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British Isles Cruise

The tour of the British Isles was a time where Craig and Patty wanted to further connect with their daughters, Julie and Danielle, and son-in-law Matt. Boy did it turn out well, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Queen Mary 2 Transoceanic Sailing

Rather than to fly from Los Angeles to England to begin the cruise, Patty and Craig decided to fly to New York and book a transatlantic cruise to England. This had the benefit of reducing our jet lag and allowing us six days on a private vacation, before we did everything as a family.

Also, the British Isles cruise had ten ports in twelve days – hardly a receipt for adjusting to a ship on the seas. By starting on the Queen Mary II in New York, we were able to get six, uninterrupted days at sea before all the tours and rushing around started.

Brooklyn Bridge

We boarded in the Brooklyn shipyards and left New York on a beautiful day – with the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan at our stern and the Statue of Liberty on our starboard side.

Statue of Liberty & Patty

Crossing under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, we headed out to sea.

The first two days were very rough and the Captain said the winds approached hurricane force, however, the Queen rode everything out quite well and we never slowed our shipboard activities.

We shared our dinner table with a really great couple – Sandy and Sue – from the area south of Liverpool, England. They had really good stories about their experiences, what we should look for in Liverpool, and are one of the reasons we enjoy cruising so much – you meet so many interesting and nice people.

A highlight of our six day cruise was a conversation with, and shows by, James Taylor and his entourage. All thirty-four members were traveling on the Queen to start a European tour.

This is a photo of James Taylor from his show on board.

Of course we kept the tickets issued for his show.

We were able to get his autograph and a picture with him while on board.

Southampton, England Ship Transfer

Ten other groups had booked both the crossing and the Princess cruise around the British Isles. Upon arrival at the port of Southampton, the Cunard organization provided us all with transportation to the Princess docks, where we met Julie and Matt and boarded the Crown Princess.

Danielle soon followed and we met up early in the afternoon to celebrate sail away. Matt had never been on a cruise before so we did our best to help him get familiar with the ship. Of course none of us had ever been on the Crown either, but we were familiar with most of the places from other Princess ships.

At our first dinner we were seated with a British gentleman named Graham White. It turned out he was a former ships navigator and was on board as a lecturer who was to describe all our ports and the tours available for each. These incidental meetings are always fun and we had lots of questions for him during the remainder of the cruise.

We are starting to leave Southampton in this picture, but the QM2 was docked just in front of the ship shown on the right of this picture. We didn't have too far to transfer our luggage.

St. Peter Port

Our port the next morning was St Peter Port in the Channel Island of Guernsey, one of the prettiest harbors in Europe.

We booked no specific tour, but took the tender into the harbor and hiked up the hill to the Elizabeth Tower.

map of St Peter PortElizabeth Tower with Patty & Danielle

Across the street and down the hill from the tower is the city's old cemetery, with lots of Celtic headstones and symbols.

Elizabeth Tower with Julie & Mattcity cemetery


From the cemetery, we hiked over to a coffee shop on what appeared to be park grounds that overlooked the harbor.

coffee shopharbor view

We stopped here for some refreshment, as we were hungry, thirsty and the view was quite spectacular. Our ship was shrouded in fog from this view and we took quite a few pictures.

Local church with Craig & Julieharbor at low tide

Walking back down a winding foot path into the shopping area brought many quaint views, but we concentrated on walking through the shopping area without stopping much.

We lingered around The Parish Church, that was under repair, then found a local pub next door, where we tried out St Peter Port ale – not too good – and brew – much better.

return tender

Walking back along the harbor, everyone, but Patty and Craig, was amazed by the tide drop - we had been here before. In the morning we had come in near high tide and it was now low tide - stranding many small boats in the harbor.

After a long line waiting to board our tender back to the ship, we finally arrived at our cabins.

Cobh and Cork, Ireland

The port of Cobh, Ireland is the entranceway to the city of Cork and we all took the train – the train station was next to the ship’s dock – into the 3rd largest city in Ireland.

