Baked beans for breakfast. The Queen’s stunning coach. Cliffs and castles. Sheep, sheep, sheep. I’m getting ready to head out to the Texas Book Festival this week, but I wanted to post some shots of our time in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Galway.
The trip was a feast for the eyes, particularly volcanic Edinburgh, my favorite, which looks and feels like Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series. We always talk about the influence of place on an author. I can’t think of a better example than J.K. Rowling and the world she created for us. We stayed in 700 year-old Dalhousie Castle, just outside the city, which has been restored to a hotel and spa, complete with the dining room in the dungeon.
But really, there were treasures in every city. Some highlights:
We stayed in the Kensington neighborhood at the Ashburn Hotel, a 38-room boutique hotel around the corner from the Gloucester Road underground station, which made getting around the city very easy. On our first outing, we emerged at Parliament Square to find hordes of people. What was happening? London was was waiting for Queen Elizabeth II to ride by on her way to Parliament as part of the Brexit discussions.
Like most tourists, we cued up for the Churchill war rooms and the next day at the Tower of London, with all its chilling history which our tour guide shared with relish. (I kept dreaming about Anne Boleyn’s lips moving after she was beheaded by sword.) The proper antidote seemed like ice cream at Harrod’s Department store which is an over-the-top labyrinth of luxury.
The Cliffs of Moher and Aillwee Cave were stunning, from the ride through the countryside to the actual destination.
I browsed the many gorgeous bookstores all over Dublin and Galway, enjoyed pub food, took a tour about Irish emigration, and bought myself an Aran sweater that I’ll be wearing this winter.
But here’s what I especially loved: being in such close contact with people from all over the world. I heard French on one side of me and German on the other. I watched people try out all the different languages in their heads until they found the common one that would help them communicate. Chinese? English? Spanish? Farsi? One always unlocked the relationship. Like the rest of the world, nationalist tendencies are rising, but on this trip I enjoyed the feeling that the world is everyone and that it’s possible to be here for each other.