My first Trip Report!!!


May 23rd, 2012, 07:37 AM
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My first Trip Report!!!

Just finished my 15 day R&R vacation from Afghanistan with my lovely girlfriend Michelle visiting London, Edinburgh, Stirling, Bruges and Paris. It was amazing! I really apprecaite all the advice both requested and gleaned from reading the forums. I'd especially like to thank janisj for all the helpful advice!

I'll write a more detailed report in a reply below. Thanks again!
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May 23rd, 2012, 08:18 AM
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Day 0 - I arrived at Heathrow and got Oyster Cards for my gf and I and checked into the hotel.

Day 1 - My gf arrived and took a nap then we went to an wonderful little Indian resaurant near the hotel.

Day 2 to 5 - Visited Big Ben and Parliament (unfortunately Parliament was closed to tours due to some official business but that gives us a reason to return), took the verger led tour through Westminster Abbey, watched Changing the Guard and toured the Royal Mews and Royal Gallery at Buckingham (excellent Leo Da Vinci - Anatomist exhibit), did day and night on the London Eye, shopped and ate at Covent Garden, strolled through many parks and took some wonderful pictures, ate at several small pubs and hit the Picadilly Market at St James Church (really cool) and took the Yoeman Warder tour of the Tower of London.

Evening Day 5 to Morning Day 6 - Overnight train to Edinburgh

Day 6 - Did a little shopping up and down the Royal Mile then toured Edinburgh Castle taking advantage of the free guided tour, ate hagas!!!, walked down to Parliament and took some pictures including Holyrood House, wandered around a gorgeous footpath back towards the train station and took some more pictures.

Day 7 - Day trip into Stirling to take the guided tour of Stirling Castle (Big Sandy was an awesome guide!), intended on seeing the Wallace monument but we got a late start and enjoued wandering too long taking pictures and missed out but we did stop at a ton of statues and monuments throughout the city. In the evening we caught the train back to Edinburgh to take the overnight train back to London to catch our morning train to Bruges.

Both overnight train rides were spent in a birth and while the births weren't as big as they are on Amtrak in the US, they were comfortable enough to get a good night's sleep in order to pick up and carry on the next morning.

I must pause here to say that my girlfriend is a vegetarian and all throughout the UK, we were very impressed with how many vegetarian meals were available at all the restaurants and how obviously they were marked in the menus.

Day 8 to early morning on the day 10 - Bruges. This was our favorite city of the trip and I wish we had planned one more day there. The architecture in the city is wonderful, the shops are interesting and the people very welcoming, the chocolate was amazing as was the tour of (and the beer at) the Half Moon Brewery. We had reservations for a bike tour of the city but when we met the guide at the designated start point, he canelled the tour because only 3 people showed up they "need at least four to make it worth their while monetarily" which I thought was rude and bad business. We instead opted to take a boat tour along the canals which was very fun and a great way to see the city from a different perspective and also got us some great pictures. I tried the mussels and frites (delicious!).

Day 10 - Early train to Paris

Day 10 to 14 - Paris. My pathetic french learned in HS about 20 years ago was more than adequate as most tourist oriented businesses and restaurants had staff that spoke enough english to at least meet in the middle somewhere. We visited the Eiffel tower both day and night, Ard de Triomphe and watched the eternal flame rekindleing ceremony (which I really enjoyed being a service member), visited the Pantheon, Notre Dame, Musee do Moyen Agee, walked the Champs Elysee, relaxed and enjoyed some lunch at the Jardin de Luxembourg, toured part of Les Invalides (definitely did not devote enough time to that place. It was much larger than expected), and stopped at Passy Cemetary and got some beautiful pictures (and accidentally locked inside for about 15 minutes).

We caught the train back to London on Day 16 and flew out.

Absolutely an amazing trip! Again, thanks for all the tips and advice! As I travel more and get some experience, I look forward to being able to contribute.

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May 23rd, 2012, 08:34 AM
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Excellent shot for your first report..there will be many more!

I salute you, comrade! Your service to our country is much appreciated.

Stu Tower
19th Infantry, 24th Division (many many years ago)
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May 23rd, 2012, 09:46 AM
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Nice, succinct report. Glad you had such a good time. And thanks for reporting.
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May 23rd, 2012, 10:05 AM
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Thank you for your service, JB. I enjoyed your report, and hope you keep travelling and telling us about it.

Dick Grill
Ist Marine Division (Even more years ago than Stu.)
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May 23rd, 2012, 10:13 AM
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Whoops! My bad; I didn't think anyone was older than me.

I just looked up Stu's profile, and he actually served before I did. He was crawling around in the dirt in WWII, while I didn't get to play those games until Korea.
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May 23rd, 2012, 10:22 AM
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Yes, thanks for the clear report. Great job.
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May 23rd, 2012, 10:42 AM
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great report!!!!
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May 23rd, 2012, 11:03 AM
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A fine report and great attitude - we noted the same thing about how easy it is to be a vegerarian in the UK and the variety and quality of vegetarian food choices. One more thing we can emulate here in the states.

Stay safe, from another recent uniform.
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May 23rd, 2012, 11:12 AM
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great report, why not watch the movie "In Bruges" about a bunch of Irish Terrorists in the city of the name.
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May 23rd, 2012, 01:30 PM
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Nuke...I think there may be a few older than both of us..hope so! Happy you got out of that mess intact. Nearly three years after I got home, my division was the first to land in Korea (Pusan and Taegu)...decimated something awful.
Happy travels, Nuke...semper fi! sure brought out the old boys on this report!
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May 23rd, 2012, 05:27 PM
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And the old girls too! A very engaging report. So glad you reported your travels.
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May 23rd, 2012, 05:53 PM
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JB, thank you and have to say I am glad you did this R&R trip and your gf came to you! I am a military wife and we love going to Germany and seeing many military doing their R&R at Edelweiss. As one wife told me it was more of a rest instead of her husband flying back home and having a bunch of honey dos to complete. We want to go to Bruge next trip so enjoyed hearing about it. Delirium cafe is on my must do list.
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