I just relived a great trip! I found in my diary our final cousins trip. For several years Ruth and I joined her cousins to travel. We went many places together, but then Judy died. Ruth is an only child. Judy was her closest cousin, almost a sister; and this was an unexpected death. It shattered Ruth, but we had the comfort of learning from Judy’s husband Bob that Judy considered this trip one of the best of her lifetime and looked forward to repeating it, including Butchart Gardens.
Now we can’t, so the memory is treasured. It WAS a special trip. Only Judy of Ruth’s five 1st cousins attended this time. Judy and Bob flew to Vancouver from Missouri, and Ruth & I drove up to Vancouver International from Washington to meet them. Several flights had arrived at the same time, so it was a long time before they appeared. We went immediately to our hotel in downtown Vancouver to check in. It was no ordinary hotel. Ruth had found a deal on Groupon to stay at the Century Plaza on Burrard Street for a very reduced price. The Century Plaza was exquisite, and we had adjoining rooms that guests stepped down into on a high floor with spectacular views of Vancouver and its harbor. This was the beginning of an unusually fine week that included Whistler, Victoria, Nanaimo and a town named Richmond. This Richmond, which is about to become the largest Richmond in the world, has been part of my “Towns Named” series.
Another great accommodation was in Stockholm, Sweden. We got into a total mess because the hotel we had booked was not nice and in a noisy neighborhood. After one night there I asked if this hotel had a partner. It did. The desk person called and found us a room. It was a far better hotel and location. One really special aspect of staying there was that it was close to the only laundromat in Stockholm, and we had spent the summer in Scandinavia and really needed to do laundry. We headed there with several bags of grimy clothing and our room key. After completing our task, we headed back to the hotel and got lost. The room key did not give us either the name or location of the newly booked hotel. How we found our way back to it with heavy laundry is a tale for another time.
Earlier on the same trip we took the Oslo to Bergen train over the Hardangervidda Plateau and I wrote an article about it for the Society of International Railway Travelers that was published. This was an especially memorable train journey that left Oslo at 3:20 pm and arrived in Bergen about midnight. We had light all the way there because of the time of year. The scenery was into the midnight sun and we went through almost 200 tunnels while achieving a very high elevation. This train was especially difficult to build and must be a nightmare to maintain. As we disembarked in Bergen and walked the 6 blocks uphill to our hotel, I saw a man painting his house. I recall looking at my watch and noting the time. It was 12:30 am in a place where it rains on most days.
These were three great experiences with a life-lesson in the middle one. Trust me. You do not want to lose your way in Stockholm with piles of clean laundry.