Crossing borders

To say that the girls were thrilled with the surprise I announced towards the end of our trip to Wales is an understatement. They had been curious about the lack of information for the last two days on our otherwise very detailed itinerary and I kept putting them off by saying we needed flexibility. When they learned that I had tickets booked for the Eurostar train to Paris…well use your imagination.

Jump for joy

We went up the Eiffel Tower, walked along the Champs Elysees, dined on crepes – covered the whole tourist gamut as best we could. Even down to a portrait on Montmartre. Didn’t my granddaughter do well when asked for a ‘mona lisa’ smile!

Mona Lisa smile

Many of us are privileged to take for granted the ease with which we come and go across borders with just the simple act of laying down our passport. As we sped towards the Eurotunnel on our way to Paris for the final part of our trip, the trucks lined up waiting to go through the Chunnel was a poignant reminder that there are too many families who don’t have that privilege. The three of us thought hard about what that meant.

Photo borrowed from media file

Photo borrowed from media file

For years desperate families have been making the perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe often drowning at sea. Now here they were trying to get from France to Britain by hitching rides on trucks and the consequences, besides the backups as trucks are searched, are often equally tragic.

Do remember this photo of all the documents I carried?

Papers for Wales trip

Well thank goodness for complete files when travelling with grandkids! After passing through 6 sets of border control (leaving Canada, entering UK, leaving UK, entering France, leaving France, entering UK!) that 6th guard finally asked the right questions! Who are these children to you, where are their parents and do you have permission forms to be travelling across borders with them? Not only did I have every possible form but, thanks to my ever efficient daughter-in-law, they were notarized by an oath commissioner with a major police force!

As our vacation came to a close my grand daughters and I discussed all those less fortunate families, without official papers but lots of dreams for better futures. There but for the luck of our birthplace go we….

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This entry was posted in Life, Political expression, Puzzles and Contradictions, Thoughts, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Crossing borders

  1. Like others have said, this must have been an amazing trip. And you are right, there are lots of less fortunate people trying to get to Europe, particularly these days, with the refugees from Syria.

  2. Nancy says:

    That cheer they gave and the jump to accompany it… PRICELESS! Paris France would have made me jump with joy as well. Fun! Fun! Fun!

  3. It was how a trip should be – about the things we learned as well as the things we saw. Thanks for you comment.

  4. Sartenada says:

    How lovely post. It was a great joy to read. Your beautiful photos reveal the joy of life – how nice.

  5. joannesisco says:

    You’ve hit on a subject that’s weighed heavily on me for some time. I cannot begin to imagine the fear and desperation that drives those to try and escape the terror in their homeland to find a peaceful life somewhere else … often with small children. My heart breaks. Our Canadian passports have value beyond our imagination.

    I love the picture with the Eiffel Tower in the background … still my favourite city in the world 🙂

    • My favourite city too although we tourists do overrun it in the summer! It is so heartbreaking that there are so many families who have to risk so much for a chance to have a secure life – we are lucky.

  6. It’s great to hear that both you and your granddaughters had a wonderful time in Paris. I’m sure it will be a lifetime memory for all of you. And thanks for bringing to mind a travel issue that I hadn’t considered. Terri and I are solo travelers, and consequently, I hadn’t thought about traveling with children that aren’t sons or daughters. In these days of horrific child trafficking, it’s good to know that someone is paying attention. And good for you for being well prepared. ~James

    • The girls were quite put out when we were challenged but it made for another opportunity to have a heavy discussion with them about how exploited some poor children are and what a tough world it can be out there.

  7. restlessjo says:

    Fantastic! Now that’s what I call a surprise 🙂 You all look so happy!
    On the other, very sad note, the world we live in seems to get increasingly sorry. All those people emptying out of Syria! What kind of life must it be when you are prepared to go to some of these lengths to escape it? I have no idea where this will end. And the Tunnel- another nightmare for so many.

  8. pommepal says:

    The exuberance of your lovely grand daughters shines out of that first photo. It will be an adventure they will cherish for the rest of their lives and I’m sure you will cherish the times spent together on your girls road trip. Yes we are so privileged to be able to travel freely and I found it amazing that it was not till the 6th guard that you were questioned and thankfully had the correct pieces of paper with you.

