EUROPE 2003 - My Personal Journal
Text below was taken from the journal of Cheryl Jones. Video, Photos and Site Design by Dean Jones.
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Getting Started
Sat. May 3 4:55pm (Local Toronto Time)

We are sitting in the Toronto Airport waiting for our flight to London, Heathrow to board.

We've been here since about 3:45pm after coming from the Blue Jays game. The game was a good one. When we had to leave, Toronto was leading by 7-1 in the 7th inning. Vernon Wells hit a grand slam to give them a sizable lead over the Angels. We had really good seats along the first base line.
We had lunch there ($20) and ice creams. The Sky dome is very nice but not quite as impressive as I thought it would be. Our little Can West Park really has everything it does only on a smaller scale. We had to pay $40 for a cab from the airport to Sky dome, not cheap. Toronto is very much like a big US city, lots of freeways, advertising billboards. The tower is neat, reminds me of Calgary and Seattle. Our flight was very smooth from home, only half full. I only got weepy once thinking about the dream that I've had for so long coming true. We're really having a fun relaxing time so far, no problems. The trick will now be to get some sleep on this overseas flight so we can stay up when we get to Rome. Only another 12 hours or so until I see the sights of Rome, I can't wait.

Our flight to London was a little tough, a screaming child a lot of the way. We had a very nice chicken dinner and then tried for some sleep. Between the kid and some turbulence and a pretty good movie selection ( Cheryl "About Schmidt" - Dean "Star Trek" ) we slept very little. The flight seemed to go pretty fast.

Day One (in Europe)
Sun. May 4 6:25am (Local London Time)

We arrived in Heathrow no problem. Waited around for a couple of hours. On the flight to Rome I slept, Dean had a really good breakfast. We sat beside a Roman named Paola who gave Dean some sightseeing tips and her phone number in case we ran into trouble in Rome.

12:35pm (Local Rome Time)

We got off the plane and had to wait a long time for my luggage, Dean's was the first bag to come out! We found the airport terminal and caught the Express to Rome. Arrived at the Termini around 2pm and went looking for our Hotel. We asked around and then bought a map and walked with our packs on our back to find it.

Elia was there, the man we had talked to in Canada. We got settled in and then headed out to walk and see the sights. We found a couple of squares and fountains before we actually found the Trevi Fountain. They were the Quirnale
and the Piazza Venezia.
The Trevi Fountain was very large and beautiful,
very crowded with people, men selling roses to ladies. We both threw in a coin for luck
and headed out for the "Piazza de Spagne" or the Spanish Steps. Very crowded as well, beautiful flowers on the steps, great view of the city from the top of them.
We walked back to our hotel. There are so many people riding scooters here and little cars and they all drive like maniacs. To cross the road you are just supposed to walk out into the street on the crosswalk and the drivers are supposed to stop. The ladies here have very nice shoes and purses. They dress fashionably for the most part. Their shoes are all very pointed and very high, not comfortable looking at all. We ended up at a cafe/restaurant right by our hotel and Dean had lasagna and coke and I had cannelloni and wine
and we went to bed by 9pm.

Day Two
Mon. May 5

Dean was up before 6am today and had showered and got continental breakfast for us before 7am. We ate pastries and had juice and then I got ready to go while Dean got us information on taking the bus down to the Colleseo. We caught the bus shortly after 8am and were outside of the Colleseo before 9am. We shot pictures of Constantine's Arch

and some of the outside of the Colleseo.
It was very awe inspiring. Mostly we thought of stories of what used to go on there back when it was in full use. We got there right when it opened at 9am and then discovered that admission was free. We spent quite a bit of time walking through and taking pictures.
When we left, we paid a few Euros for a Gladiator to get his picture with us.
Fun Stuff. We then walked through the ruins and looked out onto the Forum.
Dean made sure he saw the Colleseo where the emperor's entrance was. We saw the Palatino grounds museum again for free and were told all Roma museums were free this week as part of Cultural Awareness week. We then took a bus down to the "Terme Di Caracalla" which are the Roman baths.
I kept saying the only reason the Roman's had all of these baths was for their orgies but Dean didn't like that. The baths were really neat, floors of mosaics just like a modern pool floor.
We stopped to rest a while and then headed back on the bus for the Pantheon. On the way there we found a nice little cafe frequented by mostly locals for lunch which was hot pasta with tomato sauce and bread and cokes for 20 Euro (Euros). On from there to the Pantheon which has a great outer building entrance
but also a great church inside.
Very impressive. We went to the Piazza de Novana to see the fountains and artisans
but also to find Gelati at Berninis which we couldn't find. Long walk home to bus stop and then our hotel. Bought some drinks and some prepared ice cream treats and headed up to our room for a much deserved rest. Booked our next hotel much closer to the Vatican. Plan is to head out later today for the Villa Borghese. We didn't get up and at it until about 7:15pm. We headed out to look for a bus to Borghese, couldn't find it on any bus stop. We decided to take a taxi but the cabby was honest with us and told us the Villa was closed. We'll have to go another day. We took a walk to find a cafe to have a beer and pizza at. We found the "Cin Cin" cafe and had a warm sandwich, bierra and a coke, very nice. We then had a gelato (chocolate chip and coffee) with fancy fireworks like decorations. We then caught our favourite # 60 bus and rode the route. We got off at the Colosseo to take pictures of it at night, very beautiful.
Bit more bus riding then home to the hotel to get organized for check out tomorrow and the Vatican, I have decided that what you need to be a true Roman lady is a pair of great pointy shoes, a cell phone, a scooter and a cigarette. With them you are a true Roman Donna. I'm still working on my Italian, one word at a time. A lot of people you run into here do speak English, we just try to accommodate a little. Off to relax then pack, we see the Pope tomorrow!

Day Three
Tues. May 6

We got up a little late this morning, had a quick breakfast and then checked out. We took a pretty expensive taxi to our new hotel. It is very near the Vatican, right on the river. It is a really nice, spacious room. The lady that greeted us spoke no English so we had a bit of fun checking in. We dropped off our bags and headed to the Vatican.

They were setting up for a "Papal Audience" tomorrow in the square.
Many many people. St. Peter's Basilica was huge and very ornate. The money that went into all of that is amazing. We took lots of pictures. We then took a long walk to the Sistene Chapel and Vatican museums. A huge crowd heading there too. We saw our first Michelangelo statue and lot of beautiful art. The Sistene Chapel is preceded by an amazing corridor all painted on the ceilings.
You walk a long way through many chambers until you get to the chapel. There is supposed to be no photos or talking but we did some of both.
We saw the actual Michelangelo work "The Hand of GOD" and many others. It was stunning. We left the chapel and headed back to a little pizza cafe we had seen on the way there. I had a beer and Dean a coke and we treated ourselves to a mushroom pizza, gelato and tiramisu. All was very delicious. At one point, there was a man playing the accordion while we ate. Very cliche Italian but I just loved it! We saw nuns and priests in many shapes and sizes. We left the Vatican area and headed for the Castal Sant Angelo,
a very old Castle. We climbed a lot of stairs but gained a spectacular view of Rome.
We could see the Piazza di Venezia from that vantage point. We left there and had a short walk back to our hotel where we rested for a while. While I write, Dean went to get an adapter for the battery charger and some drinks and food for the room. Dean brought back McDonalds and coke and meat and cheese and buns for sandwiches. We got ready and walked to the market street again. Lots of nice stores and cafes. We caught the bus and went to Chiesa di S Paolo to a see a selection of opera arias. There was a string and wind ensemble and two sopranos and two tenors.
My two favorite songs were "Intermezzo" by P. Mascagni from "Cavalleri a Rusticana" and "Nessun dorma" bu G. Puccini from "Turandot", they were both very magical. We left there and took the bus back to our hotel for some drinks and bed.

