#9: What place are you most grateful for?
It’s got to be Paris, for the memories it gave me and my son, Jack. Back in Ireland, in the good old days when I was earning a good wage at MBNA Bank of America, I’d managed to save up nearly €8000 in a year, so I decided to treat Jack to a 6th birthday treat he’d remember for years to come.
I told Jack we were going to Paris, France. Of course he had no idea where that even was, or what delights it offered visitors. He was excited at the prospect of seeing and experiencing new things, and of flying in 2 different planes and travelling on trains and buses. It really was a hop, skip and jump kind of trip, getting from Ireland to Paris via London.
What Jack didn’t know was that I’d booked us a holiday for 7 nights, 3 of which would be in Paris itself. And the other 4 nights would be in Disneyland Paris.
And as Jack’s birthday is on Halloween itself, 31st October, I’d bought us tickets to Disneyland’s special Halloween night opening. The park would reopen its gates to special ticket holders, all the eating places would be open for business, and all the rides would operate as per normal that night. Plus, at midnight, there would be a magnificent fireworks display from the iconic Cinderella’s Castle.
So off to Paris we went. I love Paris, I’ve been there about 6 times, and each time it never fails to enchant me all over again. Jack and I did the usual touristy stuff – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, walking along the Seine, taking in the Arc de Triumphe and its modern counterpart, La Defense. We even went hunting for boutique perfumes and macarons, and visited some pet shops along the Seine, where Jack and I giggled ourselves silly at the sight of white mice jumping onto wheels that spun them round and round.
On the 4th day, I bundled us back onto the bus that would take us to the airport, where our connecting bus to Disneyland was waiting. Jack, of course, thought we were simply going home.
At the airport, we got on the bus and off we went down the countryside. It was only as we neared Disneyland and Jack saw some of the highrise rides and rollercoasters that he turned to me, with eyes as wide as saucers, and said, “Mummy, are we going to Disneyland?”
The look of pure delight on his face was just priceless.
We had a marvellous 4 days at Disneyland. On our 3rd day, the night of the special Halloween night-time opening, I decided that waiting 45 minutes in the queue for a 2 minute ride was a little too much. Why not ride on a train for 45 minutes and spend the whole day in Paris? It was door to door, easy peasy.
And so we headed back to Paris for yet another fun-filled day. Then late afternoon that day, we caught the train back to Disneyland, and I took Jack to a 50’s-inspired American Diner, where the wait staff danced on the countertops to Elvis songs. They even brought out a chocolate cake for Jack, on the house, for his birthday. It had sparklers on it.
The Halloween Night opening was brilliant. The queues were a lot shorter than the ones during the day, so we went on some of the rides not just once, but twice or even three times.
At midnight, just as promised, there was a magnificent fireworks display that lit up the entire sky above Cinderella’s Castle. It was the middle of winter, bitterly cold, and you’d be forgiven for thinking we were mad for staying outdoors all night, but I tell you now, that was the best memory of Paris Jack and I will ever have.
I’ll make damn sure Jack and I go back there one day. Maybe when he’s older, or maybe even when he’s married with children of his own, and we can all go there as a family.
I’m so grateful for Paris and Disneyland!
(Image source: Google. I’ve lost all the photos of our trip, due to moving so many times over the years… all the more reason to return there and create fresh memories!)