Tag Archives: paris

Half a day at the Louvre

Chubby Hubby fell sick on our 4th day in Paris and didn’t have the energy to go out. I, however, jumped at the opportunity to go out and see the Louvre which was less than a kilometer away. So with my museum buddy Aria, we headed out for an adventure of our own, without the boys.

It was very fortunate that I read the article about the different scams happening at tourist spots. On our way to the Louvre, a man suddenly kneeled down infront of me and pretended to have found a gold ring and kept insisting that I should take a look. Reading about it in an article on buzzfeed, I immediately said NO and started running away pushing Aria in her stroller. The man kept following me until I started shouting. I guess he was afraid to catch other people’s attention so he finally left us alone. With my adrenaline pumping, we navigated our way to the Louvre in no time.

The Pyramid at the Louvre
The Pyramid at the Louvre

louvre (4 of 21)

louvre (3 of 21)

louvre (2 of 21) Aria had the time of her life as I let her loose on the museum’s ground while I admired the beautiful architecture. I was contemplating on buying a skip the line ticket to the museum but decided against it. When I got to the iconic glass pyramid entrance, there was quite a line outside. Thankfully, it moved fast.

On our way to see Mona Lisa at  the louvre
On our way to see Mona Lisa
One of the beautiful ceilings at the Louvre
One of the beautiful ceilings at the Louvre
Didn't know these were classical paintings. Thought they were modern. Fruit and vegetable paintings at the Louvre
Didn’t know these were classical paintings. Thought they were modern.
One of the many artists practicing at the Louvre
One of the many artists practicing at the Louvre
Aria at the Louvre
Aria tired. really
Louvre
Almost at the grand gallery
My museum buddy knocked out at the louvre
My museum buddy knocked out
Salle Du Manege at the Louvre
The Salle Du Manege full of sculptures

So Aria fell asleep exactly after leaving the grand gallery where the Mona Lisa was. I still went on to check out as much as I could while trying to carry her around. Made my way to Napoleon III’s preserved quarters to check out his pad which was located at the Cardinal Richeliu Wing.

 

Napoleon's throne at the Cardinal Richeliu wing of the Louvre
Napoleon’s throne at the Cardinal Richeliu wing
Napoleon's bed at the Cardinal Richeliu wing of the Louvre
Napoleon’s bed
Napoleon's meeting room at the Cardinal Richeliu wing of the Louvre
Napoleon’s meeting room
The Salon at the Napoleon's quarters at the Cardinal Richeliu wing at the Louvre
The Salon at Napoleon’s quarters

I know I didn’t cover the entire thing and I skipped some floors to go and see the paintings and rooms I really wanted to see. Like I said, i’d go for a tour when I come back. And hopefully, my museum buddy won’t be in a stroller anymore.

Outside the louvre
Outside the Louvre
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Our Eurotrip- What we wore

If you haven’t noticed from all our trip photos, we actually wore the same jackets for 10 days. Our luggage consisted of 1 small suitcase, 1 small duffel bag, a backpack and a small baby bag. When we arrived at the airport, the ground staff were surprised that we only had that much luggage for a family of four. Tres bien, one of the staff said and I think he said it more out of surprise than admiration.

I actually packed 4 sets of clothes for the kids and me and advised Chubby Hubby to do the same. I washed our clothes every night until probably our 6th day. I did not go to the laundromat. Just washed the clothes with my hands in the bathroom sink and hung them near the radiator in the room. Thankfully they got dry the next evening. We didn’t have any radiator in our hotel in Amsterdam, but I am so happy they had their own laundry room downstairs where you can do your laundry.

I didn’t bring any accessories and I wished I didn’t bring any makeup. By the 3rd day, I did not have the energy to do my face.

I have no regrets that we didn’t glam up for this trip. I cannot imagine lugging around big suitcases with two toddlers in tow. I know I’ll have a glamorous holiday someday, maybe when the kids are all working. But right now, this is how we will roll.

