Lollipops & Laptops

The Sticky Life of a Working Mom

Tag: Travel

Travel Recap: France

Travel Recap: France - Lollipop & Laptops

A few months ago, we went on a family vacation for the first time in three years. And since then, we have had the opportunity to go on a kid-free trip to New York. So when my husband’s best friend gave us two months’ notice for his wedding in France, I figured due to time and cost, we’d be sending my husband alone. My parents had already agreed to watch the kids for our trip to New York only three weeks earlier, so I was confident that even if I could take the time off work, we wouldn’t have a plan for the kids. But my incredible parents agreed and we were able to buy my flight with frequent flyer miles, so off we went for a very quick trip to France.

Getting There

Our preferred airline is American Airlines, and we used my husband’s miles to buy my ticket, since I didn’t have enough. The day before we left, my husband, who has priority from all his work travel, got bumped to first class for the domestic part of our flight. Since my ticket was booked on miles, I wasn’t eligible. But my husband insisted I take the spot and let me enjoy the first class seat on the way to Dallas. I’ve only flown first or business a handful of times, but it was a nice treat to have a meal and a glass of champagne.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipop & Laptops

Wife get husband’s upgrade. Happy wife, happy life.

We sat in our regular economy plus seats for the longer haul from Dallas to Paris, and although I can never sleep well on planes, I was only able to get 30 minutes of shut eye the entire trip. We then had to take four(!!) trains to get from Paris to Évian-les-bains and by the time we arrived, we had been traveling for 24 hours, and I hadn’t slept in about 30. I felt hungover without any of the fun that caused the hangover.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipop & Laptops

Perks of no sleep on planes: gorgeous sunrises.

Night One

In an attempt to curb jet lag, we opted to spend the evening out. We had a drink at a harbor-side bar before having dinner at Villa Borghese. The wine was great and the food impeccable. By the middle of dinner, I was working overtime just to stay awake at the table, so we hightailed it back to the house and I slept a glorious 10 hours.

Full Day One

We stayed in the bride’s grandfather’s house. There were seven adults and one baby in a 3 bed, 1 bath house. It was certainly a tight squeeze, but it was nice to be able to spend so much of our short trip with the bride and groom. We had fresh croissants and tea for breakfast at the house, then went out in the rain to walk around the town. Évian-les-bains is a nice little lakeside town on Lake Geneva.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

French Alps but it feels like another time.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

A cheery addition to the wet weather.

Most of the people we hung out with spoke little to no English, and although it was difficult to work so hard to try to understand anything (which I didn’t) it was nice to eat and drink with locals. We stopped for drinks at Le Carafon. At the bride’s recommendation, I chose a Kir, which was white wine with crème de cassis. It was very sweet, but a nice warm up before lunch.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Coffee and Kir to get through the afternoon.

 

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

You can’t even tell how jetlagged we are.

When our table was ready, we had crepes at a local creperie. I chose a sausage and cheese entree, and it was delicious. We had to head back to the house, so we all ordered dessert crepes to go, and I had a Nutella and salted caramel crepe. It was so good I forgot to stop and take a photo before devouring it.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Simple but delicious.

For dinner, many guests had begun arriving, so we ordered a variety of pizzas and about 15 people squeezed into the living room for wine and pizza. It felt exactly as I had imagined to be with a bunch of locals, speaking a language I don’t know–a little out of the loop but a totally warm, welcoming environment.

Day Two

Unfortunately, jet lag got the best of us and both my husband and I were awake at 4:30 am despite going to bed after midnight. After some tea and croissants, we got to work to help set up for the wedding reception. The bride and groom had gotten married in Bali one week earlier, so the Indonesian theme carried through the event. The groom is Tunisian and the bride is Indian, so the home-cooked food for the reception was absolutely amazing.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Bringing the Indonesian feel to the French Alps.

 

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

A little Bali in France.

The party began at 12:30 pm and lasted well into the night. A group of us went into town and some opted to gamble at the casino while the rest of us hit a pub for drinks and then a late night (11:00 pm!) dinner like true locals. Thanks to the jet lag, we were wrecked by the end of the night. Having been the main event we came for, it was a wonderful day and totally worth the exhaustion.

Half Day in Paris

My husband grew up in Paris, and I have been there a couple of times, but I loved the idea of being there together without the kids, and I begged him to let us spend Saturday there. We hopped back on a train early Saturday morning and arrived in Paris by 1:00 pm.

For the first time, it didn’t rain on my Parisian exploration. It was chilly, but I was just happy for no rain. Since I have been to Paris two times before and had done all the touristy things, this trip was more about exploring the neighborhoods.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Happy that for once it’s not raining while I’m in Paris.

Lunch

We had about 90 minutes before our lunch reservation, so after checking into our room at Hotel Saint Dominique, we walked over to Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower. It was a beautiful day and it felt good to walk around and enjoy getting to know the city a little better.

We had lunch at Louis Phillipe in the Marais district at the suggestion of my husband’s friend. It was a lovely spot with a covered outdoor patio, and the food was good (not great). I had entrecôte with a mushroom sauce, but surprisingly, it was overcoooked (who knew the French could overcook a piece of meat?!) and didn’t have a lot of flavor. It was disappointing given we were only having two meals in Paris.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

American-sized cut of meat in France.

