After exactly one month abroad, Paris was the perfect note to end on. I spent much of my time wandering around, sampling sweets, and people-watching. Since I had been to Paris before, I didn't really have any interest in doing the touristy things. Wandering was perfect. I also did some reflecting on the trip as a whole...how fortunate I am to have gotten to see and live in so many beautiful places!
One of our days in Holland was spent biking outside of Amsterdam. Jack and I biked north of the city into Waterland, a region so named for the lakes, marshes, and ocean that encompass it. At the tip of Waterland is a cute little town called Marken, with a tiny beach and a beautiful lighthouse. We ended there, because it was already late afternoon and we needed to get back to Amsterdam in time to return our bikes!
Coming to Dublin was more than just a vacation. Alex and I traveled here to do creative research for the short stories we've been commissioned to write this summer. They're loosely based on James Joyce's Dubliners, and so we did everything Joyce related in Dublin that we could. We couldn't have picked a better week to be in Dublin; "Bloomsday" (a famous day in Dublin dedicated to the main character of Ulysses) was on the 16th of June. We were lucky to have been in the city for the entire Bloomsday festival!
Our first countryside day trip was in Scotland, to the small Northern town of Inverness. Once in Inverness, which was about a 3 hour train ride from Edinburgh, we rented bikes and headed out on the 30km round trip journey to Loch Ness. The ride was beautiful - we passed cows, sheep, old Scottish farmhouses, rolling hills of yellow flowers. The only downside was that we rode THROUGH those rolling hills. Neither of us are in stellar athletic shape, so by the time we reached Loch Ness we were pretty sore. We stopped by the Loch for some pub food (aka the best mac-n-cheese) and then headed back towards Inverness. Inverness was an adorable little town too. Situated right along a river, it was very pleasant to return to. And our train ride back to Edinburgh was not short of great views, either!