Upon arrival, we walked through downtown Cork, along Saint Patrick’s street, to St. Fin Barre's Cathedral. Danielle, Patty, JulieAccording to legend, this site has seen continuous worship since St. Fin Barre established a monastery here in 606 AD. The Anglican Church of Ireland started building the current church in 1865, but the inside has a real medieval feel. The graveyard is quite different than we are used to.

PattySt Fin Barre Cathedral spire

Patty relaxed on the lush green lawn around the church. while Craig found a beautiful view of the main spire.

Oliver Plunkett street

We decided to meander back toward the railway station using streets we hadn't walked before. Oliver Plunkett street was a main cross street running through the middle of Cork and we thought it would take us to the pub Harry and Craig had visited in 2005.

This chain of Hillbilly's fried chicken seemed as out of place as the people coming out of it.


We found the pub, but it seems most places don't serve food on Saturday and we were getting extremely hungry.

Three different people recommended we go to Scott's, a place we had passed on our walk. It was a made-to-order cafeteria place with bars on two floors.

Danielle, Julie & Matt at Scotts

We ordered sandwiches and enjoyed pints while Patty went shopping at Marks & Spencer.

the River Lee in the middle of Cork

 Here are Danielle, Julie and Matt.

We crossed the River Lee, the river running through Cork and out to sea, on our way back to the train station. It was a beautiful sight with all the multicolored buildings lining what is really a canal.

statue to Irish emigrants

On our way back on board the ship we passed a statue representing all the Irish emigrants who left the country by way of Cobh. Back on the Crown Princess we watched as a band played and young Irish dancers performed traditional Irish folk dances before we cast off.

We were somewhat late due to late arriving busses from ship tours, but when we cast off we passed St. Coleman's cathedral in the city of Cobh.

This evening was our first formal night and the Captain had a party for all the past passengers in the main atrium area.

Patty ordering outDanielle ordering out

Patty and Danielle were ordering out this night.

Dublin, Ireland

At the port of Dublin we split up and Danielle, Julie, and Matt went to visit Trinity College. They then walked to meet Craig and Patty at the Guinness Storehouse along the path shown on the map below.

Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland and consistently rated one of the better universities in the world. Founded in 1592, it is the first of the ancient universities to admit women - in 1904.

The Library is a legal deposit library for Ireland and the United Kingdom, containing over 4.5 million printed volumes and significant quantities of manuscripts (including the Book of Kells), maps and music.

Their path took them across High Street, past Dublin Castle and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Dublin CastleDublin Castle gardens

A castle has stood on this site since the days of King John, the first Lord of Ireland, however, this castle dates from the 18th century.

The beautiful gardens attached to the castle outline a beautiful script design in bricks across the lawn.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral servicesSaint Patrick's Cathedral

Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, also known as The National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick, Dublin or in the Irish language as Árd Eaglais Naomh Pádraig, founded in 1191, is the larger of Dublin's two Church of Ireland cathedrals, and the largest church in Ireland.

Guinness StorehouseGuinness empty glasses

We all met at the Guinness Storehouse; Craig, of course, had worn his Guinness t-shirt - a gift from years before. Our tour covered all steps taken in the brewing of the Guinness brand. Craig got to start a new batch of Guinness (number 1351) and Danielle got a certificate for pouring a perfect pint of Guinness.

Matt, Danielle, Julie, Patty, Craig with Guinness

The Guinness Storehouse, previously the Fermentation Plant, has been converted to a seven story visitor center on the grounds of the St James's Gate brewery. This is the largest brewery in the world, occupying 40 acres, and leased for 9,000 years in 1759 by Arthur Guinness at £45 per year.

Atop the Storehouse is a gravity bar with a panoramic view of the city, serving a pint at the conclusion of the tour. The bartenders all put a perfect shamrock as they finish pouring your Guinness - really the perfect pint.

At the conclusion of our tour there were only empty glasses left, so we traipsed back on our bus and headed to the ship to relax before dinner.

