The Copeland family will be crossing the pond this summer. That’s what the fancy people like to say when they’re making a transatlantic flight to visit Europe. Neither my wife nor I have ever been to Europe and needless to say, we’re very excited. Don’t get me wrong, our two teenage daughters are excited too, but we’ve told them they’ll be without cell service for two weeks and that has them in a Snap Chat –Text paradox conundrum. Will life go on if they aren’t connected? Will they and their friends fail to age (or age too much) if they can’t see a ten second photo of each other fifty times a day? Summer vacations are what life is all about when you’re a student and a trip with the family is part of the package. As hard as it might be to believe, there was a time not so long ago when there was no such thing as mobile cell technology and it was just quality time with the family during that special week or two traveling by planes, trains or automobile. Yea, I hated it too when I was a teenager.
Before I get into the specifics of our trip, let me begin by saying that we have a very large and mean dog living at our house and we’ve hired an even meaner house sitter (my younger sister) to watch our place while we’re gone. So if there are any “Home Alone” type burglars thinking of ransacking our place while we’re away, you’ll be taking your life in your own hands. “Stop….(bang) or I’ll shoot”, is the house security code or when it comes to the dog (a rare Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Timberwolf mix-breed), we simply use the attack command, “feed Killer, feed.” When he isn’t trying to mate anything that moves in the backyard, Killer loves to gnaw on bones (the femur and collarbone are his favorite).
Getting back to our European vacation, we just finished watching National Lampoon’s delightful movie, European Vacation starring Chevy Chase as the lovable Clark Griswold. Unlike the Copeland’s, the Griswold’s won an all expense paid trip across Europe when they competed on the television game show Pig in a Poke. If you’re familiar with the “Vacation” movie franchise, chaos usually ensues anywhere the Griswold’s are traveling and Western Europe is no exception. I only wish our trip was being paid for and I can only hope I’ve saved enough money thanks to living off Groupon coupons these last two years. Our trip will be focusing on the Big Three: London, England, Paris, France and Rome, Italy. The Griswold’s were also able to swing an excursion into Germany on their trip. We’ll be gone approximately 16 days, but I heard it took three months to film the 1985 comedy that never lived up to the original.
As we plan our tourist travel itinerary, there are several things I must do in each of the countries we’ll be visiting. For instance, once I arrive in England, our first destination, I want to have tea with the Queen (or the rock band Queen). If she’s busy that day, I’ll happily fetch a pint and a basket of Fish and Chips with Prince Harry; he seems like a partier. I also want to meet a Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, ideally. Being knighted is also on my “To Do” list. How hard can it be if Phil Collins was knighted? I plan to make a guard laugh at Buckingham Palace with my best knock, knock joke and a well-timed expression of flatulence. I would like to perform a monologue from Macbeth at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, play a set of tennis at the Wimbledon public courts, and rent a double decker bus from Hertz. Finally, I would like to meet one of the guys who played James Bond, 007. Other items on my London list include a walking in circles around Piccadilly Square, storming the castle at Westminster Abby, Kensington Palace or Windsor Castle, and finally we plan to videotape the girls singing a collection of Spice Girls songs at Royal Albert Hall.
Once we get to France, I can’t wait to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I hope they have an escalator. We also plan to visit Notre Dame Cathedral, even if the Hunchback isn’t there anymore. Excuse me, I mean “the Osteoporosis sufferer.” I can’t wait to see Notre Dame’s gargoyle museum and the football stadium. I really look forward to eating French fries along the Champs-Elysées, tasting French Toast under the Arc de Triomphe and finally, we’ll assuredly try French bread and cheese at the Chateau de Versailles. I’ve heard tell that you can also get some delicious French vanilla ice cream at the Cabaret Moulin Rouge. Perhaps I’ll read the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and retrace the steps of the lead character, Robert Longdon. It would be fun to race around one of the most famous museums in the world like an obsessed symbologist in search of a secret society, while trying to uncover the truth behind Da Vinci’s paintings. At least it would be for me, probably not so much for the wife and kids.
Our last stop is Rome, Italy. When In Italy, I plan to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although pizza was invented in Pisa, at the Leaning Tower of Pisa Pizza Parlor, logic tells me that Rome should have at least as many neighborhood pizza joints as New York City – which is virtually every corner. I hope the new Pope is home when we ring his doorbell at the Vatican. I think I’ll just lean in for a handshake and bro-hug since I’m never actually kissed a ring (other than my wedding ring for good luck). Justin Bieber once called the Sistine Chapel, the Sixteenth Chapel on the Letterman show, how embarrassing. The Biebs probably never even heard of St. Peter’s Basilica (the Seventeenth Chapel). I’m most excited about seeing the ancient coliseum of Rome and can only hope there’s a concert, soccer match or gladiator fight to the death going on while we’re there. It too bad we’re not going to Venice or I would do a little paddle boarding gondola style.
As amazing as our Euro adventure will undoubtedly be, I admit to being a bit nervous to be leaving the United States. What if they won’t let us back in? Could I live life traveling throughout Europe looking for a Danville-type town to settle in with the family? I’m getting ahead of myself. International travel has been on my Bucket-List as long as long as I’ve had a Bucket-List and now I’ll finally be putting some “Stamps in my Passport.”