60 Days in Europe: Day 54 / July 22

July 22, 2014 – Oban – Glencoe – Bannockburn – Edinburgh.

From my journal:
Got gas and ice for our food and set to drive coast to coast. We went via Glencoe Valley. It was glorious. Sun with clouds. Of course, it took longer than we guessed, which in turn was longer than Google guessed.

I wanted to visit and possibly tour Stirling Castle, and visit Bannockburn battlefield. The girls were arriving (in Edinburgh) around 3:30, and we realized we couldn’t do both. We told them we’d be late, and made a short stop at Bannockburn, where I spent about 15 minutes. Walked the field, viewed the monuments and statue.

We got to Edinburgh about 4:15, but had trouble locating the girls. Finally did, and got to the apartment (Air BnB) about 5:30.

Laura dropped me and Elyse off at the Festival Theater for the 7:30 VAN MORRISON concert. It was terrific. Not as many songs from the first 5 or 6 albums as I would have liked  – or expected – but he was at the top of his game, and the band was second to none. Shana, who warmed up the crowd with two solos and stood as back-up vocalist, is an amazing singer and blew the house away. Loved hearing Ballerina, No Teacher, Into the Mystic, Philosopher’s Stone. Great, great set.

So grateful for all the blessings we are receiving!

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 53 / July 21

July 21, 2014 – Oban – Inner Hebrides Islands: Mull – Iona.

From my journal:
Laura’s birthday!
At about 6:00, according to my watch, we noticed all our other devices were saying it was 7:00.

7:00. The time of our ferry’s departure to Mull. We drove down, parked, and RAN to the dock. It was away.

We ended up paying for a tour to Iona, as it was the only way we could get there.

We went and had some breakfast.

9:50 Ferry to Craignure on Mull.

In the Sound there were dozens of huge jellyfish. The smaller were about a foot wide, the larger about the size of a manhole cover.

Bus to Fionnphort (about 90 minutes), where we took a ten-minute ferry ride to to Iona, arriving about 12:45. Laura told one of the ferry crewmen it was her 50th birthday, and asked f she could “drive the boat.” He asked when she was returning, and when he walked away, we thought he was ignoring the request.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and about 70°.

We wanted to avoid the crowds, so we walked all the way to the white sands of the North Beach . Laura got her feet wet. We gathered some rocks. I read some Celtic prayers, including this form St Columba, who came here in 563:

Lord, you are my island; in your bosom I rest
You are the calm of the sea; in that place I stay.
You are the deep waves of the shining ocean.
With their eternal sound I sing.
You are the song of the birds; in that tune is my joy.
You are the smooth white strand of the shore; in You is no gloom.
You are the breaking waves on the rock; Your praise is echoed in the swell.
You are the Lord of my life.

We agreed that could have been written on the very place we were sitting.

We walked back south, visiting the abbey, St Oran’s, along the way.

 

When we got on the ferry, the crewman took us directly to the bridge and handed Laura the helm! She piloted most of the way across to Fionnphort, and we had a blast with the men on the bridge.

“Once it goes, it’ll go.”

Slept a little on the bus. Waited for the Oban ferry at Craignure – it was an hour late. We walked to the grocery store there and got food for dinner and the next day.

Back at the hostel we fixed and ate dinner.

Disappointment at the Skipinnish Ceilidh House when the show was cancelled. (Counting us, about six people showed up.) It was going to be Laura’s birthday outing.

We walked around Oban looking  for a place with desserts or music or both, but couldn’t find anything. Went back to the hostel and ate the desserts we got at the store. Before sleeping we talked with our roomies, one from Boston and the other from Abilene, TX.

Oban Pano (Custom)

 

 

60 days in Europe: Day 52 / July 20

July 20, 2014 – Borrowdale – Invarary – Oban.

From my journal:
Left hostel at 10:00 and began our long drive to Oban. Early on Laura got behind the wheel and drove a few hours.