Liverpool, England

the Three Graces

There was a crowd awaiting our arrival, early in the morning in Liverpool. As we docked we could see the Three Graces - three architecturally well known buildings that have historically represented Liverpool - the Liver Building, with the imaginary Liver birds atop it; the Cunard Building, where the Cunard Ocean Liners maintained an office; and the Port of Liverpool Building, formerly the Mersey Docks Building.

breakfast at the coffee shop

Before we left on our tours we gathered on the 5th deck, where a coffee shop, pastries, and breakfast were available.

Julie is in front of the Liver and Cunard buildings, just before we started our tour of the city. However, the main thing we wanted to see here is all the Beatle homes and locations.

White Star pub

Matt, Julie, and Craig took a city tour in the morning, but we did get to stop in the Cavern district near mid day and visited the White Star pub, where John, Paul, George, and Ringo often stopped for a nightcap - as the Cavern didn't serve alcohol. Matt and Craig are seen here sharing a pint in the very seats they sat in.

Our bus went by this vacant building on the right. It is a work of 'art' and part of the building rotates over time. It rotated a full 90 degrees while our bus was passing by.

All five of us went on a Beatle tour in the afternoon, starting out at the Beatle's Story Museum on Albert Wharf. We had far too little time, but Danielle and Patty did get to be photographed next to their favorite Beatles.

Danielle with JohnDanielle & Patty with favorites

Next we visited the Cavern District again, where the Beatles were first signed to record. This area is on Matthew Street - Matt, of course, immediately identified with the area.

Matt on Mathew Street

The Cavern Club, seen behind Matt's arm, is where the Beatles played constantly for the better part of a year before they were signed to make a record. We went in where they had played - boy, was it a close and dark place - and took our pictures.

the girls in The Cavern Club

We then drove past Apple Records and out near where the group grew up.

Penny LaneJohn's house

We drove out to Penny Lane, near Paul's residence, drove past John’s house, Eleanor Rigby’s grave, and finally stopped at Strawberry Field. We did see all the places where they lived and worked, but only have room here for a picture of John's house.

Strawberry Field

All the younger members of our family were born after the Beatles broke up, so many of the places we visited opened their eyes to exactly what some of the songs were about. What we all didn't realize was how many of the songs were largely written and put away before they became famous. The tour was really quite extensive and was a highlight of the entire cruise.

Crown Princess in Liverpool

Driving back to the ship we had a great view of the Crown Princess.

sun breaking through clouds leaving Liverpool

On our way out to sea, we noticed this area makes great use of wind power on the ocean. Danielle got a great picture of the sun breaking through the clouds over the windmill fields.

Belfast, Ireland

We scheduled an early morning bicycle ride in Belfast, Ireland. The cycle shop where we picked up our bicycles and head gear was near the Lagan Towpath, a series of locks built to assist river traffic before the advent of trucks.

We picked out our bicycles and head gear at the bike shop and set off along the river. We were going to cycle about 14 miles in about three hours and we would see both flat and hilly terrain, however, we would be on a bike trail or road for the entire way.

Celtic totem

Celtic totems marked the trail as we bicycled along the river's edge.

Toward the end of our outward journey we left the river for a local road and started up a very steep hill.

bicycling up a steep hill

We all got a chance to practice gearing down and trying to cycle all the way to the top of the hill. As you can see, some of us made it and some didn't.

Giant's Ring

There was a sign at the top of the hill pointing to our next destination - The Giant's Ring.

Monuments like this Celtic henge at Ballynahatty, date back over 5000 years and are considered important sites. This site is considered in a class with Stonehenge in the English county of Wiltshire, and represents the early inhabitants of the British Isles.

starting around the Giant's Ring

We first walked around the circle and here we see Craig and Matt examining the central, flat plain, where religious ceremonies were held.

sitting atop the altar

We entered the circle and, of course, everyone had to be photographed sitting on the rock alter constituting the focal point of ceremonies held here. I wonder if this is like climbing over sacred things at the Vatican for non-Catholic tourists?

