When I took my first plane flight to London, Paris, and Rome in 2016, I took my Martin Backpacker guitar, which I had gotten from late Advocate Contributing Journalist Mark Hunter, on board.
I'd never had a beer on a flight before, so I figured that I would relax for the long trip. They didn't have a "Dixie," or whatever it will be called now, for this native Yat, so I settled for a Michelob!
It was neat that Maryanne, a British native, was seated next to me. We started up a conversation and I found out that she had once been a cook for some nuns in her homeland.
Maryanne shared being Catholic, like me, so we had a great time sharing many stories of similar devotions and favorite saints.
I told her about the St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta Sisters, whom provide great outreach to the poor where we attend mass at St. Agnes in Baton Rouge.
How fun it was towards the middle of our flight to sing "Danny Boy" with Maryanne and others—after we all had had a few too many beers. Even the flight attendants joined in with us for a little harmony!
I had fun staying at a hostel in London and meeting other cheerful travelers. I was able to check out some of the tips that Maryanne had given to me, including being able to play guitar out in an area by the River Thames near London Bridge. I got to jam with other musicians like folks do at Jackson Square in the French Quarter!
During my stay in London, it was a blast to tour great sights like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, as well as walk the Thames and ride the London Eye with that spectacular view of the area! I chanced upon a cool happy hour pub that had some pretty English gals on pedestals inviting patrons in and enjoyed some great strong Fuller's Vintage Ale.
When I had arrived in Paris by using the Chunnel train from London, it was so cool to chance upon some musicians jamming in the subway. While I couldn't speak a lick of French, they let me join in with my guitar on a tune that they were playing—music is definitely the international language of love and peace!
After settling in another neat hostel in Paris, I just so happened to arrive on the last day of the Tour de France. So I caught a metro to the Arc de Triomphe and got to view the speeding bikers coming to the finish line while raising some wine in a toast with others!
Later, I found a quaint romantic restaurant nearby my hostel. A beautiful young waitress came up next to me and offered me advice for an exquisite meal (marinated salmon on cheesed bread) and some great wine.
After some small talk and flirting (shhh—don't tell my wife, as she wasn't able to make the trip!), she kissed me on my cheek—WOW! I was flashed-back to that wonderful old movie "An American In Paris."
So I next took out my stringed instrument and sang some songs to the folks around me. They especially liked the "You Are My Sunshine" tune that former Governor of Louisiana Jimmie Davis had written.
The next days in Paris were blessed with fun times at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and attending mass and going to confession at the exquisite Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris—before the unfortunate fire in 2019.
On my train ride from Paris to Rome, I befriended a neat Italian couple who were intrigued about New Orleans, so we had a great time exchanging stories. They gave me some great tips for my visit to Rome and then enjoyed me playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" and other tunes on my guitar while on that train.
Once again, I had another cool hostel in Rome and was treated every day to some fine breakfast and cafe by Darlenia, a very sweet native!
Besides touring many wonderful churches (including St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel), touring the Catacombs, and the Colosseum, I got to take a scooter tour of Rome with a great guide. Wow, I had to be a very defensive driver as I learned how to navigate the many circular intersections of the Eternal City! I loved the view of St. Peter's through the Knights of Malta Keyhole at the Villa del Priorato.
On my plane trip back to the United States from Rome, I chilled out again with a Michelob and made a toast to thank God for the many great adventures I was blessed to have and the people I met.