Twelve years ago I took my four kids on a tour of Europe – nine weeks covering 14 countries. Ben was 19, Lainie 17, Gabe 13 and Leo only 2. Leo was an awesome traveler, but he doesn’t remember anything beyond an encounter with a giant parrot in Greece. Today I began part two: a second Europe tour so that Leo, now 14, will have his own memories of European adventures.
Gabe is joining us and Lainie is already in France, walking a pilgrimage. Ben and his wife Andrea stayed home. We launched this adventure from Vancouver, B.C. Ben, now 31, drove Leo, Gabe and I to the airport. We flew to Toronto to Halifax to Glasgow. I’ve always thought that problems on a trip create the most interesting memories, so we started our day in Glasgow with plenty to remember. I rented a car, which I did the last time, so I knew I could handle driving on the other (wrong) side of the road. The trouble came with the stick shift. I learned to drive on a stick, but navigating it with my left hand, keeping on the left and trying to figure out where to drive was too much. Within five minutes, smoke began pouring out of the boot (hood). We pulled over in Paisley – home of the lovely design – and the locals soon came to help. It seems we speak a foreign language, as it took several tries on both sides to interpret our conversation, but in the end they loaned us a phone and gave us much comfort in our trial. The repair man took me for a spin to watch me drive and recommended (strongly) that I swap for an automatic. I did. And yes, I burned the clutch.
Our first home is a castle-like youth hostel, and our room is in the top of the turret. I booked this before we left and got my full reward: the “aahs” the boys exclaimed when we first viewed the hostel. We wandered Glasgow and especially loved the Necropolis, City of the Dead. It’s a Victorian-era graveyard filled with massive tombs and fallen stones. We lunched at a pub, stopped by a Gothic cathedral and dipped into the city long enough to hear bagpipes and buy cheese and croissants for our next meals.