As we woke this morning to see the orange glow of the rising sun turn the inky blackness into bright blue as it itself faded to white we reflected that six years ago tomorrow we had done the same thing as we spent our first night in this home.
Home, yes home at last after being away nine and ten weeks.
Home after 29 trains, 23 buses, 15 boats, 6 taxis, 6 private cars, 5 planes, 4 trams, 4 metros, 3 funiculars, 1 cable car, 1 cruise ship, not forgetting one rowing boat, 10 hotel rooms and three private homes, 1900 photos (aren't you glad we didn't post all of them?).
To have accomplished all this with no hitches, no illness, no seriously missed connections or mishaps is fortunate indeed. We went quite expecting to find at least one hotel unacceptable, or having no record of our reservation, but no such misadventure happened.
We left Bo'ness a little after 8:00am yesterday and collected Lillias as she and Nan planned a shopping spree after they dropped us at the airport in Glasgow. We checked in at the airport and sat and talked till it was time to go into the departure lounge. We were quickly seated on the plane and we were off on the last commercial connection of our trip. It proved to be very comfortable and without event.
As we waited expectantly for our luggage in Calgary Airport we conjectured as to who would be waiting with Darcy and Fiona to collect us. It proved to be Irelann. We were soon reunited with both our baggage and part of our family. Kisses were exchanged and we set off up the Queen Elizabeth II highway to Edmonton in our car which they had brought. Great discussion ensued over both our trip and the events in the family since we had left, all of which greatly shortened the perceived time of travel. As has been our experience throughout the trip, keys were a problem. Since I had left my keys in Venice, we had none for our home. Fiona's key for our house was in their van, the keys of which were in their home, along with the keys for their home, since they had left Darcy's brother there, and he had left, locking the door behind him. Off to Darcy's parents where another key was kept. Eventually it all worked out and we got into our home, Darcy took their van back to his parents to retrieve the rest of the grandchildren and we all spent a while getting reacquainted. Unsociable and task oriented as I am, I unpacked while this was going on.
Eventually they all left and Christine unpacked and we got into bed. They were all back this afternoon to be delighted in all the gifts brought back from far away places. We had dinner on our own and David and Dawn came afterwards and we revisited many of the oft told stories of our travels.
So it's over.
What were our impressions?
Surprises - how often the background music in foreign countries had English lyrics; how small Dubrovnik proved to be; how delightful Paris and London turned out to be; how easy it was for English speaking tourists to travel in Europe; how far one can walk when one has to.
Disappointments - how many buildings were being renovated. This is a mixed disappointment. While it means the tourist of the day cannot enjoy the sight, it also means the buildings are being cared for and kept up in appearance and durability.
Highlights - Dinner Cruise in Paris, Concert in Vienna, Day-long Cruise on Lake Geneva.
Destination enjoyed the most - Lucerne, Switzerland. Why? Maybe because the surroundings are so like Canada. It also appeared extremely safe, scenic, welcoming, and a pleasant mix of the old and new.
Regrets - that, despite paring down our clothing, we did not travel lighter.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. We learned geography; put historical events into perspective in Vienna and Malta; saw where history had been made in Athens, Paris, London and Geneva; visualized Biblical events where they happened in Ephesus, Athens and Malta. Altogether an enjoyable, instructive experience which no amount of reading could match.
Would we do it again? - in a minute! but probably not! It was a once in a lifetime experience which cannot be replicated.
If you stayed with us this long, thank you. We appreciate the comments we have received about this web site, and to the one who suggested I should write a book - I have considered it. Now I am retired, who knows?