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Pegontheroad Sep 17th, 2009 08:17 AM

The Good, the Bad, and the So-So: England, Germany, Austria
Since I crawled out of bed at 4:00 a.m. this morning, dragging but unable to sleep any longer, and am in the grip of serious jet lag, I don't know how long I'll whack away at this. I may just end up with my face on the keyboard and drool on the keys. Don't like that. Makes the keys sticky.

I returned yesterday afternoon with even worse jet lag, since I fly from the inland northwest U.S., and the time difference from Europe is 9 hours. Three weeks ago I departed from Spokane, Washington, and flew to San Francisco and thence to London. On the leg to London, I took extreme measures to ensure that I'd sleep: two Benadryl, a tranquilizer, ear plugs, an eye mask, and a neck pillow. My "extreme measures" didn't work very well, but I did get a couple hours of sleep, so that I was conscious on my way to Bath, however roundabout the trip was. At the airport I tried to find a seat on the bus, but it was full, and I'd have had to wait several hours for another, so I took a bus to Reading and then the train to Bath.

I'm always interested in the people I see when I travel. I saw a lot of scruffy teenagers, many of them wearing rubber boots in bright colors and patterns. They were obviously not into chic.

My hotel, the Kennard, was very nice, and it's always comforting to see the coffee/tea/biscuit setup waiting for me in English hotel rooms. The room was quite small but elegant, with wallpaper in alternating stripes of gold and of darker and lighter red. It was quiet, and there was a small garden outside the window. I paid 180 pounds for two nights.

My first task was to find a tea shop, because I was longing for tea and scones. Trudging through the drizzle, I found a crowded little shop by the bridge and had a lovely cream tea. For those of you who are not among the congnoscienti, the "cream" part of the tea is this thick cream, almost as thick as butter, that you spread on the scones and then top with jam. The food of the gods! ( Not being one of the cognoscienti myself, I had to ask what you did with the cream.)

After tea, I returned to the hotel for dry clothes and then wandered around town for a while before going to bed early. Thus began one of the themes for my trip, that of seeing more of various cities than I had intended because of becoming lost and wandering around trying to find my way back to wherever. I was wearing a little pedometer so that I could keep track of precisely how much hell I was putting myself through every day.

Anyway, the next morning, I did the hop-on/hop-off bus tour to see all the lovely architecture and hear a little history of Bath. While waiting for the bus, I happened into a bookstore where I found an interesting book which told about a young worman's experience as a radio operator in military service in WWII. I am always interested in Britain during WWII, so this book kept me happy during down times.

I considered taking a tour outside Bath itself but I had to buy a new nightgown, since I had thrashed around, shredding the ancient one I'd brought on the trip, and I didn't want to be tired for the Bizarre Bath Walks tour I planned to take that evening. It rained most of the time in Bath, including during the Bizarre tour, but the tour was really funny. The leader kept us laughing the whole time.

As for food, aside from the yummy scones, the only restaurant I remember was one called Verdi, of which I have pleasant memories.

Next installment: Small bits of London, and an excursion to Bletchley Park.

yk Sep 17th, 2009 08:35 AM

Hi Peg, welcome home. Looking forward to the rest. Can you give us a "preview" of what your entire itinerary was (ie, cities/towns in UK, Germany & Austria)?

Pegontheroad Sep 17th, 2009 09:32 AM

Sure. Bath, London & Bletchley Park; Berlin, Lubbenau, Quedlinburg, Germany; Dürnstein & Vienna, Austria.

yk Sep 17th, 2009 09:45 AM

Thanks Peg. We're heading to Berlin soon, so hopefully you will be done with that section in the next week or so...

azzure Sep 17th, 2009 10:19 AM

Wow, this is impressive. I love to hear stories from solo travelers. More please, and soon!!!

NanBug Sep 17th, 2009 10:26 AM

Hmm...a shredded nightgown? Must have been a fun night! ;)

Keep it comin' Peg!

tcreath Sep 17th, 2009 11:05 AM

Thanks for posting...I'm looking forward to more!


Cathinjoetown Sep 17th, 2009 12:07 PM

Can't wait to hear about Bletchley Park--it's been on our list for too long.

Pegontheroad Sep 17th, 2009 03:14 PM

I will continue tomorrow. I cleverly broke my foot today and have spent the last few hours at the urgent care place. I'm just about to break into the painkillers the doc prescribed..

janisj Sep 17th, 2009 03:17 PM

Oh - so sorry to hear about your foot. Take care of yourself.

(BTW - It is a known fact that trip reports written under the influence of pain killers are among the very best ;) )

ElendilPickle Sep 17th, 2009 03:32 PM

Oh, goodness, Peg - I'm so sorry to hear about your foot! Praying it heals quickly.

At least it should give you plenty of time to finish your trip report... ;-)

Lee Ann

Dr_DoGood Sep 18th, 2009 03:01 AM

Quote <b>Pegontheroad</b> <i>"I saw a lot of scruffy teenagers, many of them wearing rubber boots in bright colors and patterns. They were obviously not into chic."</i>

Was this in Britain in particular, or throughout your trip? At the train station in Reading and round Bath? Maybe it was indicative of that great British Summer Tradition of heading off to Glastonbury or any one of the countless other music festivals (which are particularly prevalent in the SW). You need the Wellies (boots) because of that other great British Summer Tradition of copious quantities of rain.

