In the first few days we settled in with her, then she was able to take time off.
We first visited the university town of Oxford and were impressed with all the history and the historic college buildings.
We then went “overseas” to France and settled into a small hotel which was very close to the Arc de Triomphe. Among the many notable buildings we visited were the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, the Hotel des Invalides (where Napoleon’s coffin lies), the Chateau de Versailles, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. On visiting the cathedral, we joined a queue which we believed was to get inside. Our mistake; it was a queue to climb the tower! And so, after climbing 263 steps, I was exhausted. Nevertheless, it was an outstanding view of Paris. On climbing down again, Cathy shouted me a much deserved beer.
We next flew to Barcelona where we were overwhelmed by the architecture and artwork of Gaudi. The highlight was a visit to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. It had been in the course of erection for many decades and looked like it was still decades from completion. It is the most magnificent cathedral I have ever seen.
In Barcelona we experienced difficulty with the language and in finding a suitable restaurant. In fact, English was not generally spoken and it just was not possible to read a menu. It was all guesswork. At one café we thought we had ordered cooked potatoes with our meal and were presented with a packet of chips. The imagined meat was a queer presentation of small fishy smelling objects, which on a later interpretation, turned out to be “cockles” as in “Cockles and muscles Ahoy, Ahoy …oh”. They tasted terrible!
The next move was a flight to Ireland. We landed in Dublin and hired a car, which Cathy had difficulty in even getting started. A lady walked past wearing a “Dublin Airport” uniform. When asked a question she gave a typical Irish answer “I’m not in today”. Only in Ireland!
We travelled north to Belfast, then to Londonderry, or “Derry” as it is generally known. We saw the many murals and the monument to “Bloody Sunday”. It was an eerie feeling and I kept looking over my shoulder, fearful of the IRA, as we were encroaching on their territory. We visited many little hamlets and the majestic Giant’s Causeway. We finally settled in a comfy B&B in Portrush.
After dinner we visited a local pub and had a Guinness. We were advised that there would be more activity at another near-by pub where the students visited, so we went there and came up with a surprise for Cathy. Dad didn’t finish a beer! The students were all drinking a beer called Harp, and I’m afraid I couldn’t stomach it.
We then went back to Dublin and flew out to Heathrow, then back to Cathy’s little flat in Windsor.
All in all, a wonderful sojourn!