We stopped for some beautiful views-

One of them is a place called Rest and Be Thankful. That’s really the name of it.

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– including a stop at Loch Lomond to eat – but we never found a good place to go down to the shore.

Laura requested that we stop and tour Invarary Castle, which belongs to the Duke of Argyll (Campbells). An excellent place to visit.

And, for Downton Abbey fans, it was used for the Season Three finale, as the 18th century Highlands castle belonging to Lord Grantham’s cousin, Shrimpie.

Drove on to Oban. Went to the ferry dock so we’d know where it was and how far it was from the hostel. Checked into the hostel and walked back the dock to see how long it would take to walk it. But we learned of parking near the dock and decided to we’d drive and park there in the morning.

We had some very good fish without chips (so tired of fried potatoes) and onion rings. Seagull got one of Laura’s as we sat harborside and ate. Most of the shops are closed.

We also took a walk through the heights on the north side of Oban, where we got these high views of the harbor near day’s end.

Back at the hostel we showered and got ready for early departure to catch the 7:00 ferry to Mull.

60 Days in Europe: Day 51 / July 19

July 19, 2014 – The Lake District: Borrowdale – Grasmere – Hawkshead – Ambleside – Keswick.

From my journal:
Rainy day. We decided to make it a “Literary Tour” day.

First, down to Grasmere in the South Lakes to visit Dove Cottage, the home of Wordsworth and family during his happiest and most productive period. There I found my “keepsake volume,” a book preferably small and hardback, to remember our grand tour by. I picked a little anthology of Wordsworth poems. Very fitting, to my thinking, as he was of the Lakes and loved them, and he writes of the places here. And now I love the Lakes as well.

Second we drove down to Hawkshead, to Hilltop, the holiday home of Beatrix Potter. It was fun to see the rooms, furniture, views and other features found there, alongside the illustrations in which they appear.

Little Peter Rabbit and his friends were playing in the yard.

Drove back north, stopping in Ambleside to eat lunch. In Keswick we bought food for dinner and for our drive to Scotland tomorrow.

At the hostel we made cheeseburgers and a really delicious salad. After dinner, trip planning.

60 days in Europe: Day 50 / July 18

July 18, 2014 – The Lake District: Borrowdale – Buttermere Lake – Crummock Water – Newlands Valley – Keskwick – Derwent Water.

From my journal:
Breakfast at the hostel. Beautiful weather, starting cloudy and getting sunnier later on.

Drove to Gategarth Farm car park. (Stopped off at Honister Pass Slate Mine.) Hiked all around Buttermere Lake. Stopped at the village and had coffee and scones (it was our lunch), then hiked the rest of the way around the lake to the Farm.

Drove up to see Crummock Water, then back to Keswick through Newlands Valley – so beautiful!

Newlands Pano 1 (Custom)Newlands Pano 2 (Custom)Newlands Pano 3 (Custom)

On our way back down to Borrowdale we parked at the bottom of the hill beneath Ashness Bridge. Walked up to the bridge, and from there, up the hill. We either went up to Walla Crag, or about halfway up (depending on whether the Crag is the summit). Beautiful views up and down the vale and of the Lake (Derwent Water).

 

Back down to the car and the hostel. On the way, we stopped again at Ashness Bridge and I found love rocks in the stream for Susan and Tom❤ . (Tom is from the Lake District.)

Had our dinner from the staff, with a stroll up the road between the Main and the Pudding. Both of us very tired. Read until almost ten then up to our rooms.

60 Days in Europe: Day 49 / July 17

July 17, 2014 – York – Keswick – Borrowdale (North Lakes District).

From my journal:
In the morning we walked back to the Minster and toured the whole building (except the tower), including the Crypt and the Undercroft Museum. Splendid Gothic.

I continue to be moved by the war memorials, of which the Minster had several. Also, a remembrance of Wm. Wilberforce. Magnificent windows. The Great Window is out for restoration, but they had some restored panels to view.

