As you can see, I’m back from my extended trip abroad. It was great to get out of the desert for part of the summer. I’m currently planning a way to do that EVERY year. I’m still quite jet-lagged, so do forgive the rambles. The cruise over to Hamburg from New York on the Queen Mary 2 was fabulous. The captain of the ship said he’s never in his thirty years of sailing seen the North Atlantic look that calm. We had days of utter glass. It was beautiful. The QM2 definitely lives up to her reputation. She’s a grand lady. The food was wonderful and so were the numerous lectures and balls. Dh and I quickly figured out that we need to take formal dance lessons. An hour lesson does not a ‘waltzer’ make. LOL! The ship was greeted with little fanfare when we arrived in Southampton, England to let passengers off and refuel, but Hamburg, Germany came out in droves. Even the rain couldn’t keep the crowds away. The Germans really love the Queen Mary 2. It was cool to see. We drove a few hours to my SIL’s house. Unfortunately, I came down with a head cold. It was the first one I’ve had in a year or so. Bummer timing, but it didn’t slow us down. We explored the nearby towns and went bowling with our niece and nephew. Lots of fun. We even managed to catch up with friends we hadn’t seen in ten years. It was truly a fabulous time. We miss everyone already.
We left Germany via train for Paris. The ride took us through Belgium. I had no idea the country was so pretty (and ‘hilly’-at least in the section I saw). Paris was as beautiful as the last time we saw her. It was nice to see all the trees in bloom. The parks were full of sunbathing locals and plenty of tourists (like me) taking dozens of photographs. Unfortunately, Paris was also full of women claiming to be from Bosnia needing assistance for their families back home. At first I felt really bad for them, then I realized they weren’t targeting all the tourists–only the english speaking ones. I also saw the employees of a Starbucks run them out of their place of business. I realized fairly quickly these weren’t truly people ‘in need’. They were scammers who’d come in to work the ‘summer crowd’. And they weren’t the only ones working scams. There was a few men who would throw down a ring and pretend you dropped it. Even when you told them no, they’d insist that you ‘keep the valuable ring’, then ever so calmly ask for a ‘donation’ for the ring. It was an interesting scam. I fell for it, but I only gave him what the ring was worth…about three bucks. *ggg* I took the ring, which I later realized probably wasn’t part of his scam, but it worked for me. 😉 Fortunately, we managed to have one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life at Guy Savoy, so the trip to Paris didn’t leave a bad taste in our mouths. It did however change our minds about renting/buying a flat there to escape the desert summers. I think I prefer Paris in the fall and winter. Much quieter. 🙂
From Paris we flew to Scotland. I know I’m biased, but Scotland never sucks, even when it’s raining (which is most of the time). *G* We managed to take a trip to the Isle of Skye. The weather was remarkable. Sunshine, blue skies, clear water, and warm weather. In other words, perfect. And it was like that the entire time we were in Scotland. Dh and I are convinced we bring the sunshine with us. 😉 We didn’t manage to catch up with friends, but we did have a nice visit with family and got the chance to explore a few castles. (Can never get enough of that.) We had a wonderful time.
Our last stop was to London. Like Scotland, the weather in London was wonderful. They had the occasional shower, but it ended quickly and the sun came back out to kiss the seventy-two degree air. Really didn’t want to leave that weather once we found out what was waiting for us at home. Since we only had a few days in London, dh and I played tourist. We went to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and did a tour of the palace, which sounds a little cheesy, but turned out to be fabulous. You actually got to go through a lot of the formal reception rooms and see where the Queen knights people. The tour also included the stables. I love horses so that was a high point for me. 😀 London was wonderful, even though it turned into a bit of whirlwind.
We are back home now. Tired, but finally unpacked. YAY! It’s time to buckle down and get a lot of work done before the Novelist Inc. conference next month. (No, I’m not looking forward to packing again, but clothes are required. *ggg*) Came to a lot of conclusions while I was away. Made a few observations. I’ll get into them later. For now, I’ll sign off. Hope you’ve had a stimulating summer, too. Ciao!