Jon spent the day packing. Beverly, however, was all finished, so she spent the morning at the spa getting beautified--mani-pedi, facial, etc., thanks to a birthday gift certificate from Doug and Donna.
For those of you who asked, "Who is taking care of Chloe?" it's Sharon Morris of Pet Butlers. We gave her a long list of instructions (both Jon and Beverly will miss Chloe much more than she will miss them) re: Chloe's medications, food, walk schedule and outfit de jour. Sharon was also kind enough to agree to pick up our mail (we are an almost daily stop for Amazon) and to water the five house plants Beverly hasn't managed to kill.
The idea that this trip is actually happening is starting to feel real. Jon took care of all the transportation requirements and Beverly planned the itinerary. Due to the fact that Beverly has something like 50,000 more miles with United than Jon, she gets to fly first class tomorrow--a first for her. She's hoping to sit next to a famous author or literary agent so she can pitch her murder mystery. BTW, she's about half way through writing The Oldest Missing Persons Case in Port Cabrillo. The highlights of Beverly's itinerary include lots of art museums as well as a tour of Fenway Park, Stonehenge, High Tea at Harrods, and the sewers in Paris. Here's a little quiz testing how well you know Jon and Beverly. Which suitcase and backpack belongs to which traveler?
Day One--Getting There:
First Class is definitely not worth the money but paying with miles is an entirely different matter. Beverly had Seat 1A next to a guy who works for Titleist. He made it clear he was not into chitchat (even though he had two cellphones) and that's fine. Beverly needed to practice/time her presentation anyway. Mr Titleist was soooo busy rewriting his Power Point--he went through three erasers. Beverly wanted suggest he use less text and more photos but he didn't appear to be a fan of constructive criticism.
Jon was happy in Economy Plus with an exit row seat. He bought the Cinnamon Roll box and also chowed down on protein bars Beverly had packed. He loves to listen to pilots talking on the radio so he spent the whole trip tuned into the ATC channel. After a sumptuous breakfast and because she was such a good girl for getting her work done, she watched Sherlock Holmes sequel flick with Robert Downey Jr. Arthur Conan Doyle was probably spinning in his grave---with Hollywood laying out his deductive logic in Matrix-style bullet time.
In the interest of full disclosure, Beverly's gear is the green suitcase and CLU backpack, but she actually loaded her makeup kit and rain-boots into Jon's suitcase when he wasn't looking.
Beverly nearly went into a full meltdown when checking in the Marriott. She was so proud of herself for being super-organized for this trip. Was totally packed a day early, checked off every item on her checklist, and even cleaned out her purse---only taking essential credit cards and TSA approved containers. Then the time came to check into the Marriott. She had her registration confirmation in hand along with drivers license, but there was no credit card case. She couldn't imagine being homeless in Boston. Harrison, the desk clerk could see Beverly was going to lose it, so he suggested she dump everything out on the counter and sure enough, the credit card case had slipped behind the torn lining of her purse. Beverly & Jon were greeted by a fantastic view of the city when they opened the drapes to their room. They walked 6 blocks to Legal Seafood for a fabulous dinner. Jon had fresh scrod and chowder. Beverly had a fantastic Cesar salad with LOBSTER. Jon is watching a Red Sox game as Beverly pecks this out on her iPhone. Boy does that bed look inviting tonight.
Woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. It was the perfect day to tour the happiest spot in earth--at least according to Jon. Tickets were sold out until 1PM so we had a couple of hours to kill. Jon discovered a place called the Monster Bar. The big draw is that the bar is at the bottom of the famous Green Monster Wall behind center field. We watched a couple of guys apply rectangles of green film to 48 panes of glass that used to be a roll-up door. It is protected by a huge wire fence, of course. Jon reported that in the Men's Room, there is another picture window above the urinal that looks out over the bar and all the patrons. I'll let you pick the metaphor that occurs to you. Jon enjoyed hot pretzels with mustard while Beverly was still full from her Egg Scramble breakfast @ Champions.
As we walked up the street to start the tour, we discovered sweet cherry blossoms on a sapling tree in front of Fenway and then, just as we turned the corner we were stopped by a news broadcaster from the Fox affiliate, Channel 25. He wanted to interview us on camera. Apparently, we were attractive because we were attired, respectively in a 2004 Red Sox Tee (Beverly) and a Red Sox windbreaker (Jon). The thrust of the interview was the steep ticket prices. Jon, of course, came up with the killer quote: "The Red Sox are a bargain at any price." The journalist was suitably impressed when Jon told him he was a politician, and polite enough not to ask "Where the hell is Port Hueneme?"
Fenway is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It is the oldest ballpark in America. Second place goes to Wrigley Field (1924) and third place to Dodger Stadium (1962). Jon claims the tour was better than he expected. In addition to the $14 ticket price, Beverly, who isn't supposed to do stairs, climbed up FOUR STORIES and climbed back down. This jaunt did require a cane.
The highlights of the tour were: the locker room, the dugout, a view from the $165 (before scalping) seats above the Green Monster, and the press seats. We got Max ( don't tell him) a Red Six tee shirt in the Team Store. Apparently they don't let you leave unless you buy something. :>) We also enjoyed the bronze sculptures of Ted Williams and the little kid, as well as "The Teammates" which included Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Peske (he has a memorial foul pole in right field) and Dom DiMaggio.
On the way home the taxi driver offered to sell us game tickets but we've already got an extra full schedule.
Beverly said she really deserved the Mai tai Jon bought her at the hotel bar. Dinner tonight is @ Lucca--Italiano.
Day Three--Attending Sessions at the Conference and Concord:
Breakfast of Champions at "Champions." Jon had lox and bagel while I enjoyed the French toast with cornflake batter. Yummy. Caught the panel presented by Sisters in Crime. They were published mystery writers (Angela Gerst, Susan Fleet, Frankie Bailey and Mollie Freier) who were not only hilarious but also very informative. It apparently takes all kinds to write about murder and this group included a criminology professor, an attorney, a professional trumpet player and a professional writer who has dabbled in every genre from true crime to a series of books featuring a grouchy middle-aged male protagonist.
