One time... in London...
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After seeing the movie National Lampoon's European Vacation, it is physically impossible to go on a roundabout (any roundabout) without quoting this scene:
It is equally impossible to stand in the middle of a roundabout in front of Big Ben...and Parliament...without making a horrible scene that includes multiple shouts of "I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE IN A ROUNDABOUT IN FRONT OF BIG BEN!" AND PARLIAMENT!"
|Clearly, those two people on the lawn have never seen the movie.|
It's not even the same roundabout, but that fact could not and will not dampen my enthusiasm.
In beautiful Trafalgar Square, directly in front of the National Gallery, one will find this:
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In case Phoenix continues to have trouble remembering to do his homework over the next couple of years, we found a solution to his post-high school needs.
In case you can't read the gate, it says, "GOODENOUGH COLLEGE", right there in gold.
I wonder what their slogan is. Perhaps...
It isn't Ivy League. It's not even Ivy Tech. But, hey, it's Good Enough!
As long as it's good enough to get my homework-challenged son a job, I'm all for it.
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We discovered that at least a rudimentary knowledge of French would be extremely helpful when visiting France. Everywhere we went, even in museums, signs looked like this:
As we roamed around Paris, including The Louvre, we kept saying, "Man, it would really help if we knew some French." I know all of about 3 words, and I felt like a fraud when I would say "merci" to someone. It just didn't flow from the tongue.
Ordering in restaurants was sometimes tricky. I had a hard time even understanding the waiters who were speaking English. For example, after I ordered some water to drink with my meal, the waiter was asking me a question I could not figure out. Finally Bryan jumped in and saved me. Apparently he was asking, "Gas or no gas?" No gas in my water, por favor.
On our last night, I did get to use one of the three French words I know when I ordered dessert. Creme brulee. The waitress had been delightfully fun the entire evening, up until she brought out the brulee. She actually lit it while standing next to the table and placed the fired-up dessert in front of me. While I've eaten creme brulee many times, I have never seen it actually on fire before. I thought they just used one of those torches I've seen on Chopped to melt the sugar on top. So of course, with the fire licking my nose hairs, I was a bit startled. The waitress looked at me and my shock, waved her hands over the dessert, and said with a smirk, "brulee means fire". I didn't need to know French to know she was totally making fun of me.
It seems it wasn't just in England that I had the reputation of being a stupid American tourist.
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We found that getting water is always an adventure in Europe.
In England, we found this:
In Paris, Bryan found this:
Right there in the middle of the sidewalk (next to the motorcycles that really do park all over the sidewalks), he saw a statue with water falling out of the top part and into the bottom part. He immediately stuck his empty water bottle in the stream of water. "What in the world are you doing:!?!?!" I screeched.
He replied, "Look at the sign. We may not speak French, but that symbol is universal."
Once again, my vast knowledge of French kicked into gear. The only time I've heard "eau de" it was followed by "toilet". Eau de Paris does not sound like it is something one should be drinking, regardless of that drawing. I, though, was in the minority. A bit of a crowd formed behind him. Seems we weren't the only tourists looking for some non-gassed water, and they were willing to simply follow Bryan's lead in assuming the water was potable.
Made me think the joining of the drinking fountain association and the cattle trough association wasn't so far-fetched after all.
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I'm going to stop here and issue a public apology to Lizzi. She was such a good hostess, driving up to get me and planning such a fun visit. Did you catch the part about us meeting in a hot bridge over the expressway halfway between her house and the house of the friend with whom I had spent the previous two days? It was quite a walk back to her car. She refused to let me take care of my own luggage. You will understand the sacrifice she made when you see my luggage...
It was a wedding gift.
The wedding we were celebrating on this trip.
Because it was 20 years ago.
Back before luggage had big wheels and uber-useful handles to drag the 35 pounds of clothing and other essentials.
Lizzi carried that large suitcase all the way to her car. In front of her. Like it was a preschooler in the throws of a temper tantrum.
Why must I apologize?
Because once in London, I realized I had the strap for the luggage.
The strap that one should attach to the little hookie-do in order to take advantage of the little wheels on the bottom of the suitcase.
It's not as smooth as the new, fancy, easy-rolling luggage, and it makes one heck of a squeaky racket, but it is infinitely easier to manage.
I am sorry, Lizzi.
Send me the bill for your chiropractor.
And I promise to have new luggage the next time I visit.
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And lastly, a story to give you a better idea of the kind of person Bryan is...
He can't be trusted.
We were having a lovely morning in Kew Gardens, a gigantic botanical garden that even kids would love. There is a barefoot walk, where people are supposed to shed their shoes and walk through all sorts of different obstacles.
|Do the tan lines make it obvious that I don't wear sandals very often?|
At one point, we were attempting to find a building of some sort. Bryan had seen it on the map, but we were having trouble locating it. As I was standing in a pocket of trees, peering around the bend, Bryan, who was many yards behind me, said, "Look up."
I, being the dutiful wife, looked up. And saw nothing.
When I gave him a quizzical look, he replied, "Look straight up."
That's it. No warning. No "take ten steps to your left then look up". Nothing. Just "look straight up".
So I looked straight up.
Right into the hind end of this:
Those feathers were mere inches above my head.
He is the luckiest man alive. If that bird would have pooped when I looked up, 20 years is all he would have gotten out of me.
Fortunately, the peacock did not relieve himself at that moment. And he didn't seem phased when I screamed and ran away.
