From Madrid we flew to London, where Lili used to live. Then we met Bastiaan in Amsterdam, and on to Den Bosch. We visited Irene on our way to Prague, where we met Patricia for a trek to Rome. We stopped in Venice. In Florence we rented a car and toured Tuscany. In Rome we visited Davide. When Patricia flew home, we took a train to Geneva to visit Mariano. Then Portugal. Then Morocco.
This is the best way to see Europe, visiting friends on a "couch tour." It is less expensive and more interesting. (The way to make European friends is by backpacking elsewhere.) We stay in hotels only in places like Venice, a city that really lived up to the hype. I'm glad we got to see it before it gets consumed by rising seas. Speaking of cities threatened by global warming, it was nice to see Amsterdam again, a beautiful place.
Speaking of global warming, I was happy to see Al Gore win the Nobel Peace Prize in support of climate-change Science. Everyone should see his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Speaking of Science, the majority of humanity doesn't understand how it works. Organized religions have been undercutting Science for centuries, because if the fact of evolution is true then the Adam and Eve myth is not true, and thus the Bible and the Koran are not the word of God. The Pope's lair, Vatican City, is a great example of the vast power that Science directly threatens with inconvenient truths. So false controversies are created and misinformation is spread, both against evolution (by churches) and against climate change (by polluting industries). I was happy to see the Nobel Peace Prize given to promote Science. Religion has proven itself incapable of solving the Earth's urgent problems, but Science has a fighting chance. That is not to say that Science knows everything. It doesn't. But some things we do know, like gravity, chemistry, and evolution. To put it another way: you wouldn't be reading this if the Scientific Method didn't work.