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Monday, November 27, 2023

OUR TRIP TO NORTHERN IRELAND - we are here Monday to Thursday

We left our Paris apartment at 5 am Monday morning and flew on Easy Jet to Belfast. The flight was very nice - only half full - about 90 minutes. We each had 3 seats to ourselves - and stretched out to sleep. The cab to and from the airport cost more than the ticket - $99 round trip.

We were in our Fitzwilliams Hotel by about 9 am - we did go back one time zone. They let us right into the room early. It is a very nice hotel - right downtown in all the action. We had a very hearty lunch at The Harlem - what they think an American pub would be like. It was old old - the food good - a little too hearty for me. 

Temp is only in the 40s - what does one expect for Europe in November! Sky was clear - but a little blustery. City Hall has a big museum on the main floor - we spent over and hour touring that. No charge. Then we did the Christmas Village Shopping which is right around the city hall. We didn’t buy anything but that does not stop Nancy. We are back in our hotel resting up for a second run. 

Tomorrow we are taking the train to Londonderry/Derry. It is on the other side of the country facing Ireland directly. This is where much of the Catholic/Protestant feud went on for 30 years. They are in a truce now called the Agreement for 20 years. Still Catholics and Protestants - do not mix a whole lot. Catholics are generally working class - Protestants were/are management - just like back home in the Coal Regions. Protestants go to public schools - 95% of Catholics still go to Sister Schools. They call it voluntary apartheid. 

We will take a black cab tour of Derry (Catholics call it Derry - Protestants call it Londonderry) the Netflix series - Derry Girls was filmed here. It is about 5 kids going to sister school in Derry - during The Troubles. They would sneak out and date Protestant boys. It reminds me of the school in Tamaqua in the 50s and 60s. I went to the public school in town and across the street was Saint Jerome’s School. For those 6 years - I never went into the sister school - but I had a lot of friends that went there - and we played together after 3 pm - until the street lights came on. I was on Lehigh Street - next to us was Gay Street - that was full of kids that went to Saint Jerome’s school. 

We will be here until Thursday - and all we brought is a backpack. That includes Nancy’s computer. She has classes Wednesday night from 6 to 10 - but it will be 11pm to 3 am here. She teaches on the computer - live! She has her work cut out for her. 

Belfast’s where the Titanic was built - it was the biggest shipyard in the world then. The shipyard is there and there is a big Titanic Museum - we will attend - probably Wednesday or Thursday. 5 pm Thursday we fly back to Paris. Se have 3 days in Paris - then 5 days in London - then we fly home from there. Dec 7. I like that we fly home all during the day. I cannot sleep on day seats - I wear a CPAP machine to sleep - and I do not want to look like I am a lung cancer patient! So in daytime - I can stay up. I have lost a little weight - and it helps my boney butt form not getting sore. 

The flight from Atlanta to Paris was full every seat. The seats were packed pretty tight. I envy those folks that travel in business class with beds. Our buddy Joan does that. 

We have no other long trips scheduled until spring. But that can change quickly. 

On Sunday I enjoyed the Paris Auto Auction. They auction off a beautiful 1990 Citroen 2CV - the car I covet. Lulu said I could bid - but I got cold feet. When I was young I wanted stuff so badly - but could not afford it. Not that I am 75 - I can afford it - but I do not need to own it. The only thing I have kept 52 years is Lulu. It is hard to find things in our home we have near that long. The car of my dreams was auctioned off for 18,500 euros. Some cars went for over $1 million. Many were in the $100,000 range. Some bike lots went for under $1000. It would have cost me $3000 for shipping and taxes to get it home. The car was 33 years old - one family owner - garage kept - only 17,000 miles - recent restore and paint. But you really must check - all bids finals - no refunds - there was a period when they would start it up for you. I visited the car 2 days earlier. It was just a short 2 euro bus ride from Keith’s apartment. 

On Sunday - the Everhart 6 - took the TGV train to Strasbourg. They have the biggest xmas shopping village in Europe. Lulu loved it. It was cold for me. The kids functioned the day - 12 hours - walking - no strollers - no carrying. The train was 300 miles each way - 2 hours each way - very fast - very smooth. That is the way to go in Europe. Last year for xmas we came over - and spent a week in Malaga - south of Spain. It was much warmer than Belfast. :-)

We check our home a pool by camera every day. Everything looks good. We had rain today in Tallahassee. The pools full to the brim. The cover stays on - filter is on - heat is off. It looks good. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

I owned a car like this in 1968-1969

This is an MGA - the car between the MG-TF and the MG B. It has a beautiful streamlined body. I bought a used one in 1968 - this color. Mine had a white top and disk wheels - not wire wheels. You did remove the wheels with a knock-off hammer. It had a 4 cylinder engine - and 4 speed transmission. You were able to hand crank the car if your battery was dead. 

Mine had a special twin overhead cam engine. It was way above my knowledge and pay grade when it came to repairing it. After I burned a hole in a piston - and had  it repaired - I quickly sold it to the next dreamer. I was stopped in it by the state police for not having an outside rear view mirror. 

I always loved small foreign cars. I am typing this today in our Paris apartment. It is sunny and cold outside - plenty of scooters and bikes are driving by my window - but not many convertibles. 

It was as close to a AC Shelby Cobra that I could afford. I paid $600 for it used - about 7 years old. At that time a brand new Cobra cost $6500 - that same Cobra car today can be purchased at auction for over $1 million. Guess who made the wrong choice. 


Ou est La Bibliotek?

The main reading room of the 
French National Library


Where is the library? I studied French for 2 years in high school. Then to get my teaching certificate - I tried again for 4 years at Kutztown State College. I was a horrible student. All I learned to say was - where is the library.

Yesterday Lulu and I visited BNF - Bibliotek National Francais. Think Library of Congress - but all the books are written in French. What a lovely building and contents. We even had lunch there. There is a separate museum upstairs for 10 euros - but I encourage everyone to just come to enjoy the library downstairs for free. 

Some ceilings in the library museum

The library catalogs more 
than books

Every seat was filled - 
many just using internet

Outside we have palm trees -
at 49 degrees north latitude. 

Wherever we go - Egypt - Australia - Japan - China - Brazil - Berlin - London - we always seem to end up at the library. Civilization all over the world has one commonality - the respect of storing important information. It is an oasis of common community. People enjoying learning stuff. 

We are here to mainly visit my son and his family. They have lived and worked here for 5 years. They live downtown near the Eiffel Tower. They have a beautiful apartment with a spare bedroom and bath - that is where we fit in. We stick around for about a week - then we travel somewhere else in Europe for a week - finally we spend the last week in London - before we go home. This usually includes a train that goes under the English Channel. 

My main interest is transportation. I love cars - trucks - buses - motorcycles - scooters - bikes - and trikes.  Throw in an electric motor and battery - and I am glued to it. They purposefully price gasoline high ($8 a gallon) with taxes in Europe - so companies design tiny cars - ever since World War II. For years I have been threatening to bring one home with me.  At home we have 2 cars in a 3 car garage.