Looking at the 16-year-old girl propped against the window of an airplane headed to Paris, it was difficult to imagine this person was Jamie, our granddaughter, who, like her older sister, decided on Paris for her 16th birthday trip with me. She was a little girl dancing around our house in a tutu not long ago.
My first surprise was the small suitcase she brought for the trip that included a few days in London after Paris. She reminded me on her last trip abroad her luggage caught up with her nearly two weeks after she got home. It was a good thing I took a large suitcase because there was no way she could have gotten everything in her luggage on the way home.
The weather was perfection the entire week. Both hotels were great. We didn’t ever get totally lost, and I made it home with 5 euros and 10 pounds. That’s currency, not weight. I am not about to weigh just yet.
Jamie says the highlight in Paris was the Eiffel Tower, especially at night when it sparkled. And the river cruise with young people on the nearby bank and people on other boats waving as we passed. But it was London where I got a look at her face when she was truly over the moon.
She is a Beatles fan. A really big Beatles fan. That’s why we ended up going to two countries. I booked a Beatles walking tour where we saw places they lived, recorded and wrote songs. We saw the rooftop where they played their last concert. We were both saddened that the building is gong to be an Abercrombie for Kids. Jamie thought it should be a Beatles museum with tours on the top. I had to agree with her, especially since it is on the prestigious street Seville Row.
The Abbey Road part of the tour is heaven on Earth for those folks who want their picture taken crossing the street just as the Fab Four did on the Abbey Road album cover. On the cover, Paul McCartney is barefoot, so Jamie thought it only made sense to take her shoes off. So I put her shoes in my big handbag and her purse on one shoulder and mine on the other. I had her phone to shoot the photo, which – and this is the good part – required me to stand in the middle of the road. It just didn’t look right if the photo was taken from a safe spot on the curb. We had come all this way, so it only made sense to risk life and limb for Pete’s sake.
Just so you know: Abbey Road is a busy street. They drive on the wrong side of the road, and they don’t take pedestrian right-of-way seriously. We were there as people were going home from work. Even though they’re used to the crazy tourists wanting their photo taken on the crosswalk, many don’t think it’s necessary to stop.
I told Jamie if I got flattened by a car to call Poppy and he would tell her what to do. I don’t think she heard me because she was trying to decide which foot she should have forward in the photo. The tour guide had many photos of the Beatles on her phone including the album cover. Her name was Gill (pronounced Jill), and she shared some great stories. I started to ask if anyone had been killed trying to take a photo in traffic or in the crosswalk, but decided I didn’t want to know. It took four tries for me to get the perfect shot. She posted her picture on Instagram and was the happiest little American in London that day.
On the way home I asked Jamie what her favorite thing was, and of course, it was Abbey Road. The long plane ride, the long lines in customs and security were somewhat challenging. While waiting on our delayed plane home, we decided travel is not for the weak or the impatient.
Yes, travel is tiring, trying, and yikes, very expensive. I will now start saving for the next trip, which will be with Becca, who is now 13. Regardless of where she chooses, it will without a doubt be a challenging and expensive experience.
And once again, worth every bit.