On February 9, 2005 I woke up really REALLY early. My flight to Washington D.C. left at 6:00 am and once in Washington I would have a short hour and a half layover. My flight to England left at 9:55 am. I was due to arrive in England at 9:55 pm. I had no idea this was actually a little unusual. Most transatlantic flights are overnight flights. I boarded the very small, only slightly bigger than a puddle jumper plane to Washington D.C. It was completely uncomfortable and even a little smelly. I was too excited to sleep, not that I would be able to anyway. I can never sleep on flights. I'm a little jealous of people that can. I wouldn't say the entire flight was miserable but it was very typical of the domestic flights we all get to experience from the cheap seats. The silver lining was I flew United and at the time United was serving Pepsi. And I do love me some Pepsi. Fun Fact: I will go to a restaurant with OK food just because they have a great ratio of syrup to soda water for the Mountain Dew. (Maybe I should rename that to Sad Fact)... Anyway, I got to Washington and made my way to the internationals gate. The flight boarded ahead of schedule. I got on the plane and oh my what a difference a destination makes. This flight was larger, of course, and the seats were bigger and more comfortable. There were TVs on the back of every headrest with tons of things to watch. We were going to be there for a while, 8 hours, so they did a really great job of keeping us entertained. Sad Fact: I was so naive about international flights that I went to Burger King in the airport and got a Whopper meal for the flight. I thought they treated all flights the same and they don't us on regular flights. Not only did they feed me, they fed me two meals and a snack! Not to mention all the drinks I could drink. So as they were closing the doors to the flight I realized there was no one sitting beside me. So I had 2 seats, which was the whole row on the side of the plane, to myself. It was heaven. FYI - domestic flights stink! International is where it's at!! We arrived in London early but Heathrow was having air traffic issues so we flew in circles around London for an hour. We still landed on time. I got off the plane and started the longest walk ever from the gate to the main airport. On the way to passport control I saw the most disturbing sign. It was a huge yellow sign and in big, black, bold letters it said: TOILETS. Gross!! I found this to be the case all over Europe! I had to go through passport control and answer their questions: How long are you here for? What is the purpose of your stay? I passed with flying colors and they let me go through. It was very easy. They were very nice. Let me just say this - if you are traveling to England please let me know. I have gathered quite a bit of knowledge of things you would never think about. Even the best airlines to fly at certain times and times of day to fly. - I walked out of the airport into the waiting area and it was overwhelming seeing all of the people. I finally heard a voice from the side of me that said "hey". And there he was. He helped me with my luggage and we set off for the car park (parking lot to us Americans). The first thing I noticed was how cold it was. When I left Florida is was normal February weather. Maybe even a little warmer. I was expecting it to be cold but it was cold AND wet. We got to the car and I tried to get int he driver's side. After my silly mistake and Jason having a good laugh we were off. It was a 3 hour drive back to his house. I would have been really annoyed but I had to remember I lived 3 hours from the Orlando airport so I had no room to talk. As we were driving, at night, to his house I was noticing a strange thing - they had hotels in the middle of the highway. You know, like in the median. Weird, right? So I said to Jason, ummm, can you tell me why there are hotels and pubs in the middle of the roads? And he said, I don't see them, I don't know what you're talking about. What? How does he not see them. So the next time I saw one I said, there, that one. And he looked in the median and said, where? Are you kidding me? He can't see the buildings? So the next time I saw one I pointed at it and said - THERE and I pointed over my left shoulder. He laughed at me and reminded me that the "median" on the left was actually the side of the road. Because, of course, in England they drive on the opposite side. So when I said median, he looked towards the right, because that was the actual median. I still make mistakes like that which is why I never drive over there. Ever. Period. We finally got to his house and I crashed. I was tired, had been travelling all day and was beat. The next day we went to his parents house. I was nervous. So nervous. Upon meeting his parents his dad said "Welcome to the land of rain and bland food". Truer words have never been spoken! His family was beyond wonderful. Even today I feel like I have the best inlaws anyone could ever ask for. They are kind, considerate and most importantly, they raised a really wonderful son. We spent the 10th, 11th and 12th meeting his family, going to a town called Sheffield to meet his grandmother