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So glad we went to Greece (and London always)

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So glad we went to Greece (and London always)

Old Jan 3rd, 2017, 08:10 PM
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Hi Stoke - nice to see that you're planning another trip and this time to "la bella Italia"!

how crazy would it be to rent a car in the Florence suburbs and drive to Siena?

very crazy, IMO and completely unnecessary. you can get either the bus or the train there very easily but the bus puts you in the centre of Siena, the train slightly out of the centre with a bus ride to get you where you want to be.

As you say, Venice, Florence and Rome is a lot for 10 days but doable [in the sense that it's done by a lot of people]

Have you tried Michel Thomas for your Italian? his delivery and style can be a little irritating but i learnt a lot from his courses. No hand gestures on the CD of course but it sounds as if you already have that covered.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2017, 10:26 PM
  #122  
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A few more things I did in London:

Evensong at St.Paul's and at Westminster Abbey. This time I got sit in the choir stalls in both places. Yow.

At St. Paul's I got there early and to the front just at the time they allowed some of us to file into the stalls. Carved dark wood, gilt cherubs, those fancy little orange lampshades. The men's choir sat half facing the other, and sometimes sides alternated to beautiful effect. The woman priest (for lack of the correct word) made a touching prayer for peace among peoples. Afterwards I walked down Ludgate Hill, up Fleet Street. I peeked into cozy Old Cheshire Cheese, but am not much for pubs on my own in the evening.

Another evening I got to Westminster Abbey by 1630 for evensong at 1700, lined up outside then found to my delight that I'd be sitting in the choir stalls again. (Other times the stalls are full VIPs, so it was just luck.) I sat under the immense ancient roof. Gothic tracery, checkerboard tiles, and in the front row, me. Boys' and men's choir, heavenly harmonies and acoustics, sweet clear soprano solos, white ruffled collar charm. Kind-voiced prayers. It induces an altered state of consciousness. I left the Abbey a few millimeters off the ground as the bells rang. Then, a slap of real world across the street. It was US Super Tuesday, and a group of Sanders supporters chanted "Feel. The. Burn!"
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Old Jan 3rd, 2017, 10:40 PM
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Oh, thank you, kja. No, I completely agree. The three cities are Hannah's idea. She thinks that I must see Florence, and that she must see Venice and Rome. I just wanted to go to Malta and hang around coffeehouses the whole time, so obviously I need to be pushed beyond my comfort zone. I was the one who thought Greece was too far, too foreign language-y, and ended up loving it.

You're right, of course, Ann. The only reason I flirted with a side trip to Siena was to teach Hannah the gear shift thing. We plan to take trains entirely.

I'll look for Michel Thomas, and thanks for the tip. So far using Pimsleur CDs from the library, and Duolingo app.
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Old Jan 4th, 2017, 07:50 AM
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Stoke - i would definitely go to Siena, stick shift practice or not, though fitting that into your very short time in Florence may be a problem. Worth going for the Duomo alone, IMO.
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Old Jan 4th, 2017, 11:52 AM
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Thank you, Ann. I'd be fine with missing Florence this time, really.

A couple more things in the UK:

Hannah has some friends who live in Harrow-on-the-Hill, so my last evening there we took a couple of trains out for dinner. They took us for a before-dinner walk, up their very steep street, past an old cemetery and an overlook where we could see the distant Thames, then out into the High Street where student were strolling. Beautiful boys, looking impossibly ruling class in what I can only call, improbably, morning dress: striped spongebag trousers, tailcoats and, most of them, top hats. There were too many of them to assume it was Drama Club letting out. Surely they don't dress like that every day? Yet they lounged along as if they did, some with hands in pockets.

We had a quick one at our friend's local, The Castle. What a gem that pub is. I'd almost take the trains out there just to sit by their fireplace. www.castle-harrow.co.uk/gallery . Visit the ladies' if appropriate. Then back down to their house for dinner and an enlightening inside discussion of the National Health Service with our hosts and their guests. (Briefly: it has flaws.)

