So wow, its been over a week since I last update, but its been an amazing/crazy/emotional/cold/expensive sort of a week!!
Last Tuesday we set off from our home in Lincolnshire – myself, my partner Chris, and my two daughters Megan and Lily – to go down to Dover. We had a Premier Inn booked for that evening, before catching a P&O ferry, early on Wednesday morning. The journey down to Dover was fairly smooth and slightly more enjoyable than a normal ride, since we had borrowed my mum’s (relatively new) car. It took us about 3 and a half hours but we managed the whole way there without stops (not even toilet breaks, which is usually unheard of!). We checked in at Premier Inn around 5pm and booked a table at the nearby Beefeater for half past five. It didn’t take us long to dump our bags, grab a quick cup of tea and head over to the pub next door.
|Please excuse me in the picture, but it was late and I was tired! – Having dinner at the Beefeater “The Plough” in Dover|
Dinner was really nice, at the time it didn’t seem especially cheap, though in honesty after going to Disneyland it somehow felt a lot less expensive in hindsight. We headed back to the Premier Inn – which while I’m mentioning it was really nice. I’m usually a Travelodge person as they’re much cheaper generally, but Premier Inn surprised me with its little extras and attention to detail, that Travelodge skips over. Anyway it was almost 9pm and so everyone got ready for bed, even Chris and I. We’d figured we’d lay in bed quietly so the girls would sleep, but turned out we were exhausted and actually decided to go to sleep too. That said it was probably 10pm before any of us actually did, after a million “goodnights” and hugs.
The next morning we were up about 6.30am with the plan to leave about 7.30am. It was only about 10 minutes to Dover port and so it was fairly quick and simple to get there on time. At the Ferry Port we checked in and queued up, only finding it about 10 minutes before we were actually loading onto the boat. Once on, we all went for a wander on deck, looked around and froze a little. It was a beautifully sunny day but it wasn’t half chilly! The girls were loving it all though as it was their first time on a Ferry.
After it got a little too cold, we headed back inside for a while. However we all wanted to see the boat actually leave dock, so we nipped outside again for a few minutes just as that was happening. Finally though as we had set off, we headed to the food court to get some breakfast. It was now just gone 8.30am and we were starving – well all except my partner Chris… would discovered he got seasick!!
The girls didn’t fancy the full english fry-up that Chris and I had, and instead ended up with the first of many pain au chocolat and croissants. We all sat excitedly and ate our food, again – until Chris needed to excuse himself for five minutes as his stomach churned!
Lucky for us, he wasn’t sick but we did all go out on deck again for some fresh air. This time we only managed about 5 minutes as it was bitterly cold actually out at sea. Instead we settled in for the journey, finding some seats with a good view and entertaining ourselves with conversation about what we’d do on holiday.
As we all got called back to our cars, Chris and I made sure the car was ready to travel abroad. I was incredibly nervous as I’d never driven abroad before, let alone on the opposite side of the road. We put on the headlight adjuster stickers (but goddamn those instructions are difficult to figure out!), changed the car to km per hour instead of miles per hour, swapped from UK map to France map on the SatNav, and advanced the clock an hour! We were ready…. well except for the petrol light that flashed to tell us we were almost out of petrol!!
As soon as we got off the ferry, we headed into the nearest part of Calais we could find, to get some petrol. It was a really good price and so we filled up the car – approximately £80. We then set the SatNav to Disneyland Paris and we were off! Only another 3 hours and we would be there, everyone was super excited!
On our way to the eastern side of Paris, we decided it might be great to drive into Paris itself and show the girls a few of the sights, just on a drive by. The last time we’d been to Disneyland (with my ex husband, rather than my current partner – and the girls aged 1 and 4) I’d insisted on seeing the Eiffel Tower, even though it was about 10pm at night. This time I wanted to see it in the daylight. However it was cracking on for well past 1pm and although the girls hadn’t mentioned lunch, I knew it wouldn’t be long. We stopped off at a Supermarket, grabbed some pain au lait (bread) and some jambon (ham), along with some good old fromage (cheese! which was actually edam lol). With a few drinks and a packet of biscuits, we made our way back to the car and had ourselves a little picnic, before setting off on our way again.
Once again the SatNav didn’t even register the Eiffel Tower’s existance, so we set it for the Cathedral of Notre Dame instead. I knew already that wasn’t far from the Eiffel Tower and was determined to find it again. Luckily the drive through Paris wasn’t as difficult as I’d worried about, though I did end up in a bus lane at one point and panicked, plus traffic was so thick it took us well over 30 minutes to travel about a mile down the road. Motorcyclists in France/Paris are mental. Just a heads up!
On our trip through Paris we saw Notre Dame, the Palace, the Opera House, the National Assembly, the Eiffel Tower and of course a few other things too. This picture above is by far my favourite picture of all the ones I managed to snap whilst
driving stationary at traffic lights. Finally though we were done with the sightseeing. It was 30 minutes to Disneyland Paris and the accommodation we would be staying in and so we headed off, excited again, on our way to Davy Crockett’s Ranch.
