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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

7.4 Minutes from Across the Pond

Sharing the photo slideshow that my daughter put together of highlights from our trip.

I've been back at home for just over three days now and am suffering a bit from that post event let down. Munchkin #1 and I spent a lot of time planning for this trip. If you consider the years I spent dreaming about doing something like this before my daughter was even in the picture, it's a whole lot of expectation and looking-forward-to now behind me.

Short story: we had a fabulous time.

I filled nearly half a journal with the long story, so chances are you'll see more of it here as time permits.

A brief overview:

We were gone from Kansas for 10 days. We traveled via Toronto to England. Arrived in London at about 9:30 AM on a Friday and immediately began sight-seeing. We not only mastered the underground (the oldest subway system in the world), we fell in love with it. I had not expected to enjoy public transit quite so much. I now dream of rocket trains connecting all my favorite parts of Kansas.

Day One - Travel: Kansas City. Toronto. Red eye flight to London.

Day Two -  London: We took in Highgate Cemetery and the Sir John Ritblat Gallery in The British Library. Unfortunately, we were too tired to properly appreciate the gallery as we were going on two days with approximately 2.5 hours of sleep. It's too bad because it houses one of the most impressive collections of books I've probably ever had the opportunity to see.

Day Three - London: Visited Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, saw Westminster Abbey, had lunch at Somerset House (where Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood, now a center for the arts) and went to the play, Our Boys, at The Duchess Theatre. We walked the Thames River and visited Covent Gardens (think huge market/craft fair). We visited Buckingham Palace, too.

Day Four - London: Toured the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garrett. Walked over the London Bridge and made our way to the Tower of London where we did, in fact, eat Fish and Chips. Took the touristy tour there and walked and walked all over London until we were exhausted.

Interesting London Facts: Metro area has about 13 million people and 300 languages are spoken within the city.

Day Five - Left London via train to the city of Salisbury: First made a quick stop at the Sherlock Holmes Museum Gift Shop. Took a bus from Salisbury to the Stonehenge. Peeked at Old Sarum from the bus. Upon return to Salisbury, took a train to Bath where we arrived and wandered the streets in the dark until we found a suitable place to stay for the night.

Interesting Salisbury Fact: Though the residents were in constant fear of it, Salisbury was never bombed in WWII. They found out after the war that the Germans had been given instructions not to touch the city. The steeple on the cathedral there (the tallest in Great Britain) was the landmark the pilots used to figure out where they were. The five rivers that come together in Salisbury were the roadmaps the pilots used to make their way to the cities they did bomb.

Day Six - Bath: Toured the Roman Baths and climbed to the top of Bath Abbey where Munchkin got to ring a bell. Shopped at a store called Wool. Zipped through the Jane Austen house. Watched US election coverage on British news station.

Day Seven - Bath to Edinburgh: Woke up to Obama's Victory speech! Boarded a train to Bristol Mead Temple where we caught the Cross Country train to Edinburgh, about a 7 hour ride.

Day Eight - Edinburgh, Scotland: Breakfast at the Elephant House (coffee shop where JK Rowling reportedly completed much of the first draft of the first Harry Potter book). Walked the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. Walked around the perimeter of the castle site to the lawn market where each Saturday, a large farmers market is supposedly held. Unfortunately, I did not learn this until after our tickets were purchased and our travel plans did not allow us to visit the market. Tried haggis, neeps and tatties. It was good -- honestly. Visited a working woolen mill, which wasn't actually running any of its machines while we were there. Took at very entertaining "haunted" tour of the vaults, or Scotland's underground.

Day Nine - North Berwick: We took a train from Edinburgh to a little town on the coast called North Berwick. There we had planned to take a bus to the ruins of a castle, but the bus driver drove right on past the stop without stopping for us. So we walked the three miles to the castle. It was well worth it. Had the place pretty much to ourselves and got to climb around and in the ruins of an actual 14th century castle called Tantallon.

Day Ten - Edinburgh back to the US: Spent a very long day making our way back home via flight from Edinburgh to Newark, then Newark to Kansas City.

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