Sunday, August 29, 2010

European Vacation: Part One

In theory, this blog is about quilting and inspiration. I'm a firm believer that who we are and what we do influences our creativity. Well, I'm pumped and fired up to create again because of vacation.

Wow. I’ve been crazy lazy. Vacation flew by. Then the Ranch River Run. Then work work work. Finally, a trip to visit my folks. At long last, a new blog entry.

Vacation: Took three weeks and went to Europe. I had a great time. We toured London, Paris, Manchester and then Scotland.

London was incredible. We spent a lot of time on the double decker bus tour. We had a different guide each time and found that each one had their own focus. We learned new things from each driver. I had no idea that Big Ben was the bell inside the tower. I thought the tower was Big Ben. But nope, I was wrong. It is the Tower of Big Ben with Ben being the bell itself. We did the Jack the Ripper tour. It was interesting to tour White Castle and see all the locations of his murders and to learn theories, old and new about whom Jack really was. The Sherlock Holmes Pub was entertaining and served fabulous pub grub. We did the Clink Museum tour. It gave an interesting perspective on the Clink Prison, but a little disappointing. We saw the Phantom of the Opera. The acting was divine and the music breathtaking. I would go again in a heartbeat, even after seeing already.

Stonehenge: I have been told that normally when you go to Stonehenge, there are hundreds and hundreds or people there and they are packed five deep and block your view. Not for us, we took the Sunset Tour! We arrived just at the monument was closing. Once all the other tourists were cleared off, our group went in. There were about fifty of us and we were allowed inside the protective fence. It was humbling and inspiring. I’ve read stories about the lei lines of power that run through the world and the theory that Stonehenge was built on a junction of these lines. I always thought it was a bunch of bunk. Well, I have to admit I was wrong. Woefully wrong. There is power there; the place fairly hums with it. I cannot describe what it felt like. It was almost as if it were alive. I got goose bumps and tingled all over. Technically, we were not allowed to touch the stones. But seriously, who could go there and not touch them? I know I sure didn’t resist and neither did any of the other
people in our group.

Paris was interesting, but way too crowed and busy. The Eiffel Tower was incredible to see. The Louvre had some fabulous paintings. Mona was much smaller than I had anticipated, but the building itself with its intricate architecture, history and painting ceilings was breathtaking. Even the floors were inspiring. I’ve got a quilt series on the floors of Europe ratting around my brain. Rodin’s Garden was fascinating. The Gates of Hell was incredible and the rose garden was beautiful.

What nobody warned us about was that in Paris, you cannot use the washroom unless you buy something. My wee tiny bladder has trouble with that concept. So, after much walking and pee-dancing around, we decided to sit and have a beer at a small outdoor pub. After a few sips, I could take no more. I had to go. With sign language and much blundering about, I managed to find out where the washroom was. Down the narrow, steep, rickety stairs, first door on the left. So, I traipsed down the dimly lit stairs and opened the door to the unisex bathroom. The smell or urine hit me like a truck. There was pee ankle deep on the floor. Still, I was desperate and my bladder wouldn’t wait any longer. I rolled up the legs of my pants to keep them dry, dropped my drawers and squatted over the toilet. No way in the world would I sit on that thing. I was no more than started when the light went out. Motion sensor! What the hell and programmed for under a minute. Who pees that fast? Not me! And clearly none of those who went before me finished in time. I waved my arms around and the light came back on. Whose brilliant idea was that? Motion sensor in a bathroom. I’m guessing that the men had trouble standing there and trying to aim when the lights went out. It sure explained the mess on the floor. Yuck. Yuck and yuck again.

The best part of Paris was the Musée de Cluny. By chance I discovered that this museum was the home of the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries. So, we hoped the Metro, (which by the way is fast and efficient and the best way to travel Paris) and visited the museum. Unlike the Louvre, which was wall to wall people and so busy you could hardly see the art, Cluny was almost empty. It is a museum of medieval history and had incredible artwork, architecture, stained glass and hordes of other stuff. All of which you could get right up to and see the fine details. Best of all were the tapestries. We spent over half and hour in that climate controlled room. Alone except for the security guard, we studied each one closely and took some pictures. Non-flash pictures, but they turned out not bad all things considered. We also visited the Military Museum and took a Segway tour from Fat Tyre Bicycle Tours. They are an American company with all young American and Australians doing the tours. Fabulous for those of use who don’t speak French. Don’t ask about our segway accident. It was Dave’s fault and that’s all I’m going to say. Don’t listen to him when he tells you otherwise.

Manchester is a rainy dismal industrial city. We stayed there for eight days while Dave played in the World Field Lacrosse Championships. They didn’t do so well, but it was fun to watch.

Scotland…. Scotland is worth a blog entry of its own. Stay tuned.

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