After the session was over we were supposed to head for the subway to meet Bob Morris, a business ethics professor at Boston University, Revolutionary War historian who lives in Concord, and brother in law to Sharon, who was taking care of Chloe. Jon wanted to go back to the room to change his jacket. Beverly was afraid we were going to be late but while she was waiting at the elevators, who should stroll by but George Takai. He was speaking at the conference but was very sweet about shaking my hand and talking about his work--especially his new role as the producer of wall photos for Facebook. He still has his signature deep, dripping-with-honey voice and stands about 5'8". Beverly decided that asking to take his photo with her phone was too Star Trek geeky. Besides everybody knows what he looks like--just picture Sulu in a trench coat. Takai has apparently never aged.
The subway wasn't that difficult to navigate although we did have to change trains at Downtown Crossing. The first thing we saw in Concord was Minute Man Park. There was a fantastic multimedia presentation that set up the whole Lexington-Concord battles as well as the Paul Revere and Richard Dawes and Dr. Prescott rides to warn the colonists that the British regulars were on their way. At the North Bridge, 400 Minute Men sent 95 redcoats into retreat Bob also showed us Nathaniel Hawthorne's house. Hawthorne bought it from Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa May. Next was the house of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The great thing about Emerson was that he was eminently quotable about just about everything but unfortunately his writings have been neglected of late. Not so re: Henry David Thoreau.
Our last stop was a funky gift shop that featured all kinds of Thoreau books and everything from coffee cups to notecards to tee shirts with Thoreau quotes. Jon got a "Time is but a stream I go a-fishin in" tee-shirt, a Thoreau book about Cape Cod and a bumper sticker that said," Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." The clerk at the gift ship was Richard Smith, an actor from Akron, Ohio, who portrays Thoreau in one-man shows.
When we toured the Louisa May Alcott house (The Orchard) we found out that Thoreau did all the carpentry work when Bronson Alcott decided to move the tenant farmer house (1698) and join it to the main house (1700). Our guide was an elderly lady who was experiencing lots of senior moments. She did have some interesting tidbits to share including Louisa May's stint as a nurse during the Civil war. It wasn't her father but rather she who went to war and after Little Women and Little Men, supported the family. She caught typhoid during the war and was was treated with mercury which aged her face 20 years. Her father Bronson started a utopian school which, when he decided to admit black students, failed. The parents of the white students pulled their kids out.
When we were at lunch downtown at a Greek place (served three deli salads for $6.99), Bob remarked that although Concord had lots of rich residents, it was 92% Democrat. Jon pointed out that Concord had always attracted the liberals starting with transcendentalists like Alcott, Emerson and Hawthorne who were also abolitionists. Bob told us the town is still a direct democracy with town meetings instead of representative city council members. Bob and his wife were transplants from Orange County 15 years ago. Imagine the culture shock!
Isn't Walden Pond the most peaceful place? It was really raining too hard to get down to the shore but we were able to feel the ambience from across the road and capture it with the iPhone.
Bob took us back to the subway and we were lucky to get seats on both the red and orange trains. We walked over to the Salty Pig, a new college hangout that served tapas and pizzas. Jon was in heaven watching the Bruins playing the Capitols in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. We ordered a pitcher of Sangria, salads and a prosciutto and red pepper pizza. We sat at the bar in front of the oven and got to watch the chef whipping up one delicious looking pizza after another. A very full day!
Day Four--Conference Presentations and an abbreviated Freedom Trail Tour
Beverly has reached the age when she isn't about to allow her derrière to grow numb in order to listen to just any convention paper. The panel on TV shows adapted from books was well worth the time. The first paper was about "Rizzoli & Isles." The scholar wasn't able to support her case that this was a lesbian relationship but she was able to demonstrate reverse class distinctions (blue collar folks hold the dominant position in the show). The major difference between the books and screenplays, as she pointed out, was that the relationship between both women was primarily professional in the former and sexually intimate (a big stretch for most of us) in the latter.
The second scholar examined the Showtime series "Dexter." Before she got into the TV show, she traced out the crime-scape that is Florida (which is the setting of "Dexter"). She took exception, as a psychologist, to the thesis that Dexter couldn't help killing because he had been traumatized as a child (witnessing his mother's murder). She described the appeal of the show with an apt metaphor. Dexter is like watching a bear on roller skates, who, every so often, chomps off somebody's head.
The best was last with a compare/contrast between "Murder She Wrote" and "Castle." Her focus was the Nikki Heat books (supposedly written by Richard Castle) that have actually become best sellers on their own. "Castle and the books for her, was like an infinite number of reflections within a pair of mirrors. My question for her was "what is the identity of the pseudo-books real author?" My theory is that the entrepreneurial team that write the show, also write the books. She thought it was a real mystery writer named Frye, whose name as benefactor is on some award Castle supposedly won. The discussion afterward was very lively.
The afternoon panel Jon wanted to see was an interview with Mark Volman, the co-founder of the Turtles (Happy Together, Eleanor, Exactly What You Do) as well as Flo (Florescent Leech) & Eddie and later as a background vocalist for Frank Zappa and T Rex. He is currently a college professor @ Belmont College in Nashville. How he got there was a fascinating 90 minutes. He first shared with all us academics about having to recently flunk a student who only turned in 15% of her work and was absent 8 times. Her response was classic. "But I thought you were so cool." We all howled. He now teaches music as a business---lots of lessons he learned the hard way. When he decided to enroll in college at 40, he chose Loyola Marymount. The Dean there was smart enough to also hire him to teach while he concurrently got a BA in Communication and MA in Film Theory. As a freshman he found out that Mark Bowlan's (T Rex) son, who hadn't even been born when Bowlan died in a car crash, was also a freshman at Loyola. They became buddies and big Mark told little Mark all about the father he never knew. Lots of Kleenex appeared after that story. Before the interview Jon and I introduced ourselves to Mark. Jon had worked with Tom Brown, who was a good friend of Volman's. Jon wanted to tell him that Tom just got a book published titled "Summer of Love, My Ass." He saw my nametag and shared that he had produced an album with a couple of CLU grads as well. Small world.
After the panel, we caught the subway for Haymarket. Lots of Freedom Trail sites around there. We ate dinner @ Union Oyster House. Jon had both oysters and lobster en casserole. I had Lobster Newburgh. The disappointing Indian pudding must have been left over from last Thanksgiving.
We found a couple of colonists who wanted us to join them for an ale at the pub. Actually one suggested we could take his photograph for a beer but the other one said "Go ahead." Isn't Monday Patriots Day?
Jon was overjoyed that the Red Sox won finally. They have been having a miserable season so far. We saw lots of preparations for the Boston Marathon all over town.