The astronomical clock and the Chapter House (completed 1280s) where Parliament met under Edward I (1297) were also highlights.

We walked back, hitting Starbucks (1st time overseas) and several 2nd-hand bookstores along the way.

 

Next: The Lake District…

We fetched the car and drove about 2 and a half hours to Keswick. Parked and walked the small end of Fitz Park, across the river and through town, buying food to fix for dinner along the way.

Drove to the hostel in Borrowdale. This country is absolutely fantastic! I can’t say enough about its beauty and charm.

At the hostel we fixed ourselves tortellini and sauce with mushrooms and bell peppers thrown in.

This is where our hostel was situated:

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 48 / July 16

July 16, 2014 – Hartington – York.

Had cappuccino and tea at the hostel, then checked out.

Walked down into the town and ate in cafe that housed the post office. Laura had me fetch the car while our food was being cooked, as our cards and stamps were in the car. Mailed birthday cards to Mick and Hannah, and a Hartington postcard to Ian.

Drove on to York. Got to hostel about 1:30. Parked the car, checked in, walked into town.

Went first to the Yorkshire Museum.

When we got to the Minster (York’s cathedral), it was about to re-open, but without the undercroft, which would be open tomorrow at 10am. We decided to come back.

Walked around in the rain. Assembly Rooms (now a restaurant). The Shambles. The Guildhall (from the outside). Ate at an Indian restaurant next to the hostel.

 

Walked in the next block where we spotted a Baptist church.

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Across the street there was a church (in what looked like a theater or music hall) called the Rock., with a notice for a Wed. night meeting at 7:30 – in 20 minutes. We washed up and changed at the hostel and returned.

Here I left two pages blank in my journal, because I wanted to write more about the church meeting, but I never did. They did a variety of things from week to week. One of them was to watch a movie, and then discuss it the following week. They used this as a springboard for a freewheeling discussion of spiritual subjects. The previous week they had watched “Leap of Faith,” with Steve martin. The talk ranged from faith to hypocrisy, charlatans, and different views of the miraculous. I was impressed that they made a safe place for the mostly young people to talk about their questions, doubts, and experiences. It was very lively, and fostered transparency, acceptance and honesty. Also, they made us feel very welcome.

60 Days in Europe: Day 47 / July 15

July 15, 2014 – Stow – Chipping Campden – Broad Campden – Stratford-upon-Avon.

From my journal:
Elyse & Emma (Our daughter and her friend) are departing the US today!

We ate at the hostel and checked out. We drove to Chipping Campden. After a false start we got a map and started walking to Broad Campden. Got lost, of course! A young man walking his dog set us in the right direction. Walked back to Chipping and left about 3:00.

 

We arrived in Stratford too late, it turned out, to do all we planned. It was 4:00 and sites started closing at 5:00. Had to scratch Anne Hathaway’s house and Mary Arden’s farm. Got to see in order:

New Place and Nash House, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Trinity Church with his grave. They had an excellent presentation, explaining the significance of each of the milestones marked at the church: his baptism, wedding, funeral and burial, as well as his religious education, church attendance and knowledge of the Bible.

By the time we got back on the streets, the town was shutting down, much to our surprise and disappointment. We got kebab to go and ate by the Jester.

Then drove on to Hartington Hall, which was a country mansion turned into a hostel. The first part was built in 1350. Amazing.

The Peak District in Derbyshire.

We were also told it was the first hostel in England, and since I understand the modern hosteling movement began here, that would also make it the first hostel anywhere.

60 Days in Europe: Day 46 / July 14

 

July 14, 2014 – Stow – Moreton-in-Marsh – Blenheim Palace – Oxford.

From my journal:
We shopped in Stow. We found sweaters (in case they’re needed in Scotland), and a volume of Dickens for a friend. With winter clothes half-price, we spent only £6.50! ($11.)