The Ranch was really easy to find and simply to navigate. Check in was a nightmare as the queue was huge and they seemed to be having all sorts of issues with giving people wrong keys and so on. However after about an hour we eventually got everything we needed and headed off to our own cabin. It was simple but had everything we really needed. There was a bedroom with bunks for the kids, a bedroom with a double for myself and Chris, a toilet by itself, a separate bath with shower over it and sink in the bathroom, and then a good sized room that acted as kitchen, diner and lounge. We unpacked first, then sat down for a coffee before heading down the road to the “village” part of the Davy Crockett’s ranch.
We bought some things for dinner at the onsite shop, but it was incredibly expensive. For a couple of packs of pasta, some pasta sauce, a french baguette, some yoghurts and a bottle of wine, it was about 35 Euros. However we sucked it up as we had prepared ourself for an expensive holiday and after another wander to see what else was around the village, we went back to the cabin to make dinner. After pasta, wine, plenty of giggles and even a start on the kids scrapbooks, everyone headed to bed. It was about 9pm french time, which of course was only 8pm UK time (the time we’d set off on) but we were all bushed again. We decided not to set an alarm at all and just get up when the kids did.
Next morning, Megan woke us at about 8am. Our accommodation at Disneyland Paris, because it was official Disney accommodation, allowed us something called Early Bird Entry to the parks. This meant we could get in from 8am, while others from 10am. However it had been a long couple of days and we wanted a relaxing holiday, not a rush. So instead of doing a mad dash, we all took our time to get ready. I made the girls breakfast with some cereal we had brought from home, while Chris headed out to get our complimentary “Breakfast Baskets”. He was gone ages and the girls had finished breakfast, I’d had a cup of tea and we were all dressed before he was back. However he brought so many goodies with him, that it was well worth the wait!
Since the girls had already eaten, they managed half a croissant each. I had one and Chris had two. There was jam, butter and nutella to go with them, along with orange juice, milk, coffee and hot chocolate, with sugar too. There were also 8 small crusty rolls, which we used to pack up a lunch, along with some of the pain au lait which was left from the day before. Once we were sure we had everything we needed, we set off to Disneyland Parks, ready for the first of two days we had there.
On our first day in the parks, Thursday, we had decided to tackle Disneyland Park itself. It was the main one we’d come for and stupidly the last time we’d visited (only for one day) we’d spent too long in the Studio park and not left ourselves long enough for the other. It was cold and so we were all wrapped up in coats, gloves, hats and so on, however the sun was shining and the sky was really blue.
I have a folder on Facebook with over 600 photos, so I won’t bore you all with too many, or waffle on about what we did too much. From about 11am (when we actually got into the park after collecting tickets) till almost 9pm, we were in the Disneyland Park. We went on a few rides including the carousel, the flying Dumbo ride and Thunder Mountain. We met Mickey Mouse (queued for 90 minutes) and Snow White (queued for 60 minutes, not even knowing which princess it would be). We went in Alice’s maze, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, tried to pull the Sword from the Stone, watched the Disney Magic Parade, shopped till we dropped, ate incredibly expensive (and not especially nice) food and watched THE MOST AMAZING fireworks/lights show that I have ever seen. (There is a little video on the Disneyland Paris website itself, that gives you a glimpse of the Disney Dreams show – check it out!)
Cold and tired, we made our way out of the park and back to the cabin. It was a lot like staying in a caravan to be honest, colder than you would like, but simplistic. The girls were in bed for 9.30pm and Chris and I weren’t far behind them at 10pm. We’d all had hot chocolate before bed, made sure we’d left the heaters on a little higher than the night before but again set no alarm for the morning. We slept soundly till 7.30am the next morning, when this time it was Lily’s turn to wake us.
Again the girls had breakfast while Chris went to get the breakfast baskets. He was much faster this time and we all enjoyed more croissants, more bread, more coffee and so on. This morning we were checking out however, so we had to leave the place tidy as well as pack. We had most of what we needed to pack lunch up for this day too, but a quick stop at the shop was needed again. After everything was packed back into the car, we headed down to the onsite shop again. We got some more ham, along with a few souvenirs. We then headed back to Disneyland parks, making our lunch in the car before heading inside. Today (Friday) was to be spent at the Studios Park.