Day Five--Day of Reckoning:
Unfortunately we leave Boston on Sunday night. Today was the day of reckoning-- the raison d'être for the trip--my presentation on "Dr. Strangelove." Enjoyed an excellent frittata for breakfast and then went back to room to practice my speech.
Was on a panel with a "Bourne Supremacy Trilogy" compared with the James Bond Films (only tie to the 60s that I could see) as well as a paper on racial stereotypes in from "Here to Eternity." The presenter on "All Presidents Men" (as well as the chair) didn't show up so I introduced everybody. Good solid panel but unfortunately the other two just read their papers instead of preparing a PowerPoint.
Went to Herb Gooch's panel this morning and totally enjoyed his lecture. Jon says only CLU professors know how to deliver interesting presentations---the rest just read from a manuscript. Herb's was on "Lawrence of Arabia" as a tragic hero. It was brilliant. His fellow presenter was a German professor who talked about a documentary on religious hats found in Jerusalem.
We had dinner with the Gooches for the second time tonight. They were also at Lucca when we dined there on Tuesday night and sat at the very next table so we could chat. Funny thing, we rarely have time to get together in California. This was a great excuse to spend time with each other. Tomorrow we are driving out to Salem together after breakfast. The hotel is going to be a zoo tomorrow with everybody trying to get a room for the Marathon so we are leaving just in time.
Tonight we ate dinner together at SkipJack--great seafood. Chris had a spicy scampi pasta, Herb had a lobster roll, Jon had haddock and oysters again (aphrodisiac or not, enough is enough) and I had lobster bisque and a seafood Cobb salad. A couple rounds of drinks and a balmy night made for a nice walk home. SkipJacks is right across the street from the Old South Church. Chris said it's even better inside but we had to get home and pack.
Sharon was kind enough to send us a video and photo of Chloe and her friends hanging out. We both miss Chloe so much. We know she is having a great vacation but keep thinking about her-- how much she would enjoy our lobster or walking around Boston. She is our baby. No doubt about that.
Riding down on the elevator this morning I said, with appropriate amazement, "The Green Hornet is in this car!" The mother said, "my son is so pleased you recognized him." The father said, "That's because we are at a Popular Culture Convention."
We bid farewell to Boston and headed toward Salem.
It was so nice of Mother Nature to have all the trees and shrubs in bloom for our visit. I don't know enough about botany to identify all the flora but the colors went from white to pink to mauve to purple and to bright yellow. What a spectacular way to announce Spring. We are heading to Salem, which is not only known for witches but also cherry trees.
It took quite a while for Jon to get his bearings, but we eventually made our way into Salem proper. We all were expecting a small New England town like "Murder She Wrote" and this was a little city that was so spread out we totally missed the center of town and went all the way to Beverly, Massachussets (which is just across the bridge from Salem). We found a parking facility near the Witch Museum and set out.
The museum presented a series of dioramas around the room. Each lit up at the appropriate moment. The narrator (who was blessed with a rich baritone} gave the most accurate account of the witch trials we had ever heard.
There was also a second section of the museum that included the history of witches from The Wicked Witch of the West to practitioners of Wicca. One thousand Wiccans currently live in Salem but the population triples on Halloween. I wonder why?
We finally made Jon happy by locating the Visitors Center. Wasn't really necessary because the Peabody Essex Museum was right behind it. There are supposedly 854,000 items arranged in collections by donors who were largely sea captains and collectors of antique furniture.
There is an entire room just filled with those figureheads that protrude from the prow of a ship. Beverly really liked the Chinese Moon bed from the early nineteenth century while Jon would have liked to own an automaton clock from mid-eighteenth century and an 1810 piano forte made in (of all places) Milton, Mass. Come to think about it, Beverly wouldn't have minded having a Greek style chaise from the Georgian period in her boudoir. Probably the most precious item was a 1647 book of maps called Theatricum Orbis Terarum.
Because of a recommendation by Bob Morris, Jon and Beverly decided to check out Marblehead, Massachusetts before heading for Logan. They thought they might get a bite to eat there but never could locate the center of town. The church in Marblehead, however, is Mary Star of the Sea, and is the church where the funeral was held in "A Perfect Storm."
After boarding the plane in Boston around 10:00 PM, Beverly fell asleep while Jon struggled to get comfortable. He was served cheese lasagna around midnight. He said he took catnaps off and on. When Beverly woke up, the plane were only 40 minutes from Heathrow. That was perfect for her. Apparently for Jon, British Airways is not the most comfortable way to fly.
Day Seven--Heathrow and Salisbury
Getting through passport control wasn't difficult especially since our agent was Peter O'Toole. Well, he certainly looked like him.
Our surly driver from Salisbury met us outside customs. He didn't offer to take our bags, offer any information during the 90-minute trip, and drove through fields of rapeseed (looks a lot like California mustard but is processed for the oil) like bat out of hell. Jon gave him a 10% tip. I can't wait to fill out the review.
Our room was not ready @ City Lodge, so we set off in search of sustenance. We apparently are staying in Salisbury's "entertainment district." The former church across the street is, no kidding, a sleazy night club called "The Chapel." We were really hungry and since there was no breakfast to speak of at City Lodge, we walked up the street and discovered that The Red Lion Inn was serving elevensies in the lounge. Very English---you ate at little tables while you sat in overstuffed sofas and chairs. We ordered sandwiches and the waitress asked if we wanted chips. We said yes. Not only did we get potato chips on the plate with the sandwiches but also a huge order of fries, each. It was then we remembered that, in the UK, chips are called crisps and fries are called chips. We overdosed on carbs that day.
The Red Lion is quite ancient. In fact, the original proprieter added a wing for the draughtsman constructing the Salisbury Cathedral between 1280 and 1320. We also noticed a skeleton organ clock in the lobby dated 1810. The lounge is apparently used by people on holiday as well as businessmen conducting deals in a genteel atmosphere. It was heaven for people-watching. We also found a Brazilian Coffee Shop next to a Cornish Pasty Shop but we were too full from lunch to try out the Cornish Pasty that Chris had recommended we taste if we got the chance.
A friendly Salisbury duck greeted us as we left the Brazilian Coffee House. The big square down town is surrounded by either Italian restaurants or pizza places. We ended up having dinner @ the Cathedral Hotel. I had a beef pie with a filo dough crust and Jon had Yorkshire pudding with lamb. What really made the entrees were the special sauces: horseradish with the beef and a spicy mint sauce with the lamb. For dessert we tried Spotted Dick--a bread pudding with currents and a buttery custard sauce.
