It sounds so cliche but wow…time has flown!

My last day of work was Monday, March 2. I took care of last-minute packing and had a chance to catch up with many friends the next day, and I flew out on the 4th. The trip itself was largely uneventful but I felt a bit nostalgic flying through Minneapolis, and wished I could have taken time to see so many family members but I wasn’t able to make it work cost-effectively.

The first few days in Scotland were wonderful. Derek, my sister’s husband of less than a year, took such great care of me. He took some time off of work and we toured the city and he guided me through the bus system. Within the first few days, he and Jenna introduced me to a couple of their friends and later that weekend we went for a drive and saw Rosslyn Chapel, where part of Dan Brown’s Davinci Code was filmed, along with wonderful views of the country side. Jenna and I also took the train to Edinburgh (pronounced “Edin-bra”, I’m told) and had a great day there (some photos of both are posted in the Flickr window to your left).

I spent the next couple of days touring the northern part of Scotland with Timberbush Tours. I met interesting people but the highlight was Black Friar’s Pub just outside of Loch Ness. It featured two young men playing Scotish music and in their own unique style, encouraged locals and toursits alike to get up and dance, with promises that “this is the easiest dance you’ll ever learn…”

The ensuing days are all a whirlwind. Jenna, Derek, his friend Cody and I went to Amsterdam and Brussels later that week. In Amsterdam we participated in one of the walking city tours that took us through the Red Light district. I have apparently been a bit naive but the city has vowed to clean up that area; our guide told us the windows, as they currently exist, will be closed by 2012. He expects that the business will then go underground.

Most impressive in Amsterdam was the number of bikers in the city – there are actually more bikes than residents, and more than 10,000 bikes end up in the river canals each day. Angry residents will often throw them in after a breakdown (none of the bikes are in good shape to prevent theft).

Brussels was great to explore but we didn’t have enough time there. It drizzled the first day but that didn’t prevent us from getting out and doing a city bus tour, seeking Belgian waffles and chocolates…both of which we found with little difficulty.

I was “home” in Glasgow for two days before coming on a six-day journey of Ireland. I just missed St. Patty’s Day but felt the excitement of the many tourists throughout Dublin even after my arrival. I spent almost two days in the city before taking another three-day “”Shamrocker” guided bus tour of the Southern Coast; after having spent some time with the locals, I’d call it “feckin’ craic” (which is kind of like “pretty awesome”…except neither your grandmother or a priest would be offended by the term, unlike it’s close cousin…)

After arriving back in Dublin on Sunday night, I decided I hadn’t’ had enough of bus tours so I hopped on one to Galway, where I sat to type this at a little restaurant overlooking Eyre Square or Kennedy Park, renamed after a visit and in honor of the President).

I hopped back on the train last night, slept here in Dublin, and am looking forward to spending the day with Jenna.

Next up is Malaga, Spain. I depart Thursday morning and will be there almost a week.

For those of you who don’t like long detailed updates, I’m really sorry. I would like to write more often but I don’t like peering up over my computer screen when there is so much that is so amazing surrounding me. I have absolutely loved hearing what’s going on at home with each of you, and I’m enjoying following your facebook updates (especially when I’m on the bus and it’s too bumpy to do anything with my laptop).

Here’s a quick glance of what’s ahead:
Southern Coast of Spain, March 26-April 1
Glasgow, April 1-3
London to meet Brad, night of April 3
Paris, April 4-10
Geneva, April 10-12
Italy (Milan, Florence, Rome, Assisi, Venice), April 13-21
London, April 22-25
Glasgow, April 26-May 1

Return to Anchorage May 7.
I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, tell me what’s new with you and what are you looking most forward to this summer?