The big trip started with a little phone conversation…
Leslie: “Dee I’m thinkin we should go somewhere great! Somewhere like London! And then we could take the train and go to Paris!”
Leslie: “Dee! What do you think?!”
Me: “I think it takes a really long time to fly to London…that’s what I think!
Yep! That’s me in recent years. I WILL fly…but I don’t really LIKE to fly. Here’s more funny evidence of just that, as our vacation grew closer. I kept reminding my dear friend of this fact… even texted her with something I found in Walmart that I thought might make the flight… uhh.. bearable.
None the less… Fast forward! I got on and off the plane (sober!). And we had a blast!
A LITTLE BACKGROUND—
Some friendships simply never go “out of style” despite distance or circumstance and I just love that. Leslie Sykes Spann, news anchor at KABC in Los Angeles, happens to be one of the few people in this world who makes me laugh NO MATTER where I am or what I’m doing. We met as reporters (hired just months apart in 1993) at WVUE in New Orleans. Fast friends…we became… sharing with each other everything…our dreams, fears, silliness, screw-ups, good times, desires to succeed, to start families…everything. After three great years in the Crescent City the TV news thing took us in separate directions, but we never lost the bond. We were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings…you get the pic. Les and, her equally as fun hubby, Patrick Spann, have one handsome and humorous son, 12-year old Patrick, Jr.
Given all of that…genuine friendships are infectious. Some have a way of simply coming into existence. Jovana Lara Brooks is also a news anchor at KABC in Los Angeles. Les often tells me she and Jovana are “the pals” at KABC just as she and I were while at WVUE. So as you might imagine… Jovana and I have become wonderful friends as well!! All three of us have quite a bit in common. We learned more about those commonalities on this trip! (Mmm… i.e. you might wanna check the shopping section on this post!) Jovana is married to Dr. Randy Brooks and their two beautiful children… Alex, a 12-year old beauty and adorable 7-year old Hunter, were a JOY to be around.
Mrs. Sylvia Sykes (Leslie’s Mom) and her sister Mrs. Daphne Payne were totally on the go in London and Paris!! It was so great to see them again. We’d often ask, where are Mrs. Sykes and Aunt Daphne? And the answer would be—“They’re out exploring!”
Dawn and Kevin Williams (Leslie’s sister and brother-in-law) are expert travelers! It was so fun to hang with them and catch up while taking in all the sights. They are proud empty nesters… Parents of twins who are now college grads and off on their own! Oh! BTW about Dawn…she hits the floor early and waits for no one…be it shopping, sightseeing, tours, etc.! We’d say… let’s go do such and such! Dawn: “Did that already while you guys were still SLEEPING!”
I fell in love with this well kept, historic city. I adore the ancient architecture, beautiful landmarks, the friendly folks, their accents, the royal vibe, double decker buses, and the city’s layout around the Thames River. It’s wonderful, interesting, eclectic and simply breathtaking!
A few London details worth mentioning…
Lost Luggage!%*&*! Or as US Airways put it… ‘DELAYED’ luggage. Yep! We (the Anglins) arrived on time… however our bags spent a day and a half in Philadelphia. We managed though until they were delivered to our hotel!
But check this out– Our resident comedienne, Leslie, couldn’t resist rubbing it in… and jokingly kept saying, “Okay why don’t you guys go change for dinner! Oops!—I forgot. You have no bags!”
HARROD’S!! I’M IN LOVE…
What can I say? Wow. I will soon dedicate an ENTIRE, separate post to this. Harrod’s department store… arguably the world’s most famous shopping mecca is UNBELIEVABLE! I’m speechless. Only I can’t stop talking about it! Just some of what it boasts– Seven floors, 29 different restaurants and cafes. A full-service spa for Fluffy and Fido called “Pet Kingdom,” a permanent memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed on the lower ground level. Oh! Did I mention there was an opera singer in formal dress serenading us from atop a balcony, overlooking us as we moved up and down the escalator!? It was crazy… and absolutely glorious at the same time! So you might understand why we had to carefully… plan… and plot our day throughout this shopping dream-come true!
THE THEATRE AND THE INCOMPARABLE HEATHER HEADLEY!!
