Monday, August 12, 2013

The Gleatons Do the South of France

A more accurate title would be The Gleatons, Deaners and Lukes do the South of France but that was a little bit long winded.  When my Mom had the idea for a family European trip this summer I was all for it.  What could be better than all my family coming to our side of the pond for a visit?!  Provence was settled upon and tickets booked.  Deaner and I decided it would be best for us to drive the 8 hour drive so that we would have my giant car once we arrived.  An 8 hour drive isn't so bad....right?  We decided to break it into two days and spend the night in the champagne region of France in Reims the first night.  We figured we would drive 5 hours the first day and 3 hours the next day on to Isle Sur La Sorgue.  Piece of cake.  We did not anticipate that our departure date would coincide with every single other German and French person on earth.  Our simple 5 hour drive turned into a NINE HOUR trek.
Evans didn't seem to mind once we got to the hotel and he was able to stretch out on our huge bed with the Mama pink kindle.  He was such a good traveller, even pulling his own suitcase (full of toys).
Saturday morning we set off for L'sle Sur La Sorgue with high hopes of meeting Buddy and Susie at the villa by noon.  Damn those other vacationers!  Our simple three hour drive turned into a FIVE HOUR drive before we FINALLY arrived.  Thankfully the villa and the company were worth the wait!
Evans got to enjoy appetizers by the pool sans clothes.  Lucky for him that his preference is very Euro and widely acceptable.
No one seemed to mind!
Who knew our child loved Boursin so much?  He adjusted nicely to the French wines and cheeses!
Ok, it was only sparkling water but I didn't even like sparkling water when we first moved to Europe!
Saturday night we stayed in and waited for the rest of the crew to arrive.  We hit up the grocery store in town to stock up on wine and when I say we stocked up, I'm not playing.  Too bad I couldn't partake in any of it.  
Our first full day in Provence was spent at the l'sle sur la sorgue antique market.  I'm still wondering where all the antiques were but they had the next best thing!  TEA TOWELS!!
And stunning views.
Deaner was my official tea towel holder.
I know he was thrilled.  Evans was in heaven having "Omple Sam" to tote him around.
And cars to ride!  This is the child who has never been interested in a carnival ride in his life.  Buddy took him over the cars and bought him 5 rides.  I thought, well, that was a waste of money!  Lo and behold, Evans got right on and even handed the ticket man his own ticket.
This was just the beginning of his new car ride obsession that Dada is happy to indulge.  I need to find my iphone cord so I can transfer the rest of the France pictures to my computer.  It took way too long to email all these to myself from my phone.  I promise to get that done asap but considering Evans wet the bed at 4:30am and I was up changing sheets, I think I will allow myself a nap this afternoon (who am I fooling really?  I nap everyday).  Stay tuned for the rest of the week!  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Walt Disney Toon Studios and the "Real" Lightning McQueen

Day two in Disneyland Paris dawned BEAUTIFUL and clear and slightly warmer than the three days previous.  Evans was primed and ready to find the "real" Lightning McQueen which he kept warning us was "somewhere around here".
We started out at the cars stunt show as we arrived just in time to catch the first one of the day.
Oh the joy when Lightning McQueen made his appearance!
Doesn't get much better than that.  
Oh wait, it does.  Toon Studios has it's very own Lightning McQueen ride.  This was the equivalent of the Casey Junior from Day one. 
Daddy was required to go on the dizzy rides though I did get roped into this one at least once. 
I think they liked it.  
After a quick lunch in a Mickey Mouse high chair (this was the 37 euro fast food lunch I was referring to in my post yesterday) it was right back to Lightning McQueen.
And happy to be back.
I actually got suckered into riding this go around so I was able to include myself in a picture. 
It is safe to say that while we really really enjoyed all of Toon Studios, we really took advantage of the Lightning McQueen attraction.  E loved the live Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show as well as Handy Manny etc.  It was a little harder to get pictures inside the live shows but I would highly recommend them to anyone with little ones.  After spending most of the day at the Toon Studios we heading back to Disney for a few more hits on the Casey Junior before snagging a good spot for the parade. 
A quick ride on It's A Small World.
A stop for a $15 balloon.  (which I should at least disclose lasted close to a month)
A little dinner at Planet Hollywood.
And an excruciating visit to the Disney Store where so many things were purchased that I don't even want to see the American Express bill from May.  Daddy is such a sucker!  
Yes, that is a Lightning McQueen rolling suit case.  Only my kid would go into a store full of toys and pick out a suitcase as his souvenir!  He is a very practical traveler.  Not to mention that there was a case full of tub toys inside the suitcase! 
We were pretty much packed to the gills coming home with Disney paraphernalia.  See the suitcase right next to him?  All in all I would say that it was a great family weekend getaway but if you want to try this same trip, beware that it all adds up quickly.  I simply laugh to myself now when I see that there are actual books written on how to do Disney on a budget.  Those folks are in denial.  
I think that we all felt the same way after this vacation but it was totally worth it.  Now if I can just talk the boys into going to the beach next time.  They are already starting to talk about Disney again and while I liked it enough................