Day Eight--Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral
There's nothing better than having your own personal tour guide---especially when he is as knowledgeable and accommodating as Jim. We drove past various estates that boasted thatched roofs. Only rich people can afford thatching---it costs $50k to have it done and it has to be redone every ten years. One of the more eccentric aristocrats in the area is Lady Chichester. She owns a Bactrian camel named Therese and several llamas. We also passed by the estate of Gordon Sumner AKA "Sting."
We made our way to Woodhenge which was used in ceremonies to celebrate the winter solstice. We also viewed the perimeter Durrington Walls, which were located in the middle of a field of sheep, which we assiduously avoided. There were also different shaped mounds, that supposedly held animal bones and human remains, and are still compeling scholars speculate on their purpose.
Stonehenge was no disappointment to us. Jim told us that some tourists expected something bigger but we were simply amazed. The stones changed color as we walked around them. Every few feet was another, more interesting Kodak moment. Jim provided audio guides that traced the origin of the monument back between 3000 BC and 1600 BC. Some of the rocks were from West Wales (150 miles away.). "How did they bring them to Stonehenge?" is the question. The alignment at Stonehenge is to both the summer and winter solstices but its purpose is still a mystery. Beverly's theory is that tribes gathered together every year at midsummer to find marriage partners, trade and learn new skills. She may have been unduly influenced by Jean Auel. Jim's theory is that it could have been a time for people to pay their respects to dead ancestors. We do know that there was a procession route from Avon River to site. Walking up the hill, Stonehenge would have loomed dramatically into view overhead, adding to the symbolism.
Our next stop was Old Sarum (which is a linguistic corruption of Salisbury) and an Iron Age hill fort. Our guide was Andy, an archeologist who told us he had been on a dig, where he unearthed the leg of a horse in a sunken granary storage area. What was it doing there? Apparently, according to Andy, it was a sacrifice of some sort to the grain gods. He told us that the chalk soil was what preserved the grain. As the grain tried to germinate, all the rot-inducing oxygen was sucked out of the hole.
Sarum is the original home of the first two Salisbury cathedrals (1092 AD, 1100 AD) which the clergy moved primarily because they didn't like the military telling them what to do. Sarum is surrounded by a dry moat and supposedly never lost a siege. William the Conquerer built his castle there and listed Old Sarum in his Doomsday Book as Sarisburia. (Celtic for fortified place near a river). William the Conqueror also made his home at what is now the Louvre. Coincidence? We think not.
A new cathedral was constructed in New Sarum or Salisbury in 1220. Materials for the new cathedral were recycled from Old Sarum. We had a great lunch in the refectory restaurant. Jon had fish pie and Beverly had roast pork. We also shared a rhubarb cheesecake for dessert. Susan was our guide for the cathedral floor. We got to see samples of all the building materials. Marble wasn't used but a type of limestone (that could be polished with Emory paper) was made from fossilized tiny snails. We also viewed a Medieval mechanical clock-- the world's oldest working clock (1386) that's powered by counter weights and rings bells instead of using a clock face. We also saw a square fountain that slowly flowed out of all four corners. The Trinity Chapel at the front of the Cathedral was beautifully reflected on the surface of the water. We got to sit in the choir stalls (1236). Young boys and girls still train to be choristers today. The stained glass was spectacular and representative of Gothic, Victorian and Edwardian periods.
Jon climbed to the bell level of the spire---which is Britain's tallest (404') We also visited the Charter House and saw one of only four copies of the Magna Carta (1215). It was written in Latin and went far beyond Beverly and Jon's translation skills. Right before we went to Cathedral Hotel for dinner, it hailed. And the gang wan't even here. You don't have to laugh. We enjoyed the meat-lovers platter for two: lamb chops, bangers, ribs, chicken wings, potato wedges, onion rings, garlic wedges, and salad.
Day Nine--London Town
The first train to London didn't leave until 11:21AM, so we had time for a leisurely breakfast @ the Cathedral Hotel. The trip took the same amount of time as the car we hired to get out to Salisbury but was much more comfortable.
The Premier Inn @ County Hall is as efficient as possible. The low price is due to minimal staff. Your key card gets you on the elevator and turns on the electricity in your room. The computer in the lobby, however, doesn't always spit out a working key card. This we found out on the first "we-are-so-tired-we-could-drop" day. We also opted for the breakfast every morning--- great deal and restaurant is on site and opens @ 6:30 am. We have to be out front of Marriott at other end of block at 7:30 AM for the "Magic of London" Tour mañana.
We decided we weren't too tired to see the entire city from the vantage of the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel with 32 enclosed glass pods that held 20 people. The frame is 443 ft in circumference. It has been open since 2000. The view was spectacular despite the rain. Jon didn't have any trouble with his usual fear of heights and most people took turns in front of window for picture-taking. The wait to get on was about 20 minutes--so not worth extra money for fast-track.
Although it was raining off and on, we also decided to visit the London Aquarium. It is the biggest in Europe and well worth the price of admission. There are three very cool aspects to the design. First, you walk over the top of the aquarium to get in--the glass bridge tends to freak out little kids but we loved it. Second, you start out at floor -2. You don't realize it, but you are walking on a very slight incline and eventually the walk spirals up to the first floor. Third, the sea life is grouped by geographical origin. The best tank held an Easter Island statue with sharks and rays circling around.
Beverly thought the lion fish, sea horse and turtles were most ready for their close-ups. Her new camera app really provides fantastic photos. We ended up dining at a first rate Italian restaurant called Locale. Beverly's pasta was freshly made and the meatballs were Mama Mia good. Jon also enjoyed his lasagna. It was right across the street from the hotel.
Day Ten: The Magic of London:
On the bus, we met a family from Brockton (Jon's old home town) that had a grandma with bad knees just like Beverly. Allyne's only a couple years older than Beverly but still works 3 days a week developing housing programs for the city of Boston.
We rode to Victoria Station where we met our guide Barry and headed for the Thames where we boarded a boat to travel to the Tower of London--which is located directly behind the Tower Bridge. The London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame is gone. Well, it still exists but it is now located at Lake Havesu, California.
On the grounds of the Tower, we were introduced to our own Beefeater or Yeoman Warder. To obtain this position, one must serve 22 years in Her Majesty's service, not be convicted of a crime, and, as our guy confessed, "It doesn't hurt if you are good-looking." He told us about all the former queens who were beheaded, the legend of the ravens (if the six left leave, the tower will fall down) and also showed us England's crown jewels.
