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Our Hurry Up and Go Vacation: how inexperienced travelers booked a 3-week trip to London, Paris, Rome, and Venice for 2 adults and 2 teenagers starting only 2 ½ weeks before departure…

Our Hurry Up and Go Vacation: how inexperienced travelers booked a 3-week trip to London, Paris, Rome, and Venice for 2 adults and 2 teenagers starting only 2 ½ weeks before departure…

Aug 1st, 2006, 05:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,424
Great report. Once my DH and I went to Europe for 2 weeks with 5 days notice. What a great surprise and treat for us. I was much younger and did not worry about any details and it all worked out just fine.
yipper is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11
I am so impressed with your go for it attitude. This is a great trip report. Clever writing and your report portrays such a positive outlook and spirit about life, parenting and coping with the unexpected. Thanks for sharing your talent and humor with us.

We leave for Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam at the end of the month. While I have used Rule #3 to prepare, I want to remember Rules #1 and #2 so we truly enjoy ourselves.

Can't wait for the final chapters...
Natawa33 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 03:24 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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OK, I've had a terrible day, (terrible year, really), and all I could think of tonight was that I'd settle down and read the last installment of the trip! Oh, NorCalif, where are you??????? I NEED to escape!
Hagan is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 04:37 PM
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Chapter 11: Paris denouement –

Sit and bask in appreciation of own stunning accomplishment. Surely no one else has ever, in the history of travel, managed to book an almost-near-London hotel. Nothing like getting self in ridiculous situation to make self feel good when manage to get out of it – sacrificing merely time and money in the process. Must remember this lesson for other aspects of life.

Actually didn’t sacrifice only time and money. Also sacrificed another visit to Louvre. It’s almost time to meet DH, DS, and DD, so makes no sense to stand in line to try to enter Louvre now. Accept situation philosophically, am so happy that have found neat place to stay for last two nights. Contentedly people-watch in courtyard and admire architectural details.

Family members reappear on schedule, big smiles on faces. Had a wonderful time inside museum and are bubbling with enthusiasm about various sights – all talking at once telling me about their favorites. I too am bubbling with enthusiasm and proud to tell them that trip planner (moi) has come through. Won’t have to sleep in either London train station or gutter. DS and DD are especially excited to hear place has pool. Head back to Gare du Nord to catch Eurostar.

To be continued …

NorCalif is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:06 PM
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Not only a great job at quickly planning/carrying out the trip and then writing so well about it, but huge kudos to you (and your husband, perhaps) for raising such interested and interesting kids!
annabelle2 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:12 PM
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Chapter 12: back in London – well almost near London –

Gare du Nord stifling. Stand in line to go through passport control, other formalities of inter-country travel. Finally finish with bureaucracy. Our car is last on train – well actually first on train as train is parked backwards. Walk most of the way to London to reach it. Have uneventful trip, although this time get a little claustrophobic for the 20 minutes in tunnel. Train slows down suddenly for no apparent reason. Hope it’s the normal pattern of things. Remember story about how at home, on first day the under-San-Francisco-Bay tunnel opened for BART (the SF metro), two pranksters got on dressed in scuba gear, wearing fake BART insignia, and told startled passengers that they were there “just in case”. Momentarily think maybe I should have brought scuba gear too.

Arrive at Waterloo Station and go upstairs to catch train to Windsor – another advantage of hotel being it can be reached by train from same station as Eurostar. Buy tickets and walk straight to track where train is waiting. Perfect connection.

But standing room only on train. It is rush hour. Resignedly think this is going to get old before the 50 minutes it takes to get to Windsor is up. But crowd almost totally disappears in first couple of stops. Spread out in a couple of seats (I mean all of us. I don’t really cover a couple of seats all by myself, despite comment about Botero painting similarities above). Countryside gets increasingly bucolic.

Arrive in Windsor. Walk outside train station. Wow. Huge castle looming above the town. Had no idea Windsor Castle was so big. (Liz and I not running in the same social circles and all, I’ve never been invited.) Town seems very pleasant, touristy but in small-town kind of way. Get taxi to Oakley Court, 2 miles away.

To be continued …
NorCalif is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:18 PM
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nnolen. How true.

This is like Bridget Jones goes on vacation!

JAGIRL is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:28 PM
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Chapter 13: the English country life …

Oakley Court is beautiful. Looks like a castle itself (google it and look at the pictures on “about us” section of website.) Room is very pleasant and ample sized for the four of us. Big bathroom. Beautiful lounges on the main floor looking out onto grounds sloping down to Thames. A couple of ducks waddling on front lawn, graceful willows, no other buildings in sight, either on our side of river or on other. Seems like a perfect beautiful and peaceful ending to a slightly hectic, big city trip.

