Travel Log – October 2018

Day 1

We set off to Hull around Sunday lunch time. Checked in, and waited to board the ferry. We waited a while but the process was relatively straight forward.

Once on board a speedy check in to the room allowed us to settle and sort the sleeping arrangements for the night – both boys bagged the top bunks.

After a quick play on the new beds, we headed out to explore the ferry. We wandered around the shops, checked out the bars and sat down for a cheeky drink before the restaurant opened.

The restaurant was an all you can eat buffet style and the boys soon found themselves food they could eat. We were even complimented (again) on their behaviour. Super boys!

We armed ourselves with a selection of curries, some rice and poppadoms – and of course a beer each.  However once fed and watered, the boys were extremely tired. We retreated to the rooms, PJs on, and within a few minutes or so most of us were asleep. The beds were reasonably comfy and although there were some noises around the room, in the main we slept well. We didn’t hear a peep from any of the boys before we were awakened by the captain at 7am.  It was a bit of a shock though as we had forgotten the clock change. Arghhh.

Day 2

After breakfast in the restaurant (and making sure we were extremely full), we were instructed to go to our cars and we were ready to disembark the ferry. The boys chose a movie, we set up the sat nav and checked the speed limits. We headed swiftly through passport control and were off. Making sure we kept to the right side (not the correct side!) of the road, we started our journey through Zeebrugee, through Bruges and on our way to France.

The sat nav provided excellent instruction, and with only one toilet and food shop needed, we arrived first time at the campsite – miracles really do happen!

We checked in at reception and friendly staff had reserved us a perfect spot, cordoned off by trees and allowing for privacy.

Once we were set up for the day, we explored the local area making sure we knew where the supermarket was, and the train station ready for our trip to Paris on Wednesday.  We explored the site and find brilliant facilities for showering and toilets and after a long journey, we headed for a reasonably early night, ready to start our Parisian adventures tomorrow.

Day 3

We woke a little later than expected, having gone to bed reasonably early. It’s amazing how tired the boys actually were!

We sorted our things and headed out to Disneyland Paris – we had not told the boys where we were heading.  We followed the Sat Nav – around 30 minutes it said, so not too bad.  However, the sat nav was taking us one way, and the signs the other – we followed the signs. The eldest then worked out where we were heading and much excitement followed from the rear seats.

Upon entering Disneyland Paris, you queue (get used to this, its a theme for the day) to pay to park.  It is expensive (another theme for the day) at 20 euros – she nearly charged us for a camper van, and we hadn’t realised you could actually camper van at Disneyland Paris – although it is not clear what facilities are available, and we suspect there is no toilet for overnighters, having seen the car park area.

We had already pre purchased our tickets, but still had to queue at the kiosk to convert them to actual tickets, which was somewhat annoying. Once we had our tickets, we queued to enter the park. This took just over an hour!!  We were finally in the park. It was at first a bit overwhelming, and very very busy.  We headed straight to Fantasyland as we thought the boys would get the most benefit from the rides in these park areas. We looked at the Buzz Lightyear ride but with a wait time of 90 minutes, we thought we may want to come back to this. Most of the other rides had waits of between 45 minutes and one hour. While this was a lengthy wait time, the boys found it almost bearable.  We managed to do the rides the boys wanted and even squeezed in the mini parade around lunch time.  After the parade we did need food and headed to one of the “fast food” restaurants – again we had to queue and the service wasn’t the best, getting our order wrong, overcharging, and forgetting the ice cream. It was very expensive and cost us around fifty pounds for hot dog and chips each- eeek.

Following food, we were refuelled and in much better moods, so headed back to the rides, and into Discoveryland. The Peter Pan ride came highly recommended but with a queue time of 100 minutes we unfortunately passed this one by. By this time some of the other rides queue times were around 30 to 40 minutes, so this was more bearable.

We did however take full advantage of the parade at 5.30pm, and while the parade was on, we headed back to the Buzz Lightyear ride, where we queued around 30 minutes instead. This was our favourite ride of the day – although I’m sure some team members cheated to achieve their high scores!!!

After the ride we headed back to the car park – remembering where we parked was essential as the car park is almost as big as the theme park itself. We were heading home reasonably early, leaving at 6.30pm, however we have a big day planned tomorrow and need to be up early. The park however continues and as we were leaving, people were just arriving. We plan to go back later in the week and arrive later, and maybe even see if we can last to the fireworks. Time will tell,  but for now, we are heading back to the campsite tired but happy and looking forward to a long day tomorrow (well maybe).

Day 4

Well, alarms were set for 5.30am. We had a route planned thanks to the lovely lady at the reception of our campsite, however panic had set in Tuesday evening as to whether this trip to the Eiffel Tower was a good idea or not. The tour started at 9.15am.  When booking, the 9.15am slot was the only one available, and we had heard crazy things about queue times, so we opted for the 9.15am tour to make sure we actually made it with minimal waiting times.