Day Four
Wed. May 7

We got up a little later today, had breakfast in our room and left for the bus by 10am. We had some trouble finding our routes to get to the Villa Burgehse

but eventually got there. They still let us into the Galleria on our reservation. It is in a park setting very different from the city. You only get 90 mins to tour the gallery, we only took a half hour. We were really impressed to see four original Bernini statues, David, Truth Unveiled by Time, Pluto and Proserpina, and especially Apollo and Daphne which shows her turning into a tree in Apollo's embrace. We left the Galleria and had a picnic lunch on the grounds, really good panini we had made ourselves. We watched the school kids on a field trip and Dean fed the pigeons and chickadees some bread. From there, we caught the bus to the Termini to scope out our train for the next day. Very busy place. Dean validated our passes and we were off to the Catacombs. It was a very long bus ride. In the middle I bought some comfortable Italian leather shoes to try and save my feet. The Catacombs are outside of Rome so it was nice because we could see the countryside. We went on a guided English tour which was very informative. It was really cool underneath the ground
which we both really enjoyed. It has been very hot here in Roma. We took a while getting back to the Hotel from the remote Catacombs. We freshened up and checked out and headed to get a new battery charger. We found a cafe where the waiter spoke English, Italian and French. We got complimentary breschetta, we ordered antipasto, veggies. We had intentions of having a primi and secondi meal but after wine and water and lobster and pasta for Dean, lasagna for me we were really stuffed. It was the richest, best lasagna ever. We left and walked to the Trevi Fountain one last time on our last night in Rome. Very romantic, took some pictures.
We walked back to the hotel for an early night full of packing. Up at 7:30am tomorrow for breakfast to catch a 9:46am train to PISA!

Day Five
Thurs. May 8

We got a wake-up call at 7:30am this morning, got dressed and had croissants, cappuccino and tea for breakfast and headed out. Two buses and we were at the Termini. A short wait and we were on the train in first class. Only 6 seats per compartment. We were first seated with one gentleman in a smoking section but Dean found us empty seats in non-smoking. The train moved very fast, a few stops along the way. Beautiful Tuscany countryside, marble quarries, villas, castles, vineyards, everything you'd expect on a train ride in the Italian countryside. This couple from Texas came to sit with us halfway or so into the trip. He was a anesthesiologist she a nutritionist from Dallas. We talked with them about Roma, they gave us some tips on Paris. They were on route to a small town called Sarcona to visit an exchange student who had stayed with them. They had money as they told me they had been up to Knee Lake. After a three hour ride we arrived in Pisa. We checked our baggage and headed for the tower. There is a "Duomo" building

and Cathedral
with the tower and a whole lot of street vendors. The tower really does lean a lot.
We took a bunch of pictures and I walked barefoot through the grass.
We spent 10 Euro to go to the Duomo building, rip off, not much to see. We spent a total of an hour or more there, really nice. We got back on the bus to Firenze, Another hour to Firenze under not so pleasant circumstances in 2nd class. Your knees are right up against the person across from you and no air conditioning. Very nice countryside again though. We arrived in Firenze and after some confusion, reserved seats on the Eurostar to Venezia on Friday. We took a short taxi ride to our hotel Fedora. Very simple, really just a large residence rented out. There is a dog living there. We went out for dinner at a cafe around the corner from our hotel. Chizora, very good. We had bruschetta and water and 1.50 Euro for a quarter liter of red wine that they had on tap! I was impressed. Dean had a really nice steak with some potatoes and I had gnocchi. Both were very good. We took another short cab ride to the "Duomo". Really beautiful pink and green and white marble facade.
We saw the famous doors on the chapel, also very beautiful.
We walked to the Medici Palace and chapel very old stone buildings, nothing too spectacular.
We continued walking, pretty dirty streets, garbage just thrown on the street, lots of street vendors closing up. A little seedier and dirtier than Rome. We stopped at a little Caffeteria near our hotel for some Gelati, cafe/cicoletto for me and cicoletto/stagnetto (choc. Chip) for Dean. He followed his gelati up with a glass of milk, we bought water and went back to the hotel by 10pm to relax. Tomorrow, we have reservations at two museums and shopping to do on the bridge then off to Venezia on a 6:30pm train.

Day Six
Fri. May 9

We got up around nine and packed up to leave. We took a taxi to the stazione to store our luggage while we went sightseeing. We went to the Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge with jewelry merchants on it.

Really beautiful stuff but very expensive. Didn't buy anything as we figured it was a tourist trap and we might be able to find better bargains in Venice. We walked over to the Uffizi Gallery.
There were a lot of merchants there selling artwork and some mimes. One was dressed like the Mona Lisa (a man) and there were two others all in white dressed as Leonardo De Vinci and Dante. We were allowed in early for our appointment at Uffizi. There are 44 rooms of art there. The highlights were the Boteclli rooms where the Birth of Venus and Springtime were located. There were a lot of portraits of cupids and angels which I really loved. We saw the original artworks that we have hanging in our bedroom. We left there and headed for the Academia Museum with lots of time to spare. We didn't hurry and stopped a couple of times in cafes but left because they were really expensive. We arrived at Academia to discover it was free. We saw the original Michelangelos David which was stunning.
We looked at the rest of the plaster molds for some other famous statues and then spent some more time admiring David. We left there and did a little shopping buying some Florentine souvenirs for my Grandma. We headed for the train station by bus. We again had a lot of time so found an internet point and checked e mail and sent one home. We waited a while for a train
and eventually had to switch tracks to catch our Eurostar train. We were in the first class smoking car, kind of stuffy with the smoke but we survived by going for a walk to the dining and bar car. Again there was beautiful countryside out the window. We got to Venezia around 9:30pm and stepped out of the station right into a dreamlike setting. It was even more beautiful than I imagined.
No cars, just boats on the grand canal. It was beautiful. We found out hotel only a few steps away from the station and checked in. We then went walking and climbed a bridge to see the sights.
We had dinner at a cafe right on the water, pizza and wine and cappuccino. It was fantastic.
We walked a little more after dinner, window shopped
and watched the boats go by. Back to the hotel to bed by midnight.

