Friday, February 25, 2011

Planning a Trip

Leon and I getting ready to take a trip.  I can't believe we're doing this, but those sky mile points Leon's been collecting for years were going to start we are biting the bullet, so to speak and scraping up a few pounds to fly "across the pond" to London and the English countryside.

Our friends Dave and Al, (the Bristol Dave and Al, not the Sturbridge Dave and Al) will be house and dog sitting while we are gone.  It makes me feel better knowing that our boy Benni will be able spend most of the time in his own home, rather than in another house or Dog Forbid, a kennel.

We are trying to pack light, hence, no laptop computer.  I can post a few time using Leon's iPod as I mentioned yesterday.  Pain in the butt, and no way to upload pictures.  Which is the whole point of blogging while touring England, isn't it mate?  Maybe there'll be a computer in the hotel or I can stop in a Internet cafe or public library.

Looking at the map I notice that all the towns we are familiar with here in "New" England have counterparts in "Old" England.  We should feel right at home.

I was in London once before - too many years ago to think about - in January 1969, when I was spending my Junior Year at Loyola University Rome Center in Italy.  It was semester break.  I traveled with some other students, then went off on my own with a Eurail Pass to see London, Paris, Portugal and Spain.  When I think about it now, I was 20 years old and traveling around Europe alone and thought nothing of it.  I spent almost a week in London, relieved to be hearing English being spoken for a while.  Unfortunately I couldn't speak it correctly.

My fondest and most "embarrassing" memory in London was asking the "Bobby" for directions to "Traffle-gar Square".  "Oh," he said, "You mean Traf-AAL-ga(r)" and graciously directed me.  I won't make that mistake again, I hope, but despite all the British TV shows we watch, I still have difficulty understanding spoken English at times.

In addition to "free" airfare, we got a great deal on a land tour.  We thought about renting a car - Leon loves cars  - but the thought of petrol prices, auto insurance riders, car rental fees, driving on the wrong side of the road with the steering wheel on the right, having to find places to stay along the way, etc. it seemed prudent to just go with a tour.  We'll see Stonehenge, Bristol, the Lake District, Edinburg, Scotland, York, the Cotswolds, and also a tour of London with breakfasts every day and dinners most evenings, most gratuities included.  The tour company had a winter special and we got a "last minute deal"- 8 nights for around $2,000 for two of us.  Not really "cheap" for us, but probably a steal nonetheless.

Well, its Netflix time and Leon is complaining that I spend too much time blogging...


  1. Oh Frank what a dream tour, I could hardly have planned it better myself. All the sights of London - the lovely hills and plains of the West Country - mysterious Stonehenge - the old walled city of Chester - the beautiful Lake District and Wordsworth's Dove Cottage - Gretna Green, long famed for elopements - Edinburgh, the Athens of the North - York with its famous Minster - and of course Shakespeare's home town. Marvelous. I wish you guys the happiest of journeys. How I envy you.

    I could say so much more here - like you I marvel that at 21 I had the temerity to wander around foreign lands alone - but just a couple of suggestions. Do see Windsor Castle if at all possible. Don't turn down any opportunities, as I foolishly did, to see a live play, in Stratford or elsewhere. Always stand on the right on the escalators in the Tube so people in a hurry can go around you. And remember that the Brits always form a polite queue when waiting for a bus or anything, unlike us Americans who all crowd up in one spot; at least they still did when I was there.

    Oh and don't ask for mayonnaise on your hamburger, and do try some curry while you're there so you can tell me what that tastes like - apparently it has replaced fish & chips as the preferred fast food.

    If you can't post photos from the Ipox, well you'll just have to do a series of blog posts when you get back, won't you. What fun. Bon voyage, mes amis.

  2. Thank you so much, Russ. We will take your suggestions with us. I feel somewhat unworthy of the upcoming trip because, unlike you, I have only a superficial appreciation for Great Literature, Literary Figures and Cultural Experiences.

    And, to add insult to injury, without pictures, my memory is about as permanent as clouds in the wind. (I watched a movie last night that I'd seen before, but had no memory of how it ended - almost like watching it for the first time). I know I will enjoy the countryside, the English gardens (too bad it is so early in the season), the Stonehenge, the people watching, the food, and watching Leon being a kid in a candy store. I know he will be very upset about the mayonnaise and hamburger situation. Hum, can we pack some of those little squeezy mayo things? I'll do my best to keep posting...We leave on Tuesday.

  3. Hey have a good time in Jolly old England! I gotta play the lottery some time, maybe I'll hit. If I do I have a plan.

    1) Buy up rental property.
    2) Buy a place, new cars
    3) Spend six months traipsing through Europe.

  4. Um, I dunno Frank, the way things are these days you could probly smuggle dope easier than mayonnaise. The TSA might bust you for being Mayo Terrorists, and then where would you be?

    Leon will just have to bite the bullet. If you do ask for mayo, a deranged big bald cook will come running out of the kitchen, waving his arms yelling Pastafazool! and curse you for five solid minutes in Italian while the waiters nod approvingly. I am not making this up.

    In fact, you should brush up on your Italian because London is populated entirely with Africans, Indians, and Italianos. No Englishmen, just a bunch of, um . . . foreigners. Grin. Or was 35 years ago.

    Pack only what you absolutely need - then take half of it back out and leave it behind. Trust me, you will get damn tired of lugging heavy suitcases - plus you will need room for souvenirs. Do take your mittens and long johns, though, because it was cold as fuck even in August when I was there - had to go buy a light zipper jacket to wear in the evenings. Ah but . . . you guys are used to cold, right?

    Take some notes every night - even very brief phrases - just to jog your memory. I'll look forward to hearing all about it. Have a swell time, y'all. And say hi to Auntie Liz for me - tell her I sent you. Wink.

  5. Russ,
    Duly noted and will do on all counts, except maybe for the packing - already have only a small bag and don't plan on too many souvenirs...except for the Royal Wedding Commemorative China set that our friend Bob wants us to pick up...England doesn't have the market cornered on Queens...

  6. LOL you got that right.

    Be safe and have fun.

  7. Ah. The trip sounds wonderful! Loved the "Traffle-gar Square" story. Mine faux pas was with the term "pants," (trousers and not panties) oh, and "fanny pack" (bum bag and not a part of the female anatomy). Can't wait for the stories... and pictures.



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