Day 1 Outfits- Me and Marcus in Mcdonalds, Frank and Aria at George Pompidou
Day 1 Outfits- Me and Marcus in Mcdonalds, Chubby Hubby and Aria at George Pompidou
Day 2- Frank and Marcus on the train, Aria outside Musee D'Orsay, Me at the bottom of the Eiffel
Day 2- Chubby Hubby and Marcus on the train, Aria outside Musee D’Orsay, Me at the bottom of the Eiffel
Day 3- At a resto outside Louvre, we missed rice so we looked for a Chinese Restaurant
Day 3- At a resto outside Louvre, we missed rice so we looked for a Chinese Restaurant
Day 4, at the foot of Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris
Day 4, at the foot of Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris
Day 6- Hanging outside the Joods Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Day 6- Hanging outside the Joods Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Day 7- Chubby Hubby putting on new boots outside NEMO museum and Aria cheering him on in Amsterdam, Netherlands, me and Marcus exploring the area near our hotel after just arriving in Brussels, Belgium
Day 7- Chubby Hubby putting on new boots outside NEMO museum and Aria cheering him on in Amsterdam, Netherlands, me and Marcus exploring the area near our hotel after just arriving in Brussels, Belgium
Day 8- Me and Marcus at the Train Station in Brussels, Frank and Aria at the Grote Markt
Day 8 Brussels, Belgium- Me and Marcus at the Train Station, Chubby Hubby and Aria at the Grote Markt
Day 9- Wandering around Brussels, Belgium
Day 9- Wandering around Brussels, Belgium

 

What we did in Paris… and didn’t do

We went on our trip without a fixed itinerary. The only scheduled item we had for Paris was the walking tour on the second day which we had to leave 15 minutes after it started because the kids were going crazy. So in other words, we winged it.

I know that with all experienced travelers, RESEARCH is the number one thing they do before going on a trip. NO time should be wasted, NO opportunity missed. However, we didn’t do enough research and we didn’t make any fixed itinerary. So I therefore conclude that we are not experienced travelers.

Oh Well.

But I did make my list of things to do and places I must see and got to accomplish most of the items on the list. Some, I didn’t get to do. Hopefully for another trip.

1. Got to see the Eiffel Tower and take a family picture. See here.

2. Saw Mona Lisa’s smile at the Louvre.

mona lisa at the louvre paris 2015
My view of Da Vinci’s most famous work. Black hat kept getting in the way.

3. Checked out the padlocks at Pont des Arts

Padlocks at Pont des Arts
Padlocks at Pont des Arts

 

4. Went “shopping” (window) at the original Galleries Lafayette.

Ceiling of Galeries Lafayette at Boulevard Haussmann, Paris
The majestic ceiling of Galeries Lafayette

5. Walked down Champs Elysees and visited the Arc De Triomphe

Down Champs Elysees from the Arc De Triomph
Down Champs Elysees from the Arc De Triomph

6. Checked out the street artists at Place du Tertre in Montmartre

Place du Tertre
Place du Tertre

7. Visited some of the historic churches

At the foot of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre
At the foot of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre
Notre Dame Cathedral
infront of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Guess what I am doing?! lol

8. Gawked at grand and historic architecture

The famous pyramid of the Louvre
The famous pyramid of the Louvre which is also the entrance
The Opéra national de Paris
The Opéra national de Paris
Govt Building beside the Louvre
For some particular reason, I forgot what this building is called, but its right beside the Louvre. I think it is some sort of Governmetn building.
Hotel De Ville Paris
Hotel De Ville Paris
Flying Buttresses inside Notre Dame
Flying Buttresses inside Notre Dame

What I didn’t get to do-

1. We didn’t climb de la tour Eiffel. We lingered in front of the tower, we hung out at the bottom but we didn’t climb.

2. We didn’t climb the Arc De Triomphe. For the same reasons we didn’t climb the Eiffel. Plus, it was freezing weather and both babies were being cranky.

