Silver lining: we got a bonus day in Europe! But the reason for the bonus day was a total nightmare.
So, we caught the train from Paris back to Germany because our flight home was from Germany to Miami.
Our train back to Germany. We had to sit in the luggage compartment because there weren't enough seats. Little Levi has his feet propped up on a stranger's suitcase.
But what is the one and only thing we needed to fly back to the United States? The only thing we couldn't leave without? Not one, but three passports were still sitting in the safe in our hotel room in Paris. And we were in Germany. And I didn't remember until four hours before our flight.
So we went to the airport anyway, because we didn't know what else to do. We talked to the airline and rescheduled our flight for the following morning. We had exactly 24 hours to get our passports from Paris and get back to the airport.
We used the payphone (who uses payphones anymore? Us, apparently. Not only were our cellphones not international, but they weren't charged either) to call the hotel in Paris. But they hadn't looked in the safe when we checked out, and there was someone new staying in that room. So they didn't know if our passports were there or not. Then they transferred me to the concierge to find out if he could send our passports to us in Germany. He wasn't sure. After some back-and-forth, I finally got the sense to call our friends Tom and Jenny, who were still in Paris and thankfully were still in their hotel room. They said they would get it worked out. When I called them back, they told us the hotel had our passports, but it would cost 1000 euros to ship them to us in time for our flight.
We had already paid an arm and a leg to rebook our flight home, so we were feeling a big fat NO to another 1000 euro charge. Instead, we rented a car for the day and drove to Paris, picked up our passports, and drove back to Germany.
It was a long drive (more than 5 hours each way), but a really beautiful one.
We drove through Germany, Belgium, and France, and got to see the location (and cemetery) of the Battle of the Somme. And Levi got to drive really, really fast on the Autobahn!
I was sure little Levi was going to flip out. He had already been wearing thin the last few days and showing signs that he was ready to go home. But miraculously (and I mean that literally), he was an angel.
It certainly helped to have a tablet computer filled with games, Elmo, and Yo Gabba Gabba.
But even taking the tablet into consideration, he was extremely good.
I think he is just so cute when he naps in weird places.
We made a few pit stops, and even tried out a Belgian McDonald's.
At the gas station.
Our credit card wouldn't work at the Belgian McDonald's, and we didn't have hardly any cash left. So the manager comped us about 50 cents on our meal, thankfully.
It was exciting and nerve wracking to drive in Paris. It's practically impossible to see the street signs. We did rent a GPS along with the car, and definitely would not have been able to function without it. We made it to the hotel, got our passports, bought some grapes and a baguette (little Levi, picky eater that he is, pretty much lived on grapes and baguettes the entire trip), and turned around and went back to Germany.
We got back to Dusseldorf around midnight, got a few hours of shut eye (little Levi wouldn't sleep in the crib so he bunked down with me), and went back to the airport. And this time, voila! Smooth sailing all the way home.
The flight to Germany. How precious is he? Like an airplane Moses in a polyester river basket.
Our flight home was over 10 hours long, and during the day. Traveling to Germany was an overnight flight, and little Levi slept in the plane's bassinet pretty much the entire flight. But I was incredibly nervous about having to entertain him the whole way home.
But he was such a champ! Again, nothing short of a miracle. The flight was pretty empty this time, so the seat next to us was available and he was able to have his own seat. He napped, he watched cartoons, he colored, he made friends with a kid behind us. I was overjoyed.
And then we were home! I have to say, I was glad to be back. It was amazing trip, but it was an exhausting trip. It was worth the exhaustion, though. It's a trip we won't forget.
Well, little Levi probably already forgot. But I won't.