LONDON, HERE WE COME!

It’s the time of year again when our hearts long for far away places. Places where no one expects us to work. Places where the only question someone asks us is, “Straight up or on the rocks?”

My friend Sandy and I are dragging ourselves to the finish line of what will be approximately 8 straight months of work without a vacation in order to experience 10 days of vacation in London. At this point, it can’t come fast enough. In my excitement, I may just kiss the terrazzo floor of terminal D at DFW Airport good bye.

Heck, who am I kidding? I could be headed on a bus tour of drainage ditches and I’d be happily waving goodbye.

Luckily, London is WAY better than what I would settle for.

calendar

As we approach the 4 week countdown, I start to wonder what I’m going to wear and how much to pack.  Then, I promise myself I won’t overpack again this year. I will be smart. I will be savvy.

I will be standing in the rain wondering why I didn’t bring a raincoat.  (Hello?  It’s England.)

rainy day

Anyway, we have devised what equates to a brilliant plan of action. And by WE, I mean Sandy. I am the one who pays scandalously little attention to the planning portion, then shows up and is surprised by what we’re doing, or irritated that it’s on the agenda for 7 AM.  It’s called passive aggressive tourism. Luckily, Sandy knows if she just hands me a glass of wine, I’ll recover instantly and tag merrily along. After all, her plans are typically without flaw.  Except that ONE TIME IN WALES WHEN SHE DIDN’T LET ME EAT UNTIL 3:00 IN THE AFTERNOON. But I’m over that and I trust her completely.  (Note to self: pack peanut butter crackers.)

We (Sandy) have some tours scheduled via guide. Other sites we will venture to on our own. As we tend to do, we also have set aside time to do absolutely nothing but wander about. We are hoping to be able to worm our way around the crowds of August, which are infamous. Knowing our luck, things could go either way. It will either be a case of perfect timing and we will slip in and out of the palaces and museums like a couple of crocs through the Everglades, or we will spend each day elbow to elbow with that most dreaded of living creatures – the tourist.  (Nevermind that we’re tourists too. We prefer to consider ourselves favored and charming guests.) That’s why we intend to enter each palace with a royal wave and perhaps a “Ta Dah!”

There are (of course) plans afoot to attend a performance at the Globe.  I believe the official “stalking of the actors” occurs immediately afterward at The Swan.

swan

Also on the agenda are visits to Avebury, Glastonbury and Stonehenge, which should do much to slake our mystical and Arthurian thirsts. Hampton Court, The Tower, Kensington, etc. will be must-sees as well. I will NOT be happy unless I see a ghost of either Henry VIII or Katherine Parr. Preferably both. Together. Chasing each other through the halls.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be delving into the tours planned and other attractions in a bit more detail. That way I may actually KNOW what I’m in for, rather than guessing.

Until then, another day, another few inches toward the finish line.

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WALES WARNINGS

Exciting news! No, I’m not in Wales yet. I leave Thursday evening, so I am still in frantic prep mode, without any real justification for panic. As my traveling companion pointed out, we are going to a destination that DOES HAVE stores. If we forget something, we simply purchase it.

This is why traveling with Sandy is going to be such a pleasant experience. She can be so REASONABLE and patient. It’s almost like traveling with my hubby, except it’s not at all like that. For instance, when traveling with Sandy, if we get lost or even THINK we MIGHT be getting lost, we will slow down, or stop to regroup. We will do this while maintaining calm breathing and a dignified demeanor so as to not let everyone around us know we are on the verge of hysteria. In fact, the quieter and calmer we get, the more worried we are.

When traveling with hubby, if we think we are lost, our speed tends to increase, as does his tone of voice and the volume of the car stereo. It’s like a bad sound track to a nervous breakdown.

Side note while we’re on the hubby topic: Hubby actually suggested I purchase pajama jeans to wear on the plane. I looked at him in horror, as though he had suggested I wear blackface and a tutu while juggling kittens. Seriously?  I wouldn’t wear such things INSIDE my home, much less risk being seen in them. In public. If I’m in a fiery plane crash and paramedics are deciding who to save, I don’t want them seeing PAJAMA JEANS and deciding, “We’re doing her a favor. Let her go.”

Anyway, I have buried the lead. Exciting news! (She repeats, aware that she is indeed losing her mind.)  Chances are quite good that Sandy and I will be able to post videos to this blog during our travels. We are thinking of doing a Welch word of the day – perhaps with guest instructors. There is also a strong possibility of some ruins making an appearance, a castle or two and some lovely scenery. Oh, and Sandy is well-known amongst a select group for photographing her food while on vacation, so you’ll be seeing a variation on fish & chips, no doubt. And the Cheese Festival has serious potential for entertaining videos. After all, THERE’S CHEESE TOSSING!

So, as I prepare to go radio silent as I finalize my travel details, I leave you with some interesting tidbits I found while researching travel tips for Wales:

If I am requesting 2 of something, such as signaling for 2 pints, or 2 ciders, I need to use my thumb and index finger, rather than making the “V” with the index and middle finger, which is the equivalent of flipping someone off.  Although I CAN do that (make the “V” sign – not flip someone off) if I make sure my palm is facing the bartender I am signaling.

I like this one best: “Avoid offering money unless the change is handed over on a small tray.  Instead, when you pay, ask the server to ‘have one for yourself’ or ‘get a drink on me.’ They will add the price of a drink but may take the money instead of the drink. Do this with your first order and you will get noticed sooner next time you go to the bar. Further tipping is generally not needed, though it is well received if you make the offer of a drink on your last purchase of the evening.”

I can only assume most bartenders in Wales are pretty plastered by the end of the evening.  Oops, not “plastered,” “pissed.”

Also, (and I had heard this before) tennis shoes (trainers) are not so popular. In fact, the website says you’ll often see “no trainers” listed in the dress code of clubs. Personally, I think they should exclude personal trainers as well. Those people who don’t let you have any fun, or eat or drink anything yummy. 

Oh, and a friend recently in Wales advises to watch for cars when crossing the street.  Apparently, we Americans look the wrong way and tend to get squished on occasion.

Alright. That’s it for me (I think) until we reach Cardiff. Pray to the gods of the navigationally challenged on my behalf, and send up prayers of support for Sandy, the person in charge of me for 9 whole days.