England, France, and Sweden 1985

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Note: This travelog was written in 2013, so many details have long been forgotten since I (Debbie) took the trip. I was living in Minnesota at the time and working for Intran.

Friday, May 10, 1985: I arrived at Gatwick Airport at 7:25 AM and was met by my aunt Carol, who was serving in the Air Force and stationed in the UK. We had brunch at the airport at the Gatwick Hilton before taking the train into London and checking into the Regency Hotel, a small hotel tucked into a row of buildings that looked exactly like this.
This was my first overseas trip so I was new to overnight flights. So, we did a little napping in our hotel room before going for a walk in Kensington. Yeah, that's a Ferrari.
We had dinner at the Zetland Arms, shown here in someone else's much more recent photo, then headed back to the hotel. Carol ordered coffee from the bar fairly regularly, because they were served with delicious cookies.

Saturday, May 11, 1985: After sleeping in quite late and having breakfast in the hotel, we started a big day of walking by strolling through Kensington Gardens. Here's the Albert Memorial, ...
... and here are some of the gardens, ...
... and here's the map of the park. On the left side of the map are the Gardens, ...
... but when you cross the Serpentine Bridge, you leave the Gardens behind, ...
... cross over the Serpentine, ...
... and end up in Hyde Park.
At the end of the Serpentine, this fountain marks the edge of ...
... the Italian Gardens.
Each of the five pools in the Italian Garden has its own fountain.
This chalk art was located on the sidewalk in front of ...
... the Marble Arch. We spent the next several hours shopping our way down Oxford Street and Regent Street. With the British pound being very weak against the US dollar, I got great deals on sweaters, skirts, nylons, and accessories. We also stopped at a hair salon and got haircuts, and had a very late lunch at McDonald's at Piccadilly Circus before heading back to the hotel for an evening of television and takeout pizza. For no apparent reason, there are no photos of any of the shopping or of Piccadilly Circus. Must have been due to exhaustion from carrying all of those shopping bags.

Sunday, May 12, 1985: We did a lot of travelling via the London Underground this day, so we bought a day pass for the Tube. We headed to Petticoat Lane in the morning for a bunch of shopping, including more clothes for me and a warm wool coat for the chilly weather. We returned to the hotel for naps and lunch before heading out again for the late afternoon, starting with some sightseeing along the Thames. That obelisk is Cleopatra's Needle and that is Waterloo Bridge next to it.
If that's Waterloo Bridge, then the Savoy must be right behind us. Tom and I stayed at the Savoy when we visited in 2000.
A few blocks away from the Thames, we passed the oft-photographed Sherlock Holmes pub.
One block further and we were facing Trafalgar Square on one side, ...
... and the Admiralty Arch leading to the Mall slightly to the left.
But first, here I am posing in my new gray winter coat at Trafalgar Square.
Here's a closer view of the Admiralty Arch taken from the Mall.
The Mall leads to Buckingham Palace. Here are the pretty gardens surrounding ...
... the Victoria Memorial in front of the palace.
Here's part of the palace, safely protected behind beautiful gates and fences.
Yeah. How's that for a fancy gate?
By carefully holding the camera between the bars of the fence, you can almost believe you're in the no-man's-land between the teeming masses and imposing Buckingham Palace. There's the balcony where all the major royal events occur. In 1985 when this photo was taken, Princess Diana's sons were still tiny and she was still alive.
We strolled through St. James Park, which is right next to the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
We headed toward Big Ben and took a peek at No. 10 Downing Street ...
... and got a good look at Rodin's Burghers of Calais monument in front of Parliament. Cast in 1908, this is the fourth of 12 casts of this statue. The first, cast in 1895, stands in Calais, France, and we saw it thirty years later.

Monday, May 13, 1985: We had breakfast at the hotel before checking out and heading back to Gatwick Airport. Carol had booked a two-city package deal that involved three nights in London and four nights in Paris. After lunch at Shortstop Burgers in the airport, we had an early afternoon flight to Beauvais Airport outside of Paris. We rode a coach from the airport into the city where we checked into the Hotel Brittany, shown here in a recent photo. Terrified about interacting with the locals, we ate at the Italian restaurant across the street then returned to the hotel for drinks at the hotel bar.

