“France for a Day” – by Debbie Ambrous

IMG_7509Jim and I went to France for one day and returned last weekend. Does that sound extravagant, like we are jet-setters, living the life of the rich and famous? Hold the la-te-da comments while I burst the pink champagne bubbles. Our day in France was the Disney version in Epcot. No jet lag was involved. Instead, we had sore backsides and aching joints from the long drive in the Jeep. No custom inspections, or homeland security checkpoints, held us up requiring removal of our shoes and belts.IMG_7512No, nothing of the kind happened. But we had a new experience at the front desk reception at Coronado Springs Hotel where a pretty dark-haired lady from Colombia clamped wrist bands on Jim and me. With a flick of the wrist, and a click of the Mickey Mouse on our bands at the park entry, the happiest place on earth was ours for the day. Click Mickey to Mickey anywhere to buy fun stuff and eat in France. Soar with the best of them until the bill hits the front door. Then, the wrist band could be the ID band for the hospital after a fainting spell from the soaring bill. Aww, it was worth it! We would do it all over again because children and grandchildren met us there! Grandparents all over the world are the same. We will do almost anything for the grandchildren.

My camera was aimed at grandchildren and children almost every minute of the day. They may remember me as the lady with the Canon lens just above her mouth that repeated, “Smile. Big smile!” Oh, but I’m so thankful for the pictures of my beautiful Hanna and adorable Daniel! I’m allowed to brag. I’m a grandmother.IMG_7577IMG_7169-1

First of all, we went for the family and walked until we thought our feet would leave trails of blood, and our knee joints would disintegrate.

 

 

It was so hot that the young crowd in our group left the park and returned to the room to splash in the pool. We considered following their steps, but it wasn’t a good plan for us. We would have relaxed, fell asleep and never had the energy to return for the fireworks display. We stayed to get our money’s worth. I would add a silly LOL to that, but at the moment it was no laughing matter when we sat on an iron bench in the shade listening to Herman and the Hermits. Do you remember this musical group from the sixties? If so, you are admitting to a few years under your belt, and you could join Jim and me on the bench to sing along. Do you remember: I’m Henry the VIII, I Am and Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter? 

Enough of the pain! We had a taste of France. Indeed, France is easily my favorite place on the planet, and it is presented in miniature version in Epcot. We had lunch including escargot and wine in a restaurant that could easily be set in Paris. Cedric was our handsome waiter from France. I was lost in my French dream there in Florida, yet miles away from the real deal. IMG_7517IMG_7232-1Outside, fountains spouted water, flowers bloomed in profusion and a French garden with manicured evergreen shrubs led to the Prince and Cinderella with the clock striking midnight. An Eiffel Tower stands in the distance, lending ambiance to the scene. Shops with perfume, silks, cosmetics and gourmet essentials add to the ambiance and the possibility of clicking the wristband.IMG_7514The movie of France is shown on the 270-degree movie screen in the building which is lavish as any elegant theater. Seated in comfort, the tourist can enjoy without so much as a step: a romantic, intimate wedding in a tiny chapel in Normandy; the majestic snow-capped peaks of the French Alps; candy-colored, hot air balloons drifting above chateaus and winding rivers; bicyclists racing past farmers and startled livestock and so much more. Most tourists break into applause at the conclusion, unlike any other attraction in the park. I wish I had a copy of the film with the musical accompaniment. The exit from the movie steers the tourists directly into shopping and eating. Pastries, coffee and ice cream are served in typical Parisian bistro fashion.IMG_7523 I bought a tee shirt with the Eiffel Tower for my pretty granddaughter. Of course, what else did you expect?

Two comical entertainers dressed as waiters put on a show in the street, and the crowds circled around. One of the men stacked chairs and chatted up the audience while the other climbed to the top of the chairs and incredibly did a hand-stand. I was in the shade behind the performing duo where I could see the audience from the performer’s viewpoint. It was fun to see their amazement when the chairs were stacked higher and higher, and the slender man continued to balance with no net to protect him from crashing to the concrete below. CLICK photos below for larger images:

Children were captivated. Now, this is Disney at its best.

We didn’t spend the day only in France, no matter how much I love it. We added more countries to our weekend passport, touring Canada, England, Morocco, Germany, Japan, China, Italy, Norway, Mexico and the good old U.S.A. Each place has its own special attractions with shops, entertainment, food and drink. Street entertainment is worth stopping to enjoy and possibly become one of the actors selected from the audience. Sampling food and drink in each area is part of the world trekking experience with giant pretzels in Germany, sake in Japan, margaritas in Mexico, fish and chips in England and hamburgers in the U.S.A.IMG_7382-1IMG_7440-1

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Everything was going along just fine until Daniel decided to pour his drink on the floor in Mexico.

 

 

The Mexican pavilion has the appearance of a pyramid from the outside, but inside it is dark with cultural displays behind glass at the entry. This was the area Daniel selected to dump his own cultural display. We didn’t want to move from the wet floor because someone could be injured by slipping in the dark. I alerted one of the cast members, but no one appeared to clean the area. We stayed there talking and laughing, welcoming the cool air conditioning, until the spot was almost dry. Daniel was restless, so my daughter walked further inside with him to the shopping area. A complete Mexican village is presented in a darkened night setting with lights strung above. Mariachi music plays, and in the distance a volcano rumbles, spewing lava and flames.IMG_7358My daughter was on the phone trying to change a dinner reservation when Daniel took the opportunity to race ahead to a tiered table of colorfully painted wooden figurines. I noticed one of the hand-painted items earlier and discovered a $125.00 price sticker.IMG_7350 I could imagine Daniel swishing both arms through the merchandise display and flipping the colorful toucans, iguanas and jaguars to the floor for an automatic charge on my daughter’s credit card. My maternal and grandmotherly instincts voiced a loud: “NO! Nooooo!” I knew I couldn’t run fast enough to stop him, so I sounded the alarm. I broke his heart! He cried and cried. His mother took him away from the crowd quickly. Daniel buried his little face in his mother’s arms and glanced at me with a hurt look on his face. It seemed that he couldn’t believe his adoring grandmother raised her voice in the middle of the Mexican village above the vibrations of the volcano.

I think he forgave his GranDeb, at least by breakfast the next morning. He played with me and his adoring aunt, my other daughter, in the Polynesian Hotel for one last time before Jim and I hit the long road home.IMG_7581

We are home now and our children and grandchildren are miles away. We wish they were closer, but as long as they are happy and healthy, we are content. I’m sure parents everywhere around the world understand those feelings.

France for a day was grand with the grandest of all – our grandchildren!!

Have you been to Epcot? Have you tasted your way around the grand lagoon? Did you have children, or grandchildren along for the grand tour? Thank you for joining us. I love to hear from you. I hope you continue to enjoy your summer.