3. Didn’t get to see Monet’s waterlily paintings at the Musee d’Orangerie

4. Didn’t go shopping

5. Didn’t see Shakespeare bookstore at the Latin Quarters

6. Didn’t see a show at the original Moulin Rouge.

7. Didn’t visit the Palace Versailles, the Palais Royale.

8. Didn’t leave a padlock at the bridge with F+R written on it

9. Didn’t do any PDA.

We got a bonus from the weather though and we got to see actual snow falling from the sky… magical!

 

Paris for first timers on a budget- where we stayed

Paris is a really big city full of culture, wonderful architecture and history. We stayed there for more or less 5 days and I still think it is not enough. We did take things slow however, because we had two very demanding little buggers and taking slow is the chubby hubby’s idea of a holiday. And I do agree that taking things slow is really the best way to go about exploring a city.

For first timers, location is a BIG FACTOR. As a matter of fact, I think it should be the primary factor on deciding where to stay. We stayed on (at?) the 4th arrondissement (Administrative district) of the city which is in very close proximity to a lot of the must see sights of Paris. No, we did not have a view of the Eiffel tower and it was not a few blocks away. If you have never been to Paris, you have to realize that the Eiffel tower is not the only major sight to see.

Our hotel- Hotel Flor Rivoli, although a very old budget hotel, is right in the heart of Rue de Rivoli which is a commercial street full of international and local brands. It is located a few steps away from the Chatelet metro station, a few blocks away from the Louvre, and Palais Royale, and a few minutes away from the Latin Quarters. If you like theatre and like watching it in French, there are also theatres within walking distance of the hotel. Countless restaurants and cafes are also within walking distance. There is also a supermarket right next door.

When I say budget hotel, it really is a small hotel. The bathroom is small and the room is small. But since we are a small family accustomed to small spaces, we managed. If you prefer bigger and fancier rooms, there are a lot of other hotels in the vicinity. The hotel serves breakfast in the room for a fee and has free wifi.

Strolling along the Rue De Rivoli
Checking out the shops in the inner streets branching out from the Rue De Rivoli
Strolling along the Rue De Rivoli
Taking a stroll along the Rue De Rivoli

We spent a big amount of time just walking around and drinking in the Parisian life. The chubby hubby didn’t want to cram itineraries that would leave us too drained. So our location was just perfect for our first time in the city.

I would definitely look for a hotel in the same vicinity when I go back to Paris.

Bonjour Paris!!

I have always envisioned myself in a fancy hat, colorful scarf, leather boots and a black trench coat when i come to visit Paris for the first time. I would take that selfie in front of the eiffel in coordinated clothing. But life never goes as planned, and there i was in Paris in a mommy shirt, ill fitting pants a purple jacket you cant miss, rubber shoes, a bonnet i borrowed from a friend on my head, and a baby in a wrap glued to my chest…

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Travelling with two kids is no joke. My booger (Aria) thinks its time to let out her ill feelings when the bear (marcus) starts to cry. Pooping has also become a sport with both of them trying to upstage the other.

Taking the metro is also no picnic. Paris trains go way deep. Most stations dont have elevators or escalators. We usually hold up the commuters when we let the booger take the stairs by herself. So we carry her most of the time and she weighs a ton. I think i might have already lost a kilo or two.

We tried a walking tour and we didnt last ten minutes. By the time we started walking to the 2nd stop, both kids were throwing tantrums we left the group out of shame.

IMG_3321

But I had the time of my life in Paris. I got to see the city i have loved even before i got to see it. And its as enchanting as i imagined. We even got to experience snow flurries for the first time and the booger was so happy she couldn’t stop giggling. So many things crossed off of my bucket list in just a few days.

So thankful to have a chubby hubby who makes fulfilling my dreams as part of his dream. ❤️❤️❤️ happy anniversary!