Drove to Moreton-in-Marsh, and after a momentary look around, drove a mile and a half out to the Falconry Center. Picked up some gifts in the shop, but did not go in, as the tariff was £10 ($17) each.

Drove on to Blenheim, which was something to see, but not £22.50 ($38.25) each worth of something. (The total for the outing was about $90.) The Churchill exhibit was good, and I was glad to see it as I had missed the one at the War Rooms in London. Especially liked seeing his paintings.

 

Drove to a car park outside Oxford, thanks to one of the best tips anyone has given us – form a lady in one of the Stow shops – that there is no parking in Oxford. Took shuttle in to the Centre and walked the Inklings tour. Ended around 6:15 at the Eagle & Child, by happy accident in time for dinner. We ate (but didn’t drink) where the Inklings did. Shared an enormous order of fish & chips, which is the third (?) and the best I’ve had here. Think I’ll make it my last.

I didn’t.

Walked to the bus stop, took the shuttle back to the car and drove back to Stow. I sat the living room at the hostel and read Wiki on CS Lewis while other quests chatted about news items on the telly.

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 45 / July 13

July 13, 2014 – Stow – Sudeley Castle – Bradgate Park.

From my journal:
We spent the morning in the hostel, while our laundry was going. I spent a good while uploading Schlern photos to Dropbox and then emailing the link to Karin, a Swedish freelance writer we met up there a month ago.

We drove up to Sudeley Castle, where there was a food festival outside the grounds. Walked around, ate lunch. Meat pie, check. Sausage roll, check.

Drove up to Bradgate Park to see the play.

An outdoor performance of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

It was performed in front of the ruins of Bradgate House, the birthplace and childhood home of Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for nine days in 1553.

It was a very good performance. Unfortunately, Laura’s ears are so blocked she’s practically deaf.

Ate a picnic dinner on the green. Most of the way home (Stow) before dark.

60 days in Europe: Day 44 / July 12

July 12, 2014 – Bath – Stow-on-the-Wold.

From my journal:
Wonderful day in Bath.
Laura, not feeling well, sent me off to tour the Roman baths by myself. I was going to come out in time to start the free walking tour of the town at 10:30, and she was going to meet me there if she felt well enough.

I got a cappuccino, and…enjoyed the the drink and the sunny, quiet, almost empty square in front of the Abbey.

 

Video: The Square about 10:30 when it was pretty quiet, then an hour later as people came to see the Roman baths, and queue up for tours of the city.

Then I went back to urge Laura to join me on the tour. She did.

We took a great walk around the Georgian town, form 10:30 to 12:50. here’s the lowdown.

This town was built up in the 18th century by brilliant, ambitious, visionary people. And interesting, too. And no one seems to have written the definitive history of this era in Bath. Really?

I asked the tour guide, and she said she had pieced her history together from disparate sources, none of them apparently worth a recommendation. (I asked her if she had a favorite book on the era and people.) Same with the town’s bookseller, who has a whole section on Bath, and presumably would know.

Chief cast of characters:

  • John Wood the elder – visionary designer and architect.
  • Ralph Allen – self-made business tycoon, who worked with Wood to realize his vision.
  • “Beau” Nash – the Master of Ceremonies, the man who made everything happen socially in Bath. Held the post for over 50 years.
  • Lady Anne Hastings — had the idea for the hospital. Got Wood and Allen to build it. 

    After the tour I had my first pasty – for lunch. Awesome.

    We walked across one bridge, along the other side of the river and across the Pultney Bridge, past the Gardens.

 

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Our hostel in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Got our stuff and drove to Stow-on-the-Wold. In Stow we checked in at 5:00, got settled,  ordered some dinner from the hostel for 6:15, and went for a short walk around town.

Saw a poster for a concert at the Methodist church at 7:30 – by the Chipping Norton Amateur Operatic Singers – singing show tunes! So after dinner we went – and it was a blast! (Yes, there’s video.)

