August 25 – A Reluctant Farewell to France, Italy and Ireland

The weather report this morning said rain showers for the Dublin area, but outside our window the sun was shining brightly. It’s always hard to head to the airport, especially if it’s a pleasant day outside. If it’s pouring, then I don’t feel quite so bad about leaving.

Since our plane didn’t leave until 2:00, we decided to stroll about the pedestrian zone off O’Connell Street. Shoppers were already out and we stopped to admire a department store window display with handmade stuffed animals. “It’s lovely, isn’t it,” said the woman beside us and it truly was. Stopping at one of my favorite stores, Boots, we bought several bottles of coconut-almond soap which I wrapped carefully and stuffed in my carryon bag.

At the airport, it was a routine check-in until we passed through baggage control. I had forgotten about the liquid regulations and my prize soaps were confiscated. Once on the plane, we were delighted to find we had bulkhead seats and settled in for the long trip home. With a new book in hand, “New Europe” by Michael Palin, I spent most of the trip immersed in his travel journal, only occasionally being interrupted by a father who decided to entertain his two year old daughter less than two feet in front of us by jumping up and down and tossing her in the air. It was quite annoying and he didn’t seem to care.

Looking back on our vacation, some of the highlights include:

• Watching children play in the bubbling fountains in Dijon which seem to magically appear out of the sidewalk
• Touring the now elegant Hotel Dieu, a hospice built in the 15th century in Beaune
• The dreamy view of the snow covered Mt. Blanc from our hotel room with the observation tower glistening in the sun
• Relaxing on our lemon grove terrace at the Villa Steno in Monterosso with a glass of Limoncino
• Riding the ferry to each of the five small towns in the Cinque Terre that rise from the sea like steps
• Sitting in the shade of an old oak tree on top of Torre Guinigi, a 130 foot ancient tower in Lucca
• Feeling a sense of peace in the candlelit Basilica of St. Francis where people whisper their hopes beside his tomb
• Exploring an Etruscan cave under the streets of Orvieto
• Strolling along the Tiber River at night with our friend, Monika, to see the illuminated dome at St. Peter’s in Vatican City
• Hearing the magnificent organ at St. Peters
• Admiring a staggering collection of masterpieces at the Borghese Gallery
• Visiting the Temple Bar district in Dublin to feel the energy of the city’s nightlife

It’s always hard coming home, but the memories will live on and as Rick Steves always says, “Assume you will return!”


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