If, on the other hand, you spotted this attire throughout your holiday it can only be explained as the ever popular "inexplicable yoof fashion" (c.f. Baggy jeans, laddered fishnets, tattoomania etc).

Dr D.
(feeling like an old git)

alihutch Sep 18th, 2009 03:03 AM

They are crocs I suspect

tod Sep 18th, 2009 03:28 AM

Peg - I am sorry to hear about your broken foot but have been enjoying your trip report and getting a little anxious about how we will cope with jet-lag upon our outward flight from somewhere in Europe not yet decided, and upon our return to the UK from Canada (Calgary there-abouts)!
There is a flight from LHR direct to Edmonton or Calgary and vice-versa. It looks like you suffered jetlag on both your flights? I thought it only happened in a certain direction??

For your foot: Try and get Traumeel tablets or liquid from a pharmacy. It's made in Germany. It promotes fast healing of any trauma in the body.

ron Sep 18th, 2009 06:26 AM

Tod, jet-lag is a term that tends to get misused. People talk about being jet-lagged after an overnight flight to Europe. This is really not true. People are tired on their arrival day because they have missed a night’s sleep. It has nothing to do with being on a plane for part of the night, they would be just as tired if they had stayed home and missed a night’s sleep.

The jet-lag on the daytime return flight is real and seems to affect me more the older I get.

I’m hoping the OP feels better and can get back to her report. I too am looking forward to her comment on Bletchley Park, since I am thinking of revisiting in early November. I last visited in 1998 when it was being run by a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs and was still in danger of being razed for development opportunities. The recent report in Wired that they have restored the Harwell WITCH excites me.

Cholmondley_Warner Sep 18th, 2009 06:38 AM

It still is run by amateurs.

ron Sep 18th, 2009 06:46 AM

Well, that's encouraging. I had been under the impression that it had been taken over by modern museum professionals who would attempt to turn it into an "Experience".

CAPH52 Sep 18th, 2009 07:14 AM

Great start, Peg! I'm enjoying this very much.

Since you mention the book you picked up and your interest in Britain during WWII, I have to ask if you've read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"? Probably a dumb question as I think I came to it late. But I read it this summer (after a trip to England) and enjoyed it so much.

Pegontheroad Sep 18th, 2009 09:53 AM

I can't recall the title or author of the book, except that the author's first name was "Pip," short for Phyllis, I think.
No, I haven't read "The Guernsey..." yet, though I've heard of it.

The scruffy teenagers with the (I think) Wellies were at Redding. They weren't Crocs. They look like what you'd wear in a muddy farmyard, except in very bright colors and pattens.

Anyway, to continue: I took the train to London and then a taxi to my hotel, the Thanet. Frommers says that the Thanet was a London-on-five-dollars-a-day way back in the sixties. I can well believe that! First of all, the room number was 5a. That "a" should give you a clue that the room's former use was as a closet. It really was pitiful, especially for 79 pounds, but I didn't bother to try to find anything else aince I would be there only two days.

I wandered around quite a lot, finally ending up near Westminster Cathedral because I wanted to attend Saturday evening Mass, being under the impression that there would be choral music during the Mass. I was early, so I stopped into McDonald's for a chocolate shake. The contrast between the church and Mickey D's was stunning! (As one would expect, of course.)

I sat through part of the Mass, the music of which was led by a cantor with a very interesting rich voice. Gorgeous church, but I couldn't stay awake, so I left early, with the idea that I'd give it another go the next morning.

The next morning I went back to Mass. The cantor was a tenor--marvelous voice! However, I was disappointed that there was no choral music. I should have gone to Brompton Oratory, as CW suggested. After Mass I headed out for Bletchley. The excursion involved a bus to Euston station, a train only part way because there were repairs on the line, and then a bus to Bletchley.

Bletchley didn't disappoint, though I wanted to spend more time there. A guide led us through the mansion and other buildings and showed us the Enigma machine and the Bombe (spelling?). The Enigma machine was the genuine article, but the Bombe was made for the recent movie about the capture of the Enigma--which, by the way, portrayed it as being captured by Americans, whereas in reality it was obtained by the British.

The guide filled us in on the very important part the Poles played in breaking the German codes as well as the whole codebreaking enterprise.

There was a bust of Alan Turing, and the guide told us a little about him as well. It was all fascinating. My only regret was that I couldn't spend more time there, as there were various exhibits that I'd like to have spent more time visiting.

After Bletchley, I attempted to return to my hotel; however, the attempt was not entirely successful, as I got lost (Again!) and wandered around in the general area of Russell Square for a hellishly long time. I ended up walking a total of six miles that day. I believe it was that day that I made the resolution to find a compass before I travel again.

nevcha1109 Sep 18th, 2009 01:19 PM

Pegontheroad.....You may be interested in this article about Alan Turing...

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