“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness….it was the season of light; it was the season of darkness…”
I thought about this Charles Dickens quote from the “Tale of Two Cities” when reflecting on my accomplishments and disappointments in 2016. I started the year complaining on the road with fans from the Orange Bowl. I checked everything but the traffic when planning my road trip. Thanks to that mishap I now look at the traffic on Florida 511 and Florida events when traveling.
A beautiful view of Madrid at Parque de la Montana.
The following month I traveled to London and Madrid. In Madrid, I was spellbound at the monuments at Parque del Retiro. I saw “Guernica” by Picasso at the Museo Reina Sofia. I visited The Museo Nacional del Prado home to paintings by European Masters like Durer, El Greco, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, etc. My favorite painting were “Las Meninas” by Diego Velazquez and “Adam and Eve” by Albretch Durer.
Museo Nacional del Prado.
After Madrid I flew to London. In London, we stayed a block away from Buckingham Palace at the Nadler Hotel. We watched the changing of the guards several times.
The gallantry of the Changing of the Guards.
We walked to West Minister and saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and worshipped at West Minister Abbey.
Big Ben with a view of the London Eye.
The next day we rode the Tube to Trinity Buoy Wharf where I sketched a lightship and a lighthouse. Somewhere along the way, I went to the Tate Museum and saw the paintings JMW Turner bequeath to the people of London.
Self portrait of JMW Turner.
My daughter wanted to stroll down her childhood memory lane so we visited the London Bridge. She was disappointed but satisfied that she had actually seen it.
A view of London Bridge.
We ended our stay with a look at the Tower Bridge and The Tower Castle.
The Tower Bridge of London.
A few days after I returned from Europe, I had a kidney stone. The only relief was that I didn’t get sick while traveling overseas. That would have been a bigger pain than the kidney stone.
Sunset at Blackhead Lighthouse, Northern Ireland.
After the kidney stone, I felt a sense of urgency and decided to book a lighthouse trip to Ireland instead of waiting next year. During the summer, I visited The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland where I stayed at Blackhead Lighthouse. I had an oceanfront room with a fireplace for two nights. That alone was worth the cost of the trip. We saw over 24 lighthouses in the course of 8 days. It was an amazing trip.
As I look at my disappointments in 2016, I realize that I wouldn’t have accomplished much without them. I actually better prepare for my trips, drink more water, take advantage of more opportunities and have gratitude for the little things in my life. Without the darkness, we can not relish the light.