My parents are world travelers; they instilled in me a love for traveling, trying different cuisines, and exploring other cultures at a very early age. My dad, especially, has a penchant for France. He loves the culture, the food, the wine - I'm sure if he was fluent in the language, he'd have no hesitation of retiring there. As an architect, the buildings of Europe provide hours of sketch-book opportunities and endless exclaims of wonder and amazement from my dad. I took him to Paris a few years ago for a quick, weekend stay, and I'll never forget the moment he walked into the courtyard of the Louvre: I thought he was going to have a heart-attack! He stood, stock-still, in front of I.M. Pei's magnificent glass pyramid entrance and said, in a semi-choked voice, "I think I need a moment alone." Afterward, we ate freshly baked croissants in front of the Notre Dame. Those memories bring me both joy and tears.
I also have great memories of the quaint B&B I booked for us near Blenheim Palace in Oxford. Not only did the hotel's back door lead immediately to one of the palace ground's gates, the room we stayed in was called "Churchill", much to the delight of my British history-obsessed father. We had tea in town, where I showed him my favorite spots as a student, and took the Oxford Tube bus back to London. He sat at the front of the bus and stared out the window the entire journey back, like a small child, watching the English countryside whiz by. There comes a point in everyone's life, I think, when you become an adult, and you begin to view your parents as equals or - as I observed my dad that day - almost childlike. And those moments of revelation are the moments that make me really sad, because I feel like time is slipping away.
So, this morning, I'm dreaming of gifting a stay at Le Bristol Hotel in Paris to my mom and dad. This may never happen, as one night's stay in the lowest price room costs about as much as one month's rent for me, but still, I can dream - right? John recently stayed there on business and gushed that it was "the nicest hotel I've ever been in". (If it looks familiar, that's because its panoramic suite was used as a backdrop for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Yup. That one.) With beautiful views of Paris from atop private terraces and sumptuously decorated rooms, Le Bristol is where my parents deserve to stay. If my publishing salary can stretch, I may save up for it this year.