BEGIN 2017 | Corina's Corner

Disneyland Paris

10.11.2017


From the Eiffel Tower we took a train out to our Airbnb. We stayed really close to Paris Disney, one train stop away, which was about 5-10 minutes. We had already had a SUPER long day but because we were really looking forward this we pressed through the exhaustion for more fun (and because we had already purchased our Disney tickets)! Reagan took a power nap on the train ride (and I should mention, this girl NEVER naps, EVER! So all of her sleeping on this trip proved we were maybe moving a bit faster than she was used too) and Naomi took many, many little naps in the Ergo. After dropping off our stuff at the Airbnb, we headed to Disneyland!

One of the reasons we decided to go to Disneyland Paris (besides that we love Disneyland) is that the tickets are WAY cheaper than regular Disneyland and there were a few things under construction when we were there so the tickets were even more discounted. We opted for the park hopper tickets because we were only going to be there one day, and those tickets were still about $40 cheaper than the non-park hopper tickets at the Disneyland in California. Since we were arriving pretty late in the day we headed straight into Walt Disney Studios because that park closed a few hours before Disneyland. We had read about a few must-do rides and we tried to do as many as we could before they closed.

My favorite ride of the day was the Ratatouille ride at Walt Disney Studio. It was amazing and so well done! You ride around in little mice cars and end up "running" all around Gusteau's restaurant and kitchen. At one you go under the oven and it gets hot, or into the fridge and it gets cold. It was fantastic. Looking back, I wish we would have done that ride two times in a row, that's how much I loved it. I'm glad they took advantage of making this ride at Paris Disney (and I've heard they're making one just like it at Disneyworld!).

After Walt Disney we headed to Disneyland and caught the tail end of the parade. At Paris Disney they do their parade at 5, and then an awesome fountain/light show before they close. I'm glad we caught a bit of the parade for Reagan's sake but I personally liked that fountain light show way better. They project movies and images on the castle and play Disney songs while shooting off corresponding fountains and fireworks. It was fabulous! After the fountain show we headed to the Disney Village for dinner. We ate at Annette's Diner, and both of the girls fell asleep before the food arrived. It was a LONG, fun day!



One more note about our Paris Disney experience: We liked our Airbnb. It was in a safe area, it was updated, and clean, the hosts were great and it was very close to Disneyland. We ran into a big issue the next morning when we tried to get to the airport for our 8am flight. Since we were flying to Switzerland we needed to be there at 6am. We had planned to take a train or an Uber to the airport but we didn't realize that the trains didn't start running until 6 and Ubers didn't come to our neighborhood. It was so stressful! Thankfully, my mom thought of a great idea though. She had us walk to a hotel a few blocks away, and see if they could call us a taxi. Thankfully again, they helped us out even though we weren't staying at their hotel. So we took a very expensive taxi ride to the airport, but at that point we were just happy that we made it because for a while it was looking grim!

Paris and the Eiffel Tower

10.06.2017


On the third day of our trip we woke up early and took a taxi from our hotel to St. Pancras to catch our Eurostar train to Paris, through the Chunnel. It was just a really long tunnel but kind of cool that we've been in it! Our train arrived in Paris at the Gare du Nord Station. We had previously purchased tickets to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (because last time we were there we didn't purchase tickets ahead of time and weren't able to go up) so we took a few trains to get there.

One thing about traveling with the girls as opposed to traveling with just Jordan and I is that the days where we were on the move, transition days, were WAY harder. Even though we packed very light, it was still so difficult to navigate with all of our stuff and the girls in a foreign country (especially France where we couldn't read any of the signs or speak the language). We managed but let's just say, this was the most difficult day of our trip. In hindsight, we would have planned this day very differently, but what can you do? Oh well!

Walking to the Eiffel Tower the girls saw the carousel and insisted on a ride. We didn't have any Euros yet and they didn't take a card so luckily a kind man offered to pay for their ride (which we were so thankful for because the girls were ornery and grouchy from waking up early, and they were both throwing pretty bad tantrums when we said they couldn't ride). After the carousel we headed under the Eiffel Tower with all of our stuff. There was very heavy security just to get under the Eiffel Tower. It wasn't like that last time. Last time you could freely walk underneath the tower. We weren't sure if we would be able to go up with all of our big bags but thankfully they let us. They did make us totally open up our bags and searched through EVERYTHING which was a big pain but I guess it was good they didn't turn us away.

We had bought tickets to go up to the very top but the day we were there, Paris was having a strike (Surprise, surprise! I feel like there is always, always a strike somewhere that effects some part of our trip) so they weren't letting people go all the way to the top. As a result we only got to go up to the 2nd floor. There was still a good view, but MAN! I sure want to go all the way to the top someday!