 

Video: The Chipping Norton Amateur Operatic Singers offer up “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from Carousel, and “Do You Hear the People Sing,” from Les Miserables.

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 43 / July 11

July 11, 2014 – London – Swanage – Wimbourne Minster – Bath.

I don’t know why I recorded our dull hostel meals, and hardly any others.

From my journal:
Breakfast in the pub again. Our coffee and cream, banana, and protein bars.

Tube to Heathrow. Shuttle to car rental.

Terror: me behind the wheel of a British car. Several near-misses, wrong lanes, jumped curbs and one nervous Nelly in the passenger seat. The first few hours were rough.

We drove to Swanage, stopping at a nearby beach for ice creams and a stroll along the promenade, learning about “beach houses” along the way from an owner.

First look at the Channel. Warm, a little sun.

We drove up to Wimbourne Minster a charming Dorset town, and had a cheap dinner there.

 

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Wimborne Minster to Bath.

The countryside from there on was just gorgeous, Thomas Hardy country. Huge trees made tunnels over the roads. These are Constable’s giants, that dwarf the human figures who tread on faint, soft paths underneath. Then the evening sun pierced leaves and scattered gold and green stars across our canopy. We came out into open fields aglow in the sinking sun. Absolutely brilliant. A beautiful dream.

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We arrived in Bath at twilight, able to glimpse the beauty of the town.

60 Days in Europe: Day 42 / July 10

July 10, 2014 – London.

From my journal:
Rose a little before 8:00 and walked down the street to the other side of Vincent Square to retrieve our laundry. £3 to dry. Showered under a single trickle of water. Laura, too, as she ducked into the same stall, but I didn’t see her to warn her.

Most hostels have shared bath and showers; a few are co-ed. That’s not as scary as it may sound to some. There is plenty of privacy.

Coffee and cereal again in the pub.

Sometimes that is as scary as it sounds.

We took the tube to Westminster and toured the Churchill War Rooms – terrific. Walked to Trafalgar Square, where the striking unions were demonstrating. Then to Leicester, then into Chinatown, where we ate lunch, a buffet of standard fare. Then through Soho, which didn’t offer much beside crowded streets.

Warning: Extreme geekiness follows.

We took the tube to the British Library and viewed the Library Treasures.
Highlights:

  • The handwritten lyrics by Lennon & McCartney. “Help!,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Yesterday,” and “Michelle.” Yeah!
  • Notebooks by DaVinci
  • A sketch and a letter from Michelangelo
  • Shakespeare’s First Folio – which I snapped a picture of before the guardian told me, No photos.

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  • The oldest MSS of “Beowulf,” and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  • A royal grant document dated 679 – the oldest existing document in Anglo-Saxon (Old English)!
  • A Gutenberg Bible,  Wycliffe Bible, and some marvelous illuminated Gospels, Bibles, and other texts.
  • The Magna Carta
  • And the Codex Sinaiticus – the oldest complete NT MS in Greek – 4th century.

After the Library we tubed back to Oxford Circus, where we walked west through Mayfair to Hyde park. We walked down Upper Brook St and crossed through Grosvenor Square, seeing a moving Sept. 11 memorial, and statues of FDR and Eisenhower.

We came to Hyde Park at the Speaker’s Corner (Nothing today. Only Sundays.), and I got a cappuccino. We saw some Aston Martins across the way – one was a 1970 used in a one-season show with Tony Curtis & Roger Moore – a beauty. (The Persuaders)

Tube over to the East Side, Liverpool Street, where we walked around Spitalsfield. Ate at a restaurant in the New Spitalsfield Market.

Walked up Bishopsgate to Bushfield which took us to Christ Church. We walked around the Gardens and left just as a “Jack the Ripper” tour came in. There were at least three on the block at the same time.

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Went up to Commercial and took Lamb back Bishopsgate, then to the tube. Back home via Pimlico stop. Showers. Bed.

Last day in London.

60 Days in Europe: Day 41 / July 9

July 9, 2014 – London.

