I don't know much about Belfast except for hearing reports about violence in the city, so I was just a little uneasy walking around. The thought occurred to me, "What if I'm here and there's a car bomb?" Fortunately, that didn't happen. Unfortunately that same day there was a bombing in Oslo.
I did stop in a bank to see about converting more of my dollars to Euros and Pounds. Although they had a service charge, it was a better exchange than on the ship and they were happy to help.
We tendered into the port of South Queensferry. It was another day with rain coming on and off. There was a bus (sponsored by the ship???) to take us into Edinburgh. A round-trip ticket was $10 (US). There was also a train station, but it was up a VERY steep hill--quite a climb. In Edinburgh I just wandered around. I really didn't want to pay to see another castle, so I just went to the front and from there headed down the street known as the Royal Mile. I took my time and purchased a couple of items. Plenty of shops had booklets about the different clans and many items in the tartan plaids. I picked up a tie for one son and a Celtic knot necklace for another.
One of the things I found interesting were the number of Scottie dogs I saw. I'm not surprised that I saw some, but was surprised at how many of the dogs I saw were Scotties. It's definitely the national breed.
Once I made it to the bottom of the Royal Mile, I had to turn around and climb back up. I had to ask for directions, and came up part of the way on Princes Street. Whereas the Royal Mile is ancient, Princes Street is very modern. From there you could access the Edinburgh Castle Gardens. I didn't go down to them, because I was hurrying to get back to the bus, but they were pretty.
One of the best things about Edinburgh (and all of Scotland) were the lovely accents.
One thing I saw made me sort of laugh. We were there on a Sunday morning, and so very few shops were actually open. I came across a line of people waiting for a store to open. There were probably 30 people or more there. It got me excited. With all of the fabulous stores on this street (Cartier, Swarovski, Chanel) I couldn't imagine what would be great enough to have the Parisians lining up in the rain. I spoke to one lady standing in line who I thought might speak English. She did speak a little and told me excitedly, "Oh, we're waiting for Abercrombie and Fitch to open. It's a very famous store." How ironic, I thought. There is an A&F outlet less than 30 minutes from my house!
We then went to the Eiffel Tower. Terri had recommended we buy our tickets ahead of time using the Internet. That was a very wise move. We had tickets to the summit for noon. People who had not pre-purchased their tickets waited in line for a long time. I believe it was well over an hour. We still had to wait our turn for an available elevator. The first elevator took us to the second level where we had to leave, climb a flight of stairs and then get on another elevator. It's a LONG way up! But, oh how worth it. Someone told me that on an ordinary day the smog reduces visibility. However, it was overcast for us, which kept away the smog, so we had a great view. On the top level there was a person selling champagne. After looking around all we wanted, we headed back down and by about 1pm we were on our way to the next stop.
Our driver took us near Notre Dame. We had about an hour and a half to explore. I walked to the plaza of the Cathedral, but didn't go inside as there was a long line. What I enjoyed more, though, was wandering around in the little streets and alleys nearby. There were some stores, but mainly there were restaurants. Most opened on to the narrow streets and had seating outside. Most offered Prix Fixe meals. For 10 Euros ($14)I had a bowl of French Onion soup, Boeuf Bourguignon and chocolate mousse. The soup was good and the flavor of the beef was superb!
I found one shop that I wish I could return to. They had silk scarves for sale for 2 Euros each (basically $3). I bought one and now could kick myself. They were beautiful and very good quality and I wish I'd bought 10 or more.
We finally met up with the driver who returned us to Le Havre well before the ship sailed. The whole trip cost the 6 of us 595 Euros, or about 99 Euros each (roughly equivalent to $140). It's the same price the ship charged to take you on a bus and drop you off for a couple of hours to explore Paris on your own. We traveled faster so we had more time to spend there, and had someone to take us from place to place. I didn't make the arrangements with this driver, or I'd pass on his contact information.
Paris is not what I expected, but I loved it and hope to go back someday.
It was neat being in Liverpool because of the Beatles connection. I suppose people who are really into that would rate this port higher. But all I did was take the HOHO bus around town (twice). It cost about 7 pounds.
Barbie and Eddie walked to the Cavern, which is where the Beatles played in the early days. They really enjoyed that. They also enjoyed a pint (or two) of Guinness.