Tuesday, May 14, 1985: We slept in late then walked to Place de l'Opéra to buy tickets for the "Modern Paris" tour. We had a baguette sandwich and Coca-Cola on the street for brunch before setting out on our tour in the early afternoon. We passed the Place de la Concorde, home of the Obelisk and and the two Fontaines de la Concorde.
We saw this ...
... and this.
Here's the Champs-Élysées ...
... and the Arc de Triomphe ...
... and the Eiffel Tower.
Here's the Esplanade du Trocadéro that faces the Tower.
We had a few minutes to get out and take photos of ourselves in front of the Eiffel Tower, so of course we did.
We stopped at Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre ...
... and had a few minutes to look around ...
... and enjoy the view of Paris.
We passed the famous Moulin Rouge as our tour wound down. After the tour, we ate McDonald's for a late lunch, I went clothes shopping alone, then we had dinner at Ristorante di Gina for the second night in a row.

Wednesday, May 15, 1985: We went shopping at Galeries Lafayette in the morning, then took a Bateaux-Mouches tour of the Seine in the afternoon.
Here's a bridge.
And here's one.
And another.
A fourth.
And fifth.
There's the Dôme des Invalides, ...
... and the Eiffel Tower once more.
Here's a replica of the Statue of Liberty standing smack in the middle of Paris. It is one of many scattered throughout the world. After our tour, we ended up at Ristorante di Gina for the third time.

Thursday, May 16, 1985: We took another tour in the morning, "Historic Paris," which departed, as they all did, from the front of the Paris Opera House.
Here's me in front of the Île de la Cité and Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Here's the cathedral up close.
And another view.
Here is Jardin des Grands Explorateurs, seen from Rue Michelet.
In 1985, Billy Idol was extremely relevant.
Here's a photo of the Galeries Lafayette that we should have taken the day before.
Ditto for this photo of the restaurant where we spent three of four dinners. The beautiful weather made it much more appealing to take photographs. However, on this evening, we ate at an outdoor bistro in classic Paris style. Later on, we went on an evening tour to two small cabarets, followed by a midnight show at the Lido.

Friday, May 17, 1985: Our tour over, we took a taxi to the train station, coach to the airport, plane to Gatwick, then I took the subway to Paddington Station, train to Bristol, and taxi to the Unicorn Hotel. I met my Intran colleague Cheryl at the hotel and we had a drink and took a walk around Bristol. There are no photos from this day so here's a scan of the hotel from the 1985 brochure.

Saturday, May 18, 1985: Cheryl and I were picked up by our business contact, Paul, for a day of work at the Rolls-Royce factory. Rolls-Royce used Intran's software to design their documentation, and I was there to make some changes to the software. Paul took us sightseeing during our lunch break.

We had lunch in the charming town of Almondsbury at the Bowl Inn, shown here in someone's recent photo.
Next, we drove to the Severn Bridge. That's Wales right across the water. Wales!
Cheryl and I got our photo taken with Wales in the background. In the afternoon, we got a tour of the Rolls-Royce facility and got to see a Harrier jet up close. We wrapped things up there at 6:00 PM and took the train back to London. We had sandwiches and warm Scottish beer on the train.
We checked into the Sheraton Skyline at Heathrow Airport and had a drink at the Patio Caribe, the hotel's indoor tropical-themed bar. This photo is from a postcard of the hotel, so do your best to picture this at night.

Sunday, May 19, 1985: After breakfast at the hotel, Cheryl took a flight to Oslo for more business and I resumed my vacation by taking the train north to Ispwich to stay with Carol in Felixstowe. Carol's flat was on the lower level and her landlord Florence lived on the first and second floors.

Monday, May 20 - Wednesday, May 22, 1985: For three days, we watched movies, ate fish and chips, shopped, hung out with Florence and her daughter Annette, and walked around Felixstowe.
We had one very sunny day that we spent walking along the Promenade. Here's a postcard I bought that day.
During this time, I was in contact by phone with my Swedish cousins Kristina and Eva, finalizing details for the next portion of the trip.