Do you get the feeling coffee is important?

From my journal:
Had our own Starbuck’s instant coffee that we had brought, with cream.

Took the tube to the Tower (of London). After that we toured the Tower Bridge, leaving from the other side.

Southwark Cathedral, the Queen’s Walk along the river to the Globe. Not available for touring due to a performance. We can try again tomorrow if we like.

We walked across the Millennium Bridge and walked all the way around St. Paul’s.

From there we took a bus to the British Museum. I went in, but Laura took the tube to Elyse & Emma’s (our daughter and her friend) hostel in Hammersmith to check it out. (It was fine:-) )

Highlights of the Museum:

  • The Assyrian Rooms:
    -The Gate statues
    -The wall panels: The Capture of Lachish, The Lion Hunts.
  • The Sutton Hoo treasure,
  • The European Rooms,
  • Celtic, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon Britain,
  • Viking artifacts.

Assyrian Deportation 7-9-14 Panorama (Custom)

 

Took the tube back to Victoria and the hostel, just after Laura got there. Napped. Chatted with gov’t IT guy from Australia with 6 months of vacation.

He was claiming  half of his vacation pay every month, thus getting a year off to travel.

Laura and I walked up to the laundromat to find it gated.

A block or two from the hostel we happened upon James Watson’s old digs.

Ate in cafe – where the man said the laundromat opens at 8am. Big plate of spaghetti and meatballs:-) Game is on.

Sat and began the day’s journal entry.

Back to hostel as Argentina v. Holland was drawing a big crowd to the pub. Loud futbol mania, on into the night – it sounded like hundreds of people all around the surrounding block, all roaring, cheering, singing, raising Cain. Madness.

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60 Days in Europe: Day 40 / July 8

July 8, 2014 – London.

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London: Horseferry Road & Arneway Street, Westminster.

From my journal:
We walked to an Italian cafe for real coffee, as the pub the hostel is attached to (owned by) was offering instant (!).

We dropped our wet laundry (we had received it that way from Marc) at a laundromat.

We walked to the Houses of Parliament and began our Westminster walk (R. Steves again). Westminster Bridge, Parliament Square. Statues of Lincoln, Mandela, Churchill. A TV reporter told us that Parliament had just that morning voted to erect a statue of Gandhi in the square. We saw his report that night, and he included Churchill’s nasty “Mid-Temple lawyer” quote.

Whitehall, Horse Parade, Old Scotland Yard, Trafalgar Square. Got our London Pass and walked back to tour Westminster Abbey. Tombs of the rich and famous. Poet’s Corner was my favorite.

We took the bus back and bought ourselves microwave dinners at Tesco (Supermarket).

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After eating we went next door to the pub and watched the first 60 minutes or so of the historic Germany v. Brazil World Cup game. When we went to bed the score was 5-0 and all the cheering and singing we heard though the neighborhood , we learned the next morning, was the not the end of the game as I thought, but two more goals by Germany! (and one by Brazil.)

60 Days in Europe: Day 39 / July 7

July 7, 2014 – Paris.

From my journal:
Marc came by in the morning, with the understanding we were checking out by noon. We thought we had until midnight (our booking confirmation said “midnight.”), but he was asking us to vacate early for the next visitors. We left in half an hour (11:30) and Marc arranged to let us leave our packs in the tour office on the ground floor, and fetched our laundry, as it wasn’t ready yet.

We bused to the Arc de Triomphe and walked the Champs-Élysées.

We decide to walk to the Cluny* which was farther than I realized. A great collection of medieval art, esp. the stained glass and the tapestries.

We walked around the Left Bank some more, ending up at the Luxembourg Gardens.

There we caught a bus back to pick up our packs, , and another bus over to Gare du Nord to catch the train to London. There was some kind of breakdown in the Chunnel, so all the trains were delayed, and for ours – the 9:13 – they announced a 2 1/2 hour delay. We were there 2 hours ahead of time. The train ended up leaving at 11:15, so we waited 4 hours , a lot of it standing in line.