Day Seven
Sat. May 10

I slept in this morning while Dean did laundry and surfed at the Internet cafe. Nice to have clean clothes again. We packed up and headed for the water bus. It was really busy. We got off at the San Marco stop and started walking with our packs on. We saw a lot of shops and vendors and even San Marco Square but really we just wanted to find out hotel. We backtracked and asked a tourist office how to get there. Some more walking and we found it. Three more floors up and we had our room. We unpacked a bit and headed out for a little cafe that had been recommended by our hotel. They only had a few things on the menu for lunch but it was very good and reasonable. We then walked back to San Marco Square and took it all in. It is a huge square full of pigeons.

Everyone feeds them with the 1 Euro food they sell.
There are cafes all around it with Jazz bands playing all day. We sat at one of the cafes and had an 8 Euro beer plus 4 Euro to sit there.
Needless to say we stayed there a while. We then walked up to the Rialto Bridge which had many shops on it. Dean convinced me to buy a really nice gold chain and we bought one for his Mom. I saw a nice ring there too but decided to still look around. We walked then to the Bridge of Sighs,
we were going to take a gondola ride there but they wanted 100 Euro and they only travel in a circle not from one point to another. We saw some churches along the way. Everywhere is pretty here, even the little corridor streets. We came back to the hotel as it had started to rain and we didn't have our jackets. We ended up having a snooze for a couple of hours, kind of nice on a rainy day. We got up and headed out in the rain to see some more sights. We walked along the Grande canal and tried to find information about the "little steamer" the guidebooks recommended taking but couldn't find any. We walked some more and then found a place for dinner. Lots of seafood on the menu. Dean had shrimp cocktail followed by pasta with scallops. I had a salad and cannelloni. It was fairly pricey. The couple beside us were from France. We exchanged some conversation in both languages. They were very nice. They were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. He told us we were eating in one of the more popular restaurants in Venice. We walked around after dinner, got gelati again and went looking for an internet cafe. We found a rockin one with good tunes and spent an hour there. We walked some more then back to our hotel to sleep.

Day Eight
Sun. May 11

We slept in until 9:15am, almost missed our free continental breakfast. Went downstairs and had croissants, bread, juice and coffee. Came back up to get ready to go out. Headed for Piazza San Marco.

There was a marching band walking trough the square. We took some video of them.
There seemed to be some kind of occasion, but we couldn't figure it out. We bought a 24 hour autobus (waterbus) pass to travel around. We caught the bus to Lido first.
The island Lido translated means beach. It was quieter and very pretty, lots of flowers, bridges and we eventually walked to the beach. It was a sandy beach not topless much to Dean's dismay. We walked some more down to the casino but is wasn't open.
We sat and had a coke and some crackers at a very pleasant little stand. Dean fed the pigeons and the chickadees.
Very enjoyable. We caught the waterbus back to Venezia to go for 2.80 Euro spaghetti near the train station, we had seen a sign. When we got there it was false advertising, no spaghetti today. Were pretty disappointed. I had 3.50 Euro pasta and Dean had a 3.00 Euro hamburger which were both ok but not what we had been looking forward to. We then caught the waterbus to Murano where they make glass. It was very nice there, we rushed a bit to get to the glass museum before it closed. It was neat, really old stuff.
We walked some more, did some window shopping and then caught the bus back. We took another waterbus to the other side of the island. We couldn't find a place right away but made it to a nice little place where for 10 Euro each we had chicken, potatoes and lasagne. IT was pretty good. A piano player came on before we were leaving which was nice. We went back to San Marco square after dinner and bought my mom something for mother's day, a nice glass bead necklace. We sat and listened to the musicians for a while then and tired to call home but neither of our parents answered. We went out walking again, another boat ride down the Grand Canal at night, a drink by the Rialto Bridge then back to the hotel when we did reach my Dad and Dean's parents.

Day Nine
Mon. May 12

Dean got up early

and went to the Internet and FedEx to send off some stuff home. We didn't catch breakfast so just headed out. We first took our bags to the station for storage.
We then looked for a bus to Borano. We tried the cheap spaghetti place and they actually had some, not bad. We caught the bus to Burano a really long ride past Murano and then some. It is a smaller village, very pretty with all of the houses painted different bright colours.
They make lace there so there were many shops selling it. We had a gelati and sat in the park for awhile to relax. We caught the bus back and cruised around the grand canal again.
We walked around and shopped. I bought a gold ring from a vendor. We spent 6 Euro on some groceries and had a dinner picnic by the canals. We headed to the train station to get our bags and wait for our night train.
We caught the train at 10:43pm and shared a compartment with a couple from Australia. We tried to sleep as much as possible but it was hard. The train made many many stops and the conductor interrupted us three times by turning on the lights and asking to see our tickets. It was quite a night only to be followed up by an even more eventful morning.....

Day 10
Tues. May 13

We stayed awake eventually at 7:30am which was still over two hours away from Nice.

We figured the train was going to have a 20 min stop over before we entered France. It did stop in a town just outside of France and we heard the engine disconnect from the train cars. We figured they had to switch to a French engine. Dean went to look inside the train station while we waited, I got off to stretch my legs, but then noticed a policeman boarding the train. I got back on as I figured he wanted to see our passports because we were entering France for the first time. Quite a different reason. He informed us the French were on strike and that we had to get off the train as it was not going on to Nice. We got off in shock and headed for the station. It was true we found out later that the French that work in transportation held a work stoppage to protest proposed pension reform but the French government. This left us stranded along with a lot of other people at the station with no trains or buses out of this small town. We got our ticket from Venice to Nice stamped for a refund and waited with our Australian compartment buddies to see what to do. We decided that a taxi was the only way to go and we would share one with the Aussies. There were no taxis in sight. Dean took a short walk into town to find one. He actually did and we snatched him away from all of the other stranded passengers wanting a cab. He wanted 100 Euro to go to Nice and 50 Euro more for Cannes, a lot of money but we had no choice. Our cabbie drove like crazy through many tunnels and toll booths to get us to Nice. The Aussie's got out there. I went to the bathroom and we were off again. We didn't get to see Nice as planned or Monte Carlo but we were going to see what we can do. Our hotel was ready for us in Cannes, very nice, 2nd floor room.
(Video taken May 15th)
We changed clothes and went for a walk.
We saw the Rue D'Antibes and found a nice place for a really delicious veal/mushroom cream sauce lunch. We went back to the hotel and crashed for a two hour nap. We woke up and went out to the pool. It is not heated, pretty chilly. We put our feet in and then relaxed on the chaise lounges for a while. Our plan is to walk around some more tonight,
find a grocery store and beach it and festival tomorrow. Quite a day, but we survived it very well.

