In 2002, Clara was four; Henry was seven. We spent three weeks in Dublin, Ireland where I taught at Trinity College; one week in Northwest Wales touring castles; and one week in Edinburgh Scotland. We walked the children everywhere and, for the most part, they were troopers about it. Although occasionally, while we were consulting a map and trying to figure out how to get to our next destination, Clara would pipe up in her small four year old voice "We could always take a 'capsy.'" (The last word being one of her own devising, a combination of cab and taxi). And, once, when we stood at street level considering a restaurant (such establishments are often located on the second floor in Wales and Scotland), she looked up, sighed, and said very softly, "I hate stairs." At the end of the trip, Paul and I were relieved that we had been able to book a nonstop flight home from Ireland to California. After we had settled in, we explained the length of the flight to Clara. Thirteen hours? She looked at us, as if we were crazy, pulled her green blanket over her head and slept for the entire flight!
In 2004, Clara was six; Henry was nine. We returned to Dublin and added a week in London afterwards. Clara attended a performing arts camp in Dublin and loved singing and dancing. When we went to London, we attended a showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and she was equally thrilled by the flying car and the ice cream trolley which came by our seats at intermission. At the end of the show, confetti rained from the sky. She gathered some up. Later, in our apartment, she threw it up in the air, over and over again, reveling in the ability to create a celebration out of thin air. Henry was overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of London. Not so Clara. She asked me in all seriousness, "Mom, if I move here, will you come visit me?"
In 2005, Clara was seven; Henry was ten. We headed East and spent three weeks in a farm house turned travel hostel in Prague Czech Republic (where I taught at Charles University). We spent long weekends in Rome, Italy and Vienna, Austria. In Rome, I was a little hesitant about going up the dome inside St. Peter's Cathedral, but Clara sprinted ahead and so I had to follow! Clara loved drinking from and playing in the fountains found around the streets of Rome. She also loved all the cute Italian men who thought she was "bellisima" and showed her how to use the fountains to spray water at people in the crowd.
In 2008, Clara was ten; Henry was thirteen. We started with a week's vacation in Paris, France and then spent two weeks in Budapest, Hungary where I taught. We ended with a week in Venice, Italy. Clara was the only one from our family brave enough to go all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. On our last night in Venice, there was a huge thunderstorm and tons of wind and rain. Clara asked if she could go dance in the rain in Plaza San Marco. She was shocked when we said, "yes." Out she went! She danced and laughed, finally returning, soaked and beaming with joy.
Happy 14th Birthday Clara! I hope you enjoy this summer's trip and return with more tales tell!
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