The first room was filled with swords and armor. The next held a gold scepter for every monarch. Beverly got busted (nicely) for taking a picture. The tiny crown worn by Victoria was so different from all the others, Beverly was compelled to ask about it. Apparently after Albert died, Victoria refused to wear her crown which was fashioned to duplicate her father's. She felt it inappropriate so she asked Parliament to allow her to wear a child sized crown on top of her mourning veils. The crown might be small but it contains 1,187 diamonds. We were then given time on our own. Jon and Beverly found another canon in addition to the three out front (captured from Napoleon). This one was held up with a white terrier and rode in a flower cart. The canon supposedly belonged to the Knights Templar. Jon also found a whimsical dragon that had been made out of armor, helmets, pistols, and swords.
Next we headed toward the mall and stopped @ Buckingham Palace. Unfortuntely we were caught in the middle of a pounding rain storm. There is no changing of the guard when it is raining, but we were invited to come back another day to see it. The crowds, apparently, don't really allow much of a view anyway. We didn't go into the palace but walked around the perimeter, where we saw mounted royal guards. They had apparently come from the celebrated Horse Guards station.
Apparently, back in the day, Queen Victoria was inspecting the horse guards (that really had nothing to guard since she moved to Windsor Castle) and she found them drunk. If fact, as one saluted her, he was so inebriated that he fell off his horse. She became so incensed that she decreed that two horse guards would not only serve for 100 more years but every day at 4:00 PM, they had to report on their sobriety. You can get your picture taken with the ones that are on duty but the guide warned us that the horses love to kick tourists. We had little snack at a pub called The Clarence near Trafalgar Square that had been mentioned in one of Beverly's guidebooks. The mac and cheese was to die for--- country cheddar with a hint of mustard. Both Beverly and Jon wished we could have spent more time there but this was a nine-hour tour and everybody had to stay on schedule, damn it.
Next was St Paul's Cathedral, created by Christopher Wren in 1673. He designed a church with a dome which officials deemed too Catholic but he got the King to intervene and disregard their censure. We heard the 1695 organ once played by Mendelssohn and visited the tombs of Lord Nelson, Lord Wellington and Samuel Johnson. Jon tested the unique acoustics of the Whispering Gallery.
Last, we rode to Knightsbridge, where we took the escalator to the 4th floor of Harrods and entered The Georgian Restaurant. We enjoyed a Victorian High Tea with a flute of champagne, five finger sandwiches, two scones and six sweets. We got to talk to Allyne's (Grandma) family (daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons). Jon especially admired the copper ceiling in one of the lifts. Everything in this world famous department store is posh. The window displays are works of art in themselves and we couldn't find any item marked less than €9.95 or around $16. We could hardly walk, but managed to waddle over to Pet Kingdom to look at outfits for Chloe. Unfortunately for Chloe, all the selections were out of her price range.
It wasn't easy to get photos out of the bus windows but we all tried. The coolest shot was to put Big Ben in the center of the Eye. We were told that at Kings Cross train station you can get your picture taken pushing a luggage cart into No. 9 3/4 of Harry Potter fame.
There are hundreds of bronze statues in London including our very own Abraham Lincoln. The best story, however, is about the statue of Winston Churchill. He didn't want birds pooping on his head, so be declined to pose for his bronze. After he died, however, one was cast anyway, capturing him as a busy Prime Minister--his long coat swirling around him. The artist supposedly wired the head with electricity so birds who try to land and poop on his head get the shock of a lifetime.
Day Eleven--Greenwich and Stalkers
Two Observations: 1) The only way Beverly can keep track of the days on this trip is with her daily pill dispenser. 2) Cab rides in London are usually more costly than anywhere else because you sit for hours in unbelievable traffic, all while the meter keeps clicking away. The photo to the left is Westminister Abbey, where anyone, who is anyone, is buried. We had no trouble catching a snaphot during one of those expensive taxi rides.
We decided to take it easy today, so instead of the British Museum, Jon got tickets on a boat trip to Greenwich and back. It was a rainy day but we were near a window so we got the wind in our faces but no raindrops were falling on our heads. Both Jon and I are never so happy as when we are on the water.
After London Bridge, the shoreline becomes mostly industrial with wharf after empty wharf largely repurposed as residential. Jon wondered why residents didn't berth their boats in front of their condos but either it's too dangerous (sail boats and recreational craft smashing into docks during bad weather) or these folks don't waste money on their own boats.
One of the empty wharves was directly in front of the Mayflower Church, so named because that is where the pilgrims departed for America in 1620.
Before we pulled into the dock at Greenwich, we were to look up on a hillside to the right for a black dome. It is the Greenwich Observatory on the Prime Meridian or 0 degrees longitude.
Jon and Beverly recalled that they have also stood at the equator (Ecuador) which is 0 degrees latitude. Greenwich is also home to the clipper ship SS Cuttysark, which most people recognize as the logo for a famous brand of scotch. On the way back, we got a better look at Cleopatra's Needle -- a gift from the head of Egypt that was 3500 years old. We also got up close and personal with the clock tower where the bell Big Ben is housed.
Drew Stalker, Beverly's godson, invited us out to his home near Wimbledon to meet his family and have dinner. The last time we saw each other was Trevor's wedding. We rode out on the train---Beverly had quite an adventure with an amorous drunk at the Waterloo station (even though she told the guy she had a cane and knew how to use it)--and Drew met us at the station. It was a 10-minute walk to his house, but with Beverly's knees, it became more like 20 minutes.
We were shown into the livingroom while Drew and Ashley prepared dinner. Their children, Chloe and Ethan were amazing--so self assured (Chloe is learning tennis at Wimbledon) and generous (Ethan offered us cheerios and milk from his tippy cup). We are so proud of Drew. He has illustrated a children's book of poetry called "The Rock and Roll Band In My Armpit." The poems were hysterical and Drew's pictures were appropriately whimsical. Drew also has done some clever, ironic postcards of London that should be great sellers when he markets them. Ashley is a very talented photographer (Chloe is her favorite model) and wonderful homemaker. For dinner, Drew made us a special potato tortilla he discovered when he spent his two year mission in Spain. We also devoured toasted meat and cheese sanwiches and all sorts of tapas. It was great fun sharing travel stories with this wonderful family. The visit was the highlight of our time in England.