Day Eleven
Wed. May 14

Dean got up early again and did laundry. I slept in until 9am. We got ready and headed for the train station to do battle over yesterday's hassles. We waited a while, talked to some people then had to go into another line and waited over an hour for help. We got what we wanted, an extra day, actually almost two plus application to the French train organization for a refund directly to our VISA of our taxi fare and ticket to Nice. We finished there and then found a "Boulangerie" or bakery and bought 6 croissants and butter. We went back to the Palais to scope out the festival activities and see where we could watch the celebrities arrive from. We decided to skip the beach and secure a place for viewing instead. We waited quite a while and saw the red carpet rolled out, watched them put numbers down for the press and vacuum the red carpet. The people started arriving at 6pm when the press was all assembled and ready. The first celebrity we saw was Andie MacDowell,

she didn't pose for photos too long but we saw her. We were in the front row of the spectators. We next saw Meg Ryan and Steven Sodoburgh.
We then saw Peneleope Cruz,
no Tom Cruise. I'm going to tell people at home I saw "Cruz" they'll have to get it out of me that it was Penelope not Tom. We also saw Gina Lolobrigita.
That was it. Along the street there are tons of signs for movies like the Matrix and T3 and Charlie's Angels. We have pictures of everything. We think some celebrities aren't getting here until the weekend, Arnold S. for sure on Saturday. We walked back to our hotel to find a grocery store for some dinner but it was closed. We looked at Chinese food, very expensive. We eventually bough a lasange and ate it in the room. We were completely beat after our star watching. I managed, thanks to Dean, to get my picture taken with Maria Menudos from Entertainment Tonight. She is very beautiful and very skinny. Dean called her name (she was right in the middle of the crowd when we left).
She responded, we asked if I could take my picture with her. I said I was from Canada and watched her all the time. She agreed, I put my arm around her and Dean snapped the picture.
I thanked her, she said it was nice to meet me and we left. It was pretty exciting. We got to bed pretty early, long day. Tomorrow we're traveling first to Nice then Monte Carlo and then onto Marseille. Only one more day until Paris....

Day Twelve
Thurs. May 15

Today we slept in even longer until 10am. We have to get out of that habit or we'll cut down on our time a great deal. We got up and headed to the train station for Monte Carlo. We got on a train right away. It stopped so many times on our way there the ride ended up taking 1 1/2 hours. When we got there we got out at the train stations which was way underground. You had to take numerous escalators and elevators to get there. We headed out to find Prince Ranier's palace. We got kind of confused as there are many levels to Monaco. A nice older gentleman set us in the right direction. The palace is on the top of a huge hill and has a brick wall all around it. You have to climb up on foot a long way to reach it. When you do, there are many buildings, museums, a school and shops and restaurants. It's quite a complex. The palace is almost like a fort,

two guards stand watch.
I found it a little sad thinking about Ranier living there without his princess Grace. So many things in Monaco are names after her, mostly charitable causes. The streets are named after Caroline, Stephanie and Albert. We bought some sandwiches and a slurpee (yum) to go and got on the bus headed to the Casino. It proved very difficult to get to, not clearly marked at all. They wanted 10 Euro each just to get in plus Dean would have had to rent a jacket and tie so we decided just to take some pictures
and head back to the train as we had spent almost 2 hours already in Monaco. As Dean said, it is no square mile only and certainly on foot, you need hours to do it properly. We observed all of the preparation for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix which starts May 29.
They actually drive all through the streets and the tunnels, looks scary to me. We waited a while and then headed back on the train to Nice/Cannes. We knew we wanted to spend some time at the beach that afternoon but didn't know where. We decided to go back to our well known destination rather than figure out a new one and headed for Cannes. Dean saw multiple topless from the train so got a small taste of it. We went to the Rado Plage which had been recommended by our hotel. They were setting up to host a Canada party for a film contingent that was there. Kind of neat, flags everywhere. We had two nice lounge chairs and a blue and white striped umbrella. The sun and the view were just great, so relaxing. There were a few topless girls around which mildly entertained Dean.
We did go in the ocean but it was very very cold so we didn't go in far or for long.
I had a Singapore Sling with two lemon slices and a line slice plus a palm leaf for a garnish. It was delicious.
It was quite pricey for our couple of hours there but the experience was worth it.
We headed back to the train station for our Marseilles train. It was late so we started chatting with this older British couple from Manchester (Don & Rita). They were very nice, even ended up giving us their contact info in case we needed it. Long late train ride, found out hotel, kind of seedy neighborhood, but really nice room. Got a pizza and went to bed.

Day Thirteen
Fri. May 16

We got up before 9am today and were out the door before 9:30am. We headed for the train station to drop off our bags. We then got directions from the Tourisme office on how to get to the Vieux Port (Old Port). It was not a far walk. Lots of people and shops along the way. The old port is filled with thousands of boats and restaurants all around the marina. At the mouth of the port are two frosts as the people of Marseille were always fighting off someone. We walked along past the forts to a museum dedicated to remembering the holocaust which affected Marseille greatly. There were many concentration camps in France. We walked on to a 19th century Cathedral Le Major and went inside.

The old Cathedral was right beside it, it was 15th century. We walked from there to a high point beside another old church
and took pictures of the view from there.
We headed then for lunch and settled at Chez Caruso on the Marina. We settled on a meal for 23 Euro which began with either fish soup or antipasto. Dean had the fish soup which featured baguette sized croutons which you topped with this mayo/garlic/saffron mixture plus cheeses. Mine was Italian meats. We both had the duck with a cream peppercorn sauce, potatoes and veggies. We argued about whether "canard" in French was masculine or feminine, le or la. We asked our exclusively French waiter who settled it and let us know I was right and it was "le canard" after all. We had some trouble ordering dessert because our waiter only spoke French. We ended up with strawberries in a dish. We walked then to the "Petit Train" stop
to take a ride up to the Notre Dame de La Garde which is way up high on a mountain. The view from there was spectacular. We took some videos and pictures
and instead of waiting the 30 minutes for the next train to pick us up, we went down with the driver all by ourselves. Here was Dean and I on the little train by ourselves going down this huge decline with the French music blaring. I laughed and laughed.
We went back to the train station and caught our train which was pretty much on time. That's where we are now on the high speed train to Paris....
We arrived in Paris just before 7pm and took a cab with a very friendly driver who pointed out a lot of sights along the way. Our hotel was right at the start of Rue Cler. The lady at the desk was very friendly and really helpful. She gave us a lot of info and recommended for the first timers that we go first to the Eiffel Tower. We did. It was a short walk from the hotel. It was very quiet on the streets even quiet around the part surrounding the tower. It was awesome to see the tower in person. It is magnificent. We took some pictures during our approach
then bought tickets to go to the very top of the tower. We waited for the elevator. I admit, I was a little scared. It is a very long way up the elevator went very fast to the first level. We didn't get out there. We went to the next level. The view was amazing, you can see all of Paris.
There are pictures that help you identify all of the sights. We took the next very high elevator up to the very top. The view was staggering, it said you could see for 70 kms.
Mr. Eiffel had a small apartment up there they had re-constructed. Unbelievable he would have guests up to entertain at that height. The top floor is all caged in, I wonder why! We spent some time taking pictures and then descended. The lights were just coming on as we left the tower. It was just after 9pm by then. We walked back and after some looking found the restaurant related to our hotel for something to eat. We each had authentic French onion soup and Dean had escargots. I had a cafe and a creme caramale. All the food was very good, the little restaurant was just packed. We left there about 11pm and went for a stroll to see the Eiffel Tower lit up.
The walk was very quiet and pretty. Paris is very lovely, clean, quiet at night at least. We gazed at the tower, took some more pictures and walked back to Rue Cler. We scoped out a Boulengerie, Fromagerie, florist and butcher for us to buy breakfasts and lunches. We found the hotel Rick Steeves stays at. We're going to take a pictures of it in the day time.

