I’m still here. I’m been absent from my blog for about five months — one reason being that last year’s output, small as it was, had gotten to be frustating on the Cardiff Library’s computer system and I guess I needed the break, but another more pressing reason is that I’ve been busy using my computer time to make holiday plans.
Soon, at the end of March, I will be making a mini Grand Tour of Europe! Thanks, once again, to the amazing Mark Smith and his website The Man in Seat 61, without whose impeccable guidance I would never have been able to navigate the Italian train sites. There were many details to arrange and except for some minor last-minute preparations, everything is set.
I will be taking the rail-ferry once again overnight from east England to Amsterdam, something I enjoyed very much last year, spending a day in my favourite European city so far — Amsterdam!– to visit the War Resistance and Jewish Synogogues museums (and to have some more herring — and it’s spring, there should be tulips!). I will attempt, again, to get some shuteye on a sleeper train overnight from Amsterdam to Zurich where, the next day, the rails will take me through the Swiss and Italian Alps to Milan. From there I change to a local train for my final destination of the Cinque Terre town of Riomaggiore on the Italian Riviera. The Cinque Terre was recommended to me by my brother and sister-in-law as beautiful, relaxing and Italy at its best. Riomaggiore is one of five cliffside towns in the area protected as a UNESCO site. I will be staying there three full days and four nights and hoping that the sun shines in northern Italy at the end of March — though I expect to soak up the atmosphere and feast on fresh sardines regardless of any sun.
On my return Turin (Torino) beckons. Leaving Riomaggiore in the morning by train I will reach Turin mid-afternoon and stay the night in the city centre, boarding a train in the morning through the French Alps to Paris. I should have time to make an hour’s leisurely walk through Paris from the Gare de Lyon to the Gare du Nord where I catch the Eurostar back to London, and from London, a bus back to Cardiff. That’s a long day. I won’t arrive back in Cardiff until after midnight, but I will have travelled from Italy to Wales via land and Channel tunnel and seen most of the landscape. There will be a day of rest and recovery before going back to work.
Also heading home to Canada at the end of June for a week and a half — all booked as well. My niece Kate is expecting their first child at the end of May. I’m sad about not being there during her pregnancy, but glad that she and baby are doing well.
This could be my last full year here in the U.K. My visa expires in September 2015, but my passport expires in May 2015. I still have to find out if I can renew my passport at this end and also need to consider what I will be doing if I’m not allowed to stay longer. I also don’t know what I want to do and have mixed feelings. I will probably try to stay by applying for citizenship which would give me more options. I don’t plan on staying forever, but feel the best scenario may be a few more years here. Once again, not sure — part of me is ready to go home to Canada, but a part of me wants to take the best of Europe home with me, and I can’t really do that.
In September I will most likely make a smaller trip. I have Copenhagen in mind, as I’ve heard good things about it and the airfare there is pretty reasonable. If I can, I will try and go to Amsterdam again on the same trip.
In the meantime I had expected to post photos from daytrips made last year, in 2014, throughout south Wales. I have been preparing them and hopefully will get them posted before the Grand Tour starts!