Relinquishing trip-planning duties to someone whose personal motto is "I can sleep when I'm dead," even though he protested strenuously, is not wise. My own fault, not his. It was sort of frenetic, although a good trip.

The only seriously unpleasant moment of the trip came in Amsterdam: a man with an Italian accent solicited me for sex outside the Magna shopping mall while I was waiting for Jay and the boys. I kept saying no, he kept refusing to leave -- until he tried, not once but twice, to kiss me. At which point, I yelled "No!" and he left, grinning. I'm just glad it was not my first trip to Amsterdam, and so I won't hold it against the city. Much.

Interesting: The kids were fine with going to museums, but fought being taken to Gothic cathedrals. When we finally got them inside one (at York), they thought it was pretty cool.

Once again, asking for an automatic transmission in Europe worked in our favor. When we got the rental car, the only thing that Hertz had was a Mercedes sedan with inboard navigation system which was completely wonderful. Good thing: we had requested a Prius, and had we spent ten days together in a Prius there would have been blood shed.

Cutest historic names, Germanic division: Castle Maus, just down the Rhine from Castle Katzenberg.

Best Hotel, Modern Division: The suite at the Hilton outside Glasgow was nice, but the best room was at the Crown Plaza in Bruges. Which was just as well, since I had to spend the evening nursing a sick Kevin.

Best Hotel, Small Division: the Hotel in Dinan, France, which had a "family room" which could sleep six and had two stories and a kitchenette. Too bad we only had it for one night.

Most unnerving discovery: That a number of the doorways on the little street surrounding the apartment we rented in Amsterdam were, um, home businesses. I didn't see the red lights when I checked in -- the ladies weren't on duty, then. It seems that the red light district in Amsterdam is expanding.

My kids' favorite museum is one I did not really care for (the Centre Pompidou in Paris). This is due to a) a sophisticated fondness for contemporary and abstract art on their part (who knew?) or b) it has Marcel Duchamp's famous urinal in it. Take your pick.

The cabbie from St. Pancras's Station sounded *just* like Eric Idle. Too bad he took us to the wrong hotel at first. (He didn't want to charge us for taking us to the right one -- he was a decent bloke. And the mistake was an understandable -- he took us to the Hilton Hotel Canary Wharf instead of the Hilton Hotel Docklands.)

Most consumed food product: some form of pancake or bread with stuff on it. Dutch pancakes, crepes, tarte flambe.

It is really hard to look at London locations and not think of Dr. Who. Or Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

The London Eye is not where you want to rediscover your latent acrophobia. Really.

I just do not get the allure of geocaching. And being the only non-geocacher in this family is hard, because, really, I have a) little patience and b) a lingering paranoia that someday we're going to end up in some police station trying to explain what we were doing wandering around a famous monument with a GPS, muttering to ourselves.

The medieval recreations at Tewkesbury proved to me that medieval battle was just like American football, except with more carnage and historical significance. ("And Somserset's troops are charging, trying to break through the king's line!") Too bad they didn't have play-by-play announcers (like they do at the recreation) during the Wars of the Roses. (James: "Does the same side win every year?" Me: "Well, yes, it's a recreation." James:"What's the fun in that?" I had to admit he had a point. Kevin: "One of the King's guys had to be looked at by a paramedic." Me: "How do you know it was a paramedic? What sort of garb was he wearing?" Kevin: "A blue uniform that said "Paramedic!")

On this trip I have been on planes, trains, automobiles, subways, trams, doubledecker buses, taxis, and even a boat up the Rhine. Except for cruise ships, I think that covers all of the transportation options.

I have managed to develop perspective. I only had one complete meltdown on the trip (in Amsterdam -- low blood sugar) and wasn't even fazed by getting temporarily stranded in a tiny German town's decrepit semi-abandoned looking train station.

Having fibromyalgia while traveling is a bitch. A good day in which I pushed myself would be followed by two bad days. But in any case I had to fight to keep up with the rest of our group, who would stop and wait for me, but it still got really old.

Reaction of my kids to the Stone of Scone: "It's a rock!" "Yeah, but its a historically significant rock!" "It's still a rock!"

Trying to get six full size bottles (2 Bordeaux, 2 cider, 1 Rhine Reisling, 1 Chataneuf-du-Pape) and three half size bottles (whisky) home in soft-sided luggage, along with a wooden bow and arrows and shield (not to mention short sword), and a delftware mug, plus other assorted small items, with nothing getting broken, poses a bit of a packing challenge.


Screw heaven. When I die, I want to go to Scotland.
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