(Picture taken May 18th)
It continued to rain just a little as it had most of the evening and it had chilled off so we went back to our room. We planned our days in Paris and went to bed around midnight.

Day Fourteen
Sat. May 17

We got up before 9am and headed out to the market to get our breakfast. The boulengerie was lined up so we had to wait. We got some croissants, an apple tart and a mini baguette for our lunch later. We bought some stinky brie cheese and bananas and ate our breakfast in the hotel's lounge. We walked over to the river and got on Les Bateaux Parisien for our morning cruise down the river. We had seats outside at the very back. There was an audio guide that went along with the cruise. Every so often they mixed in French music which I really liked. We heard about the bridges

and Notre Dame Cathedral
and the prisons for the revolution. We saw the Latin Quarter, the Louvre,
and the parliament. The cruise lasted about an hour. After it, we headed on foot to L'Arc de Triumphe.
It was very impressive, dedicated to soldiers from the revolution to the world wars. We took quite a few pictures and headed down the Champs Elysees.
It is all lined with trees and shops. It rained a bit while we walked down. We visited a few shops along the way. We stopped to go to the bathroom and have some fries at a huge McDonalds. We ate our brie and baguette lunch on a bench on the avenue. We stumbled upon the perfumery called Sephora where "the nose" I had been wanting to see is.
They have every kind of perfume you would ever want there. We sampled some and looked around. We made it to the end of the street to the Place de la Concorde.
An obelisk marks the spot where they be-headed Maria Antoinette and Louis XVI.
There were two beautiful fountains there and a big square.
We were pretty tired after that so we found out way on the subway back to our hotel. We had a nap and then dressed and went out for dinner, same little family run La Serre Cafe. We had antipasto appetizer and then Dean had duck and I had veal stew both were delicious. We followed that with Creme Brule and then headed back to Champs Elysees. We wanted to see the Matrix Reloaded but when we got there, all of the theatres were sold out. We walked the avenue at night and took pictures.
Really beautiful. It was raining again so we decided to head for the internet cafe by bus by our hotel. It was closed so we called it a night and headed back to the hotel for the night.

Day Fiveteen
Sun. May 18

We went to a cafe for breakfast today. When I asked Dean what he wanted for breakfast he said "bacon and eggs, hasbrowns and toast". Well, the closes we came to that was a ham and cheese omelette served with a salad. It was pretty good. We walked a little farther down Rue Cler to a florist shop where Dean bought me a bouquet of roses. They are beautiful. We have them in a our room in a little metal bucket.

(Picture taken May 21)
We headed for the subway, it is rainy again today. We connected subway links and ended up at the flea market. They had everything there, leather shoes clothes, souvenirs, African art, jewelry, and pashminas. I compromised and bought 2 acrylic instead of wool and saved 35 Euro by doing so. We also bought some Paris coasters for Brent and Lana. We almost bought some Paris sun visors for the Nieces but they wanted too much for them. We left there in the rain and walked to La Sacre Couer church.
We climbed many many steps to get there, the view was very nice. We went in and walked around, no pictures allowed. There were candles lit everywhere which were very pretty. People were touching the feet of the religious statues. We re-grouped and decided Le Moulin Roughe was close buy so we walked there. It is situated in what you would call the "Red Light" district, sex shops and peep shows everywhere. I got my video taken with the big windmill.
From there, we subwayed it out of the rain to the Opera House. It has a very magnificent facade, composers names written in gold on the outside.
We were allowed to go in part way to have a look.
From there, we took a main line subway back to the Camps Elysess where we bought advance tickets for the Matrix Reloaded tonight. Back to our hotel in heavy rain for a rest and to dry off. We saw the Matrix, packed theatre, over 20 mins of previews and commercials. It was pretty good, Dean gave it a 7 out of 10 and I have it an 8 out of 10, huge cliff hanger at the end. We came back to the hotel and had a couple of spring rolls and the first Matrix was on TV, we watched that and then went to bed.

Day Sixteen
Mon. May 19

I woke up with a sore throat today. Dean with a sore back, we were quite a pair. We headed out just after 9am in the rain again to Musee D'Orsay. When we got there, it was closed, it always is on Monday, my readings had misinformed me. We crossed over to the Louvre instead.

We went straight for the first floor where the Mona Lisa is kept. We saw a lot of large format French and Italian paintings and then, the Mona Lisa.
It was not at all as crowded as I had imagined, we got right close to her and took pictures, her eyes do follow you across the room. We looked through the Egyptian wing at mummies and sarcophaguses. We then went for a meager lunch at the Richlieu Cafe in the Louvre and then switched to sculptures. We saw the "Winged Victory of Samothrace", the "Venus de Milo"
and many others. We saw the crown jewels of France,
very impressive. We saw African, South American and North American art pieces. The museum is really huge, we spent nearly 3 hours in it and we didn't see it all, but we did see what we wanted. We left there and headed for the Musee D'Armee where Napolean's tomb is. We saw it, a huge brown marble crypt, elaborate surroundings.
We then visited the second world war exhibit and then onto a medieval display of armors
and weapons and then a WW1 exhibit. We walked back to our hotel area, stopped for a plate of Chinese food, it rained heavily the whole time we were in there. We came back to the hotel for a nap, then got up to do laundry and spend some time at the Internet Cafe. The Queen of the Laundry was there again, I think she spreads laundry soap on her face, she is not all there. The Internet guy was really friendly and didn't charge us too much. Dean was trying to help him with some virus problems. I answered 2 e mails from home, they really perked me up and made me laugh. We went back to the hotel and tried to get to bed early as we want to get out to Versailles tomorrow at a decent time.

Day Seventeen
Tues. May 20

We got up this morning and hit the market for a quick breakfast (chocolate croissant and jam buster) plus to buy our picnic lunch. We took the train to Versailles, about 20 mins outside Paris. We walked up to the massive gates and took a picture.

We entered the palace, every room was packed full of people. We saw a lot of elaborate state rooms, a couple of bedrooms and the famous hall of mirrors.
We exited to the gardens which were really more impressive than the residence.
There were man-made lakes and many fountains, there were manicured gardens and statues everywhere.
We ate our picnic down by the Grand Canal

(The Fountain of Apollo)
and walked back past more fountains and a Roman bath built into the rock.

(The Baths of Apollo)
We took some more pictures of the garden near the house
and then walked back to the train to Paris. We decided to hit the Musee Rodin next. It is situated in a lovely home with gardens full of roses and sculptures. "The Thinker" was right near the entrance.
There was the "Gates of Hell"
and others throughout the property. It was very nice to stroll throughout and see the bronze statues. They were very different from all of the classical statues we'd been seeing. We toured inside and saw some very intriguing work and our first live Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir paintings. "The Kiss" was on display inside.
We left the Rodin and decided to walk to The Musee D'Orsay as it wasn't far. We stopped on the way at a cafe and had a drink and a dessert. We continued on in the sunshine to the D'Orsay only to find only the ground floor was open and admission was free due to we found out later, a strike. We're not sure if they ever work in this country. We toured the ground floor,
only 2 Monets there. The Impressionists are on the top and middle floor which they weren't sure would be open or not on Wed. We lingered a little in the very airy museum and then subway-ed back home to the hotel. I had a rest as I'm still fighting a cold and Dean spent some time at the Internet Cafe. We headed out for dinner at 7:30pm to La Tour Mauberg Cafe where we both had steak Frites which was very good and reasonable. Dean eyed a chocolate mousse and we shared that as well as I finished my tea. We took off on a walk from there along the River Seine towards the Eiffel Tower. It was a beautiful night, very romantic along the water. We walked to the tower
and lingered around the park surrounding it then headed for our hotel.

Day Eighteen
Wed. May 21

We slept in a little, back and head cold not cooperating with us. We got ready and walked down Rue Cler. We had an early lunch at this rotisserie place, I had chicken, Dean had rabbit. He loved it. We went then to Notre Dame Cathedral

and toured first the church, beautiful stained glass windows.
We then stood in line to go up the towers. Well, they should give you a warning about how many stairs there are to climb. We were first on the level with the gargoyles, took some pictures from there
then we climbed 150 more stairs to get to the next level. Coming down was tough, you get dizzy from the winding, small staircases. We took a little rest after that and then went across the Isle to visit the Sainte Chapelle. Guess what, it was closed due to strike. That made us pretty mad. We then walked to Le Jardin Luxembourg which is a very large park. There were a lot of people and kids sailing boats in the middle fountain.
We stayed there and watched a while then decided to try the D'Orsay again. When we arrived there it was already closed for the day as they are open until 6pm, but stop letting people in at 5:15pm. We headed back to Rue Cler after that to have a rest and for me to rest my cold. Dean went out again a couple of times after that once for medicine for me and once for food for him. We had an early night and decided the next day in Paris would be just for us to relax, we wouldn't chase museums that were closed due to strike or fight the weather. We would do what we wanted when we wanted with no agenda.

Day Nineteen
Thurs. May 22

It turned out what we wanted was to sleep in which we did despite the maid trying to come in to clean twice. We got up late and headed down Rue Cler to find some lunch. We found Un Plat du Jour, Escalopte (veal) Milanese. It was good, came with spaghetti. We decided to take the one subway line needed to get to the one sight on our list we haven't seen, Place des Voges. That where I am writing from right now. It is a smaller park than Luxembourg, four fountains, playground equipment, just peaceful. We'll probably spend some more time by the Eiffel Tower, walk along the River, and maybe a River Cruise in the dark to see the lights of Paris. We left the park and tried for Musee D'Orsay but it was not meant to be as we were already too late for the last entry time. We went from there to try to catch a dinner cruise. We stopped first to have a drink and also indulged in quite a few home made chocolates. They were really good, between the two of us we ate 10 of them within the half hour. We decided against the dinner cruise and instead, took a night cruise down the Seine.

There were lots of lights just like they say. There were a lot of couples walking and sitting along the river. We went looking then for something to eat and only came up with take-out pizza which was very good actually. We went to bed at a decent time ready for our last half day in Paris on Friday.

Day Twenty
Fri. May 23

We awoke and got ready and discovered that we had errored and missed our reserved train to Calais, it had left at 10:00am that morning. We were pretty mad at ourselves but decided to continue on anyways. We went to the train station, Paris Nord and looked for an alternate later train to Calais. We found one, had to switch our reservation for 3 Euro. Pleasant train ride to Calais. The countryside there is not that much different than our own, rolling farming fields. We arrived at a sub-station outside of Calais and had to take the shuttle bus into the centre of Calais.

When we got there it had started to rain. We asked at the tourist information about a quarry nearby and she said the closest one was 25km away. We had a quick lunch in a bar there and then waited for our shuttle to the ferry. While we were waiting we decided to go have a coffee and hot chocolate at the cafe, we ran into a 58yr old Brit on vacation who had had a few beers already who shared his advice on Britain. He recommended transportation from Dover to London and a good place to eat. After talking with him for a while we caught our shuttle and had to wait even more for the ferry. It is a cheaper form of transportation, no doubt, but not the most efficient form. When we got on the ferry, we started out on the outside deck
but quickly moved in as it was pretty cold and rainy. It was very choppy and the boat swayed a lot across the channel, more than I had expected. I made Dean take me outside for air at one point because I was not felling well. We saw a lot of seagulls
and watched the white cliffs of Dover approaching.
We saw the castle at Dover on top of the hill.

7:00pm (Local London Time)

We got off the ferry and searched for National Express which had been recommended as our transportation to London. We talked at the coach stop with a girl who was living in London who had her Australian Dad with her visiting. She assured us we were in the right place and answered more of our questions. The bus ride was beautiful, rolling green countryside, sheep grazing, quaint villages, just as you would imagine. It took 2 hours or so to get to the Victoria coach station in London. We took a cab from there to our hotel. It is a nice room, right in the thick of things in central London. We got acclimatized and then went to the pub in our hotel for a few drinks. There was a live band and a lot of people and lots of beer. We had some nachos for our dinner and a few drinks and headed out for a short glance around Piccadilly Circus where we were staying

(Picture taken May 27th)
and then to bed. Our room is very loud as the windows area single pane and they look out right onto the busy bar scene streets. Sleep was very hard to come by for me.

Day Twenty-One
Sat. May 24

After a restless night for me, we got up and headed downstairs for tourist info. We bought a ticket on the Big Bus Tour, grabbed a sandwich and started riding. For a 24 hour period starting just after noon, we could hop on and off at all of the stops as much as we liked, plus a river tour. We rode and saw the Tower of London,

(Picture taken May 25th)
the Cathedrals, the Bridges,
Buckingham Palace, everything and got the lay of the land. We got off there after 4:30pm and grabbed a bit of fish and chips at our hotel pub before heading out on our free walking tour at 6pm. Our tour guide Paul took us to 3 pubs and by many famous sights concerning legends of London, Charles Dickens.
We met some friendly Australian and American people on the tour, it lasted about 3 hours and ended at a pub where we bought our tour guide a shooter and chatted with him and his buddy for a few hours over drinks. We shared a lot of stories back and forth. We took a short subway ride home and that's where I write this from now at 11:30pm.