We were up and dressed and ready for 5.50am, so woke two tired boys, dressed them, wrapped them in blankets, fed them a brioche and headed to the train station. Parked up and in anticipation we headed for the ticket machine. We were given details (again by the campsite ladies) as to the tickets we needed, and the times of the trains. After a few attempts, we purchased the relevant tickets. We boarded the train (again after checking it was the right one – we did say panic had set in!) and headed upstairs, oh yes, this train had an upstairs and took our seats. After a short journey, maybe half an hour or so, we arrived at our first destination. This stop was a kind of London Euston stop, where the trains come in and out, and the metro/underground is also located. We headed to the underground to find our stop for the Eiffel Tower – again, information given to us by the campsite. The underground is very similar to London and easy to navigate once you know where you are going.

On arrival at our Eiffel Tower train station, the Tower itself was signposted so easy enough to follow.  Although once outside the train station, I did half expect to see the Tower right in front of us. In fact, we head to head briefly round the corner, but oh my goodness once you see it, it is amazing.

As we were on a time slot, we headed straight to the Tower. It wasn’t really clear how to get there and we simply decided to make our way to as close to the bottom of the Tower as possible. It is an easy 15 minute walk to the entrance, which is currently covered by perspex walls, meaning you have to walk a long way round. Also noteworthy, is that there are no toilets nearby, and the toilets inside do not open until 9.30am. As our tour was at 9.15am, this meant that we had to wait until we reached the first floor, around an hour later, to find the toilets.

Although we had tickets, we were told by the tour guides, who met us outside the security check in, that we would still have to queue to get in (in the no tickets queue). A bag check was completed and we were inside the Eiffel Tower.  We met our guides and avoided the queues for buying tickets that day. The tickets that we had did not included lift access to the first and second floors. This meant that we walked to these floors. It wasn’t too bad and the seven year old was fine. The three year old however did need carrying, but we anticipated this and took the sling carrier. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, but the tour was simply too long for children.  The tour was two hours, and we hadn’t even reached the top of the Tower. The guide did not however take us to the top and the tour stopped on the second floor. The first floor does have access to food, drinks and toilets as well as shops. The second floor only has one small tourist shop.

Once on the second floor we were able to access the lift to the top floor. You do however need to have bought this in advance as you cannot buy them once on the second floor. Again, we had to queue, but to be honest the queue times weren’t too bad and we had heard horror stories of this.

The journey to the top is relatively short, but wow what a view you get. I thought it was amazing from the first and second floors but this took it to a whole new level. It is however busy at the top and there is little room to see, with everyone trying to take photographs of the same thing. With photographs taken, we headed back down. Our ticket only took us back where we started, to the second floor and therefore we had to walk back down to the bottom from the second floor. The boys were amazing and we were super proud of them. What an achievement.

After this, we thought the boys would be tired. Littlest was, and had a little sleep, but the biggest was ready for more adventures. We wanted to go to the Digital Art Museum, and trekked across town – however once there the notice said tickets were sold out. When I had checked online before travelling there were hundreds left. Argghhhh. Anyway, we decided to head back towards the Eiffel Tower and walk the gardens. The eldest really wanted to stay to see the Tower at night, but it was unlikely to happen.

We walked through the gardens and found a park which the boys played on for around an hour while we soaked up the views of the Tower and enjoyed people watching.  We then headed to find icecream, and candy floss, and caught some dancers putting on a show too.  The boys enjoyed chasing pigeons and spent every opportunity doing so.

The area around the Eiffel Tower is simply amazing in my view. It is somewhat ruined by the many many people trying to sell you replica Eiffel Towers and keyrings, but they are not pushy and can be told no.

We finally headed home, tired but having achieved our goal of seeing and climbing the Eiffel Tower.  The boys fell asleep almost immediately, and we sat and contemplated our day, with a well earned glass of Prosecco in the Bongo. Fun times.

Day 5

We had a bit of a later start this morning, exploring the campsite first and finding a park to play on, followed by a game of hide and seek with walkie talkies. Once some energy had been used up, we headed our to the Disneyland Studios. I thought the boys would like the studios, but they were unsure at first. We headed through Studio 1, which is the main eating and shopping area, and walked towards Stitch Live. The boys were looking forward to the best of all. I do have to say however that Live is a bit of an exaggeration – I was expecting to see a large Stitch on stage, but this was in interactive show with Stitch on screen. Don’t get me wrong it was good, and Stitch interacted with the audience and was able to recall and repeat back names and information given to him. The boys enjoyed the show and Stitch has secured himself as a favourite in their hearts.

We then headed to Armageddon. The boys were not sure about this as the description says it can be frightening. This isn’t a ride, but a special effects experience. It shows you how special effects are used in films. It is dark and can make you jump, but the boys did enjoy it.

Next, we headed for what is probably the boys favourite part of the day… the car stunt show. Both boys were thrilled by this. Car chases, acrobatics, stunts, fire and some show secrets (I won’t give them away!). The youngest really did not want to come away from this show.

