Day 9: Paris: Disneyland
It was raining the morning we arrived back in Paris on the night train from Rome.
When we walked outside the Bercy station, a cab driver offered us a ride. It sounded tempting given the weather. I asked what it would coast. “150 Euros for everybody”. No thanks.
I still had a lot of Metro tickets left from the three carnets we bought after we arrived. So, we took our luggage and headed underground.
This would have been our last day, except our return flight had been cancelled a while back, and we were rescheduled to return the day after. So, this was an extra day in Paris we had not originally planned on.
I was able to book two free rooms on my Hilton Honors points at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe. When we arrived at the closest Metro station, we came up to an unfamiliar part of Paris.
We were standing around the steps that lead out of the Metro, looking up at the buildings around us to see if we could spot a Hilton logo. No good. Just then, a woman walked by and said, “Do you need help?”.
I told her that we were looking for the Hilton. She asked which one. I told her the one near the Arc de Triomphe. She looked at us and said, “That hotel is very expensive”. I told her that we already had reservations. She looked very surprised, and said, “follow me!”.
All you ever hear about the French in the U.S. is how rude they are to Americans. This lady was so nice to us. We made small talk as we walked up the street in the rain. Then she pointed out the Hilton and said, “Au revoir!”.
We came into our hotel, which was decorated in an art deco theme. I asked Jane and the kids to wait at some couches while I checked us in.
At the front desk I said, “Bonjour”, my greeting was returned in English. I handed over my American Express card and my Hilton Honors gold card.
The clerk informed me that they would not be able to provide us with the gold card upgrade. This happens from time to time, and it is understood that the upgrades are only given when guests paying for them do not already take the higher quality rooms.
I asked if our keys would admit us to the club lounge, where they have free drinks and snacks for gold card members. The clerk replied that they would not. I was surprised by this, and I reminded her that as a gold card member, I was entitled to access to the club room. She said that the room was too small. Instead she would give us 1,000 extra points and coupons for all five of us to have a free breakfast in the morning.
I accepted the compensation, but felt that we might have been discriminated against for being American I Paris. I filled out their comment card later expressing my feelings and how surprised I was that the only place we felt we were treated this way was in an American hotel chain. The hotel never answered my complaint. We had a pretty full day planned, so we might have never gotten to the club room anyway.
Erin, Luis, Casey and myself planned to go to Disneyland Paris. Jane wanted to use our extra Louvre ticket and go back and see more of the museum.
My vast research on the Paris public transportation system had indicated that the cheapest way for us to get around that day was to buy a Zone 5 Mobilis pass. This is a one day pass that is good for all modes of transportation and includes the area that Disneyland park is in. The cards cost 11 Euros per person. I remembered that the year before we took a shuttle, that cost 100 Euros each way. This was definitely a better deal.
We took the nearby metro and transferred to RER line A. It didn’t take very long at all, and we were at the park. The train station is very near the ticket office, actually much closer than the airport shuttle drop-off was last year. Erin noticed that we had forgotten all the cameras back at the hotel. I mentioned an article that I had recently read that said people get so into photographing their vacations that they don’t really take any time to experience them first hand. It didn’t seem like such a bad thing to not have to lug the video and digital cameras around for yet another day.
When we visited the park a year ago, around the same time, it was almost empty. This time it was packed. Every line took a long time. When we looked for a place to have lunch, most were full with long lines to get inside.
Finally, we found a place in Frontierland called “Cowboy Cookout Barbeque”. Now, I’m from Texas, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to Barbeque, so I thought it might be fun to see what they had inside. It turned out to mainly be McDonalds quality burgers and fries.
They had one of those lines where you can go to either side, making it look like two lines, but there is only one person handling both sides, so it took a long time. When we finally got up there, the girl at the register was helping the people on the other side.
