Early Travel Plans

ImageSo my original thoughts about this summer’s travel was to take Eurail all over Western Europe, planning much of the trip but also using the flexibility of a Europass. That is until I remembered that I’m 52 not 22!! In my planning, I happened upon a site called Slowtravel.com. They advocate staying at least a week in one place, in a vacation rental rather than a hotel, and really getting a feel for the people and the place. I like the sound of that.

So now my plan has evolved to 2-3 weeks in Paris, Rome, and maybe London or Ireland. That’s 2-3 weeks in each (I’m fortunate to have 10-11 weeks vacation every summer)! I may need to whittle this down somewhat. But I deliberately want to begin with the ULTIMATE plan!!

Melrose Abbey

ImageThis Abbey was gorgeous on a rainy day in St. Andrew’s in Scotland. This is also from my first trip to Europe in 2004. After the tour of the abbey, we got to wander on our own for a couple hours. I got really turned around as I walked (hobbled–remember the plantar fasciitis) around the town–saw some neighborhoods I wouldn’t have otherwise, and even got mistaken for a local (someone actually asked ME for directions)!

Bath Abbey

A perfect view of Bath Abbey! This is from my first trip to Europe in 2004. Visiting Bath was one of my favorite days. I was suffering from plantar fasciitis at the time; sadly, drinking the spa water did not lesson the pain!

Back Home!

Back Home!
Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, CA

Did I ever explain that Linda and I flew to London–separately? I flew from Monterey, Linda from Sacramento. It really worked out well–first because we flew from our own homes, second because some of the most stressful parts of traveling together can be the flights!!

I almost missed my plane from Monterey to London, back on May 12th! I thought since the Monterey airport is so small that I didn’t need to get there too early–but apparently, 20 minutes early isn’t quite enough!! The clerk at the check-in desk almost didn’t let me go through the line–she said there wasn’t time and that the next flight was the next day…! I pretty much had an anxiety attack about Linda being on her own in London!!

After I pleaded (is there ANYTHING you can do to help me?!), she let me through but said I wouldn’t be able to check my luggage and that they may tell me at the plane that it was too big to carry on.

So I got through the security check (thankfully, my liquids were all in small containers!) and then waited for them to announce that it was time to board. And waited, and waited. Sure enough, as I’m (finally) wheeling my full-size suitcase out on the tarmac and up to the base of the stairs to the small plane (this IS Monterey!), I’m told that my suitcase will have to be checked. So they checked it. Right then. And I got on the plane. Brother.

But this should be about the return flight! Different flights, so different boarding times, of course. I had to leave earlier then Linda. We had booked a shuttle to Heathrow and didn’t need to ride out at the same time. I remember seeing from the shuttle, on that early Sunday morning, all of the walk for a cure people along the London streets, many dressed in pink bras!!

It was a wonderful vacation–one of my favorite with Linda! She was so appreciative of all of the planning that I had done. It was fun to create the daily itineraries and research the activities for us to do. I’m sure at least some of my love for travel comes from my traveling aunt Linda!

Last day in London :(

Last day in London 😦
London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom

We had a lot to pack into our last day in London. We hadn’t been inside the Tower of London yet, and we both really wanted to see the London Zoo. Wouldn’t you know it, this is the day (the last day of our vacation) that I lost my camera with all of my photos…

We headed over to the Tower of London first thing that morning. The lines were short; I remember there was actually security (purses were checked) going in. We quickly joined a Yeoman Warder tour, hearing about the story of the two little Princes in the tower (most likely victims of a royal power struggle in the late 15th century), the day in the life of a Yeoman Warder (don’t call them Beefeaters!), the six ravens with permanent homes at the Tower (the legend is that the Kingdom will fall if the ravens leave the Tower!), and finally the Crown Jewels.

From the Tower of London, we walked the short distance to the Tower Bridge. Frankly, we just went to the Tower Bridge Exhibition because it was included in our London Pass. I liked it a lot! You take the elevator up to the top of the bridge where there are a couple short movies and various displays about the building of the Bridge. The best part, however, were the stunning views of the city of London from the Walkways.

The idea was to take the bus to the zoo and to walk along the canals nearby, maybe do some shopping and definitely have lunch. The bus ride turned out to be fairly long and through some less savory parts of London! I may be biased about that, though, since it was on the bus that I later left (and lost) my camera.

Even before that disappointment, neither one of us were impressed with this zoo. The highlight was probably the gorillas. There were a lot of birds and farm-type animals! And the large size of the zoo (and the walking required!) didn’t seem to match the amount of animals to see. We walked a little bit along the canal near by then took the (fateful) bus ride back to the hotel (actually, it dropped us off near Westminster then we walked across the Thames back to our hotel).

Insights, 5 years later:

I remember Linda felt so bad for me that I lost the camera, but especially all of my pictures of the trip. It was definitely my own fault–I think it fell out of my pocket when I reached in and pulled something else out, but didn’t realize it of course. We talked about how I could contact the bus company and see if anyone turned in a camera and just ask them to mail the memory card to me. We were leaving early the next day and the bus company certainly wouldn’t be open again until after we were gone. I think we were both just trying to reassure the other that this wasn’t anything that would ruin the trip for either one of us!