and great-aunt, meeting friends, touring his hometown of Lincoln. Lincoln isn't far from the Sherwood Forest. We went to the High Street (the main shopping/downtown district) and shopped and had hot chocolate. We went to the Lincoln castle. I'd never been to a castle before. We went to the Lincoln Cathedral. It is the actual cathedral where they filed The DaVinci Code. As we walked around people would comment on my accent. I was the foreigner. It is still strange to be somewhere and you are the only one that talks a certain way. Luckily I usually have Christian to help me feel more comfortable. On the 13th we woke up and I was told to pack a bag because we were leaving for a couple of days. I packed and his mom came to get us and take us to the train station. We boarded a train in a town called Grantham which was headed to Kings Cross station in London. Kings Cross is the station in Harry Potter where they go to Platform 9 1/2 to go to Hogwarts. Once there we took the tube (subway talk there) to Waterloo station in London to board the Eurostar. 2 and a half hours later we arrived in Paris. Yes, THAT Paris. My wonderful boyfriend took me to Paris, France as my Valentine's Day present! It should be noted that I got sick in England. I caught the flu and it was ugly! I was a mess. Must have been all the outside walking in the really wet, cold weather. Luckily, when we got the Paris I was on my way back to good health but I was far from 100%. We checked into the hotel and went on a self guided walking tour of the area of our hotel. We had crepes and went to get a Royale with cheese (cause they have the metric system so they don't know what a quarterpounder is), we ate croissants and just walked around. I got money from an ATM. I couldn't understand what it was asking me but luckily numbers are numbers. We did go to a chemist (pharmacy like Walgreens) to try and get my some medicine. We walked in and up to the counter. I said to the woman behind the counter that I didn't speak French, I was sorry, but I really needed something for the flu. She looked at my like I just shot her mother. I hung my head in shame and started to walk away. Jason went up to the counter, to the same woman, said something in French and asked if anyone spoke English. She smiled at him and went to get the chemist, who spoke perfect English and was able to ask him for some medicine. Which, by the way, was AMAZING! I had to buy more to bring home with me! It was getting late but Jason didn't want to go back to the hotel. I was not feeling well and it was really cold so I was wanting to stay in the hotel room. He asked me to walk the River Seine with him. I gave in and we went. It was 11 pm and we walked hand in hand down the bank of the river and it was beautiful. He could see how incredibly cold I was so he gave in and we went back to the hotel. I really was miserable. The next morning we got up, again I was feeling better, we exchanged Valentine's cards and we ate yummy pastries. I swear to you I have walked the streets of many cities trying to find pastries as good as those in Paris. I am still trying to find them. As you would expect, the croissants were buttery and delicious. We went sightseeing this time on a sightseeing bus, one of my favorite things to do in any new city, and we ended up at the Eiffel Tower, passing along the way places like the Louvre, Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe. We wanted to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower but knowing I was trying to get over the flu and how windy it would be and not to mention the line to get up there, we decided to skip the view from the top this time. Hopefully one of these days we will have an opportunity to go back and I will be able to go to the top. After the Eiffel Tower we wondered around and ended up at Notre Dame. It is a beautiful cathedral. It is on the river and quite stunning. We tried to go in but they wanted an entrance fee to "worship" with them. I don't care to turn this into a debate on religion but I pay my tithing to my church so I would never pay to enter and sightsee another church. As we were walking out Jason was acting a little strange. Something I couldn't really explain. Until he pulled me close, kissed me and told me how much he loved me. He said "I am completely, totally and utterly in love with you". Then he pulled out a box from his jacket, bent down (instead of getting on one knee because it was wet) and asked if I would marry him. All I could say was "Yes". He put the most incredible, clear, colorless, Emerald cut Diamond solitaire on my finger. Specially designed by him for me. He told me he drove all the way across the country for my ring. I was flabbergasted! I had to ask, "How long did that take?" "3 hours" he said. Wait, what? 3 hours? Oh my goodness, that would take 3 days in America! OK, seriously, are you kidding me? Did I just get engaged to my dream man, in Paris, on Valentine's day? Yes! I did! We were married April 2, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. On the St. Johns River. And the rest, they say, is history.
I love our story. We have a really great one. I can't wait to be able to tell Georgia our story.