Sanford and I arrived home on Friday night but I’ve just been too jet-lagged to get my last travel post done….until now.
The trip has been a real whirlwind, lots of great cities, lots of wonderful sites, lots of friends and family, and lots of activity, but I have to admit, it is great to be home. We were gone a total of 86 days, stopped in 9 countries, and changed accommodations 32 times. Amazingly, we never lost a thing. We also leased a car for eight weeks in which we drove 8500 km…and we’re still talking to each other. I think this marriage will last!
My last post was written from Woerden, Netherlands. From there, we continued heading back to Paris in order to drop off the car. From Paris we flew to Dublin, Ireland, to spend a few days with another friend of Sanford’s. Alma acted as our personal tour guide and showed us all around Dublin. We took in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin Castle and the Guinness Storehouse Brewery/Museum. The brewery was a lot of fun, it was both educational and entertaining. Although we didn’t see any of the real brewing process we did get “trained” in pulling a draft of beer and got a certificate to prove it.
From Dublin we took a ferry and a couple of trains to get back to Sylvia in Bridport, England. She again acted as our tour guide and we explored more of the Southern coast of England. One of the sights she took us to was in Beer village for a tour of a quarry mine. The Beer Caves were a labyrinth of cave quarries a mile or so inland from the coast. It contains the highly sought-after Beer Stone, a sandstone/clay/limestone material prized for its creamy colour, easy carving and durability. It had been worked from Roman times to the 20th century, and used in churches and public buildings throughout southern England. The one-hour guided tour took us through the history and working conditions of the quarry, with entertaining facts and storytelling throughout. Sylvia also treated us to a one man play about Lancelot “Capability” Brown, a renowned gardener from the 1700s who designed many gardens throughout England for both royalty and nobility.
After a few days with Sylvia we headed back to Rochester and Sanford’s cousin and then onto our final stop in London for three nights prior to flying home. Our time in London didn’t seem long enough plus what time we were there it rained a lot, so we weren’t able to take in all the sites we wanted. We spent most of our first day in Kew Botanical Gardens, a spectacular garden designed by none other than Lancelot “Capability” Brown. This garden, perhaps the world’s premiere botanic garden, is vast and full of attractions. We spent about 5 hours walking around it viewing a stunning array of plants from all around the world. Their was a feature attraction while we were there of a “beehive”, an artistically unique metal lattice sculpture loosely resembling a beehive and animated by LED lights and soundscape synchronized to the activity of a nearby actual hive of bees. We were able to go into this structure and be immersed in the “hive”. The gardens also had a treetop walk, palm house, Japanese gardens and pagoda, rose gardens, orchid house, many old or unique trees, and a redwood forest. We could have stayed longer if it wasn’t getting close to closing and our legs weren’t giving out.
The second day we walked around London and went through Chinatown, Picadilly Circus, Trafalger Square, walked along the Thames, over the Tower Bridge, and through some street markets. The last day Sanford and I went our separate ways; I visited the Tower of London while he took in the British Museum. Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head for home.
When I reflect on our trip, there were many highlights, but two that really stood out for me. I totally loved Zakopane Poland, I loved the hiking and the fact that I climbed a mountain, I also enjoyed being in a tourist resort town with all the little shops to poke through. Coming in probably equal to Zakopane was the time spent with Sylvia around Bridport. We really did a lot of fun things there. The first time with her we went to a Swannery, dug for fossils, toured a foundry, went for a coastal walk and saw a student opera production. The second time we were with her she took us to the cave quarry and to the one man play on Lancelot “Capability” Brown.
As for regrets, regrets being perhaps a little too harsh of a word, is that we didn’t really have the time to travel around the Scandinavian countries. Although we spent time in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, we didn’t really travel around much so I don’t feel that I have really “seen” those countries. We stayed mostly with friends/family of Sanford’s and had a great time, but we weren’t really near any major sites, mostly in smaller villages.
I found traveling for three months a bit long, for me anyways. I think Sanford could go on and on. Two months felt like my limit. Both of us felt that we hurried through many places and I think perhaps next time we would go to fewer places and stay a little longer.
So now I’m home….for a few days anyways. On July 7th, 10 days from now, I’m heading to Vancouver with Sanford to visit more of his family and friends. This will just be a short trip. On the 12th I’m heading back to Winnipeg and Sanford is heading back to Australia. However he will still be travelling a bit more. He has decided to stop in the Philippines for a few days before taking his final flight to Sydney.
Until next trip…..