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J Mac’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 08 Jan 2006

MapHappy New Year! or as they say in Wales, Blwyddyn Naydd Dah!!

I have so much to catch you up on since I haven't wrote in over two weeks, and what a two weeks it has been....

The day after my last entry we left for Scotland bright and early (well, not so bright, hey... it’s Wales). It was a long drive, eight hours... through sun, rain and a little snow. When we arrived in Edinburgh it was just getting dark and much colder than in Swansea. Our hotel (Green's Hotel) was very nice… the room was huge and had a television (I haven’t watched since I left home). Once we got setlled in we went out for a walk and ended up at a pub for a bite and the guy behind the bar was our first McGregor!! It was really funny since Dad started talking to him in a Scottish accent. The next day we spent a lot of time at the Edinburgh castle, it is breathtaking and is where the Scottish crown jewels are kept. We also visited some superb museums. So much history. Weird to image people actually lived in these places. My one disappointment with Scotland was meeting a lack of Scottish people... the only one we really met was the one I mentioned and most others Australian. Looking back on things, we should have ended up in Edinburgh for Hogmanay. It is the massive New Year’s street festival they run and we missed it by one day.

We drove from Edinburgh to London, which again took all day. My uni friend Sophie and her parents were kind enough to allow us to stay at her grandmother's flat, who is now in Belize. We left the next morning for Paris. It was two and a half hours on the Eurostar. Our time in Paris was really too short, you need months to really appreciate it. Our hotel was cute, a little out of the way but the people were friendly and could speak english very well. That evening we saw La Cathedrale De Notre Dame. The Cathedral is huge and impressive outside and in. Dad got wrapped up in the mass and mom and I just looked around at all the stunning stain glass windows and 7800 pipe organ. We had a nice dinner that night at a cute bistro by our hotel. The next day was jam packed. Woke up early and walked to the Louve, it is incredible. You would need months to see the entire thing, just the building itself is remarkable. We focused on the Italian and French painting and also saw some Greek sculptures. We walked down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and then over to the Eiffel Tower, it is funny since the tower was almost torn down in 1909 it is the most photographed sculpture in the world. We stood in line for a half hour to go to the top but then bailed as it would have taken five or so hours. We went back to the hotel had a nap and back up again and took the metro back to the tower to ring in the New Year. We had a bottle of Champagne and met a nice man from Germany and I think his girlfriend from Denmark. There were so many people there... but a midnight all hell broke loose as people started throwing bottles and a regular riot was breaking out, all the riot police had to come in. Scary but it was somewhat exciting.

The next morning we returned to London. Mom loves royalty so she felt right at home. During our time there we did one of those bus sightseeing tours... of course sitting on top... yes, it was cold. We saw all the sights and then we had time left over for my parents to take me shopping. Ah, how I missed that security.

I am sure my parents enjoyed themselves... it was a whirlwind tour but I loved it! It was fun having them around and a bit sad to see them go... it was quite the adventure. I am back in Swansea, all by myself in the flat but Alex is just downstairs. He cooked me a delicious dinner this evening. Most people will be returning next Sunday, in time for the exam period.

What a political mess in Canada, too much focus on policy from what I am reading…definitely an interesting time with lots of history in this election. Part of me is relived that I am not around for the stress of an election. I hate to quote an American but here goes... "Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country". Enjoy the snow!