The first reference to Douglas shows him as a biochemist living in Balham. Balham is a neighbourhood of south London.
When they start their grand tour, the first stop is Paris. In Paris they visit the Louvre, the Gardes of Luxembourg, and the Musee D’Orsay.
After that, they go to Amsterdam. The train travels through Brussels, and Douglas talk about the Ardennes where her grandfather died during the war. The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges formed by the geological features of the Ardennes mountain range and the Moselle and Meuse River basins. Primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into Germany and France , and geologically into the Eifel, most of the Ardennes proper consists of southeastern Wallonia, the southern and more rural part of the Kingdom of Belgium.
The next stop is Amsterdam.
First, they go to the Rijksmuseum, and Douglas is taken by Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. He mentions the female figure in the painting, and Connie explains that it is Saskia, Rembrandt’s wife.
Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, but commonly referred to as The Night Watch , is a 1642 painting by Rembrandt van Rijn. It is in the collection of the Amsterdam Museum but is prominently displayed in the Rijksmuseum as the best known painting in its collection. The Night Watch is one of the most famous Dutch Golden Age paintings.
Kat finds them in Amsterdam and suggests they go to a coffee house, and only Albie and Connie are game. In this part they mention words that were new to me. One of them is bud-tender, who is a recreational or medical cannabis dispensary worker who sells and is knowledgeable about various marijuana products.
Douglas mentions having a massive whitey when he once smoked cannabis. A whitey is an undesirable reaction to smoking cannabis common amongst lightweights and first-time tokers. Symptoms include dizziness, clammy skin, nausea and vomiting.
Douglas goes to Rembrandt House Museum. Painter Rembrandt lived and worked in the house between 1639 and 1656. The 17th-century interior has been reconstructed. The collection contains Rembrandt’s etchings and paintings of his contemporaries.
He also has a weird incident in the red light district. De Wallen is the largest and best known red-light district in Amsterdam. It consists of a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights.
He also visits the Van Gogh Museum.
In Munich which Douglas and Connie visit briefly as they are too upset about Albie leaving, Douglas mentions seeing Bruegel’s paintings. Pieter Bruegel (also Brueghel) the Elder ( c. 1525-1530 – 9 September 1569) was the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, a painter and printmaker from Brabant, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so called genre painting); he was a pioneer in making both types of subject the focus in large paintings.
Their hotel is near Virtualienmarkt. The Viktualienmarkt is a daily food market and a square in the center of Munich.
When Connie leaves for England and Douglas stays to find Albie, he travels to Verona for a short visit. He sees the Roman amphitheatre, the Torre dei Lamberti, the market on the Piazza dei Lamberti, Piazza dei Signori, and Juliet’s balcony and her statue.
- Roman amphitheatre
- The Torre dei Lamberti, which is the tallest tower in Verona.
- The market on the Piazza dei Lamberti
- Piazza dei Signori
- Juliet’s balcony, which Douglas is disappointed in since it is a modern one.
In Venice he visits many places as he tries to find Albie.
- Castello, the largest of the six quarters in Venice.
- Cannaregio is the northernmost of the six historic sestieri (districts).
- Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge across the canal.
- St Mark’s Square
- Accademia Bridge
- Grand Canal
- Campo Santa Margherita
- La Salute. Santa Maria della Salute, commonly known simply as the Salute, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica
- Campo San Barnaba is a campo (square) in the Dorsoduro sestiere
After Venice, Douglas stops briefly in Florence, and there he sees:
- The Duomo
- The Piazza della Signoria
- The Uffizi Gallery
- The Ponte Vecchio
Then he travels to Madrid to find Albie. His hotel is in Gran Via. Gran Vía is an ornate and upscale shopping street located in central Madrid. Today the street is known as the Spanish Broadway, and it is one of the streets with the most nightlife in Europe.
Douglas is to meet his son at El Prado Museum. The Prado Museum is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It is widely considered to have one of the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and the single best collection of Spanish art.
In El Prado Museum Douglas loves seeing Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. The Garden of Earthly Delights is the modern title given to a triptych painted by the Northern European Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939. It dates from between 1490 and 1510, when Bosch was between about 40 and 60 years old, and is his best-known and most ambitious surviving work.
Another painting that draws his attention is Velazquez’s Meninas. Las Meninas(Spanish for The Ladies-in-Waiting) is a 1656 painting in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age.
Then he sees Goya’s black paintings, and is shocked when he sees “Saturn Devouring his Son.” The Black Paintings is the name given to a group of fourteen paintings by Francisco Goya from the later years of his life, likely between 1819 and 1823. They portray intense, haunting themes, reflective of both his fear of insanity and his bleak outlook on humanity.
After the Prado Museum and talking at length, Douglas and Albie see Picasso’s Guernica in Museum Reina Sofia. Guernica is a mural-sized oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso completed in June 1937, at his home on Rue des Grands Augustins, in Paris. The painting, which uses a palette of gray, black, and white, is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.
The last night they spend in Madrid they go to Chueca to have dinner. Chueca is a district named after a square sited in the central Madrid neighbourhood of Justicia. Chueca is very lively, with many street cafes and boutique shops. The neighbourhood has become a popular area for Madrid’s gay community.
The city where the Grand Tour finishes is Barcelona. Albie and Douglas go to Barceloneta Beach where Douglas is stung by jellyfish. La Barceloneta is known for its sandy beach and its many restaurants and nightclubs along the boardwalk.
When he recovers from the heart attack and Connie travels to Barcelona, they visit places like…
- La Boqueria: The Mercado de San José de la Boquería, often simply referred to as La Boquería, is a large public market in the Ciudad Vieja district of Barcelona,
- Ramblas: La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona, popular with tourists and locals alike. A tree-lined pedestrian mall, it stretches for 1.2 kilometres connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.
- Raval: El Raval is a neighbourhood in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona. The area, especially the part closest to the port, was also informally known as Barri Xinès or Barrio Chino, meaning “Chinatown“. El Raval is one of the two historical neighborhoods that border La Rambla, the other being the Barri Gòtic, and contains some 50,000 people.
- The Gothic Quarter: The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona.
- The Joan Miró Foundation: The Fundació Joan Miró, Centre d’Estudis d’Art Contemporani is a museum of modern art honouring Joan Miró located on the hill called Montjuïc in Barcelona.