It was a guy and his three kids. We stood there for what felt like about a half hour, while he asked for an explanation of virtually every item on the menu. The longer it went on, the more we wanted to strangle the guy. When he finally got his order done, the girl asked me what we wanted, and right in the middle of me telling her she turned to talk to the next person on the other side.
It’s odd that twice in the same day, I experienced what Americans feel is French rudeness, but both times in American owned establishments.
We finally got our food, and it was terrible. But, we ate it anyway.
Casey wanted to ride the Big Thunder Railway, which had the longest ride in the park. While we waited forever in that line, we were listening to little French girls talk. I told Erin and Luis to imagine that they weren’t speaking French, but were actually speaking English backwards. It was almost spooky how much squeaky French little girl voices sound like backward English.
Later, Erin and Luis wanted to go on Space Mountain, but Casey was afraid to, so I sat out with her. I bought some popcorn from a cart. I was surprised when I tasted it and instead of being salty, it was sugary. I’m not sure if this is how popcorn is served in France, or if it was supposed to be sweet. It tasted like they put sugar in the oil before they popped it, because the sugar was sort of melted to the corn. Not gooey like popcorn balls, just sugar stuck to each piece.
Casey wanted to go on the teacups, so we took her on those and spun the cups as hard as we could. We all got off feeling like we wanted to barf, but we managed to keep it in.
Just before the park was going to close, we talked Casey into going on Space Mountain. In the line, I noticed that it was about 7:30pm, and the park was closing at 8:00pm. I used my cell phone to call the hotel and let Jane know that we would be starting back in a half hour. She told me that she had a really good day visiting the Louve and Pere Lachaise cemetery.
When we got off Space Mountain, it was time for the park to close, but we saw the line and people were still going in, so we went in again. We noticed when we got up front that nobody was behind us. We were the last people on the ride that day.
After leaving the park, we were ready for some dinner. We walked over to the Downtown Disney area where they had many of the same restaurants that you see at Disneyland in Anaheim. Rain Forest Café, Planet Hollywood, etc. All were packed with lines stretching out the door. We decided to get on the train and head back to Paris and find something to eat there.
Sitting on the train back to Paris, I remarked to Erin and Luis how nice it was to be able to take the train back. We have been to Disneyland in Anaheim too many times to count, and I always dread that ride back to the Valley. It still amazes me that with so much money in Southern California, we are still so far behind the rest of the world in public transportation.
We transferred from the RER to the Metro, and got off near our hotel. As we came up from the underground, I didn’t see any restaurants around, so I reached for my cell phone to call Jane and ask what time room service at the hotel stopped.
There was no cell phone. All I had was an empty belt clip!
At first I thought it was no big deal, since it was just a cheap phone I won in an Ebay auction for the trip. Then, I realized it had SIMM card from my Nextel phone that I carry at home. This chip is the heart and soul of the modern cell phone. You are probably better off just losing the entire phone that to lose the SIMM. I started to get upset.
I asked Luis if I could use his phone to call the hotel, he handed it to me. I called Jane and found out that room service stoped at 10:00pm. It was 9:30pm, so we needed to hurry.
When we got back to the hotel, we ordered room service quickly so we could make the cut-off. Then I tried to figure out how to get in touch with Nextel. I remembered that they have a customer service number 1-800-NEXTEL-9, but you can’t call a US based 800 number from Europe.
I was able to use my Net2Phone calling card to dial into their system in the US, and from there call the Nextel 800 number. I explained the situation to the Nextel agent, and he cut off my account so an unauthorized person could not use the phone. I had no idea if it had just slipped off my belt on a ride, or a train after I called Jane, or if someone had actually stolen it. I would have to wait to get the bill to find out.
Dinner came, and we ate and talked about our day. Tired from all the activity we went to bed at about 10:30pm.
Next…We spend our final night in Europe. The Hilton CDG Airport upgrades us to two fantastic connected suites!
But first….We didn’t have our cameras this whole day, so there aren’t any pictures to share. EXCEPT… this one taken of us by Disneyland on Space Mountain: