Wednesday, June 21, 2017

LeHavre

T his is the port for Paris, Normandy and Caen. Most people went to Normandy but our group headed for Giverny (home of  Claude Monet) and Honfleur. There are no words to describe Giverny. Nothing can prepare you for it's beauty and serenity even though you are surrounded by hordes of fellow tourists. You are transported to the era of the Impressionists. You are literally left breathless by the gardens. Monet planted those gardens himself. Just amazing!  It takes a lot to shut me up and I was speechless!  I cannot say enough about the glory of this place with it's extraordinary house and magnificent gardens.

After a lovely garden-side luncheon at Giverny we concluded this most special day with a stroll around Honfleur, a tiny village at the mouth of the Seine where Monet and the other Impressionist masters painted. It is quaint and lovely. We sat at the seaside stuffing our faces with chocolate croissants. Is there a better way to end a trip?

I have returned to California to spend a few days with the family and reflect on a wonderful trip with my sister and a group of great friends. How wonderful life is!  I am ready for the next adventure.

South Queensferry

South Queensferry is the port for Edinburgh. It is a long tender ride. Fortunately it was a nice day and the seas were calm. We headed for Edinburgh castle which sits on a bluff high above the city with a commanding 360 degree view. It is still a military base and the home of Scotland's Crown Jewels. It was unbelievably crowded. After seeing as much as we could and unwilling to fight the crowds anymore we headed for a cute local pub for lunch. After a leisurely lunch we took th HOHO to see the rest of the city, which is beautiful but loaded with tourists. After that we headed back to the ship for a sea day and to prepare for France.

Invergordon

Invergordon is the port for Inverness. This is a lovely part of the country with beautiful scenery and mild weather. The area is filled with beautiful lakes, Loch Ness being one, rolling green hills and castles. We visited Cawdor Castle of Macbeth fame. It is a historical site as well as the current residence of a duchess. Although it is a real castle it has a homey feeling with beautiful furnishings and magnificent gardens. We lunched on freshly made scones which were fantastic with clotted cream and fresh strawberry jam. Our private guide regaled us with many facts and stories. It was marvelous. On the way back to the ship we stopped at Culloden Moor, site of a bloody battle between the English and the Scots in which the Scots were severely trounced. This battle figures prominently in the Outlander series. We also stopped to see the stones which are similar to those at Stonehenge. It was some sort of burial ground. What a fabulous day.

Greenoch

Greenoch is the port for Glasgow,Scotland. We had a five- hour walking tour of the city with a knowledgeable guide. The weather was cold and rainy. We walked miles and were bombarded with information. We had a long lunch in a nice pub and walked back through the major shopping area. Another day of running around in the rain like lunatics. Glasgow is a lovely city with polite, nice people.

Belfast

Northern Ireland is a puzzle. I don't know what the animosity is all about. Mostly religion, which is nuts but true. We started the day with a trip to the Giant's Causeway on a cold and rainy morning. I don't know what I expected but it was an over-rated World Heritage site. Just a bunch of big stones in the water near the shoreline. Some Game of Thrones filming took place there. It was a long walk down and cold and rainy. Actually, we had another activity first. We went to a site where there was a small suspension bridge over a deep cravass over the water. It was a tremendously hard climb and we were all totally exhausted. Crowds galore. Lunch on time run then a tour of Belfast, especially the areas where the fighting occurred. Not much different at present. There s still a giant wall separating the Protestant and Catholic areas of the city. It looks just like the Berlin Wall.

Liverpool

We met friends Carol and Ian when the ship docked and they schlepped us all over Liverpool. We sang Beatle songs in the museum and got ourselves immersed in the Beatles culture. After a lovely lunch we went shopping at a great mall and then headed over to the Cavern, where the Beatles played before they became famous. it was a total Beatles experience made special by good friends and with good friends.  All in all a great day. Even the weather cooperated and our hosts were gracious enough to get us matching baseball caps.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Dublin

Dublin is certainly more crowded than I remember.  Most of the people are young and loud and they drink too much. In fact,  the whole town is based on alcohol what with the Guinness and Jameson breweries taking over the whole town.

We came back to the cabin tired and needing a rest. But that was not to be. The toilet decided to act like Niagra Falls and flooded the whole bathroom. After much action they finally fixed it. Everyone is very tired and we have a big day ahead of us in Liverpool tomorrow. It will be a busy day with an emphasis on the Beatles.