In the 1950s, my grandfather Beck was stationed in Berlin. Growing up as a child, I was always so fascinated by the old black & white photos of him from this era in this place unlike anything I knew on the country roads of Texas. I’ve always wanted to go and walk in his footsteps, to think of him as a young man, his family so far away, the devastation of war in front of him. We walked from East to West, we studied the differences from old photographs. We wandered the streets of Scheunenviertel and Kurfürstendamm. We had pretzels and beer, schnitzel and sauerkraut and look back in time of a city that changed so much.
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Paris is so much to me…a constant source of inspiration, of light study, and beauty. When we stepped off the train from London at Gare de Nord, the smell hit me, that same familiar Parisian smell of coffee and cigarettes, and dusty old books in a garden of roses. The hotel, so quaint, with the Eiffel Tower framed between the walls of the street. We sat in cafes and drank wine, watching the people go about their day, their loves, their minds lost in their own thought. I wonder what they are thinking and have I thought that same thing before? We climbed the stairs of Sacre Coeur, danced with the states at the Louvre, and watched the sunset on Pont Neuf. On a poetic day we found ourselves on a train to Normandy, on a walk through the beaches of Omaha in silence, imagining the horror of war, looking up at the fate of too many. I always love Paris – it’s never goodbye but only I’ll see you soon…. and soon I did.
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We descended upon London, totally embracing being tourists – drinking London’s pride ale, eating fish & chips, visiting Westminster Abbey and the London Tower. We walked through Hyde Park in the rain and looked in awe at the crown jewels. We looked out over the vista of an English countryside, quiet and lush in the early morning mist at Windsor Castle, before turning back the hands of time to the wonders of Stonehenge. We laughed over a cup of tea at Oxford and watched the students walk by with our future in their hands. The beautiful streets, so proud, the people so elegant, I’ll always remember London as lovely as the classical music playing at Dean Street over the sound of soft falling rain.
Continue reading “Part I: London” →