I fell asleep right away and slept for the whole ride – almost unheard of for me.

Since the buses and the tube weren’t running, they paid our ways by taxi (Yes, for every single person on the train. There were scores of cabs waiting outside.) A Chinese girl who was riding with us was getting a free ride all the way to Birmingham!

We arrived at the hostel about 2:00 am.

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Paris: Luxembourg Gardens, the Medici Fountain.

*The Musée national du Moyen Âge, formerly Musée de Cluny.

60 Days in Europe: Day 38 / July 6

July 6, 2014 – Paris.

From my journal:
Took the bus to La Cité and got a big coffee at Patisserie Paul on Boulevard Saint-Michel. Walked the ‘historic Paris walk’ (R. Steves). Saw Notre-Dame from the outside. The lines were huge, in the thousands, which discouraged us from going in. We left the flat without our rain gear, so we went back to our room and returned. Bought an umbrella, as we had left Marc’s on the bus. We went to Shakespeare & Co., which was cooler than I expected. I think I spent an hour in there, in part because I thought I was shopping a used section upstairs for some small, old keepsake volume, when in fact I was browsing their library! I had selected a volume of Milton – sermons. Laura had found “Poems by Captain Noah,” and at checkout I grabbed a S & Co blank notebook. I’ve been trying to think of a special purpose I could IMG_6933JPGgive it – writing ideas, or a publication ledger.

The ex-pat writers who frequented this store inspire me – not only due to their talent and breaking new ground – but because they exercised a new freedom to experiment, to be different, and chart a new creative course without anyone’s permission – although they also needed a certain degree of acceptance and encouragement, if only in their own circle. I feel a need and desire for that kind of freedom. God willing, I will live and work in it.

We walked toward the Orsay and the rain increased. We got quite wet. Along the way we happened upon a Protestant church just letting out and chatted with a young couple for few minutes. We also ate some lunch .

At the Orsay (Musee d’Orsay) the line we thought was for ticket was several blocks long, and did not seem normal. We stood for at least an hour and the rain soaked us through. Once inside we realized the reason for the lines: free admission!

Oh, I was in heaven. The last part, the fifth floor Impressionist collection is a dream. I love them all, but  am especially fond of Sisley and Pissarro. A superb collection that delighted me beyond description.

We went back to our room to eat and take a nap, as we planned to be up late. We took a bus up to Montmarte, where we walked from the Cemetery at Rue Josephe de Maistre up to the Basilica.

There was a party atmosphere as we joined the crowd to watch the Paris nightfall. I love the area around the Consulate, but we didn’t linger. We bused over to the Trocadero and viewed the Eiffel Tower. It was after midnight by then. We walked toward the Tower in the hopes of catching a bus or the Metro, but we soon learned that the Metro had ceased for the night, and we couldn’t figure out the bus, so we hailed a taxi for home.

60 Days in Europe: Day 37 / July 5

July 5, 2014 – Madrid – Paris.

From my journal:
Last day in Spain. Packed up, grabbed coffees while waiting for taxi to urgent care at the hospital. Laura got in and out of her visit with the doctor pretty quickly, but without an ℞ for the antibiotics she really wanted. Pain meds instead.

Apparently you can’t get antibiotics in Europe unless you have the bubonic plague.

Metro to aeropuerto. Flight to Paris dep. 2:24. Adios, España!

We had booked an Airbnb rental near the Opera House.

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The Paris Opera House.

Plane landed after 4:00. Made our way by bus and Métro to the Havre-Caumartin stop, where Marc was kind enough to meet us. He walked us back, and through all the info we needed re: the building, apartment, neighborhood, etc. Then he bought us drinks next door at a punk pub. For a long time, old Bowie was playing, then the Velvet Underground.

Laura and I bought food including a microwave dinner at the Dia (Spanish supermercado chain) on the block.

