Surprise Trip (Part XI. The End + Personal Reflections)

When I saw Bridge type in a Parisian address into our GPS, I immediately knew what that meant. Our trip was coming to an end. We had started in Paris, so it only made sense that we’d fly home from Paris. It’s hard to describe the emotions that trickled through me when I knew we were going home. I mean, obviously I knew this day would come at some point, since we weren’t planning to move to Europe. But after six weeks of moving around, my sense of homesickness had dissipated, and I loved the rhythm that we established. I missed Alan tremendously, and yearned for our family’s reunion. But I also didn’t want this trip to end because I loved experiencing everything that Bridgette planned. Such mixed feelings to contend with!

Arriving to Paris in a car was terrifying. I honestly don’t know how we survived maneuvering through those narrow streets without a dent, but somehow, we did. Up until that point, all of Bridgette’s planning had been going relatively smoothly, and I hadn’t needed to step in at all. When we arrived to our Airbnb in Paris, however, Bridgette double checked the schedule for the lab where we would be getting our COVID tests done and found that they were actually closed! We both instantly panicked. At the time, the US was still very strict in requiring a negative COVID test by a certified lab for entry, and the window of time to do it was small. I decided this was an emergency situation and jumped in to work with Bridgette on a solution. We combed the Internet to find other labs available, which proved to be very difficult since we were headed into the weekend.

After hours of research, we finally came up with a game plan. We would wake up at 6am the next morning and drive our rental car to the airport, where there was a lab open for COVID testing. This would logistically work out well because we had to return our rental car anyway. After the test, we’d wait for our results and then take an Uber back into the city, which hopefully would still give us enough time to hit some of the place we wanted to hit, like the Louvre.

Once we had the game plan in place, we were able to relax and head out for dinner. We also treated ourselves to a boba as a reward, lol.

We hit the sack early that night for our 6am wake up call. Waking up early is always brutal for Bridge and I, but when duty calls, we gotta do what we gotta do! When we arrived to the lab at the airport, the line was outrageously long. Since we had made an appointment online beforehand, we tried to figure out if we needed to stand in that long line. Finding an English speaking staff was nearly impossible, and the whole scene was just chaotic. We finally found a nice young man who spoke a little bit of English that worked for the lab. He directed us to enter without going through the line and gave us the paperwork that we needed to complete. The swab itself was quick, but we were then instructed to wait for an hour there if we wanted a printed lab report instead of an emailed version. I wanted to play it extra safe and decided it was worth hanging around for an hour to get the actual report in our hands.

An hour went by and we did not hear from the lab as promised. After an hour and a half, we had to go back into the chaos to try to find the young man to help us once again. It took a bit more time and effort but in the end, we did get our printed lab reports in hand and were so relieved!! From that point forward, we were ready to enjoy our last day in Paris!

It was rainy and gloomy, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We decided we’d check out the Louvre. Although we had been to Paris a few times previously, we never entered the Louvre because the line was always crazy long. Since tourism wasn’t nearly back at pre-pandemic level yet, we decided it’d be the best time to see the Louvre and we were right!

We chose to eat crepes for our last meal in Paris on this trip, and as we prepared our hearts to head home, I just had to praise Bridgette for the extraordinary job she did in planning the entire trip from beginning to end. I assigned the project to her as her first high school project, but many of our friends remarked that the scale of the project deemed more appropriate as a graduation assignment. Besides the technicality of the planning, what I was most impressed about was Bridgette’s attitude. She took on the challenge without hesitation, and invested so much time and effort into figuring things out on her own. There were times when she did have to consult Alan, but for the most part, Bridge really took it upon herself to overcome challenges and to find solutions.

I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am to have gone on such a memorable adventure with Bridgette. I never dreamt that she’d plan a trip this long, and to this many new countries. I figured that she’d maybe test her skills out a bit by planning a 2 week trip to 1, or at most, 2 different countries. I never imagined she’d plan a SIX week journey for us to SIX different countries and TWELVE different cities! I admire that she went the extra mile (or many, many extra miles!) on this project and that she was not intimidated by the scale of it. As a result, we got go on an marvelous adventure together, one that I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life!

When we began this worldschooling journey, I set out to show Bridgette the world. Now, it appears that the tables have been turned and she’s showing me the world!

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