Saturday, June 12, 2010


44 days, over 20,000 miles, 13 countries, 3 islands, and innumerable memories and now we are home, back to reality. It truly was a trip of a lifetime, one for which I will be forever grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping us to experience. I am grateful for this beautiful world He has made for us, for the many different people and their cultures we were able to meet, for the opportunity to live in the USA, and for our health that enabled us to walk and climb and go places.


The alarms woke us up at 5 AM, we got the hoppa bus back to the airport and headed for the USA. We flew back on Continental airlines once again on a 777, with an empty seat between us. I watched movies and played a few games, they fed us dinner, and lunch, and the ten hour flight to Houston was over before we knew it. Kim and Darrell, a couple from our trivia team, were on the flight with us.

After a three hour layover in Houston we flew to Los Angeles. Jim and Ellie picked us up. It was so good to see them. They drove us to the hotel, and Jim and Jimbo watched the Lakers-Celtics game, while Ellie and I played hide-n-seek, an interesting feat in a hotel room. At halftime we went out for dinner at a deli, then Jim and I hit the pillows about 10 PM, while Ellie and Jimbo watched TV for awhile.


 We are on our way back to reality today. We got off of the ship at 8 AM, traded in our 95 Euros for 74 pounds (about $110), took the bus to Heathrow airport, walked 50 yards from where we were dropped off, picked up the hotel “hoppa” bus, got to the Renaissance Hotel about 11:15 AM, waited until noon when they would let us into our room, unloaded our bags, and got ready to go into London.

The concierge told us to catch a free city bus back to terminal 1,2,3 at the airport, catch the tube aka the underground aka the London subway into the city. The day pass cost about $10 each.

It took about an hour to get to London. Since we had seen most of the sights of London eight years ago when we were here, we had decided to just walk around until we got tired. I had told Jim there were two things I wanted to do in London: 1) feed the ducks and 2) have some sticky toffee pudding, a favorite dessert we learned about eight years ago. He told me the chances of finding it in the city were slim, because it was more of a country thing.

When we were here before we used to walk through the park and feed the ducks the stale croissants we got in our room every morning. I took about eight rolls off the ship in hopes of doing this again, so we got off at the St. James Park stop. After we exited the tube station we saw a pub and decided to stop for lunch. Jim had fish ‘n chips, and I had a farmer’s plate. The park was only a couple of blocks away, and I fed the ducks as we walked through while Jim took pictures.

Buckingham Palace is across the street from the park.

From there we could see Big Ben, our next destination.

There was an anti war protest going on across the street from the Parliament building. There weren’t many people around it, just a lot of tents and signs.

After taking pictures of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey (we didn't go inside since admission was over $20), and the Parliament building we walked across the River Thames to the Eye.

From there we started down the river walk towards the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.

We could see St. Paul’s Cathedral across the river, and planned to cross over and walk by it on our way back.

By the time we got to the Tower Bridge it was about 6 PM and our feet were beginning to get tired.

We started walking towards St. Paul’s, knowing we wanted to find a convenience store to buy some food for breakfast and some place to eat dinner. Our pounds were dwindling fast, so we had to be frugal in the store. We bought a four pack of muffins for 1 pound, and Jim bought a sandwich-we had 18 pounds plus some change left for dinner. Around 7 PM we walked by the Cannon Street tube station and decided to forget walking as far as St. Paul’s and instead just find someplace to eat, and then head back out to Heathrow. A couple of blocks from the station we saw a nice looking pub that advertised gammon steak for 5.99 pounds. It is a ham steak that Brynn and Eunice had told us about, so we decided to try it. Inside Jim picked up a menu, and looked at the dessert section and low and behold we saw...sticky toffee pudding! I was so excited, but we had to count our pounds. The gammon steaks were 5.99 pounds each and the sticky toffee pudding was 2.99 pounds each...17.96 pounds total. PERFECT! We ordered the food at the bar and sat down and rested our weary feet. The gammon steak was a salty piece of ham with two fried eggs on top. It came with chips (french fries to us), a baked tomato, and a large fried mushroom. It was good but nothing special. Then came the sticky toffee pudding-it was so good.

After we ate we walked back to the tube station and headed back to Heathrow. We got back to our room just after 9 PM, got everything ready to go in the morning and hit the pillows.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I originally had a private guide arranged for today, but his father became ill and he had to go home to England. We were able to get on the ship’s tour, which was quite expensive, but turned out to be very good.

Our friends, Carol and Jeff, and Wendy and Steve, went also, so we rode on the same bus (there were only two buses from the ship). The day started out cloudy, and as we left the port the heavens opened and it started pouring rain. The drive to Normandy took two hours so we held out hope the rain would stop.

By the time we arrived at the first stop, Juno Beach, where the Canadians landed, the rain had stopped. As you stand on the beach your mind can’t even begin to comprehend the horrors that occurred here. The thing that always strikes my heart strings is knowing how young most of the soldiers were on both sides. So much suffering and heartache and grief.

When we arrived at the city of Arromanche the clouds were breaking up and there was a little bit of blue sky and sunshine. It was here British soldiers built a portable harbor in order to deliver equipment and supplies to the soldiers who captured the beaches. I went into the museum and watched the film about it while Jim wandered around with his camera. It was quite an undertaking.

Because it was D-Day today there were small ceremonies going on, and a lot of vintage vehicles and people dressed up in uniforms.

There were even a few veterans.

Lunch was at an old farmhouse that has been converted to an inn and restaurant. It was beautiful. They served us a warm egg and cheese appetizer, chicken and gravy with bacon wrapped beans and potatoes, and a yummy cake for dessert.

Jim spent espresso time walking around talking pictures in the nearby village.

The American cemetery was a very sobering and solemn place. The crosses are lined up perfectly with a few Star of Davids interspersed among them. Our guide told us they didn’t put very many Jewish soldiers in the European sector because of the prevailing attitudes.

Omaha Beach is a large beach where the Americans landed.

From it you can see Point du Hoc, a large cliff scaled by storm troopers.

The last stop was the top of Point du Hoc.

As we walked out to it we began to see the remains of bomb/shell craters. Once we reached the point it was amazing to see a landscape that looked like Swiss cheese, the result of the craters that remain to this day. Interspersed among them are the remains of many bombed out German bunkers. Again, it was hard to imagine the fear and terror that once existed here among the young soldiers who were only doing what they thought was right.

I sat in one of the craters just to get a perspective of how large they are.

The bus trip back to the ship once again took us through the French countryside, but without the rain. It truly was beautiful.