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Our Euro budget for four people (chubby hubby, chubby mommy-me, booger and bear)

When chubby hubby first mentioned the possibility of a Euro trip he told me that his budget was just QAR 10K (roughly USD 2800) for the four of us, including flights. Because of that very limited budget I never thought it would come true with flights ranging from 500 USD to more than a thousand for the straight flights. But today we leave for Paris and visiting Brussels and Amsterdam in the span of 9 days. And we still have a couple of hundreds to spare.

1) The first task we needed to accomplish was to get our visas processed. The French embassy in Doha acquires the services of Capago for all their visa processing. We made temporary travel arrangements at a nearby travel agency, submitted our requirements and after three days our visas were released. We didn’t buy extra travel insurance since our existing health insurance provided by the chubby hubby’s company already included that. Thank God for that coverage! Visas for Aria and Marcus (aka booger and bear) were free so we only paid for the processing fee. Our total expense for the visa application for the four of us amounted to QAR 1100 (USD 302).

2) Once that was done, we finalized the booking for our flights, making sure to cancel the ones we made at the travel agency because it amounted to more than half of the budget. The key here is lots of patience and strong will. I had neither so chubby hubby worked on this one for us. We found cheap flights on orbitz.com and booked the ones with a 3 hour stop over. I wished myself well with handling a stop over with two toddlers in tow. I reminded husband that we should work as a team when handling Aria and Marcus if he wants to save with the flights instead of splurging on that direct flight. How this will go is yet to be determined but our flights (for four seats) amounted to only QAR 4122 (USD 1120.00).

3) Now the next task was to finalize which cities we wanted to visit. I wanted to stay in Paris for a big bulk of our vacation so we decided to stay there for 5 days. The challenging part was to decide which cities to go to next. Researched which major ones were nearby that I really wanted to see. France, Belgium and the Netherlands were all interconnected so we decided to go to Brussels for two days and then Amsterdam for two days. I just googled cheap hotels and saw a lot of places to stay in at less than 100 USD per night. I wanted to use AirBnB because the places offered had so much more space than the standard hotel room. However, chubby hubby was concerned with the security of the apartments so I gave in with his wishes. Found some hotels in that city using budgetplaces.com.

I made sure the hotels we picked were central and very near the metro station. Also made sure that places had good reviews on tripadvisor especially when it came to cleanliness. I cannot stand dirty rooms.

Our total hotel bookings amounted to QAR 2512 (EUR 608.00 or USD 680).

4) Train bookings were done on thalys. Thalys We didn’t have enough time to book ahead so we didn’t save much here. Chubby hubby finally gave in with buying train tickets because I made a fuss with how much time we were going to save with those bullet trains.  Train bookings amounted to QAR 1347 (EUR 326 or USD 370).

5) Finalizing an itinerary with tours is quite limited when you work on a really small budget. I found an app online for some DIY tours for the three cities we are going to be visiting- City walks by gpsmycity.com. The free version of the app even have maps you can use with your phone’s locator. Upgrading is even more better (for USD 5) because it can act like a GPRS of the route you want to take. I also found some free walking tours online by sandeman. The Amsterdam tour comes with a minimal fee of 3 EUR and the kids are free but the Paris and the Brussels tour are free. Chubby hubby insists we make other tour reservations when we get there so I didn’t argue and let him win since he will be paying for it anyway. Total tour expense amount is QAR 25 (EUR 6 or USD 6.8).

I know it will get more expensive when we get there. There are city taxes and other things we need to spend money on like food and commute. There are also museum entrances that Chubby hubby might not think is worth it. However, I gave him my top 5 places we MUST go and see. We’ll see how it goes.

Preholiday Expenses

Visa – QAR 1100
Flights – QAR 4122
Accommodation QAR 2512
Train (Eurail) QAR 1347
Tour – QAR 25

TOTAL – QAR 9106 or around USD 2475

not bad huh?