Road Trip Preparations

My good friend Gayle and I love to have adventures, usually day trips or hikes or going to a trampoline park on my 40th birthday.

Gayle loves a good road trip.

Gayle is a lifelong Girl Scout.

Gayle’s great-niece, Frances, and my daughter, Eva, are in the same Girl Scout troop. Both girls have a birthday next week. Frances will be 16 (ack!) and my girl will be 14 (double ack!). Their girl scouting days are coming to a close and Gayle wanted to take them to see the birthplace of Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low, in Savannah, Georgia.

We leave on Sunday.

The iPod saga

My daughter saved her money and asked her relatives for cash for her 12th birthday in June 23. She broke her first one dropping it on the sidewalk (more than once). 

She carried it through Paris, in its brand new puppy protective case I bought her last week. She snapped photos of IM Pei’s pyramids.

Six flights. Two different airlines. Four hotel rooms. Eight days. Multiple continents.

She filmed video of trees in Russia. She recorded herself in airports making silly faces under time lapse.

She played her video games recklessly and typed notes in the Pages app and listened to music.

And as Air France flight 0054 between CDG and IAD landed, I suggested she put it away. I didn’t want her to miss touch down of the huge A380. 

In the car, halfway to DC, she gasps, “Mom, I left my iPod.”

She searches her bag. I search her bag. M searches her bag.

We email Air France’s lost and found. It bounces. We try tweeting to Air France US. “My daughter left her iPod on 0054 between CDG and IAD 8/20. Email to lost and found bounced.”


My husband then tweets her ticket info. We also get the number for Dulles.

We make the child call. The voice menu suggests using the Internet and directs her to a different number if she wants to talk to a person. She doesn’t have a pen ready so she has to call again. 

She gets the number. She calls that. It’s an answering machine. She leaves a flustered message but she can’t remember her phone number. She gives mine rattling it off so quickly I can’t understand her.

I make her repeat it.

It will be a miracle if the iPod returns. But perhaps some good soul will find it. Perhaps someone will restore some of my faith in the human race. 

My daughter, magnificent traveler

In all fairness, my daughter may be a kid and an American but she is an amazing traveler. So here is a list of ways my daughter has impressed me:

  1. She has lived for a week out of a very small carry-on suitcase and her school backpack.
  2. She has dragged that baggage through airports, train stations, subway tunnels in two continents when she had never even been in an airport before.
  3. She has kept up with two active adults, walking 8 to 10 miles a day. Often dragging the suitcases.
  4. She has tried really really hard to eat new things and not react poorly to them.
  5. She has been so open-minded and suddenly understands that the world is small, the media is not always accurate, and that cultural difference can be lovely.
  6. She started the trip shy towards other language speakers and she’s opening up. She’s repeating phrases and trying to communicate. And I think she might be motivated to learn another language.
  7. She has not complained. Even when exhausted and hungry.IMG_4337.JPG

 

Monday brings Crying Clouds to Moscow

Upon waking, thankfully after a good night’s sleep as the second night is usually when jet lag holds M and I hostage. My daughter slept through the night even though she’s never experiences the rigors of international travel before.

The breakfast at the restaurant was full so the maitre d’ sent us to the VIP lounge on the sixth floor. It gave us a wonderful view of the neighborhood below us. I hadn’t brought my phone so no photos. Sad face.

I had a taste of the pancakes and cheese cake pancake things, a couple broiled sausages, porridge, an aloe vera mango drink, two cappucinos and a bottle of water. For dessert, I had a chocolate muffin with these chocolate crispy balls on top.

Daughter says breakfast had a few quirks. She ate her weight in sausages and bacon, had a couple potato wedges and a little danish. I gave her a watermelon yogurt drink and suggested she try the caviar, but she did not. She didn’t like any of the pancakes or similar items.

We headed into the streets, a downpour out there. We walked down to Red Square but St. Basil’s doesn’t open until one.

We ended up taking a walk and visiting the RYM (I’m not taking the time to use the cyrillic alphabet) shopping mall. That basically became a voyage of escalators and stairs. That’s what the child wanted to do. I gave her 500 rubles spending money.

Throughout the mall, the displays featured a tribute to Russian athletes, of the current and Soviet Union days.

Stopped in the hotel room to dry out. Off to more adventures soon.

 

 

 

Goodbye, Paris. Hello, Moscow.

Our traveling companion M took us on a walk through Barbès where my daughter made some French/Algerian friends in one of the shops. The people there tried to get her to speech French and Arabic and gave her a piece of candy. She noted the difference between standard touristy Paris and the so-called immigrant presence in the outer districts, seeing Africans and Arabs. I use the term so-called immigrants because of how the French consider even second generation citizens “immigrants.”

We walked up to Sacre Ceour. Lil Miss didn’t realize it was on the top of a hill. She just thought it was tall. But she was a trooper walking up the hill. And M showed her the Eiffel Tower in the distance.We wandered half way down the hill and she spotted the funicular. We had a metro ticket for the day so we actually walked back UP to Sacre Ceour and rode the funicular down.

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Funicular to Sacre Couer

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View from Sacre Coeur

Dinner was at Le Magenta, another place where I have eaten before. I ordered a two course meal for each of us, with Lil Miss trying to overcome her fear of using French words. I suggested the restaurant based on past experience and as soon as she saw they served escargot she was in.  She ordered six escargot in a bourgogne sauce. In the photo, she looks a tad intimidated but in reality she was merely focused on getting those snails out of their shells. I asked her why she liked them and she said it was because she loved getting them out of their shells. I suppose she’s like a cat and needs to play with her food.

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She also had a duck thigh which came artfully arranged on potato wedges and slivers of tomatoes that resembled flower petals.

The walk back to the hotel was exhausting, not because it was far but because of the jet lag and the nine miles we had walked. Lil Miss showered, collapsed into bed. In the morning, we were on the RER early returning to CDG-Roissy.

In the Air France lounge, Lil Miss made an amazing discovery. 1. She LIKES croissants. She has insisted for years that she doesn’t like plain croissant. I have countered, for years, that it’s because she hasn’t tasted one in France.

She ate five or six plain croissants and two pain au chocolat. She also learned how to read French jam labels, though she thought the “orange” was orange marmalade and it turned out to be bitter orange. An adjective makes a big difference.

IMG_3928.JPGThe plane from Paris to Moscow was on an Airbus A318, a big change from the Boeing 777. I discovered this morning a lovely note from the TSA that apparently gave my bag a check before it left the States. Not that I noticed.

We navigated the Moscow airport with no problem and child kept trying to compliment the female customs agent on her pretty eye makeup. Overall, she’s a good kid but we’re working on NOT spurting out every thought in her head to the entire universe.

We even navigated the Moscow subway. The majestic tunnels, architecture and details in the stations. Every train looks completely different. Some old, some new. Very colorful.

We had Russian-style beef dumplings with a butter and sour cream sauce for dinner in a little restaurant off Red Square where to Lil Miss’s delight they had American music videos playing. Calvin Harris and the Disciples: “How Deep is Your Love?”

Child compared Moscow to an urban New York feel. Paris seems smaller and offers more recreation. She thought Moscow was more exotic while Paris felt more like an American town.

And the best so far–

“All I know about Russia is what I see on CNN and they don’t have nice things to say.”

That’s my baby. Now when you go back to school, set them straight.