Life involves misadventures; it sometimes feels like there are more of them during travel because of the unfamiliar environment and non-native languages. Here are some during this trip:

  • Everett lost his retainer. He is a very responsible kid, and Chris had just mentioned the night before how responsible he was being with his retainer (this might have jinxed it). One night at bedtime the retainer was nowhere to be found, and we had another month of travel ahead of us. We looked everywhere in the apartment and found nothing. Then we went through the garbage in the apartment. Then we went to the trash room downstairs and found the bag we put in the bin that morning. We went through that and found his retainer! All we had to do now is figure out how to clean it. We considered using boiling water or gin but called the orthodontist and they said to use warm soapy water and an old toothbrush. Chemicals are appealing for their disinfectant properties, but many of them have adverse effects of soft plastic. In the end we got it clean and his retainer was back in use the next night.
  • Gwen got bonked in the head with the back wheel of a road bike. This wasn’t as bad as it sounds. There was a group of cyclists who decided to take their road bikes into the Arc de Triomphe. Why? Who knows. This required carrying their bikes down a flight of stairs, under the Charles de Gaulle Étoile, through the ticket window and then up a flight of stairs to be at street level under the arch. Did they also carry their bikes up 284 steps in the spiral staircase to the top of the monument? Maybe. We saw them when they were at the ticket window when one of the spun around with his bike and bonked Gwen in the head with his back wheel. She was fine. Several strangers who watched it were the most upset about the whole thing than we were. The cyclist was so oblivious he never even realized what happened.
  • Ted had a couple mishaps with the turnstiles and exit gates from the Metro because they close very fast and he hadn’t quite mastered the timing. He would approach the doors and they would open, then he would hesitate for a moment to see if they were going to stay open, then lunge through. This was not a recipe for success because the doors closed a couple times when he was halfway through. One time his hand got caught in the exit gate. Another time he got squeezed between the exit doors. We also noticed that the three-bar turnstiles would sometimes bonk him in the back of the head as he entered the Metro.
  • Also on the topic of the Metro: Chris and Melissa have 1 week Navigo (proximity) passes, while for the kids we bought carnets of tarif réduit tickets. Several times Chris discovered that his pass wouldn’t work, and we would have to find an agent to help us through. What we eventually figured out was that in the process of putting each of the children’s tickets into the turnstile, the proximity sensor was detecting Chris’ card which was in his hand, and it then wouldn’t work when he went in last. We solved this by having Melissa hold the proximity cards until the kids were through.
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