A Family Reunion in Paris
I have a very large family and we live all across the country. The last time we were all together was over ten years ago when my grandparents had their 50th wedding anniversary. However, over the last ten years there have been lots of weddings, graduations, births of children etc. as there are in all families. It was definitely time to catch up. Since it was my idea to have a family reunion, I was in charge of all the plans.
The first thing that I did was I sent out a mass e-mail. I wanted to get a sense of who was able to take time off, where people wanted to go, and how much we all wanted to spend. Once that was settled I was able to begin planning for our travel destination.
The majority of my family wanted to go somewhere in Europe. I went to a travel agency and was able to find a great package deal to Paris. We were able to get group rates since there were more than twenty of us going. Since no one knew what the final decision was I decided to surprise everyone by sending out a formal invitation. I was able to download a picture of the Eiffel Tower which I put on the cover of the invitation. Everything on the inside gave the flight information, and hotel arrangements. I was delighted when I received so many phone calls from family members saying that they were able to attend.
Once I the travel destination had been decided I wanted to get everyone something special and I found a store that specialised in custom made gifts. They had picture frames that you can have engraved for a reasonable price and I was able to choose one graphic. I ordered the frames and had 'The Smith Family Reunion 2004' engraved on the bottom together with a picture of the Eiffel Tower. I sent the frames out prior to our trip to get everyone excited for the reunion.
When it was getting closer to the weekend of our family reunion I went back to the travel agent to start planning the itinerary. The travel agent arranged for a coach to pick us up from the airport and take us straight to the first tourist site - the Eiffel Tower. With the help of the travel agency I was able to reserve the tickets online; therefore we didn't have to wait in the long line when we arrived. Afterwards the bus would take us to our hotel. We would be given time to unpack and then it was off for dinner and some more site seeing. Fortunately were able to purchase online tickets to the museums and shows that we planned on seeing during our two week vacation. We booked tickets for the Louvre, Norte Dame Cathedral, The Catacombs and much more. With the help of the travel agent we had the whole trip planned out. I made copies of the itinerary and sent them off to everyone who was coming.
When we arrived in Paris, it was so nice for everyone to see each other and explore a new city together. Out of all of us, no one had ever been to Paris, but now we could say that we've all been, and we've been together. The weather was beautiful, the hotel that we stayed in was very charming, and all the museums, churches, and other places that we visited were unforgettable. We were also blessed with exceptionally bright weather for the time of year which made the site seeing so much more enjoyable.
A few months after the trip I asked my relatives what was their favourite part of the reunion. My uncle enjoys telling the story of how he got lost in the Louvre museum. We had all started off together, but decided to split up since everyone wanted to see different things. My uncle had decided to skip everything else and go straight to the Mona Lisa. When it was time to meet back at the exit, my uncle was the only one missing. We waited for over an hour for him, and my aunt was worried sick. It turned out that my uncle had accidentally gone through the wrong door and was being questioned by the museum's security. He would have been out sooner, but since he didn't speak a word of French it was hard to explain to them that it was just an honest mistake. When we finally found him he was laughing hysterically at the situation, but the funny part is, he never saw the Mona Lisa.
One of my mum's most memorable times was when we went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. The hotel concierge had recommend it and said that everything on the menu was fantastic. When we got to the restaurant and we were given the menus we noticed that everything was written in French with no English translations like we had seen at the other restaurants. We all ordered something risking a chance since we had no idea what any of the entrées were. When our food arrived most of us were stunned and confused by what we had ordered. My mother decided to ask the waiter, what we were eating. After many attempts to translate the waiter's English, we realised we had ordered snails!
My personal favourite moment depicts what happens when the entire Smith family gets together. We all posed for a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. I had asked the bus driver if he wouldn't mind taking our picture with my camera. Since it was digital I had planned to e-mail the photos to everyone. However everyone insisted on having a picture with their own camera just in case mine didn't turn out. The poor bus driver was swarmed with cameras, around his neck and arms, and even in his pockets. I took a picture of him covered with all our cameras. After that I made sure never to ask a stranger to take a group photo. It was too risky.
After talking and reminiscing with everyone, I went and purchased decorative stationary and typed up all of the most memorable moments that everyone had shared with me. I also had t-shirts made that said 'I survived my Family Reunion.' I sent off the letters and shirts, and ever since then my relatives have been calling wondering to ask when I was going to plan the next family trip. Our two weeks in Paris, could have been explained in two words, 'organized chaos'. But I wouldn't trade the memories I've made with my family for anything. We laughed, we cried, but most of all we had a great time and we won't wait ten years before we do it all over again!