Since I mentioned the Parthenon/Elgin Sculptures/Marbles earlier: the ones already there should stay at the British Museum, though that might be because I was there last. Hannah and my opinion in Athens, at the beautifully done Parthenon Museum, was that they surely belonged there. Partly it's seeing again how much better preserved they are in London, over the relatively short time there.

But I'm willing to go back to Athens and look the situation over again, in case the world is waiting for my final word.
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Old Jan 5th, 2017, 03:48 AM
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looking impossibly ruling class in what I can only call, improbably, morning dress: striped spongebag trousers, tailcoats and, most of them, top hats. There were too many of them to assume it was Drama Club letting out. Surely they don't dress like that every day? Yet they lounged along as if they did, some with hands in pockets.>>

yep. still the school uniform; ditto at Eton so far as I know.

ridiculous.
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Old Jan 5th, 2017, 09:20 AM
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I admit to finding it charming, and style-wise more fun than what's worn at our local high school.
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Old Jan 6th, 2017, 03:08 AM
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I admit to finding it charming, and style-wise more fun than what's worn at our local high school.>>

all very well, Stoke, but it gives them a sense of "otherness" and dare I say superiority to the rest of us which is what, I suspect is what is intended. It's no surprise that there are so many "old boys" of these schools in Parliament and other top jobs; if it were any other group it would be described as positive discrimination.

sorry, rant over.
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Old Jan 6th, 2017, 06:12 AM
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Last time I took the Tube in from LHR early morning, several schoolboys got onto the car wearing blazers and ties, and again looked so refreshingly cute after my long flight. Polos and khakis are as formal as we get around here, and mostly it's jeans and t-shirts. My husband teaches at an inner city school where the faculty anonymously give Christmas gifts to a needy child or so. The sisters we bought for always need polo shirts. We get them some of those for morale, and other things for warmth and fun.
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Old Jan 6th, 2017, 06:13 AM
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And yes, a top hat in the middle of the day is bound to make you feel pretty durn Other.
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Old Jan 6th, 2017, 08:11 AM
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Stoke - the vast majority of schools in the UK have uniform of sorts; many have blazers and ties, but very few go to the lengths of Eton and Harrow to dress their pupils in the sort of gear that was de rigeur amongst the upper classes in 1920. They are the sorts of clothes that the UK equivalents of the sisters you so kindly donate to could never aspire to.
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Old Jan 6th, 2017, 08:43 AM
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How about you for MP, Ann? My faith in politics could use a boost.
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Old Jan 6th, 2017, 12:04 PM
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How about you for MP, Ann? My faith in politics could use a boost.>>

perhaps 20 years ago, stoke, had my life gone in a different direction. I feel for you at present - actually I feel for all of us, watching the US election car crash. I really struggle to understand how what appeared to be a functioning democracy could go down the pan so quickly. I keep thinking that as with Brexit we'll wake up and find it was all a bad dream but I know that in reality, that ain't going to happen.
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Old Jan 7th, 2017, 12:10 PM
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Surreality, let's call it.
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Old Jan 7th, 2017, 12:51 PM
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good word Stoke.
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Old Jan 7th, 2017, 02:20 PM
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Enjoyed a "quick" read of your contributions guys. I think all of you have helped us so much with travel enquiries over the years. hopefully we have helped others too....I feel no great desire to visit London these days (I was born there in 1944 ) but , sitting in the Queensland sun over the Australian summer sea , the memories of Greece were lovely.
Planning now for the next trip in April - Paris, the Dordogne for 2 weeks, Barcelona then quickly fly to Athens and an hour later to Naxos and onwards through the Cyclades to Milos for 3 weeks and fly home via Athens. There is some sense of foreboding as Kathy has come down with bad arthritis such that she can hardly walk some days, but we hope to come up with something in the way of relief before we go.... After 55 years of travel we're not about to let it go - or resort to cruise liners - just yet.
cheers
Tom
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Old Jan 7th, 2017, 04:57 PM
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Ah, thanks, Tom. Best wishes for Kathy to be up and at em for that great-sounding trip.
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