Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You're a real jerk, Day One

We stepped off the plane in Paris wearing our short sleeves from vacation.  Then we yelled "Holy hell!" and fished our jackets out of the depths of our suitcase.  It's cold here, and rainy.  It feels like the opposite of July which is really not OK.

But our latest vacation was a winner, a true epic saga.  We flew into Prague and drove across the Czech Republic to a  Kinderhotel in Bavaria, which was located on the Germany/Austria border and a stone's throw (if you've got a very good arm) from Salzburg.  Then we doubled back and spent a few days in Prague. 

The vacation was a smashing success ultimately, but Day One was a smashing failure.  That seems to be the way things go for us.  Day One tests our love of seeing new places, and our love for each other. 

When you take a small plane from Charles de Gaulle, you oftentimes board a shuttle bus at the gate which then drives you to your plane far, far away from the terminal.  I am now used to boarding small planes, thank you Europe, but I still don't like them so I felt nervous on the shuttle bus.

Someone else on the shuttle bus was in worse shape, though.  Lucien, who was standing next to me, suddenly said the words every plane-fearing mother on her way to certain doom loves to hear -- "Mommy, I'm gonna be sick."

Let's look at a pretty picture for a minute, to calm ourselves--

Now, some mothers would have run away screaming after hearing words like that (really, really bad mothers) but not me.  Instead, I became bionic mom.  I whipped a plastic bag out of my backpack and had it in front of my son's face before the first wave.  I caught that sh*t like a gangster.

(The mystery is why I had a plastic bag stuck in the side of my backpack in the first place.  I stuffed it there a minute before we left our apartment for no reason at all.  Did I hear something whispered in the wind?  Catch a whiff of impending vomit?  It's a mothering mystery.....)

After a brief "do-we-or-don't-we" discussion, we got on the plane armed with a stack of Air France barf bags.  The flight attendants were kind and attentive.  The other passengers were also kind, and stopped to ask how the Loosh was doing on their way to the john.  His fever kicked in immediately after the plane wheels left the runway, and he passed out cold and slept the whole way to Prague with his head in my lap.

The good news -- I no longer gave a crap about being on an airplane.  All that mattered was him.

The bad news -- Coco.  She's a beast.  I cradled sick Lucien on one side of the aisle while Alex wrestled an ornery Coco on the other.  She was perfect for most of the flight, right up until it came time to fasten her seat belt and stow her electronic devices for landing.  Then girlfriend went batshit crazy.  She didn't have to change position in the slightest, but something about clicking that seat belt turned her from happy smiley life is good to "DEATH IS UPON ME AND IMA FIGHT IT AND FIGHT IT HARD."

You best not fasten my seatbelt, chump

At one point, as the plane came down to land, Coco was screaming her lungs out on one side of the plane and Lucien was retching into an Air France barf bag on the other.  Alex and I stared wide-eyed at each other across the aisle like, "IS THIS FER REAL?"  

Upon arrival in Prague, we loaded a floppy Lucien into the stroller and headed for the car rental place.  We were thrilled with our larger-than-average Peugeot rental car and immediately broke the back door handle off in our excitement.  The rental guy, whose English was previously pretty good, went speechless.

Then we mentioned we didn't like the car seat they'd given us for Coco -- it was more of a booster seat, really, and did they have another? -- and this is when we realized our car rental guy wasn't equipped to deal with stress in his life.  He still said nothing, looked like he was about to cry and began to pace around, so we promised we would make it all work and drove off.

After ten minutes of driving through the Czech Republic, we tried to punch our GPS in the face.  Her annoyingly chipper, British-accented voice kept insisting we take an exit that was closed for construction.  After we passed it, she told us to take another exit so we figured she'd re-calculated a different route but NO, she was just taking us back in a circle so she could insist we take the closed exit again.  We couldn't figure out how to tell her to knock it off and give us a different route so we continued to drive around in circles while our relationship with the GPS deteriorated.

I used my backup "real map" thingie and got us on the right road.   Then, after about an hour of driving, a sound came from the backseat.  I turned to lunge for Lucien, thinking he was getting sick again, but he was sound asleep.  Then I turned to Coco and -- oh holy hell, girlfriend was throwing up all over herself.