DH and I have “included” dinner in dining room while DS and DD eat sandwiches in room and watch TV they can understand. Food really excellent. Service slightly amateurish, but very well intentioned and polite. Staff seems young and a little green. But we don’t care. After long lovely adult dinner, sink down into comfortable beds for relaxing sleep in total quiet – something neither Rome nor sleeper train offered.

Wake to birds singing and have breakfast in dining room looking out on river – food fine, but nothing at all like caliber of dinner. Charming bright-eyed duck waddles up outside, and we can’t resist feeding him/her out the open window. Kids want to spend morning at pool (indoor). DH and I walk along river little ways enjoying the morning. Hot but not as impossibly so as Rome. Lounge around all day, take early afternoon nap and then head into Windsor late in the afternoon to tourist around just a little. We have to be at Heathrow fairly early in the morning, so call it a day before too long. Get sandwiches to bring back for dinner and all eat in the room, laughing ourselves silly over some British TV comedies. One was called something like “Grumpy Old People on Holiday”, and consisted of “old people” (hey, they look MY age – there’s obviously been some kind of mistake) complaining about common vacation and travel annoyances. It was so totally apropos – given that we had just encountered many of those situations ourselves over the past couple of weeks. Laughed so hard tears were streaming down my face, and I kept missing parts of the show because when you laugh that hard your eyes shut automatically. It sounds silly, but it was a great evening.

Got up the next morning, ate breakfast with the company of “our” duck again, and got a taxi to the airport – only 25 minutes away.

To be continued …
NorCalif is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:29 PM
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Thank you for such an entertaining report!!!
Lostmymind is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:47 PM
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Chapter 14: All good things must …

Arrive at SFO 10 or so hours later. Take shuttle to car – no handsome young Italian men this time. Begin drive back home. (We live in Sonoma County – not quite an hour north of the city.) Of course spend time reflecting on trip and talking about our favorite parts.

DH’s favorite place was Paris. He’s ready to move there. DS’s favorite part was Venice and DD is torn between Paris and Rome. I’m ready to buy a camper van and become an old-style European hippie – then I can just travel from place to place as the spirit moves me and not have to pick a favorite.

But actually of course my absolute favorite was having the family together almost 24/7 for nearly 3 weeks. As parents of teenagers, it is all too rare for us to see much of them! One is already away most of the year in college, the other starts this fall, and even when they’re home, they’re not home – summer jobs, sports, friends, activities – they live their lives in a youthful whirl. It was such a joy seeing the kids experience Europe for the first time. It brought back memories of what it was like when they were really little and how much fun it was to show them the world around them.

Warning – sappy ending ahead. But an absolutely true one.

As we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed north toward the beautiful Sonoma hills, DD leaned forward to put her arms around me and said, “Thanks, Mom. This was the best experience of my whole life.” What more could a tour guide ask?
NorCalif is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:01 PM
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Okay - I'm crying now! What a wonderful ending to a great trip report. I'm glad I recently joined this forum and I am getting more and more excited for our first trip to Europe in Sept. to the Netherlands, just from reading everyone elses adventures. First of many I'm sure!!
jodej is online now  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:21 PM
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I'll judge all other trip reports by thisone. Absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing.
Italybound07 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:33 PM
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I'm crying too.
Loved every word...
particularly 'ridiculosity'.
longtimelurker is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:50 PM
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Bravo for an informative, articulate, heartfelt, witty, wonderfully amusing trip report that I couldn't wait to read at the end of the day.
Uma is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:06 PM
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Yes, great report. goosebumples at the ending there. Well done!
laartista is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:15 PM
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VERY nice trip report. You're writing style enjoyable and fun to read. You gave quite a lesson in being flexible and open for adventures. Multo bene!
vickio is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:57 PM
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Oh NorCalif, to this day my daughter tells me her most special memories are when we took her to Italy for two months when she was a teenager. So I do know how you feel regarding your dear daughters comment to you while driving over the Golden Gate Bridge to your home. Beautiful memories that will be with the four of you forever I am sure. And certainly you have written a beautiful and humorous trip report. Thank you!!
LoveItaly is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 09:33 PM
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NorCalif, thank you for sharing such a great trip report with us!

We're not going to England until next year, so I'm not in a big hurry for those Aubrey/Maturin sites.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 10:20 PM
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Brava, Brava, Brava!!!! (if I could do the emotioncon clapping, I would) This is without a doubt in my top 5 of all the trip reports I have read here at Fodors. Thank you so much for sharing it!!!!!!!!!!!

TRSW is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 10:42 PM
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Fun, fun, and more fun. So sorry to see it end. Loved it.
crefloors is online now  

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