We wandered around the park some more and found a few more rides, but at this point we were back to queuing. The queues are not however as bad as in the park. We managed to get on the majority of the rides in the park, and decided that as it was reasonably warm and the boys weren’t that tired yet, that we would grab some food and then try to stay awake for the fireworks.

We explored the Disney Village for a little while to find somewhere to eat and this clearly is a whole experience on its own at night time. The area comes to life with lights and even some mini shows to keep you entertained. We found sanctuary in King Ludwig’s Castle restaurant and the biggest was clearly happy with the menu, ordering a variety of sausages with sauerkraut – a firm favourite.  The boys meals included a drink and dessert, although expensive compared with UK restaurants. The food was great, the restaurant was atmospheric and the staff extremely friendly.

Fed and watered, and a little more wrapped up, we took the plunge and headed to Disneyland Park in anticipation of the fireworks.  We found a spot in front of Cinderella’s castle and were poised for the firework display. It was very crowded and can be difficult for the little ones to see. The firework display was however well worth it and the boys were fascinated by the lights, music and of course the fireworks. Disney clearly do put on a truly amazing show and it was well worth keeping the children awake until 10pm to watch. The littlest fell asleep immediately on the way out and the bigger one managed to make it all the way to the car! The walk from the park to the carpark is quite a big one – so be prepared.

We had a brilliant night, although late and tired, the boys went to bed happy and having had a fab time.

Day 6

We finally woke, following our late night at the firework display. We had a lazy start to the day and had agreed to let the boys decide where we should go today. They decided they wanted to go back to the Studios. We headed straight to Ratatouille. After queuing for around 45 minutes, the ride broke and there was no estimated time it would be fixed. Rather than wait too much longer, the boys asked if they could go on the Buzz Lightyear ride, so we headed out of the studios and into the Disneyland Park- and straight for Buzz Lightyear.  It looked at first as if this too was broken,  but just at the right time, they started to let people into the queue. The queue time was around an hour, but by this time we were pros at queuing and had brought with us the boys games to play.  The boys were happy and entertained and there was no climbing on fences or arguing for the hour. We were also armed with food and drink!

After some cheating by the biggest member of the family on the Buzz Lightyear ride, we were ready to purchase the gifts the boys had waited for all week, before the start of the parade, which we promised we could stay for at the beginning of the week.  We found a spot on the high street at the front and were entertained by park security staff while we waited – clapping, dancing and singing with the crowds.

The parade did not disappoint and the boys were mesmorised by the floats, dancers, characters and songs. Most of the characters waved as they passed by, and some even blew a cheeky kiss. It was great to see the Disney characters come to life.

Shortly after the parade ended, the rain started and it was time to head home. We were pleased that we stayed for the fireworks display last night, as tonight was just too cold and wet and we really would not have enjoyed it as much. We wrapped up and headed back to the camper van for food, drinks and bed. The boys did an amazing bedtime. We packed up our things ready for a quick departure in the morning. Prosescco to finish the night and we finally fell asleep.

Day 7

So, today was the end of our stay in France.  Although, we did not have lengthy journey to the ferry, we wanted to make sure we were giving ourselves enough time for traffic delays and toilet stops etc. We woke around 7am to get ourselves dressed and packed up, and take the awning down etc, before waking the boys. After such lovely weather this week, we were surprised to find frost – and in fact the awning and poles were frozen. We packed quickly as it was extremely cold, then woke the boys. The boys stayed in onesies, wrapped in sleeping bags, before the car warmed through.

Once on our way, sat nav made sure we were on the right track and with a mini stop for petrol, we arrived at the ferry port in just under 4 hours. The boys watched films on the way and we were able to watch the views pass us by while the mist lifted and the sun began to shine through. This was however very brief, as it then started a downpour – and did not stop.

At the ferry terminal we picnic-ed and waited to check in. Check in was seamless and we played games and waited for boarding.

Once again boarding was straight forward, with us heading straight to our room, once we had collected the keys and we were set to sail at 7pm.

We explored the ferry briefly, as this time we were sailing on the Pride of Bruges. We decided to chill in the bar area with a beer before heading back to the room for brief refresh and relax and then headed to the restaurant for an evening meal. Although it seems expensive, the price you pay includes all you can eat food, soft drinks and hot drinks, and breakfast.  3 year old and under eat free.

After we had eaten it was time for bed.  We hadn’t really appreciated that the clocks would change by 2 hours on our return journey, so even though it was now close to 9pm, it was in fact only 7pm!

In any event, we headed to bed and the boys fell asleep reasonably quickly.  The journey was however somewhat “bumpy” and I’m not sure the biggest ones slept that much. The youngest two then woke around 5.30am – eeeek, and really did not want to go back to sleep. The ferry “offers” a wake up service, and bing bongs the entire boat at 6.30am. We were up and ready for breakfast at 7am, and fully re-fuelled again, the boys headed to the soft play area while we waited to disembark, ready for our journey home.

Fab holiday, family adventures and great memories.