Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paris: Part One

Ok. Some of you are annoyed with me, I know. But when Ginger and I got home, I found out that they DO NOT have unlimited internet! So I quit using it; I didn't want them to run out. So here is my very best recollection of the rest of the trip...

Wednesday morning, Ginger and I got up and tried to get everything just right so the men would have an easier time while we were gone. We cooked potato soup for Wednesday night and made taco meat for them for Thursday. Then we walked into the village for Ginger to get her haircut. (And yes, I gave her the money that everyone donated for this very reason... she got a style too!) The haircut took much longer than expected and we still had to go to the grocery for lunch stuff for the kids. At 2:00 we were still at Sainsbury's and we had to leave for the airport by 3:00!

We dashed back to the house and packed. No, we had not already packed. I know. I know. Dumb. We spent so much time taking care of everyone else, we didn't take care of ourselves. But isn't that how we women work? ... Yes, it is.

Sue came and picked us up. I told her to bring her passport but she disobeyed. She drove us to Liverpool and dropped us at the John Lennon Airport. The thing about Sue is, we can talk about really personal, important stuff and then turn around and crack each other up. She would totally fit in on a Friday night.

Ginger and I flew Easy Jet, the illegitimate step-brother of more distinguished airlines. You get the gate furthest away from civilization and no assigned seating. And no leg room.... and no elbow room... and only one carry-on (this includes purses). But we didn't care. We were going to PARIS!!! Our flight attendant, a man, looked remarkably like a very effeminate David Russell. Creepy. The girl next to me, beside the window, had a cold I thought. It wasn't until we were almost there that I realized she was crying.

Now I know, I had been told, that the English are private and reserved, yadda yadda yadda. But I could not let this poor girl sit there and cry! I made a funny comment about Paris and broke the ice. Come to find out, she goes to university in Paris and was going back after a short visit at home with her family. She was homesick. We talked for a bit and by the time we disembarked, she was laughing. It was cool.

The Charles DeGaulle airport is dark and old and slightly dirty. Not at all what I expected. And since we flew Easy Jet, we were in the back forty and had to walk the entire length of the airport to get to the train station. No problem. Our feet were still fresh. We went down the escalator and were confronted with machines. Many ticket dispensing machines and no idea what to do.

We walked over to what we hoped was an information desk. This was our first time to say, "Bonjour. I don't speak French. I am so sorry." The young man smiled at us and said what we soon found out was the standard, "It's okay. I speak a little English." He pointed us in the right direction and we found the line for the real live person who sold tickets. Soon we were on our way. I had studied the Metro map extensively and knew our stops. It still took about an hour to get from the airport to our stop.

When we walked up the stairs and into the heart of Paris, we held hands and grinned at each other. It was lit up and living up to its nickname, "The City of Lights." Wow. There are no words to describe the feeling. And it was the first of many, many times we got that feeling. We found our hotel, a discreet little place next to the Musee de l'Armee. It was called the Hotel de l'Empereur. It was awesome! Our room had a little balcony that faced the golden dome of the Museum. We called the guys and let them know we made it, ditched our stuff and headed out in search of food and the Eiffel Tower.

It was late and the cafes were crowded and about to close. We also didn't have the courage to walk into a place and try to order. Instead we found a tiny, tiny little Parisian version of a quick mart. We bought cheese, grapes, a plum, an apple, some bread and a bag of chips for me, and some drinks. Then we were off again.

You would think that you would see the Eiffel Tower first thing, but the buildings are so tall and close together that you can't. I had studied the map and, having a pretty good sense of direction, headed the right way. And then it happened. One minute we were looking at beautiful buildings and then we could see the top of the tower.

We ran forward a few steps and there it was! All lit up and sparkling with lights. We literally jumped up and down and squealed! I was looking at the Eiffel Tower! Surreal. We took some pictures and then walked over to it.

The pictures I had seen captured the beauty, but there's just no way to capture the scale. It's just so big! One of the bases of the leg is the size of my house! And up close, the steel framework almost looks like lace. My words are inadequate.

We walked under it and sat at a bench while we ate our fruit and cheese. Let me restate: Ginger and I sat under the  Eiffel Tower and ate cheese and fruit. From Paris. And the grapes... the grapes tasted like honeysuckle. The best thing I have ever eaten. If someone asks me what my favorite food is, it will forever be Grapes From Paris. Seriously.

We sat for a while. We gawked. We giggled. We tried to wrap our minds around it. And then, since it was midnight, we walked back to our hotel and fell into bed.

End of Day One in Paris....

Friday, November 04, 2011

Tuesday, England Day 3

I wrote this partly on the day of and partly the next day and never posted it...

We woke up this morning, ate breakfast, and got ready for Ladies Bible Study. Ginger and I walked down to AnneMarie's, not far. AnneMarie's home is lovely. Very homey. In England they say very "homely". Different meaning, I know.

In Bible study, we talked about the ongoing work of the Spirit in sanctification. We studied in Galatians. It was me, Ginger, Ruth, AnneMarie, Sue, Sarah and Bea. I love these ladies. They're so awesome. Very honest and longing for more of the Lord. It was beautiful to be able to talk about the struggles we feel everyday. The things that cause us pain, doubt and fear are the exact spots where we apply the gospel. That is where we most see our need for someone to save us.

After lunch, we walked down to Linear Park. I was surprised by how... linear it was. :o) It's a wooded area with hiking that lays on the site of an old railway line. It was very muddy but the kids had a great time. Cully cried when it was time to leave.

While Ginger and I were at Linear Park with most of the kids, Chris, Trace and Ty played tennis with Jevon. They had a great time together. Jevon's a hoot.

At six Shaun Kavanagh came to pick us up for "tea". To us Southerners, that means supper. Our family is so big, it took two cars to transport us. Trace took part and Shaun took part. When we walked in the house smelled soooo good. I made myself at home and walked on back to the kitchen. Gracious. Sue had cooked us a feast. We had chili (my fave), mashed potatoes, rice, peas and corn, chicken pot pie, tortilla chips and bonaffe pie for dessert! So good. Sue said she was trying to bribe me into being her friend. It worked.

After tea, we loaded up again and went to the Trafford Centre. The teenagers (Maggie, Ty, Jevon, Lizzie and Josh) went their way; we went ours. Sue bought the youngers smoothies. Then we walked to the Grand Staircase. At the top we spied the teens. Sue and I just looked at each other and went into ridiculous spy mode. We ran to the nearest pillar and peeked around at them. As they walked, we sprinted from pillar to pillar. It was hilarious. It took the teenagers a few minutes to notice us and be completely mortified. Sue and I were laughing so hard and our husbands were following us around, lost in their own conversation. I'm sure we were a sight! We ended up at a coffee shop and talked and talked and talked until the kids found us again. Paul and AnneMarie showed up to pick Jevon up and we talked some more.

We went back to the Kavs house and talked some more. Such an edifying night. Sue and I sat in the car and talked for an hour! You know the kind of talking I mean? When you can't even stop to move inside the house. It's kind of magical, I think. You don't want to do anything to mess it up. We didn't get back to the Donahoos until 1am. Awesome!

It was such a great day! We got to spend all day with our church family. Exactly why we came!