We’re just slightly crazy. I mean we’re not “Let’s see 18 countries in 21 days crazy,” but we’re still a little crazy.
Take today for example. We wake up in the beautiful Cathedral city of York. It’s our third hotel/Airbnb in as many days.
As usual, I wake up early and decide to go take a few photographs of the city before the tourist buses come rolling in.
Mass tourism. It’s not for everyone. Am I right?
York has gone all-in on associating itself with Harry Potter. Its medieval street named “The Shambles” with its overhanging timber framed buildings provides the closest thing to Diagon Alley that tourists could imagine. Harry Potter-theme shops now are resident for those who want to buy their wands from someplace other than Ollivanders in Universal Studios theme park.
But this morning, it’s just me. Well, me and the cleaners pressure-washing the streets. I do my best to work around the men to get a few photos and head back to the Airbnb to get everybody out the door for breakfast.
We decide on the “Brew and Brownie,” which has an amazing selection of freshly baked items and traditional English and American breakfasts, including – I’m happy to report – delicious pancakes with real maple syrup. As my family will tell you, I’m a complete snob when it comes to pancakes. Mainly because I’ve yet to eat a restaurant-made pancake that is good as mine. Cocky? Yep. I could Beat Bobby Flay when it comes to making pancakes.
Clearly in need of walk after our belly-filling breakfast, we head over to York Minster, the city’s cathedral. I had been there once before, many many years ago when I was a student the University of Kent at Canterbury. It’s wonderful to revisit this magnificent house of worship with its elegant Gothic arches, meticulously carved quire and a Chapter House that is a fitting setting for a Game of Thrones episode. Gargoyles – some funny, some terrifying – adorn the tops of the stalls. One of them is munching on a man’s face… talk about hellfire and brimstone theology!
Guess what time it is? Time to pack up our luggage, jump in the car and head to the other side of Yorkshire for – you guessed it – ANOTHER MEAL! It is vacation, after all.
This afternoon, we’re engaging in a post-wedding celebration with Ghazal’s family at a local Persian restaurant in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. I’m clearly reliving “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with a Persian twist. Iranian aunts, uncles, cousins from England, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States are reunited. English is the primary language, with a lot of Farsi thrown in.
There’s a lot of laughter, good natured kidding and warmth for the newly married couple.
Ghazal’s mother Suny – whose name reflects her personality perfectly – is the perfect hostess. As the waiters bring platter after platter of lamb and chicken and rice, she ensures that your plate is always full. Even after three helpings, Suny is there asking why you’re not eating. Why would I ever want to upset our hosts?
Ghazal’s father Daryoush offers a toast to Pierce and Ghazal, and after a couple of hundred hugs and selfies, we start on a new adventure.
Pierce, Ghazal, their little dog Marley – along with Garrett, Grainne and I squeeze in the car with all of our luggage and start off for a four-hour drive to Edinburgh. There’s still a lot to do on this vacation.
As I said, we are a little crazy.