Day Twenty-Two
Sun. May 25

We got up at 9am today and got ready to head out to meet our Buckingham Palace walking tour. We grabbed a coffee and hot chocolate and caught the Big Bus to Trafalgar Square. There was a big group assembled there which had to be split in two. We walked towards the Palace to see the changing of the guards. We tried to catch the horse guards

coming out from the stables towards the palace but for whatever reason (security) they left 5 mins early. We took a side trip to the park to see a little castle and fountain.
We went to St. James' Palace where Prince Charles lives. He wasn't in as indicated by only one Royal guard standing on duty.
He took his little exercise march while we were there which he does every 10-15 mins to keep up his circulation, pretty neat.
We went around the corner from there and watched the new set of guards come out accompanied by a full Scottish bagpipe band.
Great picture opportunities as the guards were inspected. We followed them down the march to the palace and then readied for our position along the road where the guards plus a full marching band would come.
The Queen was in residence as the Union Jack was flying over the Palace. Our tour ended there and we got back on the Big Bus in a little rain to continue on to the Tower of London. We pretty much did the full guided tour one more time before getting there. We didn't have to wait to get in there, we became part of a tour with a Beefeater guard which was very animated and full of very interesting historical stories about the Tower. Our guide looked like Kenny Rogers. He was retired from the military, all the Beefeaters have to be retired major generals or more to have those jobs. They call them "Beefeater" guards as a nickname as when they worked for the Royals long ago their pay was in beef from the Royals. Only they and the Royals ate beef so all of the commoners nicknamed them Beefeaters. We saw the crown jewels, very impressive.
We toured some of the separate towers, saw some of the carvings some of the famous prisoners had done. We saw some actors dressed in medieval dress act out a battle scene, then left for Madame Tussard's Wax Museum. We had absolutely no wait there as well. We hit the celebrity's room first where I did finally get a picture with Tom Cruise.
We saw Royals, Politicians, Athletes, very special to them Kylie Minogue, chamber of horrors (Dean said Victoria's was more impressive), and the Pride of London little ride at the end. We left there trying to find the "Stock Pot" Restaurant but couldn't so went to the Hard Rock Cafe instead. We waited a really long time but had a lot of fun there in that atmosphere. We looked around their store for a while then took a really nice walk back to our hotel where we changed rooms to hopefully a much quieter one.

Day Twenty-Three
Mon. May 26

We got up a little late this morning, we were supposed to get up early to do laundry. We decided we couldn't get the walking tours of the British Museum so we found a laundromat instead. We ate British sandwiches at a little pub nearby called "The Mason's Arm". The man there was Aussie, very nice. We finished our laundry and lunch and headed back to our hotel to put it away. We headed out from there to Kensington Palace and Gardens by bus. Today was a "Bank Holiday" in London so a daily bus pass was half price. All the stores were still open, it was like a Sunday. We got off at Hyde Park and walked through the very busy park to the gates of the Palace.

It was rather expensive but you got an audio program with your admission. We first saw a display of Victorian clothes, then dresses belonging to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. We then saw a huge display of her hats from the time she was 5 yrs old to last year's Jubilee. I thought of how much my Grandmother would have liked that display. We moved on to a display of Princess Diana's dresses which made me very sad. They were just beautiful like she was. It is so sad she's not here anymore. She once lived in that palace. We went upstairs to see the apartments once inhabited by William and Mary and Queen Victoria. We spent about one and one half hours in total there. We walked through beautiful Hyde Park, swans and ducks in the Serpentine Lake. We caught a bus to Westminster Abbey
only to find it closed. We took some pictures of it and Parliament
and headed off for the exclusive "Stock Pot" restaurant. It was a quaint little, good food, fair price place. It happened to be right across the street from the theatre where Minnie Driver, Matthew Perry and Hank Azaria are starring in "The Sexual Perversion.." No celebrity sightings, the show is completely sold out. We went on from there to meet our Jack the Ripper Tour. There had to be two groups, so many people showed up. She told us the stories of the 5 prostitutes murdered by Jack, they really were very poor, down and out women who lived in a very poor East End London right next to the rich city of London. She showed us where bodies were found and where the church was the prostitutes used to get their dates at. She told us some of how the bodies were so badly mutilated and the background of those poor women. She profiled a few theories about whom Jack was, I personally think that it was the shoemaker suspect based on the hat he gave/sold to one of the victims, how mean he was and the leather apron left behind at one of the murders. There is speculation it was an un-successful lawyer who committed suicide because he feared he was going mad like his mother who had bloody clothes in his apartment. It was said to be a Royal who contracted Syphilis from one of the prostitutes who went mad and killed. It has even been said it was a woman abortion doctor who knew the women. Fascinating stuff. Dean has chosen not to give his guess on who Jack was as he says he doesn't have enough info to make a proper guess, (Boo Hoo). We took buses home from the walk. P.S. A woman passed out on the walk.

Day Twenty-Four
Tues. May 27

We got up before 7am today, a really early start for us. We walked down to The Ritz to catch our tour bus.

(Picture taken May 24th)
We saw a lot of Londoners going to work. We were picked up at 7:55am by a tour guide "Jayson" who reminded me a lot of Hugh Grant. We drove not quite an hour out to Windsor Castle.
That is the official Royal residence of Her Majesty the Queen. We learned a lot on the way down there from the fire of 1992 to all of the Royals who had used the castle previously. We arrived and first toured the Royal Apartments, very lavish. We saw the great hall where the Queen holds the state visit dinners. We visited St. George's Chapel where all of the monarchs who reigned in the 20th Century are buried, including most recently, The Queen Mum (God Bless Her you're supposed to say). We saw King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour's grave in there as well. I told Dean I hardly believed the Royals were really in those tombs, wouldn't they really be somewhere more private and safe, he said they were there. We got to see another changing of the guards at 11am, full regalia, full pipe band, Dean took a video.
We left there and started our way to Stonehenge.
You can't go right up to the stones anymore. It's all roped off, too much damage previously from visitors. It is an awesome site, the rocks are huge, the construction amazing. It is right in the middle of beautiful English countryside, wild flowers, cows and sheep grazing, lush green grass. We spent about 45 minutes there and then headed down to the area of Bath to a pub called "The Sir George" for a real pub lunch.

(View from back patio)
I had potatoes au gratin and Dean had lamb. Quite good but not cheap. We sat with all American friends for lunch, kind of tedious with their condescending attitudes at times but we didn't lunch too long. We arrived at Bath which to my surprise is a full town of
80 000 people. We walked around town and saw all of the shops, we bought some candy (chocolate) in the old-fashioned candy store. We sat and listened to a singer in the square.
We found a Scottish store which actually had Stevenson clan fridge magnets and key chains so I got a couple of magnets. We both bought St. Andrews golf course stuff for our Dads and headed off, too late unfortunately for the walking tour being given. We relaxed a little longer and then it was time for our own private group tours of the Roman Baths.
We got to go in after it had closed. There were glasses of champagne waiting there for us, really nice. We went on a tour where we saw the "Great Bath"
a large pool at 46 C, some smaller prep baths, change rooms and a sauna room. We saw the "sacred bath" where in the 18th Century, people came from all over to bath in the water as they felt it had healing powers. It is said if you drink the water from the bath, it can cure ailments or even cause fertility, Dean and I both had a drink of it (warm and iron tasting) earlier that day. We left Bath and headed for home, we watched two Faulty Towers episodes on the way back and I watched what I found to be the spectacular English Countryside.
We got back at 10pm, had something to eat, then bed.

