Thursday, January 10, 2013
At least we had Paris.
If you have read any of the last three posts, you must be thinking my recent trip to Europe was a complete disaster. It wasn't.
I may have been hyperbolic in my complaints, but the truth is, for all the bronchitis, plane mishaps, ill-designed toilets and bad French manners, my family and I still had a great time.
Take the picture above for example.
I snapped this outside a store in the Saint Germain district that specialized in nuisance control. It isn't everyday you get to see a storefront of unusually, large dead rats. If I'm not mistaken the store was located next to a lovely patisserie.
Seeing things you wouldn't normally see is part of the charm of travel.
In Glasgow, we also had the opportunity to see my Aunt Helen, who I love dearly. She is in her late 70's and wanted to see my wife again (we visited 23 years ago) and to finally meet my daughters. And this was something I wanted to make happen.
But I also had my own selfish reasons. You see apart from the thick accent, Helen is remarkably like my mother, who passed away 8 years ago. Her mannerisms are the same. Her contagious laughter is the same. And her gentle spirit is the same.
So as much as this trip was a gift to my daughters and giving them an opportunity to meet their aunt, it was also a gift to myself. Because being with my aunt is the closest thing on earth to being with my mother.
Once in Paris, we also witnessed the birth of Cash Monet, my eldest daughter's alter ego. A French pop star with a thick accent and a penchant for shopping the Champs Elysees. Ms. Monet had us all in stitches. Watching my daughter's world open up and seeing Europe through their eyes and their perspective change, was another gift I'm glad I gave myself.
And then there were all the small things.
Riding the trains. In London. And in Paris. Mimicking the woman's voice who announced each train stop. The chocolate croissants and cafe au lait from the bakery across the street from the hotel. The incredible Dali Museum at the top of Montmarte. The hot panini's we would buy from a crepe stand near the Odeon. The Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve.
It was also a learning experience.
In the Marais district we spotted signs like this:
A stark reminder that 70 years ago, people like us were butchered simply because we choose to believe one fairy tale over another. It was a little chilling to say the least.
But I promised myself this would be a positive post. So I don't want to end with a reference to Nazis.
Did I mention the hot panini's sold off the street carts? They were so good I'd spend 11 hours on a plane just to have one more.
Just not a plane from British Airways.