You can buy some really good microwave food in Europe.

 

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 36 / July 4

July 4, 2014 – Madrid.

From my journal:
Coffees at the hotel. Went to mall, got a box. Went to P.O., wrapped the box, and sent it.

Reina Sofia was just a block away. “Guernica.”

guernica

I put this museum on my itinerary solely to to see this great painting.

Also, some Miros, and photography and propaganda art from the (Spanish) Civil War. Very moving.

Laura not well. We ate, she took the Metro back to the hotel.

IMG_3684JPGI went to the Prado. I made a big mistake. Learning admission was free 6-8, I relaxed and waited for the queue. I didn’t see that it was forming away from me for blocks. So a few mutes before 6, I paid and went in only to realize 2 hours was not enough time take in this remarkable collection of paintings.

Highlights:

  • Many masterpieces. Fra Angelico’s “Annunciation,” Dürer’s “Self Portrait,” Tintoretto’s “Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet,” Goya’s “The Third of May, 1808.” There were others, some I knew and some I did not, that were amazing.
  • Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Holy smokes. Seeing this in person was mind-blowing. Certainly one of the most bizarre and confounding paintings before the Surrealists.
  • Bruegel, “The Triumph of Death.” A nightmarish vista of death’s inevitability, indiscrimination,  variety and horror. One of the most horrific paintings I’ve seen.
  • Many remarkable portraits, for example, Dürer, “Portrait of a Man with Beret and Scroll.
  • Finally, a painting and a painter I did not know.” The Execution of Torrijos and His Companions on the Beach at Málaga,” by Antonio Gisbert. This totally enthralled me – capturing the moment of men, brothers in arms, bravely facing their deaths. Not a false note. At the same time, a few hold hands showing their solidarity, yet each contemplates their end in their own way. One of the most emotionally powerful pictures I have ever seen! Wow, wow, wow.
    The painting is 12 ft. 9 in. high, and 19 ft. 8 in. wide.
    Execution of Torrijos“The Execution of Torrijos and His Companions on the Beach at Málaga,” by Antonio Gisbert.
    Took the Metro back and Laura surprised me by meeting me on the street. We shopped, ate in a park, and returned to our room. Her throat is giving her intense pain and she thinks it is the same infection she had a few weeks before we left.

 

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 35 / July 3

July 3, 2014 – Toledo – Madrid.

From my journal:
Slept until 9:00. Checked out. After checking on a place offering a 30-minute massage for €20, we ate our American breakfast again. Waited for the place to open. It was raining. Thunder back at the hostel, then a good showering. Got my massage, then walked to Santo Tomé. The man shut the gate on me and said, “Closed. Open at one o’clock.”

We found a cafe and went in because it was raining more heavily. Then, a torrent. The streets ran like a muddy stream. A woman was sitting outside because she had a dog, but the owner had her come in.

Went to Santo Tomé and viewed El Greco’s “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.” Worth the wait.

Laura waited outside watching a young bird we found on our way there: quivering and immobile on a step. I held it and warmed it and then we set it under some brush to stay dry. Before we left, Laura activated a hand-warmer and set it next to him.

We walked out of the Old City to our car, buying a roasted chicken on our way. We got to the car and went to the P.O. They sold us a flimsy box and some bubble-wrap but we were not going to be able to make the box ready for shipping there.

We needed to ship our tiles home, along with other things we had bought or collected so far.

Drove to Madrid, to the airport. On the way, in Leganes, we found a Spanish Home Depot – Poricomart. We got some more bubble-wrap, tape and foam peanuts. I assembled the box in the lot, and we realized the postal box wouldn’t do. We also were too late when we went to a P.O. there. From the airport we drove to our hotel in Ciudad Lineal. Bought food for dinner and the next day. Watched BBC World on the telly. Terror alert on air travel got my attention. Flying in two days to Paris. Laura’s sick again: got my cold.