Saturday, August 6, 2011

Paris, London, Liverpool

Dame Mirren

At the same time I was obsessing over my new English friends (and they become friends when you 
spend every night with them), Will and Kate got engaged.  Done and done.  When I discussed the plans with my significant, it was brought up 
that we should take my mother.  I forgot to mention that my mom and dad (my dad died in 1998) are from Liverpool, England.  So, the result of my obsessive whim was planning a trip to England with my mother.

When you don’t travel much and are planning on a trip to such a magnificent place, you want to accomplish a lot.  We started thinking of all of the places we wanted to see, but also visit the town my mom is from.  At the same time, we had no plans to rent a car, so public transport was essential.  After several weeks/months of planning, we came up with a plan.  On another whim, I thought going to Paris sounding like a good idea.  My mother had never been, and while she was probably nervous, was in it to win it.

Our plans were as follows:  Fly to Paris, then to London, then to Bath, then to Shrewsbury, then to Liverpool and fly out of Manchester…all during the week of  and before the Royal wedding.

So the plans were set and I was only worried about two things:  flying and spending two weeks with my mother.  My mother is lovely, but I’m not a middle-aged woman and rarely spend more than 5 hours with my mom in any given situation.  Anybody would be a little worried.

Aside from missing our direct flight to Paris, being redirected to Germany and arriving without our luggage, the trip was perfect.  None of us had been to Paris and we all fell in love.  I get it now.  Paris is an amazing place with beautiful architecture, history and people.  We barely speak French and it’s fine.  We were there for a day and a half and saw some of the major sites.  When I asked my mom what she would give Paris on a scale of 1-10, she said a 12.

Behind Notre Dame
From Paris, we flew to London.  We stayed in Shephard’s Bush in a boutique hotel called K West.  The building used to house BBC offices.  In London we saw a play, The Children’s Hour.  We spent a day in Windsor and another sightseeing around London.  We got some great snaps of Westminster Abbey a week before Will and Kate took their vows.

Bath Abbey with crowds

From London, we used the National Rail to go to Bath.  What a lovely and historic place.  We were able to attend church in the Bath Abbey on Easter Sunday.  After we’d done what we needed to do, we tool the rail to Shrewsbury.  Now, you can look it up on your own for the historic significance, but for us, it was in the middle of Bath and Liverpool.  We stayed in a B&B and felt like we were a part of a modern English family.  It’s wasn’t what you would expect…a frumpy English mum type making sausages in the am.  We stayed in a family home where we heard the youngest boy playing and then later crying.We met up with some friends of the family in Shrewsbury, so there was a family significance to the days there.

Me, my mom and the boys
From Shrewsbury we headed to Liverpool.  Most folks don’t consider Liverpool when they are planning a trip to England and I have news for you, it’s great.  It feels like Chicago as it’s on water and it’s going through a revitalization.  Did I mention it’s the home of The Beatles

The Midden in Anfield
Liverpool turned out to be such a pleasant surprise.  We stayed in a new, hip hotel and were within walking distance of shops and the city center (Base 2 Stay).   But aside from the great city, there were two highlights.  The first was lunch with my Aunt (my dad’s sister) and her daughter (my cousin).  I’d met them TWICE in my life and at lunch, it was as though I’ve always known them.  The other highlight was seeing my mom’s childhood home and my grandfather’s pub.

The very end was a taxi ride to Manchester to sleep in an airport hotel and fly out early to the US.  Since the wedding had just finished, we didn’t think flying out of London would be wise.  A quick layover in New Jersey and we were home. 

A couple of months have now passed and I still think of the trip almost daily.  I wish all of the people I know the same adventure and joy.  When you get back from something like this, you really know your true friends…those who will look at your dorky photo album of nearly 400 snaps.  For the most part, people care to hear, but not too much.  I like to hear about people’s trips…and their lives in general.

Since returning, I’ve been to Chicago a couple of times, New Orleans and a cabin in southern Indiana.  Perhaps I’ll something interesting to recap soon!

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