Joni is a very well-travelled little girl, and she always will be. Yearly (or six monthly, as it happens this year) trips to Canada will give her around 6560 miles per annum, and with others in her future she’ll have racked up a large number of miles that will forever increase as she grows. Obviously this also has an environmental impact (I am not a monster, I know this) and she also has an ever increasing carbon foot print, but that’s life in the 21st century for us.
Travelling with Joni has, so far, been okay. We’ve taken a total of four flights to and from Canada, and the first one out was a breeze – she slept, she played, she didn’t cry too much. On the way back she didn’t sleep at all but once again managed stoically. Both times we managed to shift to seats with three in a row. In the summer on the way out she was fine, again, getting grumpy towards the end as she wouldn’t rest. I had to walk her a lot and she snoozed in my arms. On the way back Connie heroically managed alone, and Joni was perfectly well behaved again.
So flying to Paris this past week was to be a breeze, right? A wee hop up and down. And you’d be right actually – before we knew it the plane felt like it was on it’s approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle on our way for our first real holiday as a team. Going to Canada doesn’t really count, as we’d not stayed in a hotel, and we’d had a raft of family members getting us prams, car seats and beds. This time we needed to ask the hotel and they did provide us with a good one (that is about the only thing they did do right, but we’ll get to that in another post). We’d stayed five nights in Aberdeen earlier this year on a training course, but that was a piece of piss – she was still only five months old then. We now have a 15 month old toddler.
Flying with Joni isn’t hard… for now. It might be the next time we go to Canada, that’s true, but a wee hop to the continent was fine. It’s other nonsense that stresses me out.
It wasn’t until our return trip were we met with annoyances – EasyJet decided to split Connie, Joni and I over an aisle. This was unacceptable for loads of reasons, and we were treated like scum by the staff at Charles de Gaulle for even trying to fix this total balls-up on their part, and even after even handed pleading, nice questioning, and then downright d**khead acting indignation, they said that we could only move seats if we paid. And then after that it turned out we couldn’t even do that, the idiots. Once we were on board we asked a nice couple next to us to split across the ailse, and they did so.
Turns out Paris isn’t meant for toddlers and strollers. At all. There are stairs, more stairs, random four stairs up and then three stairs down. A massive four staged set of stairs, leading to a landing with three more stairs at the top. A connection that literally requires you to walk down four stories to street level, and then another four stories down to the next line. Escalators are randomly placed, and some are too narrow to use. Then there was the one station with a lift that was a godsend – but that was an anomaly.
The issues wasn’t that we weren’t prepared for this – we had gone over in our heads what it was going to be like without the help of a lift or the design of a well-built ramp, but just that how overwhelming it was when your tickets don’t work (thanks, random Metro person for selling me the wrong ones) or you’ve got two suitcases too many, or like, in our worst case, we climbed down three flights of stairs to be cornered with a turnstile that wouldn’t accept a pram, tickets that won’t work, compounded by a total lack of relaxing sleep at the hotel.
Paris is wonderful. It’s an amazing city. But by god is it not built for prams and all of our stuff we needed to bring with us. But hey, that was part of the fun looking back.
What wasn’t part of the fun was the totally outrageously terrible hotel experience we had… that’s for next time.