Monday, August 5, 2013

Disneyland Paris for Dummies

So let's just face facts upfront.  If you go to Disneyland Paris, you are a dummy.  There is really no way around it.  Once we accept the fact that there are no "real" deals to be had, no way around the exorbitant prices and no super smart ideas for avoiding lines, everything will be a bit easier to deal with.  Be prepared to spend the money on entrance tickets even when they are 20% off, be forewarned that you will spend $50 on a fast food like meal for lunch and that you WILL spend more time in line than actually riding rides.  If you are okay with all the above, which we were, you are good to go!  We can single handedly thank British Sky Free Sat for our decision to take Evans to Disneyland this past May.  Thanks to their aggressive ad campaigns, which aired every other commercial on the children's tv channel, we could hardly say no when Evans asked us every 5 minutes to take him to the 20th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris.  Deaner didn't need any excuses and consequently Mama was given a weekend in Paris/Disneyland for Mother's Day 2013.  I didn't complain.
One would think that May is a no brainer month to make the pilgrimage to Europe's version of the Magic Kingdom.  School is still in session so the crowds should be manageable and by late May, the weather should be tolerable.  Well don't go getting any ideas.  We were both crowd challenged and weather challenged if you can't tell by winter ski jackets the week before JUNE arrived.  
Thankfully it didn't seem to bother either of my two children much.  Deaner and I talked extensively before this trip about our concern that we would arrive and Evans would refuse to go on any rides.  He isn't exactly know for his sense of adventure or bravery.  We were pleasantly surprised when he jumped directly into the teacup with Daddy and had a ball.  I think Daddy did too.  I was concerned about the concept of actually waiting in line but even that wasn't too big of an issue.  
Thankfully we waited 55 minutes to meet Mickey Mouse.  Can't you tell how excited Evans is to get to the front of the line?
Okay well he might have psyched us out a little bit with this on.
Turns out he didn't want to meet the Mouse as much as we thought it did.  Once E got over the initial shock and fright of seeing Mickey, we were able to take a picture........with the Disney professional photographer.....for the small price of 18 euro, which Daddy gladly purchased.  
Deaner and I did wonder after the fact why, for 18 euro, they couldn't have photoshopped the shine off our faces.  Evans was still a little unsure of Mickey but he sure likes the picture now.  Don't forget to get the 3 euro cardboard souvenir frame.  
I know that everyone will be surprised to find out that one of Evans' favorite rides in the entire park was the Casey Jr. choo choo train.  I think we rode it four times the first day.  30 minutes is a long time to wait for a 2 minute train ride.  Thankfully Evans's parents love him. 
Daddy might have been a little nervous on this one.  
After a day of riding nearly everything age appropriate, Evans reverted to his old self and absolutely refused to ride the carousel.  Forget it.  Because why ride something so babyish after a day of real adventure?
Is anyone seeing the pattern of Deaner/Evans pictures?  Thankfully they had a mom along to document their trip!  Best part of the day was the parade down Main Street each afternoon at 5:30.  Who doesn't love these characters (at a safe distance)?
One of the only helpful tips I read before visiting Disney was that it was best to watch the daily parade as close to the start of it as you could.  Therefore, when the parade ended you could bolt and catch a ride with no line before the masses finished watching.  This worked for us and we were able to snag a ride on Dumbo without waiting for two hours.  
It's a good thing we were able to get right onto Dumbo because somehow we ended up with the only lame elephant on the whole ride.  That's right.  Our bunk elephant wouldn't take off from the ground!  If I had waited two hours for that ride I might have demanded another turn.  This was our last ride of the day so I was sort of over it by that point.  As you can see the weather cleared some by the close of day one.  
There was really no way we were going to make it until 10:30 for the Fantasy Dream fireworks and I think we left around 7pm.
None too soon for this little camper. 
We did have to rest up for Day two and the "real" Lightning McQueen.  Seriously though, how do people take 7 day Disney vacations?  I was EXHAUSTED after day one and while I can partly blame some of that on being newly pregnant, I imagine this sort of thing could wear anyone out!  Stay tuned for Day 2 and Walt Disney Toon Studios.  The trip wouldn't have been complete without it!