).
It was sort of like negotiating a maze without the hedges on both sides. We were so busy watching where we were going that we didn’t stop to take many pictures of this once-in-a-lifetime event, but here are a few to give you the idea!
WE did stop at the Eiffel Tower and asked someone to capture the moment but that moment is in Saydi’s camera so I’ll have to wait to post that.
Here are a few non-posed shots that we snapped along the way.
Dad really like his helmet!
And I forgot to have Saydi and Jeff look up as they were fixing something for Emmeline. Look at the little Peter sleeping in his helmet behind Saydi.
Whenever he got a chance Jeff hopped off his bike and scooped some water out of a fountain in his baseball cap to pour over his head to cool himself off a bit.
The magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dam was a fun stop! What a place, drenched in history!
A lovely lunch across the street from the Cathedral revived us for continuing the journey.
While we were standing in line to see the inside, a man taught Hazel how to feed the sparrows. She was delighted (and so were the sparrows).
Five hours later we arrived back at the bike shop with only a couple of “close calls” in our pockets. Emmeline had taken off her shirt and was walking around in her skirt with flaming red cheeks and her hair plastered to her forehead with sweat and Charlie and Hazel were pretty wet too.
This picture is blurry and was taken by Dad after the kids had cooled down a bit, but it’s all we’ve got. What a day to remember! Despite their expressions, they were spectacular!
The people at the bike shop were all Americans and directed us to a little shop nearby that definitely revived us! They had an array of food to die for! Only in Paris…..
Cute Charlie took a few pictures on the subway on our way to our next destination.
……which was The Basilica de Sacre’-Coeur high up on a hill above Paris. Along with about a million other people we loved seeing this gorgeous building that overlooks this vast city.
Since it stays light until 11:30 p.m. we didn’t get to see the lights of Paris but the sights of Paris from that perch high above the city were never to be forgotten. After we settled the kids in bed, we enjoyed a stimulating talk with Saydi and Jeff until midnight.
The next morning while Grandfather, Jeff, Charlie and Emmeline took off for a boat tour down the Seine, Saydi, Hazel, Peter and I were off to the Louve/Musee d’ Orsay. We gloried in the close-up and personal view of the grounds of the Louve….
and then dashed to the Musee d’ Orsay to soak in as much as we could before the Shumways had to leave to catch the Ferry at 1:30.
Hazel is quite an art connoisseur and it was a delight to be with her there. She says that Matisse is her favorite, but when she saw a whole room full of paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, her comment was, “When I see paintings by Matisse I feel that I’m looking into the painting. When I see paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, I feel that I’m in the painting! That girl just may be an art history major or the next Mary Cassatt. You just never know. It was delightful!
We couldn’t take pictures inside except for one room, which just happened to be our favorite!
It was one fantastic weekend, cuddling up with the Shumways in Paris! Thanks to Saydi’s careful planning every hour was packed full of memories we’ll never forget! How we love this stellar family!
What a wild series of events has led us to the joy of being with them for three months in a row whilst they are living in England.
Jeff stayed cool on the long, hot ride home without air-conditioning by occasionally pouring water from a large water bottle over his head. Saydi and the kids also survived with panache and I’m sure that little Peter was a brick of gold!