    • It’s interesting because for them it was a quite grown up adventure and for me a youth filled one – perfectly met all our needs! We were very lucky to have had all our documents – it’s so funny how we all get nervous at border crossings even when we know we’ve done nothing wrong!

  9. sheila katz says:

    Your blog makes it almost like being there in person. I’d love to see what the girls are writing about the trip.

  10. What a trip to remember! Yes, it’s good to remember those less fortunate than ourselves, even as we’re having so much fun. I am very moved by the news reports of those poor refugees fleeing their countries. If only life could be fairer for them.

    • Yes – one of the best parts of travel is being aware of what is happening around you…
      I wonder how history will record what is happening in the Mediterranean and some parts of Europe?

  11. I just love the first image .. Wonderful! 😄 what a way to finish your holiday .. How fabulous to be so organised. And how very kind to think of others less fortunate .. Safe journey home

    • Yes for them it was the ‘grande finale’ and they truly were jumping for joy. They were comically outraged that any border official would question the legitimacy of our little group – yet another learning opportunity to explain how sometimes young people can be vulnerable to badly intentioned adults.

  12. Lynn says:

    You touch on a point that so many of us take for granted. On our travels to Morocco, we met 2 of the kindest young men who were our guides. Although we have invited them to come to Canada to visit, the reality of them getting a Visa just to travel for pleasure is such a difficult process. As a Canadian, we have the freedom to leave our country to explore the world. This is not the case for so many.

  13. mommermom says:

    What a beautiful gift you have given your precious granddaughters! Not only a journey of a lifetime but time with you and your special gift of love. ♡♡♡

  14. agnesashe says:

    What a marvellous and special surprise for your granddaughters. They certainly look like they enjoyed it.

    I know there is a school of thought to keep our daughters and granddaughters protected and isolated from the harshness of the real world for as long as possible, but I think that actually does them a disservice. Witnessing the distress and plight of the refugees is difficult, but being able to discuss it with you and begin to appreciate the complexities of our modern world is part of growing up and part of the experience of being a traveller. What a fun, and, sensible granny you are!

    • We did all have an amazing time and I agree that just having the fun without opening your eyes to what’s around you is such a missed opportunity. I think I realized that the world was changing around the time that ‘Hunger Games’ first became the rage and 10 year old girls everywhere were reading it! I read the series too and it is a harsh story. These girls have also been in a school system that has been practicing ‘lock down’ and ‘stranger in the building’ drills in school for years now. They were ready for child labour, mining accidents and disenfranchised families for sure.

      • agnesashe says:

        Well, they sound very well prepared for living in the 21st century. Yes, ‘Hunger Games’ has had a big impact on my daughter and nieces too. The younger of my nieces (14) has just finished ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ and what a contrast between the powerless Tess and the empowered Katniss. Hope for the future!

  15. margaret21 says:

    What a wonderful granny you are! I’m so impressed that you have mixed sheer pleasure with encouraging your granddaughters to think about more difficult aspects of our world, past and present.

  16. Gunta says:

    What a great trip, but your daughter-in-law’s forethought probably saved some ‘splaining. Love it when folks think ahead. How wonderful to share this marvelous adventure you had with your granddaughters.

  17. Sue Slaght says:

    What a fantastic surprise!! I love that photo of them jumping for joy.
    You are so right that we are so very fortunate to be travel with such ease. It is heartbreaking to see the plight of so many immigrants in their desperate search for a better life.

    • It sure is heartbreaking and I tried to stress to them that our privilege is just the pure luck of where we were born and not because we’re more entitled…I think they understand. As you’ve said in your posts – travel is about the harder realities not just the fun.

  18. Lavinia Ross says:

    What a wonderful experience you have given your granddaughters, and many pleasant memories for all to keep!

    • It was wonderful and the memories are already paying dividends since we can refer back to our joint adventures as ‘equals’. I would travel with them again in a moment and for now the feeling seems to be mutual 😉 .

  19. Beautifully written and photographed. I enjoyed this post!

  20. Ingrid says:

    What a wonderful and priceless experience for the girls AND you. I know you all will treasure the memories and share a special bond 🙂

  21. vsperry says:

    Your granddaughter is an amazing image of the Mona Lisa. What a trip and what insight into the plight of many who are trying to find a better life.

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