Breathlessly Home from England

You were, perhaps, thinking you’d read today about Kristine’s trip to Oatlands, home of Frederica, Duchess of York.  But there will be a wee postponement before you hear about her visit with Hester Davenport (and the almost-healthy Hubby).  Now, don’t panic, the cholera has not recurred, but Kristine is taking a bit of a break to celebrate a family birthday.

So, Victoria here, breathlessly just back from England (and the Czech Republic and Germany) with her very own long-suffering hubby.  Here he is enjoying the treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

We did not have anything like the trials and tribulations of Kristine and Greg last winter —  not even a moment of stomach upset.  HOWEVER…our feet took a beating, and Ed was almost hobbling by the end of the three weeks-plus we were in Europe. Blisters.

I will report in detail later, after I’ve rested up, and Kristine has completed her saga. But in the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of what Ed and I did on our summer holiday.

Prague, Czech Republic
We arrived in Prague, our first visit there,  and spent a few days enjoying the beauties of that ancient city. Lots of walking, which is always the best way to see a city.  Lots of hills, cobblestones and stairs.  We were up to it.  At first.
Ed and I both enjoyed the unexpected display of photographs, shoes and gowns of Marilyn Monroe at the Prague Castle.  She was honored as an icon of modern beauty, just as the many Venus portraits, nymphs and goddess were to those who decorated the Castle’s many chambers several centuries ago. We also took in the usual tourist views, as well as a special luncheon and concert at the Lobkowicz Palace. Lots of walking. More cobblestones.  Long hills.
We embarked on a cruise on the Elbe River with Viking Cruises aboard the Clara Schumann.  I was glad to see that Clara was the honored one.  Most might think of her husband, Robert Schumann, the composer, but the fact is that Clara Wieck Schumann (1819-1896) was much more famous in her own day as a pianist, performer, composer and as a muse for both her husband and Johannes Brahms. 
MS Clara Schumann on the Elbe
We were a little concerned in the weeks leading up to our cruise since there were serious floods on the Elbe, Danube, and elsewhere in Central Europe.  Luckily the flood had ebbed by the time we started out, but we had to make a few minor adjustments along the way due to damage — and we saw some evidence of it, though nothing like the horrendous tragedy of 2002.
The Bohemian Mountains
We were surprised at the majestic scenery of the area on the Czech-German border with its stone formations, once a must for visiting by people such as the English painter J.M.W. Turner and author Mary Shelley. We walked everywhere, if sometimes limping!
After many interesting stops, about which I will write soon — including Dresden, Meissen, etc., we left the ship and went to Potsdam and then Berlin.  Dresden is remarkable.  By now, the cobblestones were anything but quaint. Feet were aching. Required large infusions of wine.
Dresden Opera
Berlin is amazing. A forest of cranes and derricks, construction everywhere, and almost every teenager in Europe on hand.  Except the tens of thousands who were in London! 
 Ed stands at remains of the Wall, or a touristy replica — opinions varied!
Lots of walking in Berlin, through museums with very hard marble floors, more cobblestones, treks to see this and that, all wonderful but far apart.  Feet suffering. Swollen. Shoes now too tight. Limping. After a few hectic days in crowded, lively Berlin, we flew to Heathrow. 

View from our Hotel in Euston Road
We were at the London Pullman St. Pancras Hotel, just west of the British Library, with the St. Pancras Hotel/Station, recently refurbished in the background. We had two nights there, then went by train to  Cambridge, then to Norfolk.  Did I say we walked a lot?  Uneven paving stones?  Blisters?
We stayed here, at the Victoria, in Holkham Village, while we visited two stately homes, Houghton Hall and Holkham Hall, about which I promise to report in considerable detail.
At the Bygones Museum, Holkham, Ed — a former tv newsman — admired an old television camera, not so long ago state-of-the-art, now a museum piece.  We returned to London for a few days of more touring.  By now, I felt like we had almost conquered Everest, both in distances hiked and elevations — well, almost.

The view from the top of the Wellington Arch: The London Eye and the Shard. It was unusually warm (and very sunny) for our entire visit.  The umbrellas, sweaters, jackets, and rain ponchos we packed were unworn.  Could have taken more shoes.  Note to self: Next time pack a pair at least one size larger for wearing after feet have already suffered.
The Treasures I brought home! Along with lots of pics and many memories.
I have many adventures to report, but I have to get over some jet lag and get Hubby back on his feet before I get too detailed!  Kristine will finish her story before I start on mine!  And how come that Royal Baby didn’t arrive while I was there?  Darn.

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