The Final Chapter

Okay, so I thought it was a long time between blog posts last time but this has been longer. Sorry. We are now back home so I better finish off the trip now before I go back to work on Monday or I will never finish.

Where was I? Belfast. The day before we left Belfast, Aunty Yvonne, Carol, Alasdair, their 2 girls Sophie and Lara and Aaron and I went for a drive up to the North Coast of Northern Ireland. Our first stop was the Giants Causeway, the geographical wonder of hexagonal basalt rocks and the coldest place we encountered on our trip. Last time I was at the Causeway I wimped out and caught the bus back to the top. This time I was determined I was going to walk it. Which we did. Not just back up the same path, but up a hundred a something steps up to the cliff top (and steps are not usually my thing). The view was amazing and it was then that we encountered the first of our rain for the day. After a blitz through the souvenir shop it was onto the town of Bushmills for lunch in a nice cafe called 1608. We then drove onto Port Stewart where we stopped for ice cream at Morelli's. Even though we were still full from lunch Aaron & I just had to have Knickerbocker Glory's. I'm so glad we did, and as Aunty Yvonne once said 'the ice cream just melts and falls between the cracks in your stomach'.

The next morning after packing up our stuff and saying goodbye to the rellies, we headed down to Dublin by train where we were picked up by our friends Kathy, Brian and their son Paul and taken to there lovely house in Maynooth, outside of Dublin. It was great to catch up with them again and so nice of them top put us up for a few days.

We then spent the next few days exploring Dublin and getting to know the Irish train system, where trains can suddenly disappear from departure boards with no warning or explanation. Our whirlwind tour of Dublin included, the National Museum, the National Library, Trinity College and the Book of Kells, the very interesting Archbishop Marsh's Library (where Librarians are known as Keepers) and of course the Guinness Brewery. Despite me not having an interest in beer or stout it was an interesting morning. I tried so hard to drink all of my free pint in the Gravity Bar but I could only manage about 2 thirds. I can't understand why people like the stuff. Oh well.

That night was Halloween and I don't know who was more excited, the trick or treaters that came to the door or Aaron. It certainly brought out the big kid in him. Lots of lollies, candy or sweeties (whatever you prefer to call it) was definitely consumed that night.

The next day we had one of our earliest starts of the trip so that we could get a lift to Dublin with Brian. We then caught a bus out to the airport to wait for our flight to London, which was delayed (as was most of our flights. Do any flights ever leave on time?). After the flight, then a train ride, then a tube ride, and a short walk we made it to our friend Dave's place in Central London (NW1) where we then spent the next week spread out all over Dave's small one bedroom flat.

I love London and on our first walk around the city that night around Picadilly, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Oxford Street and Regent Street I couldn't stop smiling. Dave's two finger Japanese style photo pose added to the fun of the night as did Aaron's singing which by now I am used to but irritated Dave in under 3 hours.

I will now condense the next 6 days activities as the post is already very long. Things we did and saw:
  • Visited Harrods twice (and bought more bears)
  • Went to the Tower of London and saw the Beefeaters and the Crown Jewels
  • Shopped at Hamley's toy store on Regent Street (more bears)
  • Visited the British Library
  • Saw an exhibition about China's Terracotta Warriors at the British Library
  • Saw fireworks at Battersea Park for Guy Fawkes (where Aaron wore a scarf for the first time in his life and also had a hole put in his jumper from a wayward firework let off by kids)
  • Saw lots of squirrels in Hyde Park (and they were much tamer than their other European counterparts)
  • Saw several Princess Diana memorials
  • Saw Buckingham Palace, St Paul's Cathedral Regents Park, Kensington Gardens among other famous sites
  • Went on the London Eye (not as scary as I expected for someone who ates heights)
  • Went on a day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath; and
  • Met more of Aaron's relatives and a couple of his friends as well
From London we headed back to Paris on the Eurostar. If it had of been 5 days later we would have left from the brand new station at St Pancras that the Queen officially opened (and the journey would have been 20 minutes shorter) but instead we had to contend with Waterloo station (and I had to put up with Aaron singing ABBA songs). Our Paris hotel was conveniently located across the road from the train station and had very nice staff, despite the fact that the wall paper and the corridors to our room made it feel like we were in a maze we might never get out of. After wondering around the shopping area of Paris that has 2 big department stores we went back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner. We went to a restaurant recommended to us by our hotel staff and the food was delicious, even though the restaurant was a little cramped. We finally got to eat escargot. I have eaten them before but it was Aaron's first try. The verdict - he wished we had both ordered them instead of just sharing one plate.

The next day, our last in Europe, began with a breakfast of as many croissants and pain au raisins as we could stomach, before venturing to the Montmartre and Pigale areas of Paris. Our visit into the Sacre Coeur was our first visit to a basilica where a service was in progress, complete with choral singing. It was a slightly odd experience. We then managed to avoid having our portrait drawn by the many artists in the streets before heading to the red light district of Pigale where we saw the Moulin Rouge. After a quick stroll down Avenue Rachel and a look around the MontMartre Cemetary we headed back to the hotel to collect our bags before heading out to Charles De Gaulle Airport by train. We got to the airport so early that we were unable to check in for our flight for almost an hour. We then spent another 3 hours in the most boring of airport terminals before boarding another delayed flight to Dubai and Singapore.

We arrived in Singapore, went straight to our hotel, showered and went to bed. The next morning we headed to the Singapore Zoo which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite coming too close for my liking to a few animals including a lemur (well its tail anyway). Their collection of primates is impressive. We also added elephants to our modes of transportation taken on this trip by having a ride on a lovely big elephant called ?. I have no idea of his name, although Aaron called him Lumpy. We spent the afternoon having a look at the shopping centres on Orchard Road before a welcome dip in the hotel pool. That night we headed out on a Night tour which included dinner down by the river, a river cruise on a bum boat, a visit to the Royal Selangor pewter workshop, a visit to the Bugis Markets and a stop at Raffles Hotel where Aaron and I experienced Singapore Slings in the Long Bar (and paid for the privilege). The next morning after sleeping passed the alarm, we awoke to rain for the first time in quite awhile. We still ventured out to Chinatown (by taxi) where it poured down. A quick trip on the MRT had us back at our hotel packing up and checking out before heading to the airport for the final time ( I love late check out). This time, again despite being incredibly early for our flight we were able to check in and we then spent the next 1 1/2 hours watching television in the departure lounge before doing some last minute shopping only to sit and wait at the gate for another delayed flight.

7 hours later (and no sleep by me) we arrived at Brisbane Airport and made it through Customs without any problems. After arriving home and unpacking we began the souvenir sort which covered the entire dining room table. If only we had more luggage space we could have brought back so much more.

So that is then end of our European Adventure. I hoped you enjoyed reading about our antics. I will most likely continue to ramble on this blog in the future (but with much shorter posts) as i am going back to uni next year to study Information Architecture. Why? Just for something to do.

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