It was about this time Alex and I lost the ability to be rational, decent people and started dropping "f" bombs liberally.  I dove into the back seat but got stuck momentarily with my legs in the air.  Alex continued to verbally abuse the GPS because he could.

As we finally rolled into our first destination -- the beautiful Czech town, and UNESCO world heritage site, of Český Krumlov -- I had one Air France barf bag held under one child's mouth and another Air France barf bag under the other, all while giving Alex directions because the GPS (whom we'd nicknamed "girlfriend") couldn't find our pension's address.  But we got it done, as we always do, and gave each other unnatural shell-shocked smiles as we climbed out of the car.

Our pension was the cutest, the owners wonderful and friendly, and our room large and perfect.  Things were looking up.  Now all we needed was a good night's sleep so we could explore Ceský Krumlov come morning.

We were awakened at 1:30 a.m. by "the wailing woman."  The woman in the room next to ours was in distress.  Not panicked or pained distress, more drawn-out wails of despair distress.  She must have been on Day One of her vacation, too.

She would occasionally throw open her door and run down the hall to bang on another door.  She would wail something in Czech, then run wailing back to her room where she would slam her door.  Sometimes a man would come to her room and speak softly and soothingly, but she would wail at him and he would leave.  Then there was more door slamming.  And running.  And wailing.  Did I mention this went on for two hours?

I was on the verge of breakdown when I thought, "Man, that chick is one dramatic Czech."  In the middle of the night, this thought seemed really funny, so I curled up and laughed in my bed until I fell asleep again.  I told Alex my funny thought in the morning but he didn't think it was funny at all. 

Morning looked somewhat better on the sickness front -- the children were limp, but at least there was no more vomit -- so we walked into old town Ceský Krumlov.  It didn't disappoint.  It's tiny and old and twisty-streeted and brightly colored.  It's a very special place and we loved it completely.

This is Lucien realizing how badly we get screwed every time we buy a coffee in Paris

This is Alex *not* checking out the Czech chicks in bikinis*
*it's OK, I got an eyeful of man candy in a Speedo, so life is good and fair

This is up at the castle.  I overheard a tour guide tell his group that the one window up there -- the one all bricked up in the corner -- was the scene of a grisly crime a long, long time ago, in which the bastard son of the king murdered the barber's daughter.  He then dismembered her and threw her body parts out that window onto the townspeople below.  It so traumatized the town they boarded up the window and no one ever went into that room again.  There's your cheery Czech tale for the day.

It was hot in the Czech Republic.  Super hot.  So we put our kids in a fountain.

We didn't want to leave the happy little town, but the Kinderhotel beckoned.  We got back in the car where Coco promptly threw up on herself.  I tried to get most of it in an Air France barf bag, but she kept batting the bag away like, "Oooh, I'm so darn mad at that bag."

Family vacations are a joy and a pleasure.

Next Chapter -- Kinderhotel a.k.a. goddamn heaven.



debbie in toronto said...

ha you are back...and a story with vomit in it...lovely

gotta love those shuttle buses at CDG...

here's a tip..stop feeding your kids and they will stop throwing up...at least on holidays...

just a suggestion

...have brought the heat from italy home with me here...brutal..

and funny about Paris..it was gorgeous and warm for our weekend..what happened?

can't wait to hear about the kinderhotel..something tells me it will be full of other people's kinders....

keep calm and carry on...MJ

MJ said...

Hi Debbie,

Oh, how it sucks we missed each other in Paris. Hope you enjoyed it to the fullest.

I think my posts have been a little vomit-heavy lately. I will take your "stop feeding the children" idea into consideration.

See ya!

Paris Paul said...

I've just realized I totally love any story that involves someone laughing themselves to sleep.

Thanks, MJ.

MJ said...

You're welcome, Paris Paul. It's good to see you around, as always. Still have to see you and Paris K one of these days..

Anne said...

It'll be funnier about ten years from now! Actually it was pretty funny for the rest of us now.

zenbob said...

What a lovely tale, MJ. Moving and charming (and retching). My mother adored Prague, as many people have done. Glad to hear that you survived the initial day and enjoyed your vacation. I am curious about the wailing woman, however. Is she the one that got dismembered and thrown in the river? I couldn't quite piece that all together.

It's Just Me! said...