After a great breakfast at the County Hall Premier Inn, we headed for the St. Pancras Train Station to board the Eurostar for Paris. It's only a 2.5 hour trip--thanks to the chunnel---but is economical as well as relaxing (compared to the plane). We were served an unexpected second breakfast, courtesy of our first class tickets. The clever Brits had the breakfast trays magnetized to avoid sliding off the convenient table that was positioned between us. This morning also commemorated the occasion of our first chocolate croissant outside of the US.
After a short taxi ride to Le Bristol, we were greeted warmly by our hostess Stephanie. She had our luggage carried to our room on the fourth floor with a wonderful view of rue du Faubourg Saint Honore. Jon declined having a maid unpack our bags. Neither of the two balconies looked directly out onto the Arche de Triomphe, as Beverly had led the readers of the column---she wrote in Paris---to believe. Call it a bit of poetic license taken since a couple of tall buildings blocked the view of the arch but you could see the very top of the Effiel Tower from both balconies as well as the pool. Stephanie assured Beverly that she would take Beverly's little secret to her grave.
Beverly took a badly needed swim in the gorgeous hotel pool where she made the acquaintance of Harvey Rubin, a fellow auction "winner" from La Jolla. Jon and Beverly made the minimum bid on the two-night stay at Le Bristol at an fund-raiser for the Boys and Girls Club in Port Hueneme and Oxnard. Jon just wanted to get the bidding going but he was the only bid so we "won."
Both Beverly and Jon cleaned up beautifully with all the designer shampoos and conditionersk provided by the hotel. We decided that rich people never have to contend with travel sweat. Beverly shook the wrinkles from her little black dress and Jon put on a tie and white shirt. Since we had failed to make reservations for the restaurant (only 20 tables), we ended up eating and drinking in Le Bar. The tab for one smoked salmon appetizer, a caesar salad with chicken, an octapus ravioli plate and four glasses of wine was 260 Euro. Good thing that Beverly and Jon couldn't get into the restaurant. They couldn't have afforded a full dinner. Harvey said he and his wife enjoyed a seven course, three-hour meal at the restaurant. Although he had "won" a three-day stay at Le Bristol, he was obviously not in the same tax bracket as Jon and Beverly.
Day Thirteen--Land, Sea and Air
There are 22 bridges in Paris. The first we crossed was Pont Neuf, where, during the Seventeenth Century, it was said "you are apt to meet a monk, a loose woman, and a white horse." We were prepared to seize the day, however, having dined at the Hotel Bristol Restaurant on chocolate croissants and Eggs Benedict with caviar. Thank God, Breakfast was included with our stay.
The first part of our five-hour Paris Tour was via bus and we checked out all the highlights including the Arc de Triomphe, the mile-long Louvre, the Musee D'Orsay, the Church of the Madeleine, the Champs Élysées, the Jardin des Tuileries, the Opera House and ended up at the Eiffel Tower, where we enjoyed panoramic views of the city from each direction.
Jon had a couple of bad moments on the way up on the elevator, but he said he enjoyed the magnificent vistas as well.
Beverly recommends against visiting la sale de bain on the second level. There was only a single door to both (gender) toilets but the problem was the line to the woman's loo went out the door, so men had to push past women to get in. Next, both the entrance and exit to the female toilet was the same, and was filled up with a queue of women who had to pee--and I mean, right now. Further, there were only four stalls and only enough room for the women who were washing their hands; not the women who were trying to enter or exit the stalls. Add to that, a group of women on a VIP tour, who pushed to the front of the line, and you have a recipe for disaster.
After descending back to earth with an empty bladder, we had quite a walk to the dock where the boat would take us up and down the Seine. The highlights of that trip were Notre Dame and the Wishing Bridge. Beverly wished for new knees.
We had supper @ Cafe Francais, which looks, according to Jon, like an old school French whore house--all red velvet, gold mirrors and gaslights. We hoped Le Bristol staff wouldn't smell the hamburger and fries on our breath. BTW, they was the best hamburgers either Jon or Beverly ever tasted. The wine was also pretty good-- we had three glasses each. When we got back, Beverly did another workout in the pool.
It will be with great sadness that we will abandon all the pampering, but we are looking forward to walking around the Latin Quarter and not feeling pressured to spend money that we don't really have.
The French Presidential Election was today and Jon was glued to the TV. Eighty percent of the electorate showed up to vote!
Day 13--Going Latin
Alas, we had to check out today. Le Bristol was the most elegant, service- oriented, outrageously expensive hotel frequented by either Jon or Beverly. Fresh white roses adorned Beverly's vanity table. There was a soft terrycloth robe with matching slippers for each of us. Our clothes were hung up and there were new bottles of the most amazing shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/moisturizing lotion in the shower, in the bath and at the pool, just begging to be slipped into a suitcase. Neither Jon or Beverly ever felt so soft and clean. We went to breakfast deciding we were going to order something really special.
Special it was. Beverly's yogurt (which had a long unmemorable French name) was unbelievable as were her poached eggs, chocolate croissants and bacon. Jon, however, hit the jackpot with his soft boiled egg. First of all it had gold leaf on top. The whites were whipped with maple syrup, the yolk was absolutely perfect, and the whole thing was served with little toasted bread sticks. Jon raved so much he was offered another (which would have cost anyone else $60).
Stephanie helped us check out. We were only billed for the extraordinary dinner on Saturday night. Our luggage and a taxi simultaneously appeared, and we found ourselves @ Hotel du Vieux de Paris in the Latin Quarter.
Madame Odillard, charming as all get out, was sorry to inform us that there were still guests in our room but asked if we would we like to see another. It was upstairs but Madame now has a lift, which she calls her "love machine"---gives a whole new meaning to "calling the elevator." After serving us coffee in the parlor, Beverly was able to read and relax, while Jon walked 2.5 miles to the Musee des egouts de Paris (the Sewer Museum). When Madame asked "Pourquoi?" did Jon want to go there, Beverly answered "Parce qu'il est un homme." Madame laughed, and not at Beverly's French. In fact, Madame inspired Beverly to try to recall her little vocabulary flash cards from high school. The irony is that while Beverly only took two years of high school French, she ended up teaching third year French at Lincoln High School in San Diego. She was working as a teaching assistant---but when the third year French teacher at the all-black high school failed to show up in September. the principle asked Beverly to teach the 8 students in third year French. Beverly manged to stay just one chapter ahead each week.