We returned to the cycle shop by a slightly different route, but the countryside was uniformly gorgeous. A Michigan woman, living in Belfast for the last two years, told us this was the warmest, most beautiful day she had seen since she moved here. On this cruise, we seemed to take the good weather with us, wherever we traveled.

Before returning to the bicycle shop, we stopped by a pub along the River Lagan for another pint of Guinness. Somehow the British Isles seem to bring out the pub in all of us.

City Hallthe Eye

Rather than returning to the ship, we were dropped in the center of Belfast, stopped at the Avoca Café for an enjoyable bit of local food, then went on the Eye, a huge enclosed Ferris wheel like the one on the River Thames in London, that was located next to the Belfast City Hall and gave us a view of the country around Belfast.

inside the Crown Pubthe Crown Pub

We meandered through downtown and stopped at the famed Crown Pub. We decided we really didn't need another pint and finally caught the last bus back to the ship, concluding an active and fun day in Belfast.

Glasgow, Scotland

The port of Greenock was quite a ways from Glasgow, Scotland and the group again split up for the sightseeing. Craig, Julie, and Matt took a train into the city of Glasgow and Patty and Danielle took an all-day biking and canoeing tour of Loch Lomond.

Matt & Julie at Greenock station

For Craig, Julie, and Matt it turned out the train ride through the countryside and the huge, fifteen track station in downtown Glasgow were the highlights of the trip. It is frequently more fun to travel like locals, rather than taking standard bus tours, when investigating new places. For the most part the train wound its way along the river leading into Glasgow and we got to see a lot of southern Scotland’s terrain. The Glasgow train station looked like something out of the movies. hop-on-hop-off busIt was like a very tall, indoors mall opening onto all the incoming tracks.

We took a hop-on-hop-off double decked bus that toured the majority of the downtown area, saw a number of historical landmarks and finally got off and walked to Merchant’s Square. This was an open area surrounded by large buildings and having a number of restaurants with outside patios.

Matt & Julie eating

As usual, we stopped for a bite and a drink and soaked in the people watching – really fun in these central meeting places. We then walked to the bus route, found a crepes café – Julie has a real weakness for crepes – and continued down to a central clock tower where we sat and ate the crepe.

Matt & Julie near train station

The street we found ourselves on passed under the Central Station, so we followed it through various shopping areas full of shoes and other women’s weaknesses, until we reached the train station.

Upon arrival we found a train to Greenock was about to leave, so we hurried on board. Back in Greenock we meandered through a shopping mall, again giving way to Julie’s need to see what was new; finally finding our way back to the ship to prepare for dinner.

Loch Lomond

Patty and Danielle's all day biking and canoeing tour was to Loch Lomond, the largest lake in the British Isles. It was a spectacular success.

They first took off on a cross-country bike ride - needing all their gear and bicycles before they could get started.

This shot of the two of them shows the beautiful and hilly terrain they rode their bikes over.

Here is a sample of the tree lined paths and gardens they also rode in, with their guide pointing the way. Notice Danielle biking through the trellis in the last shot.

Patty & Danielle on bicyclesDanielle & Patty by the lake

Finally it was time to return the bikes to the lake and get in their canoes.

Patty & Danielle in canoeDanielle at Balloch Castle

The boating on Loch Lomond was in two person canoes, with Patty and Danielle sharing a canoe. They even canoed past Balloch Castle, on the south end of Loch Lomond.

By the time they turned in their canoe, they were quite tired and the bus ride home provided time to rest up for that night's dinner.

Craig, Matt, Julie at dinnerDanielle at dinner

Danielle showed proper etiquette at the table. Craig and Matt showed how to attack a porterhouse steak. Finally, Julie wondered if she could order all the different deserts - she could.

Finally a day at sea. So far the weather had been perfect. People all along the way had been telling us how lucky we were that every day had been sunny and somewhat warm – back home the temperature was reaching 100F, but over here people always expected showers at some time during the day. We relaxed on board while we traveled between the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides to pass around the northern most point of Scotland.

Inverness, Scotland (Loch Ness)

The following day we arrived at the small port of Invergordon, near Inverness, Scotland. Many of the North Sea oil platforms are towed here for repair.