I AM SO GLAD YOU'RE BACK. It's been a dark and laugh-less week without you. (OK. I might be exaggerating just a tad...but really! I'm GLAD you're BACK!).

Kiki said...

I don't know why, but my two favorite posts of yours definitely involve vomit. Does that mean there's something wrong with me?

At least Coco and Lucien have their priorities straight- only vomit in the rented space, whether it be by air, car or hotel. No sense in sullying the home turf.

MJ said...

Hi Anne. I'm happy to hear I'll have stuff to laugh at in ten years. It sure wasn't funny in the moment. But it's all copy for the blog, so at least there's that.

Zenbob -- the thought crossed my mind to dismember wailing woman, but she remains fully intact, and that's probably a good thing at the end of the day. Prague is an incredible city, will write more about its incredibleness later, and I'm happy to report there will be minimal vomit from here on out.

C! I'm glad that was an exaggeration, otherwise I'd have to give P and F a stern talkin'-to. It is their job to fill your life with joy at all times. Miss you people!

Kiki, there's nothing wrong with you. I'm pleased to know at least one person is enjoying my vomit-soaked tales. I am expecting my stats to plummet at any second, but I'll still have you!!!

Bye everybody, have good days or nights or whatever's going on where you are

Duchesse said...

I'm more than ever convinced that I do not want children...:)

We're trying to figure out our next destination for our holiday in late August/early September. The Czech and Slovak countrysides were mentioned... after seeing your pictures, I'm more and more tempted:)

The weather in all this part of Europe is just a bitch! It's not so bad today in The Hague, but this weekend, it was FRIGGIN' NOVEMBER! Fall is my favourite season, true, but NOT IN JULY!!!

And we're spending the last weekend of July in Paris (wooptidoo!):) Just hope Mother Nature will be good to us (mind you, there's plenty to do in Paris when it rains, but I'd sooner have sun):)

It's good to have you back! I've missed your posts:)

MJ said...

Hi again Duchesse! Heh heh -- children are tough little things, indeed. Lots of work....lots of work....but I hear there's a huge payoff at the end, like when they grow up and take care of you, change your adult diapers and all that.

The weather blows. Fingers crossed for your trip here at the end of the month. It can't get much worse, that's for sure.

Have a good day over there, D.

The Bold Soul said...

Geez, thank God for those airline barf bags, huh?

laughingsalmon said...

Erm...you must qualify for sainthood at this point...BARF-O-RAMA would have taken most of the fun out of my holiday...Glad you were able to soldier on...Love your column...

Mrs. Howard said...

Good grief, woman!
I wanna go with ya'll on your next family vacay!

Lou said...

It will be funny in 10 years...my son barfed all over the rental car on our way out of Rome (in a piazza of course)... after cleaning up and getting to Sorrento, got the car back in the morning with not only the great smell, but ants all over the back seat and floor. Spent the next week smacking ants and trying to leave the windows open in Sicily. I pity the people who got the car after us, and still can't believe the car agency didn't charge us!

AM said...

One puker is bad enough, but two? Yikes! So happy to hear the Kinderhotel made up for the crazy first 24 hours!

MJ said...

Hi Bold Soul! Yep, I'm never leaving the house ever again without an Air France barf bag tucked into a pocket. You just never know when you're going to need 'em.

Laughing Salmon, we were not laughing that first day, nope, not at all. It all looked like a pretty bad idea, but in the end it wasn't. I think I swear too much to qualify for sainthood anyway.

Mrs. Howard, really? Well you are just a glutton for punishment, lady. I like your style.

Lou, that sounds awful. Kids are just little animals, aren't they? Glad you made it through your trip and can laugh at it now.

AM, it did, it did, it DID make up for it. The Kinderhotel is a magical place.

Bye everyone, thanks for stopping by.

Steve said...

I am pretty sure the Czechs will now think Air France really has something against their country leaving AF (used) barf bags all over Czech Republic!
You just ruined the great friendship between the French and the Czech peoples!

MJ said...

Steve, I fear you are correct. Sorry about that.

April said...

Sorry your kids yacked all over eastern Europe. However, Miss Coco gives the best faces I've ever seen. She needs a tag line. "Coco don't play that" but better, less corny, less 1990's In Living Color-ish and sassier. But just like that.


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