Beverly wanted to take a couple of paragraphs to highlight Relais Hotel Vieux Paris. Not only was Madame Odillard so warm and welcoming when we arrived, we immediately felt at home. Her 20-year old manager Apeline helped confirm our tours and answered all our questions. The first thing that we learned is that the original walls date back to 1380.
During the 50s, the Relais Hotel Vieux Paris was known as The Beat Hotel because, like Greenwich Village, the area from St Germaine to the Seine was populated by artists, writers and college students (Sorbonne, University of Paris, and L'Ecole des Beaux Artes) because it was relatively cheap. A number of what we now call homeless and panhandlers also lived in the area .
All the narrow neighboring streets also housed small businesses such as bookshops, antiques-sellers, art galleries, radical publishers and cafes with fixed price menus for three courses. Much remains the same today. The only big difference is the addition of souvenir shops and tourist trap restaurants that promise French cooking but simply pour bernaise sauce on cheap cuts of meat, take vegetables from a can, and charge 18 euros for the meal.
There are two stories about the derivation of "git le coeur." The first maintains the street name is a corruption of Gilles Le Queux while the second refers to the mistress of Henry IV who resided there. The King always called the street "ici git mon coeur." ("Here lies my heart"). Beverly prefers the latter.
The original hotel was built during the 16th Century, and the very small Madame Racheau was the proprietor and concierge. She loved artists but not when they tried to sneak out without paying or when they used gas rings to cook food which she had forbidden. It was said she would jump down on them from her perch on a wine cask, waving her tiny arms and braying like a donkey.
The bathrooms were chiottes (a hole in the floor with grooves to place one's feet) and newspaper served as toilet tissue. She carved out 42 rooms where there are now 19. Madame Racheau only changed the bed linens once a month. The hotel was rated @ 13th level (which is bottom of ratings -- right before being condemned).
According to the accounts Madame provided, the air, during that time, stank of stale cooking odors and urine. The guests were, in a word, colorful. One was an artist who filled his room with straw. Another was a photographer who refused to speak for 2 years. There was a giant from French Guyana who could barely fit through the doors and a Swiss painter everybody called Jesus Christ because of his long hair, flowing robes and sandals. He couldn't afford canvas, so he painted on the walls.
Madame said that Barry Humphreys has been coming to the hotel for decades and that she really enjoyed talking to him. She said she didn't know who he really was until some tourists identified him as Dame Edith, the famous Australian cross-dressing satirist, who loves to make fun of the Queen, as only Aussies can.
When Jon returned, we headed out for a walk, and discovered the local Bistro des Augustines. We stayed for a couple of glasses of wine and some wonderful French people-watching.
Restaurants don't open until seven (was that a shock) so we walked in the other direction and found Cafe Latin, where we both enjoyed the French onion soup. Jon had faux filet de boeuf and Beverly ordered Feuillete du Saumon a la champignones. The Creme Brûlée was so light and fluffy, we had to compliment the chef. The waiter admitted he had whipped it up himself, and his secret was using powdered sugar for the crusty topping. So magnifique! Since it rained all day, we said a little prayer for sun tomorrow to accompany our visit to the D'Orsay.
Day Fifteen--La Musee d'Orsay
The ratio of 8 tourists to 1 guide is just about perfect. We also had Phoebe (who was training to be a guide) who devoted herself to getting Beverly and Jon on the right lift while the others climbed the stairs. The French guide (who sometimes made interesting word choices in English) really knew impressionist art. We learned so much and we both had a pretty good knowledge of impressionism to start with. The history of the building itself was worth mentioning. It had served as a train station (gare) during the nineteenth century. The architecture ((Victor Laloux) of the building is called Beaux-Artes. It is appropriate that the art chosen for the D'Orsay should reflect the fall of the old regime (Beaux-Artes) when artists could finally exhibit their work without being subject to the narrowmindedness of the academy. (The Institute of France).
We learned that Thomas Couture already caused a sensation with his (1847) "Romans of the Decadence" and that Realism and Naturalism became the norm largely because of the invention of photography.
We could see why Edward Manet broke ground with his nude in "Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe" in 1863 and we fell in love with his "Olympia," which Beverly captured on film when the guard wasn't looking. Note that the black ribbon around Olympia's neck, which symbolized her occupation as a prostitute and the inclusion of a black cat as a reference to the cabaret that preceeded the Moulin Rouge as all the rage in Paris.
We also learned that Claude Monet was drawn to painting in the open air as an alternative way to look at nature and that he gave a painting to his landlady in lieu of rent. She stored it in the basement where water damaged the canvass in two places, hence the two conjoined paintings of the picnic-goers.
We also saw many favorite paintings including "Jane Avril at Moulin Rouge" by Toulouse-Laurec, a wonderful crowd scene by by Paul Gauguin, "Arles" by Vincent Van Gogh, "Waterlilies in Giverny" by Claude Monet, and "Woman With A Coffeepot" by Paul Cezanne. The question by the guide to demonstrate how Cezanne makes the transition between impressionism and cubism was : Is the woman standing or sitting?
We walked around St Michael's Square looking for a place to grab a couple of glasses of wine, while we watched it pleut (rain). We especially wanted to get over to Notre Dame since we visit the Louvre tomorrow. We had seen Notre Dame from the river side. The rose window in front is spectacular. You will be pleased to learn that we found no evidence of either a hunchback or Esmerelda.
We ended up dining at Maison Blanc due to a very aggressive waiter who was the first (of two) arrogant Parisiennes we met. Apparently he didn't like Beverly because she didn't try hard enough to parle francais. It was not a very impressive meal although the onion soup was pretty good. The meat was over-cooked, no bread arrived at the table, and the beans were canned. The proprietor was definitely not interested in reaping lots of repeat business.
Day Sixteen--Le Louvre
Everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. It is smaller than most people realize and now, thanks to a Russian lunatic, behind glass, where it doesn't make for a very good photograph. Still the face is haunting and the eyes follow you across the room. Leonardo da Vinci only painted a dozen or so oils and the Louvre and Versailles Palace have most of them.
What was really astounding to us is that when people pushed their way to the front, instead of taking a photo of the world's most beautiful and famous painting, they, themselves, pose in front of the painting. The younger ones do that stupid leap in the air that has now replaced smiling with young people. What is this world coming to?
