Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

    In 2014 a group of our friends made plans to tour southern Ireland, and invited us to go along.
    We agreed.  Then we decided that if we were going to fly way east across the great pond,
    we could add a couple of weeks and make a return trip to the continent as well.
    So the planning began for our 2015 adventure.

    Our goals were multiple.  The London and Ireland itinerary was planned by our friends.
    Beyond that, we wanted to return to Paris, and to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the
    Prado in Madrid and Gaudi architecture in Barcelona.  All that seemed workable, if a little
    rushed for a large loop limited to two weeks.  Bordeaux and Montpellier were added as
    stopover mid-points along the railroad routes to ease the scheduling and to experience
    other parts of France that we had not seen before.

    So we flew into London and went immediately to France.  Our last time in Europe we went the
    other direction, from Paris to London, and we took the Chunnel--very fast but hardly scenic.
    This time we wanted to actually see The Channel, and The White Cliffs, so we went to Dover
    and took the ferry to Calais.  Slow, interesting, but largely unimpressive.  But, for what it's worth,
    we can now say that we've done it.  After that we mostly took the Train Grand Vitesse routes
    (TGV - note that "Very Fast Train", like most everything else, sounds better in French).

    The big loop route was down the west coast of France to Bilbao and Madrid, then across to the
    Mediterranean coast of Spain at Barcelona, then back up through the midlands to Paris. We spent
    two nights in most cities, and three in the most important locations, like Barcelona and Paris.
    Actually, we ended up extending Paris to four nights; it was still not really enough, but it was
    what we had available.

    After that we returned to London, mainly to meet up with the rest of our Ireland group, but
    arriving early to make a side trip to Oxford.  After several days there (including a night at
    the Globe Theater watching a very good production of Measure for Measure) we headed off
    to the Cotswalds and Bath and across the Irish Sea to Dublin.

    The second half of the month was mostly in Ireland and, after Dublin, travelling
    entirely by way of cars, and mostly on narrow two-lane roads, in two Skoda Fabias.
    Never heard of Skoda?  Neither had we, until we showed up at the Budget Rental
    location in a small street-front office with no parking, in Dublin, where we had been
    promised we would be renting a "Toyota Corolla or euivalent".  For the record,
    Skoda is a Czechoslovakian auto manufacturer founded in 1895, now a wholly owned
    subsidiary of Volkswagen.  The cars performed well.

    The hotel stops in Ireland were at many of the names we had heard many times--
    Killarney, Kilkenny, Dingle, Galway, and Shannon.  This time the route was a squiggly
    hemi-loop in a clockwise direction.  It wasn't quite squiggly enough to take us through
    Tipperary, which was a long, long way--not really, it just wasn't a priority.  Included were
    two small scenic loops around the Kerry and Dingle peninsulas, finishing up on the
    rugged and beautiful Irish west coast. and in Galway.

    Please enjoy this trip review, which is obviously not enough; not nearly enough pictures
    and not nearly enough descriptive information.  But we're not yet inviting everyone
    over to our house to bore them with a lengthy slide show ... unless you want to!

    Final Note: If you are wondering who the pronoun "we" refers to in each of these
    web pages, here is a list:

    Aug. 25 to Sept. 28: Anne and Bob, with the following additions, depending on dates:
    Sept. 3 to Sept. 12: Shannon and Laura (Barcelona, Montpellier, Paris)
    Sept. 15 to Sept. 17: Shannon and Laura (London)
    Sept. 15 to Sept. 28: Beth, Brad, Dougald, Marcus, and Sylvia (London and Ireland)

      The pictures of this trip are divided into several sets:

      One: London to Bordeaux.

      Two: Art in Bilbao.

      Three: The First of Barcelona.

      Four: Gaudi Buildings.

      Five: Gaudi Out and More.

      Six: Montpellier.

      Seven: Cathedral Paris.

      Eight: London Bath.

      Nine: Irish Castles.

      Ten: Rocks and Rivers.

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