Believe it or not, it was actually even colder this day. The temperature all day got no higher than minus one! While we still had a great day, I have to admit the cold really did take the edge of our enjoyment. However we were lucky that two out of the three shows we wanted to watch were indoors, so we busied ourselves first with Animagique and then Cinemagique, before braving the outside properly for a look around. We ate lunch inside the studio entrance, continuing to stay warm by doing a little shopping. However we headed back out to buy some coffee and watch the Stars ‘n’ Cars Parade, before heading off to watch the Stunt Show. Finally we were too cold and we’d really just had enough. We managed to find a little more effort to queue and meet Pluto (5 minutes) and Minnie Mouse (what looked like 20 but turned out to be more like 60 minutes) before finally calling it a day. To keep warm we made our way out of the park, via pretty much every shop. The girls spent up their euros they’d brought with them and I bought a few gifts to bring home for myself and friends. We were back at the car for about 5pm and set off back towards Calais and our trip home.
Lily slept early on in the car journey, while Megan played on the iPad. However we stopped for dinner at a services, barely managing to find something that the kids would eat (read: they ended up with pain au chocolat and croissants again!) We were still far too early for our ferry, but we headed onwards that way anyway. When you know that ferry crossing is really your only way back home, you want to make sure you catch it!
Neither girl slept again before we got to the ferry port at 9.30pm. We queued up in the lanes and knew it would be ages before we were boarding the ferry, but by then it was about 10pm. The one terminal building their seemed to be, had only toilets open and no coffee or food, so we all stayed in the car. At about 11pm we got to boarding and this time we went straight onto the boat to find somewhere to settle in for the evening. I selected us somewhere with a long sofa/bench so that if the girls wanted to sleep they could. Chris went to get us coffee.
Though I wasn’t actually asleep (and its an awful picture!) both girls did manage some sleep. Megan got the most, which was no surprise since she hadn’t slept at all in the car and it was now heading towards midnight. Lily is stubborn and didn’t want to sleep but finally just conked out at about quarter past twelve. As the ferry docked again, we couldn’t get either girl awake and so Chris carried Megan, while I carried Lily (as well as all our stuff!). Lily did actually stir and found it most amusing that we couldn’t wake Megan, especially as Megan had been so adamant about not falling asleep in the car. Just as we were getting to the car, rushing and struggling, Megan woke – looking most dazzed – but enough to get herself in and we were ready. Chris had suffered even worse this time from seasickness, I had a banging headache and the girls were looking rough. We had originally planned to continue driving back from Dover to Lincolnshire if we could manage it, sleeping at a service station car park if we had needed to. However in the end we made a decision to head back to the Premier Inn we stayed in the first night and see if they had a room.
Luckily for us, we grabbed the last family room at Premier Inn, though at a sting of £65. However in that moment we didn’t care and fifteen minutes after arriving there, we were all changed, in bed and on our way to sleep. The next morning we woke up, had a makeshift breakfast of cereal out of Tupperware boxes and then packed up and sorted out all our things. Everyone had a bath or shower, loads of tea and coffee and finally we felt alive enough to carry on.
We set off from Dover and had a very pleasant and smooth journey home. We stopped for petrol and lunch at a services on the way back, somewhere along the M11 I think. Lily had pepperoni pizza, Megan had KFC and Chris and I had Burger King. It was just what we all needed – and didn’t seem at all expensive in comparison to Disneyland, where I would normally have flinched at service station costs.
As we arrived back in Lincolnshire, we headed to my mum’s. We needed to give her back the car, swap over all our bags, and actually drop off the girls as she was having them overnight. I found myself a little weepy that day, probably just sad that such a lovely holiday was over and depressed that the usual routine would kick back in.
Since being back, both girls have suffered a little from being emotional – I put it down to the same as me, sadness that the great holiday is over and depressed that school began again Monday (despite how much they love school) but also the tiredness emphasising their emotions. I really can’t stress enough what a lovely holiday it was. I consider myself to have two really well behaved children anyway, but kids always grate on you at times. However this holiday the kids were amazing and we had no fights or tears. Chris and I didn’t argue either which is a massive plus and such a change from what I’m used to on a family holiday.
If I won a trip to Disneyland Paris I would go again in a heartbeat. I even came home and looked at prices of going again. However there are so many wonderful and amazing places to visit in the world, I also don’t want to fall into that rut of always going to the same place time after time.
Right now the kids and I are focused on trying to win a holiday to Rome. There is a competition on one of their kids websites, that offers a holiday to Rome and entry to Rainbow Magicland. They want to go for the Winx, I however just want to go to Italy. Fingers crossed, though not holding my breath!
If you are tempted to go at all, I would highly recommend it. However its actually very expensive directly through Disney themselves, so if you can find an offer somewhere, do that. Ours was booked with the Sun newspaper and cost about £400 for accommodation, park passes and the ferry both ways. A similar holiday, directly with Disney and not including the ferry, costs from £600 upwards, even with their current “kids go free” and “20% off”.
If you are interested in seeing all the pictures we took, there are over 600 on my facebook. Please don’t feel obliged or anything, but on the off chance someone other than Amy@CocktailsInTeacups is wanting to see, the link is here.
Coming later, amazing competition to win 9 prizes, from 9 bloggers!
I’ll leave you with my favourite picture of the whole holiday…
|Lily kissing Snow White|