Madison and I are big Heather Headley fans! And if you didn’t already know… the incredibly talented Tony and Grammy award winning singer and actress from Broadway fame… (i.e.. Lion King, Aida) is in London starring in the brand new musical version of the movie, “The Bodyguard.” She BRILLIANTLY portrays the Whitney Houston character, Rachel Marron. Okay..the moment I knew we were going to London, this play was on my list. So…while the gang all met for dinner with the kids, we split up afterward. The Brooks and Spanns attended the musical, “Billy Elliott,” while we headed off to the Adelphi Theatre not only anxious to see the “The Bodyguard,” from 5th row seats…but we had our fingers crossed we’d actually get to meet Ms. Heather! And…well… just peep the pics and you’ll see we were happily successful! Not only that… Heather replied to me afterward on Facebook with a very sweet message! Since I don’t have her permission to share it… you’ll just have to trust… there’s good reason why my daughter is still floating around somewhere right this very minute!
Paris is indeed a girl’s dream. I don’t know what to say other than I LOVED every minute of being there. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triompe, the Musee du Louvre…home of the Mona Lisa. (which is much smaller than I expected). We did as much as we could in the time we had. Oh! I can’t forget… we had some wonderful dining experiences. Great restaurant choices! Thanks Dawn and Jovana!! You ladies did a great job making the selections!
PICK POCKETS HAD BETTER BEWARE OF US!!
Okay…so you’ve heard about the pickpocket thieves who are pretty rampant throughout Europe. Well.. we were pretty sure a couple of them were targeting us inside the Eiffel Tower as we rode to the top and marveled about. Let’s just say “always alert” John caught one of them about to go for it on one of the guys’ back pockets. I won’t go into details… but in the end…we just ended up laughing really hard saying, I wonder if they know they chose the WRONG Americans to try and hustle!! I mean… C’mon…Les is from Compton! and I grew up in Stop Six, Texas! I’m just sayin…
↑ Check the lower left pic. Jovana and Les are taking a picture of my plate because the fish still had its face and teeth!! Uh… Pardon madam! I didn’t need to meet it… just eat it!
The snails… I mean…ESCARGOT appetizers were UMM…. interesting. Thank you Les for opening all of our eyes to this umm… delicacy?!! I can’t really describe how they taste. I ate ONE.. and…lets just say… I don’t remember much about the taste. Just stay tuned… there’s video. You have to see it. I will post it very soon.
SHOPPING REVEAL PARTY!!
Okay… yes. We had to buy an additional suitcase in Paris to get all the stuff home we bought. Leslie even shipped things home. (yes.. shoe maven..you’re busted). Jovana…I’ll just say…I’m still in awe of “the bag!” (that begins with P.. ends with A) Yes. We may have taken retail therapy to new heights. Everyone swears… I was the biggest “therapy” recipient! I don’t necessarily agree with that… but…HOW OFTEN DO I GO TO PARIS DANG IT!!!
Shopping in and of itself in Paris was such a learning experience. Yeah, educational in fact. (do I sound convincing? I’m trying..)
I enjoyed watching the Parisian store employees struggle and squint after I’d ask things like, “Do you have this in another color?” Once while at one department store I recall spending 10 minutes politely NOT understanding one clerk ask me something over and over. When an English speaking employee finally came along… he told me she was trying to ask me for my phone number and birth date to apply for their store discount card.
Now.. before I go I cannot neglect including a pic from our last night in France… the big “Shopping Reveal Party!” BTW.. we did not hold the men hostage… they were busy working out particulars on how to watch the NBA Finals live at what would work out to be 3am in the morning.
Looking back…I enjoyed everything about this adventure! I loved sitting at bistros and sidewalk cafes, sipping cappuccino and eating crepes for breakfast. I enjoyed seeing the sights, listening to people speak French and I loved laughing, marveling and especially sleeping late.
But there’s something I loved even more than all of that.
I’m extremely grateful for the blessing of being able to watch my daughter marvel, gaze and giggle throughout the entire experience.
Yeah…I think I speak for us all when I say– seeing it through the kids’ eyes was the most treasured keepsake of all!!
Who the heck needs tiny bottles of wine…after all!!!?
Au revoir mes amis!! (don’t google it… It means ‘Goodbye my friends!’)