Day Twenty-Five
Wed. May 28

We didn't get up as early as we planned, we were tired from our day trip on Tuesday. We headed first to Westminster Abbey. It is completely full of mostly tombs, kings and queens, writers, soldiers, poets, it is full. It is beautiful, we saw the pulpit from which Princess Diana's Eulogy is given. We moved on from there to the next church, St. Paul's Cathedral. It is much more spacious, not so many tombs, they are all in the basement. It is stunning inside, where Diana was married. We headed from there to Covent Garden, a facility full of restaurants and entertainment facilities. We chose the Canadian Cafe for lunch. I had a Moosehead (imported, ha) and we both had wraps. There was a lot of hockey memorabilia in the pub, there was even a "Friendly Manitoba" old style license plate, neat stuff. We literally ran from there to meet our London walks tour at Holburn Station. "Donald" was there to take us on a two hour tour of the British Museum.

There were about 35 people in the tour. We started upstairs "treasure of Sutton Hoo" which was a King's shop burial from before medieval times. We then saw a 2000yr old Druid murdered body "Lindow Man". We saw the great discovery of Roman Silver from 100-300 A.D. We saw mummies, sarcophaguses and many Egyptian artifacts. We saw the Rosetta Stone
and B.C. Syrian wall etchings. We saw the Elgin Marbles,
stone etchings taken down from the Pantheon in Greece. We were pretty tired after that tour and headed back to our hotel for a rest. We rested, didn't end up going to Greenwich as planned. We relaxed and then went out to get some pizza for dinner. We wanted to get to bed early but got caught up a bit in the European Cup final, Milan won in a penalty shot.

Day Twenty-Six
Thurs. May 29

Our wake up call was for 5:30am and we did get up! We were at the train station by 6:30am, got some breakfast and boarded the train for Edinburgh. We did some snoozing for the first couple of hours then awake for the next two as we crossed into the border of Scotland. The land is much hillier, sheep and cattle country. We were right along the sea at some points, beautiful scenery. What also struck me was the colour of the soil, it was red just like in P.E.I. It made me wonder what my ancestors thought when they went from Scotland to P.E.I. and the soil was so similar, it must have reminded them of home. We arrived at the train station at 11:30am and got our bearings. We decided on an open top, hop on and off bus tour.

It was a one hour guided tour. We went all around Edinburgh Castle, Holyrod Palace, saw the new town, churches, Castleton, everything. We then got off at the castle and found a place for lunch with a terrace view overlooking the city, really beautiful.
We went from there to the castle, spectacular view, quite a climb. It is situated on a plugged up volcano.

There were many many cannons, the castle had been in a lot of battles. We explored Argyle Tower, St. Maganet's Chapel (it only holds 26 people). We saw the more modest Royal apartments where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her only son James who would later become King of England. We toured the Scottish Crown Jewels and looked at the lineage of Scottish Queens and Kings. We took pictures of the view
and then headed down the famous Royal Mile, called so because the castle and the palace are a mile apart. There are many stores and we stopped at a few looking at tartans and Dean at swords, everything Scot you could every imagine. We bought some Scotch and a hot toddy for Dave and toffee for Dean's work at the Scotch Whisky Museum store. We took pictures of the palace,
the Queen's royal residence in Scotland. We hopped on the bus and went around to Robert Louis Stevenson's house for a picture.
We took a walk back to Princess Park, gorgeous valley park, green, benches, flowers, merry-go-round, fountain.
We spent some time relaxing there, and then walked back up to the train station. We hadn't sent any e mails home in a while and I thought it would be neat to send my Dad one from Scotland so we spent some time before our train came doing that. We had about a 5 hour train ride back, had dinner and slept on the train. Back to our hotel by midnight to rest, long day but very worth the day trip to the "Motherland"!

Day Twenty-Seven
Fri. May 30

Friday was our last day in London, last day in Europe. We had no formalized plan for the day. We slept in after the long day we'd had before. We headed out to walk to Trafalgar Square. We climbed up onto the Nelson Monument and took pictures around the lion statues.

We found the "Stock Pot" again and had a very good lunch. We headed out from there to Buckingham Palace.
We took lots of pictures
and even saw the Queen's flag being taken down and the Union Jack put back up. That means she wasn't in residence at that palace anymore. We understood she was going to be up at Windsor Castle soon, maybe that's where she was off to. We didn't see her leave. We walked up to the ST. James Park and watched everyone enjoying the warm weather. We also watched the many ducks, swans, and pelicans on the pond. It was very peaceful and relaxing. We sat on two of the deck chairs they have around but decided to get off when the man came around to collect 1.50 British Pounds each for their use. We sat on the free ground instead. We got up from there and decided to take our little trip out to Greenwich. We had to take a few trains but eventually got there. It is a large town with a long pier, very nice. We walked around but were too late in the day to see a lot of the sights. We walked to the prime meridian or the dateline, standard mean time. We found a pub, a little off the beaten path. It ended being a gay and lesbian pub, I didn't even notice, Dean did. We got out of there after one drink each because they weren't serving food. We found another pub where they served meat pies and had a drink and those for dinner. We stayed a little longer, Dean gambled a little on the strange gaming machine. We took some very busy trains back to Piccadilly
(Picture and video both taken earlier that day)
and then did a bit of shopping. We got an ice cream and then headed back to the hotel to complete the arduous task of packing to go home.

Returning To Canada
Sat. May 31

It doesn't seem like it could have been a whole month since we arrived in Europe. We have done and seen so much. We've relaxed at time and pushed hard to see things at other times. It has truly been the holiday of a lifetime. I really don't want to leave here, it would suit me just fine to stay here and live the life of a small English country-towner, but we have a life with family and friends at home, a good life. It will be strange for a while to get used to not having the dream of Europe anymore, but there will be new dreams for Dean and I. There are dreams we both have to start working on now. I've learned that as long as we're together, we can do anything and that we'll be happy, and I have also learned that we do live in a spacious, safe, affordable place and that everything and everyone we need are there. But I will always fondly remember

seeing things like the Colleseo,

watching an opera in Italy,
sailing down the canals of Venice,
strolling down the boardwalk at Cannes,
having the Eiffel Tower in my back yard for a while,
the Palaces of the Queen,
the stones at Stonehenge
and the Scottish countryside.
For a while we saw things we had never seen before, many times older than anything at home. For a while, we were living a dream overseas but now it's time to go home as this dream has ended, but new ones have already begun......