Scottish HighlandsLoch Ness map

Of course we all had booked a tour to Loch Ness, so that we could tell people we had looked for Nessie. The outgoing part of the tour took us across the northern Scottish Highlands, over some fairly steep mountain passes – in a bus it was more exciting – and through several small villages.

Urquhart Castle legend

Finally we arrived at Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle had been conquered time and again between its original construction in the 6th century and 1692, when it was thoroughly destroyed by the English to prevent Jacobite forcesview of Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness from further fortifying the position. The Jacobites were trying to make Scotland a free and separate nation and some of the fighting is portrayed in the movie Braveheart. It is considered one of the largest strongholds of medieval Scotland and one could see how life would be very hard in the Middle Ages.

castle entrance

Rebuilding the fort proved impractical, but it was extremely interesting to see all the different parts of daily life built into its structure.

Here we see the entrance and the guardhouse built next to the entrance.

defensive openingsPatty looking for Nessie

The defensive openings for defending the fort illustrated just how brutal the castle battles could be. However, we still had time to scan the lake for possible Nessie sightings.

Composite pictures are fun to do and here we have all of us with the castle grounds in the background.

view of Loch Ness from Urquhart Castlemountains surrounding the lake

Also, the vista of Loch Ness from the fort was beautiful.

The return trip followed the lake and this view of the mountainous countryside surrounding the lake was common. Our bus drove through the city of Inverness – it looked like a simple English suburb - and we didn't stop.

city of Invernesslow tides and seals

Continuing on back to our ship, we saw the extreme low tides common in far northern latitudes. There are actually quite a number of seals relaxing in the mud, but this picture is too small to really see them easily.

Edinburgh, Scotland

tendering into QueensferryCraig on ferry in

We tendered into South Queensferry, then bussed into Edinburgh from there. The major bridge blocking the ship from entry into port is a rail bridge and photographed frequently.

Craig thought this tender ride was a bit long, but very pretty.

The map shows where the bus dropped us off and our walking tour of the city.

map of Edinburgh

Edinburgh is not only the beautiful capital of Scotland, but the summer home of the Queen of England – and she was in residence when we visited. Although we never got near her residence, we did see the Royal Yacht when we left in the evening. There is a picture of the harbor showing the location of the yacht at the end of this day's photos.

Edinburgh CastleCraig, Patty, Julie, Matt

Edinburgh Castle is built at the top of an inclined mesa of land, running down from west to east and surrounded on three sides by sheer walls. The fourth side is the sloped mesa and it is marked by High Street, which runs down from the castle to the Holyrood Place, where the Queen stays. This street is called The Royal Mile.

To the north of this older part of the city is the ‘new’ city, laid out in 1767, to correct horrid sanitation and provide an attractive sense of symmetry and balance. Our bus arrived at the west end of the new city at Charlotte's Square.

We walked around to the southeast side of the castle and up some steep stairs to the entrance.

Thistle Do Nicely

Walking down the Royal Mile we took a picture showing a view west to the castle and east down High Street. The sloping street, with a slight curve was one of the really pretty locations on our trip.

This street showed all sorts of interesting shop titles, buildings, and churches.

A central church for the area is St. Giles Cathedral. Beautiful gothic stained windows covered all sides of the church. There was a room where the Queen/King knighted people granted this honor and each family had an ornate chair hung on the wall, topped by that family's crest.

Craig's Close

In our travels off the slope called High Street we ran across a number of narrow streets that were hardly wide enough to let two pedestrians easily pass each other on steep stairs. These ‘streets’ were called a Close and we found one called Craig’s Close.

St Andrew's Square

We walked by the central railway station – not as large as the one in Glasgow – and on to the east end, at St. Andrew Square. We have two views; one from a Close on the hill and one along the main street.

Craig & Matt with their pints

The last leg of our journey involved walking through the new city from east to west, passing the statues at major intersections and the narrow supply streets for small stores and homes. Finally we reached Carolyn Square on the west end where our bus had dropped us off and was waiting to pick us up.