Reagan had a COMPLETE meltdown while we were up top (very similar to the meltdown she had on top of the Space Needle, I think we might need to stop with the heights for her...) so the very last picture on this post is incredible because she was NOT like that for the majority of the time we were up top. In fact we made another huge travel mistake at this point because she was throwing a fit. We decided to take the stairs down because the lines to get on the elevators were so long, and we just had to get down. Going down all of those stairs with our huge bags and me carrying Naomi and my backpack totally killed our backs and legs. By the time we got to the bottom my legs and especially my calves were twitching and pulsing!

From the Eiffel Tower we took trains out to our Airbnb (which was one stop away from Disneyland Paris) to drop off our bags and then headed to Disney for the rest of the day!




^^Mid pout and melt down for Reagan. I'm so glad that my husband is the most patient person alive and is so much better at handling the meltdowns and tantrums than me. I don't know what I would do without him.

Highclere Castle

10.05.2017


The most anticipated part of the entire trip for me, was our tour of Highclere Castle aka DOWNTON ABBEY! We bought our tickets like 3 months in advance and I looked forward to it for WEEKS! The second day of our trip my mom and I headed back out to Heathrow to pick up our rental car so we could drive out to the Newbury area.  The tickets we bought were for a special guided tour of the Castle with time to view the grounds and gardens, and a special little tea time at the end. I started watching the show again from the beginning in preparation for our tour and I honestly hope I can go again someday because there are just so many details to look at, I couldn't catch it all in one visit. Plus, the scones they served with the tea were possibly the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.  So I definitely wouldn't mind another tea time at Downton.

For a house, it is obviously humongous, but we were actually kind of surprised at how small some of the rooms were. In Downton Abbey, the dining room for example seems HUGE, but really it isn't very big and I can't imagine how they get all the cameras and lights and actors in the room when they're filming the big dinner parties. The pretty blue drawing room was also smaller than I was expecting. We got to see the bedrooms upstairs and because we ended up being a bit late for our tour we got to tour them privately, without our group, which was pretty cool. We peeked at all of the bedrooms upstairs which included Sybil's, Edith's, Cora's, and the "naughty room" as the tour lady called it, where Mr. Pamuk stayed when you-know-what happened. We learned that Lady Mary's bedroom was actually a set, so behind the door where her room is located was a room that wasn't her's on the show. We also got to see some of the bathrooms, which hadn't been updated in MANY years, but weren't built with the rest of the house (seeing as the house was built before indoor plumbing). They had some pretty interesting fixtures like mint green tub/toilet/sink.

In the basement of the castle instead of finding the kitchen/servant area, there is an Egyptian exhibit. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon became quite an Egyptologist in his later years and funded Howard Carter in excavating in the Valley of the Kings. During the last years of the Earl's life, when he was just about to give up, saying he could no longer afford to fund these excavations, they discovered King Tut's tomb. (I visited the Valley of the Kings while I studied at the Jerusalem Center on our trip to Egypt, and King Tut's tomb was definitely a highlight.)

The tour was fantastic, the castle is incredible, and I loved visiting and seeing where one of my favorite shows was filmed!



^^AD MDCCCXLII ---->1842 written above the front door and UNG JE SERVIRAY written all over, which means "we serve as one"

Attached to the back of the castle is this brick building that now contains the gift shop, part of the Egypt exhibit and some offices. I'm not sure how they never show this part of the castle in the show. I wasn't expecting to see it attached to the castle. We enjoyed our afternoon tea and refreshments in one of the back buildings. On the walls they had a bunch of framed magazine and newspaper articles that have been written about the show which were interesting to read as well as pictures of the making of Downton, actors getting ready, getting touch-ups on their make up, etc. that were really fascinating. They had pictures like this set up in most of the rooms in the castle as well.



^^Enjoying our afternoon tea (with our herbal tea, which we brought from home, haha). Those scones though..... MMMMMM! I want one right now!



^^Our little Ford Fiesta, with the steering wheel on the right side of the car.



I'm pretty fascinated with the whole estate including the current owners, the 8th Earl and Lady Carnarvon and how they have turned an amazing historical building into a pop culture "icon" (on our tour they kept talking about how the house is a character on the show just as much as any of the real characters) and how they have been open to new uses of the estate (like allowing TV shows to to filmed there) to be able to generate enough money to keep up with maintaining an estate this old.

Such a fantastic day and memory on our fun trip!
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