We learned the subject of the Mona Lisa is probably Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine noble by the name of Francesco di Bartolommeo di Zanoli de Giacondo. Beverly wonders what da Vinci called him for short. Since Leonardo never considered the painting finished, he never allowed Francesco to take delivery. Instead Leonardo took it to France with him, where he (da Vinci) died in 1519. Leonardo was the first Renaissance man: painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, musician, poet, philosopher, astronomer, anatomist, geologist, and botanist. His painting technique was unique in that it involved brushing layer after layer of paint on the canvas. The Mona Lisa alone took 5 years.
Our guide was a scatterbrained narcissist. He claimed to have been a guide for 20 years but provided no more information than the guidebooks. Even worse was the fact that he refused to carry an identifying sign so we often lost him as he barreled full speed ahead to the next work of art. That's okay; we took care of each other. There were only six of us--one couple from Honolulu and the other from Long Beach. With such a small group, it should have been a pleasure for him, but he was presumably pissed off that there would be fewer dollars in tips. He did take us to the Mona Lisa but the rest was all paintings he liked, not what was advertised by the tour company.
We did, however, get to skip the line, and to stay afterwards for as long as we wanted, although after 4 hours of walking the long distances from one work of art to nother, everybody wanted to get the hell out of there--vite. We got lost several times, so I got to see my favorites, the Johannes Vermeers several times. The Louvre has both "The Lacemaker" and "The Astronomer."
The Louvre began as a medieval fortress built by Philippe Auguste in the late 12th Century. France had to wait until the rein of Francis I in 15th Century before the abandoned military keep would be transformed into a royal residence. Other kings would eventually restore and add on to what would become the Louvre.
Visitors were asked to look up to see decorated ceilings and tapestries that resemble paintings. Both Napoleons I and III had resided in highly gilted splendor in these rooms. In the late 19th Century, however, the purpose of the refurbishments was no longer to glorify the monarchy but to enhance the display of a growing collection of artworks, royal furnishings, and crown jewels. President Francois Mitterand would add the glass pyramid in 1981.
Sculptures are, by definition, three-dimensional art. All of us have our favorite sides to a full-length sculpture. For example, Beverly loves to look at Michelangelo's David from the rear. There were big crowds around "Venus de Milo" and "Winged Victory." It is so tempting to touch the marble but loud annoying alarms go off if one does.
The hanging man sculpture, which rather resembles Christ, is a demi-god whose name Beverly has forgotten. He was the one who was punished for bringing music to human beings. We saw rooms and rooms filled with Greek sculptures. These pieces have not been sculpted by Frenchmen but were acquired (the guide refused to use the word "stolen") as the spoils of war. Greece is still asking for their return.
So many paintings caught Beverly's eye and she remembers in particular, one by Rimini that was the first to employ lapis lazuli instead of gold. Giotto was the first to show action in his painting of St Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata. Many of the religious paintings serve as wall-sized "Biblical comic books" for the priest to employ to involve his parishioners in the sermons. So many of these paintings reminded Beverly of the work of her friend, John Auguste Swanson.
Giuseppe Arcimboldo's "The Four Seasons" was amusing because the artist poked fun at various European monarchs by constructing their faces out of fruits and vegetables. When you look at the painting from a distance, it appears to be a normal portrait. It is only up close that you can see the satire.
After we left the Louvre, we saw and heard a street show behind a cyclone fence. There were four stages which were outfitted to resemble "cages." The two we saw featured dancers costumed as ballerinas and as 18th Century French courtiers with white powdered wigs. We had planned on going to the restaurant nearby, but the music was TOO LOUD so we must be TOO OLD.
We went to a cafe for a glass of wine while we waited until 7:30, when La Petite Machon, which had been featured in Beverly's guidebook, opened its doors. The food, cuisine of Lyon, was amazing. For the first course, Jon enjoyed Pea and Carrot potage, while Beverly ate a potato blini with crayfish. For a main, Beverly ordered Coque a St Germaine, which she assumed was some kind of fowl. The coque turned out to be scallops in a lobster sauce served in clam shells on a bed of salt. Jon didn't see the salt and laid a piece of his roasted pork, apple and potato on the salt. Merde. Beverly will be retaining water for weeks. For dessert, we shared gateau avec caramel and Grand Marnier.
Days 17, 18, 19--Show me the Way to Go Home
As we reminisce about the last three weeks, it's the people we met that come to mind first, followed closely by all the delicious dishes. Apparently calories don't count with French food. Beverly found herself 4 lbs thinner!
Had our last breakfast at Vieux, and then headed for Gare Nord where we caught the Eurostar for London. Spent the night at another Premier Inn in Kensington, relished their usual great breakfast, and then headed out to Heathrow, where Jon bought Beverly three bottles of Chloe at the duty free shop. The perfume reminded her of the wall-sized mural of Napoleon I crowning Josephine at the Louvre. Theirs was quite a love affair. Just before he was about to return from a campaign, Napoleon would send Josephine a message. It was always the same. "Don't bathe." Beverly, however, loves to smell nice, and Chloe has been her perfume for the last 20 years.
We were offered £1200 to take a later flight, but Beverly just wanted to go home. She's almost out of Tramadol and the doctor's prediction is coming true. She is having to pay for all the punishment she inflicted on her poor arthritic knees.
We flew into Logan (Boston} where Jon had booked a room with a spectacular view at the Hilton. When we did the Route 66 tour two summers ago, we always regretted that we rushed the end--trying to get home as soon as possible when what we really needed was to travel at a leisurely pace, taking an extra day or two, in order to decompress. This time Jon wanted to make sure he did it up right.
Our seats on the flights from Logan to Dulles to LAX were in first class, which really made the 8 hours bearable. In fact, Jon even had a limo pick us up at the airport. What he didn't know was that it was going to be a stretch limo and the driver drove along the coast highway for a wonderful view of the Pacific. We could have had champagne but we had more than enough drinks (bloody marys) in first class as well as a wonderful pasta dish for lunch.
We found Chloe still remembered us, and after catching up with her news, we went to bed. Jon enjoyed a Red Sox game while Beverly slept. She slept for 13 hours---some kind of record---and was finally ready to unpack and give the washer a number of challenging loads the next day.
Jon and I decided that if we would have to pick one photo to symbolize the entire trip it would either be an umbrella or rain boots. Since Beverly's are psychadelic as well as watertight, here they are.
Final thoughts on travel: You know your trip has been long enough if you start dreaming about sleeping in your own bed and you have to sit on your suitcase to get it to zip up.
Both were true for us.