After the bus ride back to South Queensferry, we stopped at a local tavern for a relaxing pint. Craig and Patty found the nearest pub, but Julie and Matt walked into South Queensferry proper, really enjoyed the pretty village and taverns there.

Back on the ship we started taking pictures of each other, Craig from an area above the bridge and the others from our balcony cabin. Danielle took a beautiful picture of Matt and Julie - it really gets the spirit of our sail away from Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Harbor was visible as we sailed toward the open sea. This is the picture promised showing the Queen's Royal Yacht. Just barely visible, but it is there when she is in residence in Edinburgh.

Danielle with our waiter

That night we all really enjoyed ourselves - after all we could sleep in the next day, because it was our 2nd and last sea day. Danielle is shown here with our waiter and her assistant.

Day At Sea - with a Rescue

We normally think of days at sea as a time to relax and build up your energies for upcoming shore excursions. However, there is a lot of activity aboard a cruise ship and this day was be particularly eventful.

Other than sleeping in and missing the formal breakfast - for the umpteenth time - we came downstairs to the main atrium of the ship and there was a French unicyclist about to perform on the main floor. Remember, we are at sea, in the English Channel - not the most calm body of water. atrim staircaseIt wasn't particularly rough, but this is not the place I would pick to mount a unicycle and perform around a lot of people and sharp objects.

We have a number of pictures of his stunts - jumping rope, juggling fire sticks, riding a really, really tiny unicycle, riding a really tall unicycle - but we have included only two pictures here. The first shows him about to jump over a little boy - yes he made it safely - and in the second he is mounting one circular staircase and jumping down another.

Matt & Julie at miniture golf

Matt, Julie, and Danielle followed this performance by going to the very top of the ship and playing a game of miniature golf.

rescue helicopter arriving at the shiplifting up the wife

As they finished their game, the captain made an announcement that all the mid ship cabins from a deck above ours were to be vacated and passengers were to leave the top, open decks of the ship. The reason was that a passenger had developed a serious medical condition and the Royal Air Force was flying out a helicopter to pick up that passenger, a nurse on board, his wife, and his daughter.

bringing up the patient

Matt, Julie, and Danielle immediately came to Craig and Patty's cabin because they were able to get through. While not strictly allowed, we did watch the entire rescue - it took less than an hour to complete. The helicopter didn't land on any deck, but hovered over the ship and transferred everyone via a winch and cable. The ship continued on course at a steady speed of nearly 20 knots as this gave the helicopter a more stable and predictable target to match up with. This was a very impressive event and there were no close calls or near misses - the RAF knew exactly what they were doing.

First one helicopter crew member was lowered on board, then the stretcher to be used to transfer the ill passenger. rescue helicopter leaving the shipThe wife had to be helped by the ships nurse, but the daughter was lifted aboard by herself. Finally the helicopter crew member was lifted off with the stretcher and patient and the helicopter set off for the coast of England. We heard the passenger arrived safely, but had no further information on what happened after that.

sushi before dinnertoast by DanielleMatt & Julie with their wine

This was our second, and final, formal dinner, but before the dinner we all went down to the atrium to sample the sushi bar offerings - we had discovered this little gem when we were watching the unicyclist. You just cannot get to all the things aboard this huge ship in only one cruise.

Baked Alaska march

This final dinner was marked by a bottle of wine, liquid appetizer for Julie, and traditional march of the Baked Alaska by all the assistant waiters.

Finally -- a group portrait of all of us, our waiter and our assistant waiter holding the dessert.

This concluded our day at sea and we retired to prepare for a walking excursion in Paris on our last day of the cruise.

Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe

Our final port of call was Le Havre and we had scheduled an all day tour of Paris. It was a three hour bus ride into and out of the city so we sat back and enjoyed the lush Norman countryside. We traveled along the Seine Place de La ConcordeRiver and crossed it several times, both across the countryside and within the city of Paris itself. The bus traveled down Ave. Des Champs-Elysees and around the Arc de Triomphe, to the Place de La Concorde, where we got off and began our four hour walking tour of central Paris.

