When I painted Europe red - My Family Travels

In the dark of the morning, my mother barges into my room, yells in a raspy morning voice for us to wake up. We're ready to go in last night's clothes, disheveled and convince we aren't going to run into celebrities, it doesn't matter if I have a taco stain in a embarrassing spot, we're going to Europe. In John Wayne Intl Airport my family, consisting of a trio of: my sister, mother and I, wait for our group to be called to load us in to the plane like a herd to sheep. Nevertheless sheep don't get to sit in comfy seats, bump the latest jams into their headphones, and go to Europe. The plane lands in Chicago where we are supposed to catch our connecting flight to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Two hours go by until a plump lady calls groups to enter the plane, everybody is almost done fussing with their carry-ons and successfully stows their luggage. As the passengers wait, you could tell trouble is brewing by the fact that we've remain stationary for half an hour. The plane growing hotter by the second with everybody's collective body heat combined with the sizzle of the summer sun. Adults getting as squirmy as kids, the pilots deem the plane unsafe to fly and we are ordered to deplane. The airline, American Airlines, compensates the mishap with vouchers to eat a meal in the terminal, which we gladly take since sitting for a majority of the day makes one's stomach ache for food. In the middle of the madness, we found a consoling friend in a fellow passenger, that helped the time pass easier. American Airlines pulled through with another plane, and tired people scurry on to the plane only to find themselves struggling to sleep in a somewhat up-right position.

Nudged awake by my overenthusiastic mother, she excitedly tells me we are 20 minutes away from landing. The fantasy and mystic of Europe all coming true, for many months leading up to the trip, we've imagined the streets, the cars, people and finally its here, the moment we've been waiting for, and for my mother, 40 years. As a young girl my mother was going to be sent to Paris to study and stay with her Ambassador Uncle and his family. My mother never got this chance due to the horrific genocide that occurred in Cambodia that claimed the life of her father as well as millions of others. This dream has been engraved in her heart for a long time and the excitement is overwhelming her. After we go through customs, we are greeted by her family who she hasn't seen in 20 years and whom we've never met. In a quick summary of Paris: We met alot of family, did alot of famous French cheek rubbing, visited the Louvre, The Tour Eiffel multiple times, shopped at The Galleries La Fayette, ate the most amazing macaroons that melt in your mouth, doing all these activities by riding on the ultra smelly Metro (French subway system).

We're booked to fly to Venice, Italy the city the runs on water. Our family and our French relatives take the metro the the airport, we easily catch the plane. No longer than an hour and half we arrive, we take the water boat subway system in Venice to our rental houses. The scenery is breathtaking, the buildings looks like they hold secrets, history, seen and stood the test of time. The naturally frayed in such a romantic way that The Olive Garden and Romano's Macaroni wishes they could even get close to replicating. The first night in Venice was fun, I competed my lifelong dream to eat real pizza in Italy which is vastly different from Pizza Hut. Two of my French cousins, my sister, and I had our own kids houses a block away from the parents. Of course the debauchery only extended to playing cards and trying to watch Italian TV. The next morning we woke up covered in mosquito bites, which seems so obvious since Venice the city of water as well as sitting water which is known to be a breeding ground for mosquitos. Ill-prepared we all are itchy and uncomfortable but trek on to the museums with our parents we have no trace of mosquito bites. The beauty and culture of Venice momentarily numbs the annoying red itching bumps the has risen on our arms, legs, necks, ear, and for one my French cousins, her eye lid. Throughout our stay, we've created a daily mosquito count, where each one of us counts our bites and compares. The end count is, 47, 28, 19, and 17.

Literally itching to get out of Venice we have trouble getting to the airport due to the heavy rain, that leaves us completely drenched and still itchy. We  arrive at about 3 in the afternoon,wait in line to talk to the airline, Easy Jet and to check in, we wait about 20 minutes to find out our flight has been unexpectedly canceled. With no where to go, we wait in the airport, all restaurants and even the airlines close up shop. In the dark, literally, we tirelessly wait, thirsty and hungry, my uncle fed up with this lack of service, jumps up and goes behind a restaurants counter. He enthusiastically hands out free fountain drinks to fellow passengers, until the airport security shows up and threats to take away his passport. A head official for the airport shows up, we explain to her why we became so frustrated. She contacts the airline, they chartered two buses to transport us to three different hotels, which of course, splits us up into the three different hotels. Our half of the family arrives at Hotel Sofitel, exhausted we immediately fall asleep.

The next day, the airline tells us that there isn't another flight until another day. We spend the day dattling around Venice, exploring the suburbs of Venice, and sitting down for a picnic at a local park. The following day we have our bags checked, hurriedly get to our gate, cautious as if another mishap could derail us again and finally board the plane to Paris. The next week my family spent in France we visited several family members around France. We got French haircuts at local salon, considering they only spoke French it seemed like a good way to get a really French looking haircut. As our trip dwindled down, it was time to say goodbye, we posed for our last pictures, gave our last hugs and promised to keep in touch. The truth is, this trip is  hard to summarize into a 600 word essay. It was an experience of a lifetime, I wouldn't take back all the mosquito bites, the plane mishaps, and the many new faces that will remain forever in my heart.

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