Letters from the United Kingdom

I have just recently returned from a nine-day tour of Ireland, Wales and England. What follows are excerpts from my emails to my husband in South Dakota about my travels.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hi Brian -

Most of our tour group did not sleep on the seven-hour overnight flight from Chicago.

We are in Dublin today through Thursday morning. Tomorrow we will tour the Irish countryside. You would love the architecture here – it is very ornate and somewhat exotic.

Ireland is very small and the Dublin urban area has only about 1.75 million people. The total population of Ireland is right around 3.8 million.

Even with all these people, there's not as much traffic as there is in Los Angeles, Chicago or San Diego. That's because there are strict rules on carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels. High taxes are placed on driving larger vehicles and it's just plain easier getting around on mass transit, bicycles or on foot. Consequently, everyone appears fit.

Trinity College is amazing and ancient with cobblestone courtyards. We visited one of the university's four libraries called the Long Room, which literally is a very long room with at least 50-foot ceilings and 200,000 books.

We are staying in a quaint hotel outside of Dublin proper. The countryside in this part of Ireland reminds me a lot of Southern California. In town, there are many flowering chestnut trees. Everyone is very nice and helpful.

On Thursday morning, we will depart Ireland and travel across the Irish Sea on the Ulysses, which is the largest seafaring ferry boat in the world. We will be in Wales for a day or so and then will make our way by tour bus, or "coach" as buses are called here, down to London for the rest of our stay.

Hope you are having a good week. If everything goes well and the flights are not canceled due to volcanic ash, I will be home on May 26. I love and miss you very much.
XOXOX,
Paula
 
Saturday, May 22, 2010
 
My dear sweet Brian,

Glad to hear the puppies are doing well. Please give each one an extra long hug for me. I miss you very much.

We are in London, which has a population of about seven million. There are people everywhere! Riding the above ground light rail and the subway in London takes getting used to!

Did you know that health care is totally free in the U.K. and so is a college education if you pass the entrance exam and qualify financially.

In London, people seem to dress more formally than we do in the states. Male office workers wear suits and ties, women are attired in skirts and dresses.

London is very international with over 300 languages. English seems to be a second language because I hear very little of it here. Traveling internationally is quite easy. It is not very different from air travel to New York or California, except for having to go through Customs. There's so much to see and do and life is so short.

Take good care. My prayers are with you. More later…
 
XOXOXO,
Paula

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place statewide. To contact Paula, email pauladamon@iw.net, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook.
2010© Paula Damon

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