Matt and Julie crossed the Seine and immediately headed east to Notre Dame.

Notre Damegardens of Notre Dame

You can't take pictures of Notre Dame without visiting the garden and beautiful architecture at the rear of the cathedral.

internal spaces in Notre Dame

The interior was equally magnificent, but here we can only show you pictures of the vaulted internal spaces.

Notre Dame is located on the Ile de la Cite in the center of the River Seine. The Rue Saint Louis is a street there where Matt and Julie purchased their traditional crepe (Nutella & banana) + a ham & cheese baguette for lunch.

Rue Saint LouisJulie on the Seine

Matt and Julie walked back up the river Seine to the Louvre, where this picture of Julie was taken - and where Patty, Craig, and Danielle began their tour of Paris.

Patty & Danielle in the Tuileries Gardens

The three of them walked through the Tuileries Gardens to The Louvre.

Louvre entrance pavillion

You enter the Louvre through a modern, glass structure that takes you below ground level and you choose a direction to go based on the types of art you want to view. Danielle picked our path past the statue of Winged Victory and on to the room where the Mona Lisa was displayed. It was like a vast crowd of people, who nonetheless moved slowly toward the masterpiece and then back away again, making the viewing easier.

Winged VictoryMona Lisaandrogynous statue

One of the statues seemed strangely androgynous and Danielle made sure we recorded this unusual piece of art.

Grand Palas on the Seine

We left the Louvre the way we had come and crossed the Seine to its southern side, heading west towards the Grand Palas.

The bridge Pont Alexandre III over the Seine has some beautiful, gilt-bronze statuary on columns and leading to the Grand Palas. Strict restrictions were placed on building the bridge in 1900, to allow free views of both the Grand Palas and Les Invalides on either side of the Seine.

We turned right at this bridge and continued on the Esplanade des Invalides.

The scale of buildings and the space on which they sat was so immense that it was like being a Lilliputian in the land of Gulliver and this overwhelming sensation was a key to our feelings about Paris. We again turned west on Rue Saint-Dominique, passing local shops and restaurants on our way to Parc du Champs de Mars, the park containing the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower

Even in the land of giants, the Eiffel Tower stands out. As you approach it, it simply seems to rise forever above you. Since it is a skeleton frame, rather than a solid building, it seems much bigger because it surrounds you, as well as being big in its own right. We couldn’t get far enough away from it to get its entirety into a picture with Patty and Craig.

crowd beneath the Eiffel Tower

By this time we were all tired and as we wound back to where the bus was located, Patty and Danielle stopped at a local shop and picked up some crepes to hold us on our bus trip back. We also got this shot of the Eiffel Tower from the Pont Alexandre III bridge.

Eiffel Tower view from bridge Pont Alexandre III

We had all gotten a taste of Paris and viewed things like thatched cottages and lush farmlands in the countryside. We were tired and thought we could use another day at sea to recover from all our adventures. This wasn’t to be, however, and we had our last dinner together, did our final packing and prepared to leave early the next morning in Southampton.

London, England

Craig, Patty, and Danielle all flew home, but Julie and Matt left very early in the morning and caught a train for London. They were staying an additional day and wanted to see all they could before leaving.

Matt & Julie with mummies

The first stop was the British Museum and they visited the area specializing in Egyptian art. There were a number of Assyrian pieces of art, lots of mummies and ancient Mediterranean history.

Of course no trip to London would be complete without visiting Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. Today was special because Matt and Julie got to see the changing of the guard at the palace.

Harry Potter premier

Oh yes, they did pass by the World Premier of the newest Harry Potter movie, but didn't have time to stop and see it.

British flag from hotel room

the Gang of FiveWe end our journey with a view of an English street from Matt & Julie's hotel room the next morning, as they prepared to say goodbye to the British Isles. This all had been a tremendous success for everyone, but especially Matt - since he was a first time cruiser.

We hope all of you have enjoyed our trip in words and pictures and that you have ones of your own to report in the future.