Thursday, April 18, 2019

Europe recap day 1: Travel day

"and so the adventure begins"

We've only been home for about 4 days now, but I still feel like this blog post is long overdue. I've been going back and forth about where to start in terms of recapping all of the Europe events on the blog, and I decided to take it one day at a time - literally! So, I will start with day 1, recap the activities and sights for the day, and further split the days up into multiple posts as needed depending on the amount content. So, all that being said - let's just get started!

There were 8 of us total that traveled together - 3 couples and 2 singles. We had a non-stop flight from Chicago to Paris through American. Chicago is about 4 hours north of us, and the rest of the group decided to take the Amtrak there. The husband and I kept debating on whether or not we also wanted to take the train as we didn't want to feel left out of any group activities! The husband has so many miles through Southwest, so we could make it to Chicago for free. Unfortunately, Southwest flies out of Midway and American flies out of O'Hare, so we would still need to get an Uber to get from one airport to another. The train group would also need to take another means of transportation from the train station to O'Hare, so in that respect, neither method seemed more convenient than the other.

After all was said and done, we decided to simply fly to Chicago on Southwest and meet the group there. Even though our flight to Paris wasn't until 6:50pm that evening, we decided to take the 8:30am flight out of St. Louis putting us into Chicago around 9:45am. We wanted to have plenty of other flight options should our flight get delayed for some reason. God forbid we miss our flight to Paris! So, since we had so much time to spare, we decided to go to the Bean, get Shake Shack for lunch, and wander around downtown before going to O'Hare.

Kinda hard to do all that while lugging around all your travel bags and suitcases! I had the great idea of simply renting a car for the afternoon - renting it at Midway and returning it at O'Hare. The cost of a rental would be cheaper than all the Ubers we would need, and we would obviously have a place to leave our bags while we were walking about. What made it even better though is that the husband was able to use a free day with National, so we only had to pay $10 for the car. Win/win!

I mentioned in my Pilates update post that it's become my thing when we travel to take open leg rocker photos with unique backgrounds, so naturally I had to take one at the Bean! We took a couple of other rocker photos throughout Millennium Park, but those got lost. More on that later. After our photo session in the park, we smashed our burgers at Shake Shack and still had a couple hours kill. We grabbed smoothies then just decided to start making our way to O'Hare.

It was an 8-hour flight from Chicago to Paris. The plane had 2 aisle-ways with 3 sets of 3 seats. Luckily, the husband and I had our own row in the middle section of seats, so he sat on one aisle, and I sprawled out in the other two seats. I played 3 different movies on the flight simply using the TVs and onboard entertainment. I was pleasantly surprised by the choices - I watched Instant Family, Something Borrowed, and A Simple Favor. I was in and out of sleep throughout each movie, but I would not say it was peaceful sleep by any means!

Food and drinks were free, including alcohol, so yes of course I had some wine! We had dinner (salad, bread, pasta, dessert) plus a snack plus breakfast (fruit and yogurt.) Even though I was exhausted, I still ended up waking up to eat each meal.

Pretty uneventful flight. We landed in Paris just before 10am local time. (Paris is 7 hours ahead of our central time zone.) Weird that there were no forms or anything Paris required to be filled out to enter the country. We simply had our passports stamped and got through customs really quickly. What ended up taking so long, however, was getting our subway passes. The best deal was to pay for a weekly train pass, but that required a headshot. We had to take turns standing in line at one of those photo booths to take these headshots, and it was super finicky - not just the camera part of it, but the paying part. It easily took our group an hour to get all of our photos taken. 

Jacket: Express | Wrap: Lululemon | Tee: CS Gems (Use CARYLEE15 for 15% off) | Leggings: Lululemon | Bag: Longchamp | Sneakers: Nike

Once we finally got onto the train, we hopped train after train, which also involved dragging our luggage around and carrying everything up and down and up and down and up and down flights of stairs. It was exhausting, especially after an already long travel night.

The last train we were getting on was full and only half our group made it on before the doors closed, so 3 of us had to wait for the next train. Luckily that train was pretty empty, but I was still crowded by a few people getting on. I felt someone put their hands on my backpack, so I quickly turned and looked over my right shoulder and saw an older lady standing pretty close to me. I was confused why since the train was so empty. I turned back forward and saw a guy directly to my left, again, wondering why he was so close to me in an empty train. I had my police officer friend just on the other side of that guy and my husband to my right.

Well, we got off that train and finally made our way up to street level. A friend in our group asked for someone's phone with service so he could map us to our AirBNB. I reached in my left jacket pocket, felt it unzipped, and immediately knew my phone had been taken. And all of a sudden the people crowding me made sense. I specifically remember having my phone and looking at it before getting on that train, so I know it had to have been taken right before our final destination. Needless to say, I screamed, I cried, I felt violated and was so upset.

You can spare me the lectures about what I could have done differently - it just makes me feel even worse than I already feel, and those lectures don't bring my phone back to me at this point. Yes, I knew pick pockets are huge there. We even watched the Netflix documentary to prepare us for it ahead of time!! But, I was most concerned about my backpack since I obviously don't have eyes at the back of my head. My phone was zipped in my jacket pocket, which I quickly forgot about as I'm frantically looking over my opposite shoulder to see who is trying to get into my backpack. It all happened so fast, too. My cop friend and my husband were right there and they also saw nothing. These guys are professionals. And according to one of our tour guides, they like to target Americans fresh from the airport with their luggage, women, and Asians. Check, check, and check. I basically had a big target on my back and who knows how long he (they) was scoping me out. I'm positive he was working with at least one or two other people.

I let myself feel sorry for myself that morning, but I wasn't going to let it ruin my trip. And that's a good place to end this post. I will start fresh in the next post with everything we did on day 2, which was our first official day in Paris!


  1. Looking forward to reading all about your trip. Thankfully, I haven't had problems with pick pockets but I have heard it happens and I am sorry it happened to you. I will be extra careful on our trip and hopefully we will be spared!

  2. I'm SO sorry you were pick-pocketed! (And surprised that anyone is lecturing you about what you should have done differently!?) Anyway, I'm looking forward to your posts on the next segments of your trip!