Sisters Violet and Hazel Yingling of Truro were going to go all the way to Paris, France, on an extra-special vacation this spring. They had to put their trip on hold because of the coronavirus, but not without making the most of their plans.
The whole family had joined in on the planning, said Guillermo Yingling, the girls’ father. “My sisters bought them dresses for Paris, and berets,” he said. “My cousin and her kids were going, too.” They would have been sharing a house near Notre Dame in the center of the city, and the girls were learning some French in preparation.
Now, everyone pitched in to think of ways to bring a Parisian experience to Truro instead.
“My aunt sent them a Monet book and a puzzle of a church in Paris,” Yingling said. “And my girlfriend, who is a very good baker, made croissants and baguettes. The whole time we were supposed to be in Paris, we pretended we were there, in our heads.”
“My dad really made it feel like Paris,” said Hazel, who is nine. Violet, 11, agreed and added that the “fake-Paris” trip began on the same day they were supposed to go for real. “That night I looked in a French cookbook my dad had, and we made a French salad for dinner,” said Violet.
The highlight of the vacation was a giant homemade Eiffel Tower. “My dad taped together a bunch of paper bags and spray-painted the Eiffel Tower on them in the driveway,” said Violet. Then he hung the tower from the living-room ceiling. “I got to climb that Eiffel Tower every single day,” said Hazel. “Me and Violet took up binoculars a couple of times just to look down, even though it wasn’t very far.”
The sisters did some other sightseeing during their adventure. Located near the Highland Light in the National Seashore, the 70-foot-tall Jenny Lind Tower — named after the 19th-century opera singer — resembles an image out of a fairy tale. “The Jenny Lind Tower looks like part of a castle,” said Violet, “so our dad took us there because he thought that it was like something we might see in Paris.”
Violet and Hazel will eventually get to experience Paris, said their dad. In the meantime, Violet’s advice to everyone who has to stay home instead of taking their vacation is: “Use your imagination and make the most of it. We still had a lot of fun.”
Going on a Pretend Trip
- Think of a place you’ve always wondered about.
- Read up: what kind of natural or architectural sites are there to see in your special place?
- Choose a place to stay. Find out where travelers stay when they go. What places do you want to be near?
- What kind of art is your place known for? Look for artworks from there in a museum book or online.
- Re-create a piece of art or architecture in your own way. Like Violet and Hazel’s Eiffel Tower, it can be made of cardboard.
- Try the food! See if you can find a recipe. Is it something you could cook here?
- Pick a place nearby to go and visit. Is there a place you can go with your family just for the fun of having an excursion? Is it anything like your dream destination?