While I was still in shock and awe about the peacock roosting above me, a woman walked by. I said to her, "There's a peacock in the tree over there". Because peacocks are cool when one is expecting to see them and they aren't directly over one's head. And apparently I talk a lot when I'm in shock.
She haughtily replied, "Yes. Lots of them live here," and continued on her way.
All the while, Bryan stood there laughing. And laughing. And laughing and laughing.
And with that, you, Dear Readers, have endured your last post about Europe.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.
On Saturday we'll have our usual Ten Things of Thankful link up, in which I won't mention Europe, London, or Paris even once.
And all next week you'll get to hear about my surgery.
Have a lovely day!
Does Trafalgar Square still have the lion statue? If the lion has been replaced by a giant blue rooster, I'm going to be very sad.ReplyDelete
No, the lions are still there. I almost included them in my American tourists post. We laughed at a whole lot of people trying to get up there with the lions. The lions were pretty. The tourists were not. :)Delete
Oh, good. (I should probably 'fess up that I have a photo of my kiddos on the base of one of the lions.) :-)Delete
That blue chicken is gross and totally out of place. Did you find out what it was supposed to signify? I love the 'cattle trough' water fountain :)ReplyDelete
Good luck with your surgery next week, I'm looking forward to reading all about it :)
It is really, really out of place. There was a plaque on the pedestal, but it only said who the "artist" was. It didn't say why it was there. I'm thinking that is the most important thing they should have put on the plaque.Delete
We laughed pretty hard at the water fountain, too.
I love the Vacation movies always good for a laugh- the pics are great looks like you both had a great time. the water situation I'm not sure if I could drink from public water fountains, especially the ones that mouths go on...I tell my kids not to drink water from the fountains at school (i think colds can be transmitted from them) they have their water bottle and water from home - and yes less colds - So that was my PSA for the day - Anyway have wonderful 4th of July - sending you good positive energy for your surgery and a speedy recovery!ReplyDelete
They are hilarious movies.Delete
We drink out of water fountains all the time...at school, church, stores...living on the edge, we are. :)
Aww, I loved it! That Bryan sounds like a fun travel buddy.ReplyDelete
Thanks. He is great fun, traveling or otherwise.Delete
Oh Bryan is a lucky, lucky man indeed. Jimmy would have done the same thing. I think it's the y-chromosome.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry that you didn't know more French than 3 words...haven't you been paying attention to my blog? I throw random French words in there every once in a while...just enough to make you sound like you know what you're talking about! And frankly I am surprised that the waitress with the creme brulee was as nice as she was...
The y-chromosome is a dangerous thing.Delete
I do pay attention, but it's not like you use a wide variety of words!
Before we went, we heard all about how terrible service is in Europe. In all of that time, both in the city and in the little town where we stayed, we only had one waiter who wasn't pleasant. The one who asked me for gas or no gas water. I was pleasantly surprised.
Okay I got stuck on the round-about. That cracked me up.ReplyDelete
Also loved how hubby filled his water bottle. Way cool.
Have a fabulous 4th of July. :)
Glad I got a laugh out of you. :)Delete
I was shocked when he stuck that bottle in there. No one had done it before him, so I don't know why he was so confident in himself and the water.
Love hearing all about your travel adventures! The blue rooster is ghastly! And, I'm the only one in my family who orders her de l'eau mit gas! Creme brulee is my favorite dessert and it's so hard to come by. The only time I had my order lit was in Dijon, France :)...a trait of authenticity, I guess!ReplyDelete
I'm glad. I kind of overdo the vacation posts. :)Delete
Isn't that rooster horrible?!?!? What were they thinking?
Ha! You liked gassed water, huh? :)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who was surprised by the lighting. (I'm assuming you were surprised.) :) I noticed that in Europe, they put black pepper in their brulee. I don't remember ever seeing that before. Have you?
Loved it - what a great trip. My Grandmother used to get pooped on by birds no matter where she went. Seagulls had a particular affinity for her head. Eau de Paris? Great. Can't decide which blue bird I like better - the chicken or the peacock. Toss-up.ReplyDelete
Hope the surgery goes well - thoughts and prayers your way.
Your poor grandmother! Did she ever start wearing a hat or headscarf?
Thank you for the prayers.
Thank you for the great posts, Christine. I think you are the only one I know who can make travel pictures exciting! And guess what? I need knee surgery. Not an ACL this time but it would be nice to play volleyball again... and straighten my leg. I think 2 years is sufficient time to prove that this is not going to heal. I will be praying for you this week!ReplyDelete
Aw, thanks Melody. I always feel like I'm boring everyone when I go on and on and on about a vacation. And yet, I still do it. :)Delete
Oh no! I can't believe you've gone 2 years without being able to straighten your leg. It is time, Friend. Maybe someday we can play volleyball together. Non-competitively, of course. :)
Thank you for the prayers. Let me know when you'll be having your surgery.
So cool that you two got to do this!ReplyDelete
Ack! I am writing a letter of complaint to my blog reader. And to the emails which I subscribed to from you...cos nothing seem to be coming through. And I don't like that the WP blogroll doesn't update to the latest post from the people there...so, okay, that's one advantage Blogger had...ReplyDelete
Apology accepted! Bring the wheels next time, cos it was a heavy case...but my knee was definitely less bad than yours. We made it, anyway :)
I did grin about you not seeing the peacock until it was nearly sat on you. And I hope Bryan suffered no ill effects from the water - I would NOT trust public water in France. No way.