City Tour

After lunch, we were full and tired, but we didn’t want to waste what little time we had, so we went for a walk. We walked through Place Vendôme near the Ritz Carlton and enjoyed walking through small cobblestone streets and simultaneously admiring the architecture, people watching, and reminiscing about my husband’s childhood in Paris. We windowshopped on Rue St. Honoré and indulged in fantasies of extraordinary wealth while passing rows of luxury cars and trying on obscenely expensive watches.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Hello, Paris.

 

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

A perfect day in the city.

Dinner

Our dinner reservations were at 9:00 pm, so we grabbed a drink at Bistrot Alexandre III, a barge on the Seine that is fixed in place. It was fun people watching and getting chic Parisian outfit inspiration from all the impeccably dressed French women.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipop & Laptops

Drinks and people watching along the Seine.

We hopped an Uber to our dinner reservation at L’Ogre in the 16th district. We sat on the window with a view of the Eiffel Tower, which was just as romantic as it sounds. The menu is on a chalkboard on the wall, and after exchanging pleasantries with our unusually cheery waitress, who we later found out was from Corsica, explaining her friendlier-than-Parisian demeanor, we opted to let her choose what we should order. The menu is built for sharing, and we ended up with an absolutely incredible piece of meat accompanied by fries, salad, and a bottle of delicious French red wine. This was exactly the meal I hoped to have in Paris and totally made up for the mediocre lunch.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

I spy the Eiffel Tower.

 

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Prototypical French food: simple but incredible.

Eiffel Tower

After dinner, we were exhausted, but we decided to walk the roughly 30 minutes to get an up-close view of the Eiffel Tower lit up. We topped it off with street crepes for our walk back to the hotel. It was a perfect, beautiful, romantic end to our jam-packed day.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Paris is for lovers.

My previous trips to Paris were fine but nothing spectacular. I have much preferred other European destinations (Florence being my absolute favorite). But this trip was different, and although it was [insanely] short, it was truly a wonderful trip. I’m excited to come back in the future and explore it with more time, but between both our trips this month, we sure have proven we can pack a lot of city exploring in a short amount of time.

Travel Recap: France - Lollipops & Laptops

Until next time, Paris.

 

72 Kid-Free Hours in NYC

72 Kid-Free Hours in NYC

I am never away from my kids. I mean, you know, except for 40-50 hours a week while I’m at work. But like, never away away. In the 16 months my son has been alive, I have literally not been away one night from him. Not one night. And my daughter just turned four. In total, I have been away from her four nights. But only one night at a time. Combine these with the fact that my husband regularly travels for work plus some travel for pleasure, and I have been totally overdue for a trip away.

It took A. LOT. for me to ask my parents to watch the kids for us while we went on vacation. My parents are helpful, but they’re busy. They have lives. My kids are little. They need a lot of supervision and attention. And to be honest, that is kind of a pain in the ass. Not only is it hard for me to ask for help in the first place, but it was torture for me to ask for someone to parent for four whole days. But I am so glad I asked. We needed this trip so badly.

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Family Travel Itinerary: Mexico

I used to travel. Not like wanderlust world traveler kind of travel, but a reasonable amount. I’ve seen my fair share of places, though I have many on my list left to visit. But you know, you have kids, and you work full time. And it takes planning. And it costs money. And, let’s be honest, is it really even fun to travel with kids? We did do a bit of traveling–both domestic and international–with our first. But we added another kid to the mix and all travel came to a halt. We finally–FINALLY–planned and booked a vacation to Mexico, which we took last month. And it was so wonderful. I mean, it wasn’t leave-your-kids-and-spend-a-week-sipping-cocktails-on-the-beach wonderful, but it was better than I expected.

Family Travel Itinerary: Mexico - Lollipops & Laptops

Just me and the million things we need to travel with kids.

Full disclosure: the best part of this trip was that my parents and my brother, sister-in-law and niece were on this trip. Yeah, yeah. It was nice to spend time with them. But the absolutely BEST part was a ratio of six adults to three kids. Glorious.

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Packing Light(ish) for Kids

Packing Light(ish) for Kids

Traveling with kids. Some people love it. Some people think it’s torture. I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. When we had my daughter, we continued to travel without hesitation. R was on her first flight at four months old, and she was on a total of 14 flights in her first 14 months of life, including two international trips. Once we had D, all traveling came to a halt. Part of it was circumstantial due to work schedules, but much of it was my own trepidation of traveling with two children. Determined not to be home bound for the next few years, I opted to face my fears and book some travel. Whereas I used to have a You-Can’t-Be-Too-Prepared attitude about traveling with kids, I now realize that unless I’m planning a trip to a remote locale, even with kids, less is definitely still more.

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Packing Light Without Looking Like Crap

Let me be real with you guys. In theory, I envision myself on vacation in some sexy new bikini with my hair perfectly “beach-waved” under an adorable Panama hat with glowing skin and perfectly poised for an Instagram-worthy photo op. In reality, my vacations (the last real one I took was three years ago) are an opportunity for me not to have to wear makeup for a week, pull out the eight-year-old bikini that I haven’t worn for two summers, and slather my pale-ass skin in SPF 50 every 30 minutes so I don’t burn to a crisp. And those sunset photos where I’m casually laughing on the beach with my family? They look more like me running after my toddler who got naked because she didn’t like the sand in her butt, a baby crying because his sister knocked over his pile of sand, and a husband catching up on emails because there’s no such thing as a real vacation from work. It’s not a pretty picture.”

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