Saturday, August 30, 2014

London and Paris

I went to London and Paris last month. It was something else! From the picturesque view of the gardens of Kensington Palace to watching the Eiffel Tower light up the sky, it was unbelievable! I will share what my family maybe has told you or I may share what we wanted to forget about the trip because it certainly wasn't all perfect but that is what makes a blog post. 

We had just walked outside the airport and found our accessible taxi. It’s a steep ramp so I gun it, right? Vehicles are lower in Europe so I slam my forehead into the top of the van. Mom says, "Oh my God, are you OK"? I take a good minute to answer because it really hurt. "I'm OK". Just got off an eight hour flight and now I have a good headache. We're in London so I'm great! My family headed to the hotel, we want to start touring. My parents laid me down to get me dressed, David had laid down too and two hours later, I hear Mom yelling, “We slept two hours!” The time change was brutal on all of us so we were the napping family for two hours. It's not like David, Genevieve, and I are under the age of 10, but we obviously needed sleep! We ended up touring the front of Buckingham Palace which was glorious but I am pretty sure my eyes are half closed in every picture that day. 

We toured the Towers of London. It was great but my wheelchair ran out of power. We didn't really understand why but my parents said let's just enjoy the Towers. That meant they all had to push me through London. Let me clarify. David did 90% of the pushing. While we were at the Towers, there were a lot of stairs in the attractions. Dad and David were amazing. Dad walked with me until it became too hard with stairs. David and Dad also helped me souvenir shop for the royal trinkets. They are good guys!

This was a really cool experience but I have a friend that I met through Camp Courage that lives in London. Cool, right? She met my family and me at our hotel to go tour Kensington Palace. Since we hadn’t figured out what we needed to charge the chair, my DynaVox wasn’t charging either. I was so frustrated! Mom did her best to talk for me and Genevieve can talk to anyone, so it was a great day even though I couldn’t talk to her. Lizzie did a great job in a difficult situation. She didn’t know my family but she did everything she could to make it a good day. Kensington Palace has a pond and Genevieve loved to fake push me in the pond. We had fun with the manual wheelchair!

The best part of London was Buckingham Palace! First of all, we had finally got the chair charging so we were all euphoric! Secondly, I got to go through the FRONT GATES of the Palace just like the queen! I’m not a young woman in a wheelchair exaggerating. I’m not! The legitimate Palace staff opened the Palace gates for ME! Mom and David got to come with. It was the most surreal experience of my life! In fact, I remember thinking I don’t know how I am going to find words to describe this moment in the blog post and I still don’t have words. We went into Buckingham Palace, did the tour, of course, I was amazed! Everything in the Palace is perfect and you travel back to the 1800s.  You really do. If I were Princess Kate, I would request for Tim Gunn to come and make it a little more modern but I suspect her apartment with Will is modern. After the tour, we got in the elevator to get out and catch the Chunnel, and the elevator stops working. We’re stuck and the Chunnel leaves in a half hour. Mom is sick to her stomach with worry and I’m thinking if we get stuck in Buckingham Palace, that’s cool! I have no problem with that but Mom wasn’t as calm. We were taking the Chunnel to Paris and it was leaving in a half hour so we were extremely stressed. Long story short, we missed the Chunnel.  We were actually there just in time but the station attendants made us wait for the next one coming in an hour. We got bumped up to first class. Nobody complained.

I didn’t love Paris like I loved London. However, we did get to get a tour of Paris from a lovely woman who has a physical disability. Her name was Alexandria. She was married, extremely independent, had a godson, managed her own assistants, and had so much spunk! Although we didn’t get to talk about our lives much, it was cool to meet someone whose life I wanted mine to look like. I want that husband, I want that important job much like I have now, I want to keep managing my assistants (although it is the hardest job I will ever have), I want more godchildren (Lauren, Scott, Emily, Jacob…get cracking), I want independence. According to my daydreams, she has the life I wanted when I am in my forties. I don’t meet many people who are as fiercely independent as I am and Alexandria definitely is.

I am able to end this post on a really great note. David, my brother loves college. He joined a fraternity, FarmHouse. I’m extremely happy for him. We’re texting every day, I like just checking in with him and making sure he’s happy. For all the college freshmen out there, you have begun a journey that will forever change you. I wish you all the happiness in the world. Heck, start writing a blog, you never know where it will take you!

Cheers,
Hannah! 

P.S. Mom and Dad, thank you for the trip of a lifetime! 

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