In 2019 we went to Europe twice, the first time was completely unplanned, so unplanned that I didn’t have time to put together an itinerary or get the family coordinating outfits 😞. Looking back I feel like we were giving off homeless vibes the entire trip lbvs.. Now the second time around baybeee!!!! I had it all the way together, I’m talking outfits laid out, itinerary planned, restaurants reserved, photographer booked, I did not come to play, I had to redeem myself. Both trips were very special to me so I’ve put together a recap of both experiences.
Fair warning these photos are gonna be bad. I wasn’t blogging at the time and I wasn’t thinking about angles or light or any of that so these photos will leave much to be desired.
The first time around we flew into Frankfort, Germany and took the train to Paris and it was truly an experience. If you ever get that opportunity please take it. We all enjoyed it so much and Vayda was adamant about documenting the entire thing on her camera.
On the first trip we spent two days in Germany and decided to go to Paris, it was extremely spontaneous and it took a lot to convince my husband because he’s always all “Whaa whaaa, whaaa”, “Safety first, we need to plan, I need to recon.” Blahh Blahhh Blahhh. I swear I married the black version of Liam Neeson. Gratefully, after much convincing and my excessive whining he was down!
Germany was so refreshing, we visited the K in Lautern mall and I had the best chicken nuggets I’ve ever tasted right out of the Food Court-I always find food overseas so fresh and natural and that was definitely the case with the nuggets. After we left the mall we stopped at a few boutiques and I found the cutest leather jacket that was only 80 Euros. It’s so fly I wear that mug all the time.
What I Didn’t Like About Germany
Two things I did not love about Germany were the language barrier, and the lack of rideshare companies available. I can understand and read a little French thanks to my 2 years of French in high school but I cannot read or understand even a lick of German. Not having Uber or Lyft available in Germany was definitely a huge turn off as well. There was only one taxi company in the area and they apparently only have a few drivers because the lady taking calls to schedule the rides was also our driver 😠.
Train Ride To Paris
The first day we attempted to take the train to Paris was a fail. We didn’t know that our tickets had to be purchased at least a day in advance so we packed up and headed back to the hotel (after buying our tickets for the next day) and hit it first thing in the morning. We almost missed the train AGAIN the next day because the train switched tracks and we weren’t properly notified again language barrier but gratefully a few other train passengers told us and we headed to the other track.
Paris is a total vibe. Paris has easily become one of my favorite places to visit for quite a few reasons; the first is because my very best friend in the entire world lives there-quick side bar. I met her the summer I graduated from college when I took an internship at Yahoo in New York. We lived on the same floor in NYU dorms and we’ve been besties ever since. OK, back to the trip. The other thing I love about Paris is the fashion obviously. My first major in college was Fashion Merchandising before I switched it to marketing so it was really cool to be in a city that lives and breathes fashion. Oh and let me add something that totally shook me to my core. On day two in Paris my husband was looking out the window watching the really chic Parisians walk by and he opened his mouth and said “Is this some type of top fashion place? Everyone here is dressed so nice, even the men.” I looked him dead in his soul and said “This is the fashion capital of the world, are you serious?” His comment triggered TF outta me.
We ended up staying in Paris for 6 days and then we flew back home but the trip was truly magical and we were determined to make it an annual trip, little did we know we’d be back in 4 short months.
Paris In The Summer
Fast forward one month after our impromptu trip and I receive a call from my best friend and when I picked up the phone she said to me in her regal tone and very thick accent “Tata, I’m getting married in August and I need you here.” So it was then that I was given a second chance to redeem myself in Paris.
I packed up our everyday clothes, our wedding attire for the first day and the second day and finally packed our outfits for family photos after I secured a bomb ass photographer. We ended up picking a hotel in the perfect location-always ALWAYS try to stay near the Lourve when you visit Paris, never ever try to stay near the Eiffel Tower. It’s too touristy and crowded. Near the Lourve you’ll get a real experience and you’re surrounded by shops and restaurants, and a great deal of things are located within walking distance. We went back and forth between getting an Airbnb but after almost getting scammed we ultimately decided to stay at the Citadines Les Halles Paris because they offered separate sleeping quarters for the kids and a full kitchen. Separate sleeping quarter away from children when I’m on vacation is an absolute must for me. We didn’t cook while we were there but the extra amenities were nice to have.
Things We Did In Paris
While we were there we visited the Eiffel Tower again. Also there are plenty of people selling souvenirs near the Eiffel Tower and each time we visited we ended up buying these cool lasers that my kids are obsessed with.
We took photos outside of the Lourve. The line to go in was crazy long and I didn’t want to spend any of the gorgeous days inside when it was so lovely outside. I do however plan to reserve tickets in advance next time.
Took professional family photos at the Trocadero. The experience taking family photos here is worthy of a whole separate post but just know we had to get up at the ass crack of dawn and shuttle my entire family across town wearing white 😐. Also the day before Vayda’s hair went from flat ironed and flowy to rained on the day before. To say I was stressed is an understatement.
Attended my friend’s beautiful wedding. Oh I could go on and on about my friends’ nuptials but just know the ceremonies were filled with love, tradition and a deep sense of family. Jessica was gorgeous as always and it will always be one of my fondest memories.
Took the Siene River Cruise. We did this on our first trip to Paris but definitely a must do activity.
Ate at the vegan restaurant Creatures and it had a gorgeous view. I am normally a carnivore but Jessica insisted that we must eat here for the views and it did not disappoint.
Celebrated Zaniel’s 5th birthday at a carnival. Ok let me tell yall something that I’m embarrassed to say but Imma just say it cause this is a judge free zone. Why did I/We forget Zaniel’s birthday? Chile his birthday was the same day as the wedding and we fully planned to celebrate his birthday on his trip as we usually do birthday trips instead of birthday parties but it got away from us and he promptly reminded us. We ended up having dinner at HardRock Cafe, we had a fantastic time at a carnival near the Lourve, had some delicious churros and he picked out whatever toy his heart desired.
We also celebrated at the Jardin d’Acclimatation Amusement Park. Which we will totally do again when we go back. I was furious that I didn’t have the proper shoes to jump off of this little cliff thingy.
We ate at Mama Jackson’s Soul Food restaurant. This is a must visit when you go to Paris. They play all 90’s and early 2000’s Hip Hop with the videos playing on the TV and it just feels good while you’re there. The service is great, the mango juice is délicieuse and the chicken and waffles are glorious. Word to the wise, the fries are hot af, take the peppers on the side and this is coming from someone who loves spicy food.
I shopped at the Fashion District and I can confidently say it is one of my favorite places in the entire world. I found two of what has become my favorite dresses there and when I wear them I break necks, they cost me no more that 30 euros each but the quality is unmatched.
We ate the best pizza of our lives at a little pizzeria called Babalou, and that’s saying something because I’m from Chicago and our pizza is bomb. After Ubering to Gumbo Yaya’s and finding out they were closed for vacation which many restaurants are in the summer we aimlessly wandered around to find something that would satisfy the kids but also be tasty for us and the universe aligned so that we stumbled on Babalou and we were so glad we did. We probably gobbled up 5 pizzas.
Unlike Germany Uber was available and we used it to get everywhere. The cool thing about their ubers is that since we’re a family of 5 we were able to request Mercedes Benz Vans that had reverse back seats and it was so fly, I usually detest vans but I felt like Beyonce in this.
There were many many things that I adored about Paris and the experience created beautiful memories for my family that we will cherish forever. What family vacation has created the most beautiful family memories for your family?