On June 22, our family of three took a vacation once school finished for the year. My husband and I traveled to London, Paris, and Rome (and other destinations) during the late 1990s and early 2000s before the birth of our son, so this trip was going to be different with the three of us.
We waited to travel to Europe with our son until he could appreciate the sights, sites, and foods. We gave him the opportunity to pick the cities. He chose:
London – We stayed at the JW Marriott in Mayfair with a king-sized bed and roll-out cot for our son. I loved the complimentary robes, slippers, and the heated towel racks. The oddest amenity was that the hairdryer could not be used in the bathroom; the outlet for the hairdryer was in the bedroom without any mirror. Odd.
Our first day in London, we jumped on the Hop-on/Hop-off bus for a tour of the city. At one point, the skies opened and it poured. Lucky for us, our bus driver had plastic ponchos for everyone.
We were there for BREXIT. How exciting that was! My husband anticipated riots and angry mobs- and being kicked out of our hotel for journalists – but the situation was quite the contrary. The British behaved very…British. We visited all the usual sites – Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, National Gallery (where Matthew picked out a picture for his room), Trafalgar Square, and our own personal tours. We walked up Oxford Street to the Nike Store where Matthew purchased two authentic soccer shirts from the money he made working last summer. Needless to say, our walk back to our hotel necessitated a need for some Peroni beer.
My husband doesn’t like to meander far from the hotel for his meals, so we found some terrific cafes/pubs/restaurants around the corner from the hotel. At the Audley Pub, Matthew experienced authentic fish and chips. We had the best – and I mean, the best – chicken caesar salad at Cafe Richoux the next evening. It was sweet as opposed to being garlicky.
Our best dinner was at Corrigans.The sommelier took a sip, in a small glass, of every wine bottle ordered before bringing it to the table. I want that job! My husband was in heaven because he had his Dover sole. For dessert, we ordered chocolate souffle. Matthew hated it – he felt the texture and flavor of the souffle tasted like a big, chocolate marshmallow. We finished our last night with pizza at Delfino’s on Mount Street. Naturally, after dinner, we found our way to the bar/lounge at our hotel for some wine.
Then, we took the Chunnel from London to…
Paris – We stayed at the Marriott Opera Hotel. We had a king-sized bed with a roll-out cot for Matthew. We were there the day France beat Ireland during the Euro2016. The streets were flooded with cheering crowds. I took a video from the Hop-on/Hop-off bus of the cheering crowd.
Our son wanted to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, so that’s what we did. My husband and I have been to Paris together on three other occasions (one being our honeymoon), but we never did go to the top.
We grabbed a taxi to find another soccer store and our driver suggested that we go to Boutique PSG on Champs Elysee. I didn’t know that we were going to the official Paris St. Germain team store. My son picked up two jerseys. Well, we needed a break from all that so we decided to have lunch/wine at an outdoor cafe. Next, we took a cab to Notre Dame. After that, we walked along the Seine where Matthew bought a painting of the Eiffel Tower.
The next day we visited Musee D’Orsay and had lunch at Les Deux Magots. Roger and I had drinks there during our honeymoon and we like to always go back. After that, we went to Maison Georges Larnicol for chocolates for my friend Angela. I bought chocolates for us; and Matthew ended up eating most of it.
We found, for us, the best restaurant our first night – Cafe Cordial. Roger and I ate pizza while Matthew ate ravioli. Odd, I know, eating Italian in a French country, but, my two men are fussy eaters. The next evening, Matthew wore his Paris St. Germain soccer shirt to Cafe Cordial and our waiter was eager to please Matthew. Another evening, we had dinner at Au Petite Riche. A perfect French restaurant for adults, but not a lot of options for kids. However, Matthew did great by ordering a chicken caesar salad. After dinner, we strolled back to Cafe Cordial to have a bottle of wine while Matthew had dessert.
We flew from Paris to…
Rome – We stayed at the JW Marriott on via Veneto by the Roman walls and across from Harry’s Bar. We walked into a round Junior suite. We had a king-sized bed and this time, Matthew had his own sofa bed. And, the complimentary robes and slippers were back!
We unpacked and headed to the Spanish Steps. Next, we walked to Trevi Fountain and wound our way back to our hotel. The next day we took the Hop-on/Hop-off bus around the city and went in search of the Pantheon. Our third day we had a group tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. The Basilica was closed because Pope Francis was giving a Mass. Our fourth day, we had a group tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Ruins. While we waited for the others to arrive, Gypsies were selling iced water bottles and hats. Naturally, we declined. Within minutes, the carabinieri (Italian police) arrived to chase the gypsies away. One left behind a hat, so I picked it up for Roger.
Roger wearing the “gypsy” hat
Even at 10 o’clock in the morning, it was too hot for Roger to handle, so we dropped out and found our way to having a Peroni and lunch.
After that great respite, we walked toward Piazza Popolo and stopped at another soccer store so that Matthew could get two more shirts. A few shops away, we stopped in to buy Roger some shirts. The shop was having a sale – buy two shirts and get the third shirt for one euro. So, we bought Roger three shirts! Our last day, Saturday, we visited Castel Sant’Angelo. This was my sixth trip to Rome and I have never been there. The castle was not crowded at all and there weren’t any guided tours, so Matthew directed me and Roger as to which rooms he wanted to see and how high up the castle to go. I think that was the best part of this portion of the trip.
Our first night, we had dinner on via Veneto at Baccala. They don’t serve pizza, but they serve Bruschetta, which came to our table like a pizza. Roger was in heaven again! The next day during our sightseeing excursions, we stopped for a Peroni in Piazza Navona before heading to the Pantheon. Somehow we got lost and what should have taken 20 minutes ended up being 2 hours. So, we had an early dinner at the Pantheon. After that, we taxied back to our hotel to have some wine at the bar in the hotel. The next evening after sightseeing, we had dinner at another cafe on via Veneto. Our last night we had dinner at the famous Harry’s Bar. We didn’t see any celebrities. After dinner, we strolled around via Veneto and wandered into the Grand Hotel where Roger and I had another glass of wine and Matthew had dessert.
For twelve days, the three of us were rather much in each other’s pockets – we shared a bathroom, sleeping area, and closet space. All in all, we managed to get along very well. We have funny stories amongst ourselves that don’t translate well to others. Thus, those are our memories.
On July 3, we had to head home.