Thursday, May 23, 1985: Carol and I left Felixstowe at 5:00 AM and took the train to London. We met my dad, Bob, at Victoria Station, then checked him and Carol in at the Ariel Hotel near Heathrow Airport where the three of us had lunch. I flew to Sweden in the afternoon, arriving in Umeå at 7:30 PM, where it was snowing! My second cousin Kristina picked me up at the airport and we went out for pizza. We had been penpals since we were 11 years old, but this was our first time meeting, so we had lots to talk about.

Friday, May 24, 1985: We had breakfast and lunch at Kristina's apartment, and did a little shopping in Umeå.
This was my introduction to incredibly delicious Swedish sandwiches made with soft, round rolls, a little butter, a thin slice of mild cheese, and sliced ham. So tasty.
In the afternoon, Kristina's dad, Gunnar, arrived from Burträsk. The three of us picked up my dad from the Umeå airport and drove to Burträsk. There, we met Kristina's mother, Birgit, Kristina's brother, Hans, and his girlfriend, Susi.
We had a delicious dinner ("a real Swedish dinner") at Birgit and Gunnar's home, then went for a drive around Burträsk. We stopped for a photo opportunity in front of Burträsket (Burträsk Lake).
Burträsk is the village where my grandfather is from, and this house in Bodbysund-Brännan is where his family lived when he was a boy before emigrating to America. The rest of his family, including Kristina's grandfather, remained in Sweden.
Northern Sweden looks a lot like northern Minnesota, so it's no surprise that many Swedes ended up in Minnesota when they moved to the US.

Saturday, May 25, 1985: We started our day with breakfast at Birgit and Gunnar's home, where we had our first taste of filmjölk, a cross between sour milk and yogurt. It's definitely an acquired taste! Next, we did a little shopping in Burträsk and visited Susi's family's store. This photo of Burtrask is from a postcard. Birgit and Gunnar's home is near the middle left of this photo.
We met my grandfather's younger sister, Nanny, and her husband, Johan, and enjoyed some cookies at their home. Nanny and Sigurd were the last two remaining siblings in their family.
In the afternoon, we got dressed up to attend a wedding in Burträsk. Family friend Kåre joined us.
Kristina was always stylishly dressed, especially in the 80s.
Magnus and Gudrun's wedding was beautiful. It was the first wedding that my dad and I had seen where the bride and groom entered the church together instead of the bride being escorted by her father, so I copied the idea when I got married three years later. Yes, those are snowflakes in the picture even though it was the end of May.
The reception was held on the other side of Burträsk Lake. We had a very large, delicious buffet dinner, ...
... and did a lot of dancing. Hans taught me how to dance Swedish style, and the rest of the gentlemen in our group of friends each took their turn dancing with the clumsy American cousin. In this photo from left to right are: Mari, Jon, Leif, Kåre, Susi, Hans, Monika, and Kristina. It was light out until after 11:00 PM so we didn't feel tired at all dancing until 1:00 AM.

Sunday, May 26, 1985: It was our last day in Sweden and we had a little more sightseeing and visiting to do. This is the view looking toward the Burträsk church from the shoreline behind Birgit and Gunnar's property.
We packed our bags, ...
... said farewell to Hans and Susi, ...
... then visited the Burträsk church.
The wrought iron gate outside the church was created by Kristina's and my great-grandfather (Birgit's grandfather) in 1917.
His initials are engraved in the gate's bar and the year is incorporated into the design. Click here for a better photo taken by a distant relative that shows the initials.
Behind the church is a cemetery.
Here is my great-grandfather's family burial plot.
Here lie Birgit's father and mother, Einar and Tora. Einar and my grandfather were brothers.
We drove from Burträsk to Umeå where we met Eva and Karin for lunch at Sävargården restaurant. Their father, Sigvard, was my grandfather's fraternal twin brother.
From left to right: Gunnar, Kristina, Bob, Eva, Karin, and Birgit.
After lunch, my dad and I flew back to London where we spent the night at the Copthorne Hotel near Gatwick Airport. The next day, I flew home to St. Paul and my dad joined Carol and another aunt for a trip to Switzerland.

** THE END **

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