Thursday July 4, 2013

Bonjour from the Rive Gauche in Paris.  We left London early this morning on a Eurostar train, through the chunnel under the English Channel, and arrived in Paris by 11am.

I meant to write more about our London experience, but time moved quickly there and we are on to the next part of our adventure.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one more piece of our London stay.  We brought a few of Shannon's ashes along, and we made a plan with Doug, Maggie and Owen to honor Shannon and Henry in our own special way.  Doug put it so eloquently in his own words:

"Our kids were meant to spend so much more time with us and to travel and explore and maybe even live in exciting places...So in lieu of what was meant to be...we are left needing to find and mark a few forever places that will be our communion points with the one who got away."

And so, on our last night in London, we returned a bit of Shannon and Owen to the earth, sending them down the Thames...

Our take on London is its a balls to the wall, grab a pint, and tell a tale kind of city, but our first impression of Paris lets us know that we have landed in a different place.  Here, the pace is slower and the streets are less crowded.  The cafes and restaurants face outward to the street and invite you in for conversation, maybe a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee.

Today we got acclimated to our surroundings and started to listen to the French language being spoken.  I remember some of it from Mrs. Deines' French 4 class in 1987, but I have to admit I cheated quite often today with this handy dandy app called Google Translate.

Tonight, we met up with The Mackamans and walked along the Seine near Notre Dame and through the Latin Quarter.  It's a bonus for us to have our own French History professor along as we walk.  Doug is helping teach Erin - and remind me and Dan - about the French Revolution and French History.

Doug pointed out a place where Benjamin Franklin hung out when he was the Ambassador to France, and he talked about the history of many of the buildings we passed, including the Pantheon where many great writers are buried including Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo.

The Pantheon
We feel so very fortunate to be having this experience.  As we walked back to our hotel tonight along the Boulevard Saint Jacques, Erin admitted to feeling a little guilty that she is here, and Shannon is not. Erin's exact words:  "Shannon would have loved this."

But, we are meant to go on, to experience things, to open up Erin's eyes to the world.  Would we be doing this if Shannon were still here?  Maybe not.  There's no way of knowing, and it doesn't really do any good to wonder.  So, we will cherish the opportunity to experience this.  Having Doug, Maggie, and Owen here to show us the ropes and share the joy and pain is perfect.

Team Mackaman and Team O'Hara at Notre Dame