Valentine’s weekend. After a 6-hour road trip; from Tilburg to Antwerp to Brussels to Paris, we are finally there. It’s difficult to get to the hotel, it’s pretty much tucked in the outskirts of Paris, quite close to Charles De Gaulle Airport: in Roissy. I stumble into the 4-star with an unlikely companion, and we are immediately met with raised brows.
The hotel is as nice as its brochure has promised it to be and because it’s ‘Lover’s weekend,’ everyone is coupled, two-by-two’s like they are walking into Noah’s ark. My companion is my bubbly, larger-than-life daughter.
“Bonjour” the tall dark-haired handsome guy at the reception desk seems to breath his greeting. He looks like the living version of the male hero in a romance novel.
“Bonjour,” I respond with gusto.
I check in and a key card is handed to me. It is a spa hotel; with a nice swimming pool and sauna, luxurious romantic rooms, and squeaky-clean everything, more suited to lovers or business trip-sters than to families with young children. However, it’s my daughter’s 7th birthday, and I intend for her to have a good time. We have a restful night after the long trip and set out the next morning, to Disneyland.
It is not easy to get to Disneyland from Roissy, we make use of the hotel shuttle to the Roissypole-Gare (station) and take the subway, changing twice to the Disneyland line. There is an Arab man standing by the entrance of the second line direct to Disneyland. He welcomes us in, and seems to be doing the same for everyone and helping tourists with any train and subway-related enquiries they may have. I conclude that he is a train official, but it seems not to be as he takes a plastic white cup and passes it around for some collections. We come out at Disneyland, and I look at the queues, glad to have purchased the tickets online. There’s a strong breeze about, it is drizzling lightly and we wrap ourselves warmly in our jackets. Disneyland is huge, it bears a close resemblance to Efteling except for the Walt Disney Studio Park on the other end of the entrance. We take alot of pictures and queue up for close to an hour to meet Mickey Mouse.
At the end of the day, we return back to our hotel. I have forgotten the swimsuits but we improvise and leap into the pool. Surprisingly, no one notices that we are inappropriately attired for the swim, largely because the pool and jacuzzi is filled with couples; behaving all lovey-dovey in their minuscule romantic bubbles, oblivious to the fact they are in public space. Others waddle into the reception area in their white cotton gowns. Thankfully my daughter is splashing about, totally focused on swimming, and does not notice the amorous setting we are in, and I am glad that she’s distracted, otherwise she would stare. I get impatient with the couple at the jacuzzi who seem not to be climbing out, so I get out of the pool, my daughter follows, and I make a beeline for the jacuzzi much to their chagrin. They climb out as we slip in. Ahhhh….the bliss of having the jacuzzi to yourself.
Paris is an interesting city with a character of it’s own. It’s overcrowded with different kinds of people. The underground is a confusing well-connected maze which makes me ask for directions each step of the way. Our first visit to the city is marked by acts of generosity from the town-folk; the bald guy with face piercings that offers my child a sweet in the subway, the african guys pursuing us with flatteries and pleas to purchase their tiny replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the french-arabic mum who gives my child a new Hello Kitty necklace at the bus-stop just to get her to stop crying while she utters a torrent of French words in a soothing voice, and the crooners who focus their attention on her as they sing…the city has stuck it’s imprint on us.