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-   -   Travelgirl's Trip of a Lifetime (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/travelgirls-trip-of-a-lifetime-623665/)

crefloors Aug 13th, 2006 01:10 PM

Oh I do hope you enjoy Stockholm. I was there just after this last Christmas and I just loved it. The Nobel Museum on Gamla Stan, and the Stockholm Cathedral are both worthwhile and they are right by the Palace if you go there...so are convenient for a quick look see while you're in the area. Hope your husband get to you today. Just such a fun trip report..the details while it's in progress...just wonderful and you are a gem to take the time to tell us of your adventures. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

travelgirl2 Aug 13th, 2006 01:39 PM

Thank you for the Stockholm suggestions. DH's 8/12 flight from Heathrow to Stockholm on BA was cancelled. He was able to get a Ryanair flight today. He arrived looking disheveled and saying his travel days may be over. Our dear friend, who we are visiting, said to DH, "then maybe your marriage is over too". He knows me so well!

travelgirl2 Aug 13th, 2006 01:58 PM

Day 30 Ė Flight to London

In the morning, Carole calls to see how we have made out in the apartment. She is so caring and concerned about the people renting her apartments. Also, we find out that the elevator has magically been fixed. We are relieved, since we are on the 6th floor and were not looking forward to carrying our heavy suitcases down the stairs. We tried to pack light, but that has a different meaning if you are rolling your suitcases down the street or carrying it down 6 flights of stairs (although I guess down is better than up :) ).

We send the kids down first in the tiny elevator, with a few suitcases. When DH and I arrive on the ground, the kids run over and tell us some man has said good morning to them and taken the suitcases and is loading them into his taxi. It turns out that Yannis is in Delphi for the day and has sent another fellow to take us to the airport. The man calls Yannis so he can explain this to DH over the phone.

We have been told that it is not necessary to arrive at the Athens airport too early. But, we are used to being 2 hours early, so this is what we shoot for. Good thing, for we wait about 20 minutes to check-in with Olympic Airlines. Then, at passport control, we wait patiently in line and are finally about 10th in line when the agent suddenly tells the next woman in line to come with him to his office. They do not re-appear. So, we get in another line and start the wait all over. Altogether, it takes about another 30 minutes. Security is quick and we have a long walk to our gate. We are still early, but not by much. When Olympic Airlines announces that it is time to board, everyone jumps up and gets in line. There is no pre-boarding, no boarding by row number. The flight is fine. The plane is nice and seems to be pretty new. The food is pretty bad. I donít notice anyone smoking, which Iíve heard can be a problem on Olympic. People clap as we land.

Weíve rented an apartment in London through www.londonconnections.com. The apartment is okay. It could use some fresh paint and new carpets. It seems to be in a nice location, on Collingham Road in Chelsea/Kensington. It has wireless internet (yeah). It is stocked with everything we will need. This is London, so of course it is expensive. It is kind of a bummer that it costs more than the Athens apartment, while it is quite basic in comparison. The let-in lady makes a note that the washing machine is not working and says she will send somebody to fix it, hopefully this evening.

We go to RACINEís for dinner. It is described in Zagatís as a casual French bistro. It is not that casual. We are in shorts, but probably should have dressed up at least a bit. The food is pretty good. We all love the French bread. I have chilled pea and watercress soup, hake and mussels in parsley sauce, and strawberry ice cream. DH has a tomato salad and lamb. DS1 has rabbit. DS2 has a veal chop. They have petit pots of chocolate mousse for dessert. After the inexpensive meals we have been having, we are shocked once again by the high price of food in London. This meal is more than twice the amount of our dinner at one of the ritziest restaurants in Shanghai! And, itís not even that expensive of a meal by London standards.

After dinner, we go to the neighborhood grocery store and load up on food for the week. Then, everyone watches one of the few VHS movies that have been left in the apartment. I thought everyone had DVD by now. I catch up on my Fodorís postings.

travelgirl2 Aug 13th, 2006 02:00 PM

Day 31 Ė London

We need to relax today. First though, DH and DS2 take a trip to the Apple store, hoping to get help with our crashed iPod (remember from the first day of our trip?). But you have to make an appointment and the first available appointment isnít until the afternoon. They start taking appointments for each day at midnight. Must be a busy place. Maybe weíll try another day.

DH is leaving us today to go back to the US. He has been able to have a month off, but now he has to work for a few weeks. Then, he will re-join us later in the summer. Without him, we will be visiting London, Amsterdam and Salamanca.

For the rest of the day, we stay in our apartment. There are some menus here, so we find a place that will deliver for lunch. RICCARDOíS. The food is fine. Sticker shock again.

I also call the let-in lady and then the rental company about the washing machine. No one returns my calls. Donít they know I need to do laundry before we move on to Amsterdam?

I spend a long time today researching things to do in London. Last summer, we were in London for a week and Bath/Stonehenge for 2 days. This time, we want to see some of the sites we didnít get a chance to see last year. Also, Iíd like to find some unique, maybe offbeat, things to see and do.

To recap our August 2005 trip: We loved the Cabinet War Rooms. The new Churchill Museum attached was also interesting. The guys went to the Imperial War Museum one day while I browsed Portobello Road and the Travel Book Store and Books for Cooks (had lunch there too). We really enjoyed the Tower of London tour with a Beefeater Guard, much more than I expected. The kids loved the London Dungeon, DH was neutral and I absolutely hated it because it was claustrophobic and hot and way too silly. Madame Tussaudís was schlocky, but fun in a weird way. We saw Mary Poppins, which I was surprised to totally love and everyone else thought was pretty good. We took two trips to the British Museum and also managed to take tea there twice. We saw Pericles at the Globe Theatre, where the seats were very uncomfortable without any leg room and the show surprised us by being very modern (we left in the middle, as it was our first day in town and we were tired). We went to the Somerset House Ė Hermitage Museum, which had the strangest little exhibit on Russian porcelain, and we had fun running and frolicking in the fountains, which we hadnít even known were there. Our favorite meal was Thai food at the Churchill Arms. We also got lost one day and ended up at a Gallipoli restaurant, which was fun. We found that Pizza Express was pretty good too, if you need pizza while in London. We had a slightly more upscale and much more expensive meal at Wodka, complete with stuffed cabbage and pierogies. And, we walked and walked and walked.

So, now, what should we do for the next 4 days?

I hear that the London Eye has been closed down today. Someone has climbed up it and seems to be staging a protest up there. Last I heard, no one knew what he was protesting, but he was in the process of being taken into custody. It seems that at first they stopped the Eye. Eventually, they turned it back on and let the climber slowly turn back to earth. The tourists who had planned to ride it were not too happy. Iím glad we didnít go there today.

tower Aug 13th, 2006 06:32 PM

TG...one other suggestion which I'm sure you're planning anyway...the most colorful changing-of-the-guard in Scandinavia is at the Royal Palace at entrance to the Old Town (Gamle Stan)...very precise ceremony with marching band, I believe at 11 a.m..Kids will enjoy it.

Stu T. (will makeup for missing the Greek changing-of-the-guard!!)

Dejais Aug 14th, 2006 08:16 AM

I know some think it is silly but you have not mentioned the changing of the guard at Buckingham. The boys may enjoy that. They change at 11:30 am but I have been told you need to get there earlier to get a spot. It is something my mother and I have on our "must see" list for September.

Also, I had the name of a restaurant near there that served great Thai (I think it was Thai, if not Oriental of some kind) food. It sounded quite reasonable and good. Will pass the name on when I get home as it is my travel book there.

Dejais Aug 14th, 2006 09:05 AM

The name of the restaurant is Wagamama and it is a noodle restaurant. It sounded reasonable for London and had a good menu. It is a chain and there are several locations. This is the link:

http://www.wagamama.com

travelgirl2 Aug 14th, 2006 12:23 PM

Thanks Dejais. We went to Wagamama last year and thought it was fun. We thought the food at the Churchill Arms (pad thai) was better, though, so we seem to keep going back there.

travelgirl2 Aug 14th, 2006 12:34 PM

Day 32 Ė London

It is hot in London. They say that today may be the hottest day EVER in London. Yes, ever. Our first priority is to stay cool. Our apartment, like most, is not air conditioned. (The washing machine is also still not working.) So, we think and think of where it might be cool. We come up with a great idea. The British Library. They would have to keep all those important documents at a certain temperature, wouldnít they?

First, we stop at the Churchill Arms for lunch. Then we head on over to the BRITISH LIBRARY. The Treasures Room is fascinating. I know that I am such a geek, but this is my favorite thing yet this summer. We stay there for 4 hours, until they kick us out at closing time. It is so cool in there that we are actually shivering from the cold.

DS1 is fascinated with the Magna Carta room. DS2 and I spend a long time listening to a reading of ĎAlice Through the Looking Glassí. I love looking through Leonardo da Vinciís sketchbooks. He studied weights, physics, optics, etc. What an amazing intellectual he must have been! I am planning to read more about him and his life later. It is fun for all of us to look at the old maps and imagine when people really didnít know what was on the other side of the world. Looking at the Beatles songwriting notes and listening to recordings of their songs is a lot of fun. The exhibit on various religionsí holy books is very interesting too.

There is also a separate exhibit on publishing. Famous newspaper front pages are illustrated. They bring back such memories.

When the library closes, we try to figure out how to prolong the cool feeling. We decide to see a movie. No one can tell us where to find a movie theater nearby, so we decide to head for one that seemed to be somewhat near our apartment. Unfortunately, this involves an hour ride on the tube at 6 pm. This is our first time riding during rush hour. Ugh. With the press of the flesh, the heat is unbearable. We are soaked when we roll off of the train an hour later.

We exit the tube directly into a cute little mall. I ask where to find the movie theatre and they tell me it is a 20 minute walk. DS2 looks up and sees a sign for a movie theatre in the mall. Good job, son. We stay in the mall and have dinner at Pizza Express and then go see the new ĎPirates of the Caribbeaní movie with Johnny Depp. The kids love it and I am bored to death. At least it is cool.

alijay Aug 14th, 2006 02:52 PM

Fantastic reporting, travelgirl! I have just read the whole thread in one go!

Here's to the next installment ..:)


MarciaMarciaMarcia Aug 14th, 2006 04:44 PM

TGirl, I'm finally caught up! I think I'll weep with you when you come home. What an extraordinary experience! I just want to thank you for your generous spirit! I feel it when you are tired, thirsty, frustrated, giddy and awed. Thank you for sharing your unique experience in real time. I know how much work was involved in not only giving your family this experience, but recreating it for us.
Also, I'd like to thank the folks making comments in between installments.....always entertaining, educational and serving to bump the thread to the top. Stu, can't wait to read your book.
What fun you all are!!

Dejais Aug 14th, 2006 06:24 PM

TGirl...Thank you for the info on Churchill Arms. Perhaps we will be able to try it while we are in London.

MarciaMarciaMarcia...First of all, LOVE the name. It makes me giggle everytime I see it. Just wanted to say I thought your comments were lovely. This thread is truly in the true Fodorite spirit and I, also, love all of the posts people have made. I feel as though we are all taking this trip vicariously along with TGirl and her family. I look around and there you are and there's Stu and LoveItaly, JanisJ and Missypie. This is by far the best thread I have ever read here at Fodor's.

Thank you so much TGirl for sharing this. It has been a trip of a lifetime for a lot of us! :)

missypie Aug 15th, 2006 07:13 AM

Great idea about the British Library. I'm always looking for ways to get "down time" while traveling with the kids (in ways other than on the couch in front of the TV.) Sounds like a great way to spend a few hours, even when it isn't the hottest day of the year.

travel52 Aug 15th, 2006 07:19 AM

I have been reading along and now I also am caught up. What a great trip report. It is proof how thrilling and exciting travel can be and also how frustrating and how much work it can be. As I said after our month in Norway, England and Italy..."Travel is not for sissys!" Your boys are amazing to be such good travelers. My husband and I say that we are more patient with each other when we travel than at home. Some days he will look at me when I am frustrated with him for some reason and say "must be time to go on another trip!" Keep it up, we're all traveling with you!

travelgirl2 Aug 15th, 2006 08:13 AM

Thank you all for your wonderful, encouraging comments! I'm glad to provide some enjoyment this summer. It has been fun hearing from all of you. It makes our trip that much more fun.

MarciaMarciaMarcia Aug 15th, 2006 01:29 PM

What a nice thing to say Dejais, thanks.

We always travel with our two utes ourselves, sons 8 and 15, so I fully appreciate the nuances of a broken Ipod, but I'm betting after a couple of days they hardly missed it...or maybe not! LOL!

travelgirl2 Aug 16th, 2006 01:44 AM

Day 33 Ė London

Our first stop today is Leicester Square. We want to get half-priced tickets to the Blue Man Group. Afterward, we stop at a coin shop and DS1 purchases some antique coins. We head over to Chinatown, which is just a street away from the theatre district. We have lunch at FENG SHING. It is a Cantonese restaurant. The people there are very nice and the food is very good. We relax for about two hours over lunch.

As we pass by the movie theatres on Leicester Square, we decide it would be nice and cool to see a movie. Today is another hot day. Since we saw a kidsí movie yesterday, we decide to see ĎThe Breakupí today. Itís really a chick flick and the kidsí are bored. But, it is nice and cool and they have candy, so all is not lost.

Then we go to the BRASS RUBBING CENTER at St. Martinís In The Field Church. We each make a brass rubbing. It is so much fun that DS2 asks to make a second, larger, rubbing. Thatís fine, but then we run out of time and donít get to eat at the ĎCafé In The Cryptí or even tour the church.

We have to cut the brass rubbing short and get over to the BLUE MAN GROUP. I would call this show performance art. It is silly and clever and funny. The kids love it, but itís not really my cup of tea.

Day 34 Ė London

We spend half the day relaxing in the apartment. Then, we start walking towards the Science Museum. After 20 minutes of walking, we realize we are headed in the wrong direction, so we hail a taxi to take us the rest of the way.

The SCIENCE MUSEUM is fun and is in a nice space. There is a floor with all sorts of huge engines, cars, and things, laid out historically, which is very interesting to me. There is also an interactive kidsí area, the Launch Pad, which we all enjoy. The exhibits here are very creative. The Launch Pad is fairly crowded on this Friday afternoon, though, so when we move on I feel like Iíve spent an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheeseís. We also go on a motion simulator ride, being chased by dinosaurs and running away from an exploding volcano. The rest of the exhibits are just okay, nothing too exciting. But, the building design and use of space is very interesting. The future area is suspended high above the other floors and is bathed in an eerie blue light. There are some game-like exhibits up there where people are congregating.

After the Science Museum, the kids beg to go once again to the Churchill Arms. Oh, all right. This is our first time there during the dinner hour. Now, the waitress serves the drinks (during the day you get them yourself at the bar) and there is an hour time limit on sitting down at a table. We havenít eaten since breakfast, so we practically shovel the food into our mouths.

After dinner, we have to stop by the bookstore again. I have become totally addicted to Harlan Cobenís mysteries, so I buy two. Then we all head home to read our new books.

At night, it is so hot. Everyone has trouble falling asleep. I toss and turn and sweat all night long. This week in London, which was supposed to be a break from the heat, has turned out to be kind of miserable weather-wise. It seems to be 90 Ė 95 degrees each day. Traveling in the tube is stifling. The apartment is not air-conditioned. We have two fans, but it really isnít very well ventilated.

LCBoniti Aug 16th, 2006 07:28 AM

I'm sure many people, travelers and residents alike, are suffering with this horrible heat! (Makes me glad we went to Italy in February.) I'm sure you are still enjoying your trip but I can almost feel the heat-fatigue in your writing. At least you have the time to take it easier and cool off at the movies.

I'm going to check out Harlan Coben's mysteries as soon as I finish Stu T's book.

Thank you for continuing . . .
Linda


alijay Aug 16th, 2006 09:24 AM

Hi travelgirl. Well you are now in my 'home' town (although I now live in Spain), so I am visualising you in Leicester Square, the Science Museum, etc.

I empathise with you regarding the heat - here in Spain there is no a/c in the house and it is about 98.

I can't remember how long you will be in London for, but apart from the obvious attractions, your boys might like Madame Tussaud's and the Planetarium - and they will be cool inside!!

Am really enjoying your reports - you're doing a great job!

tower Aug 16th, 2006 10:47 AM

AliJay, the way I read TravelGirl's posts, they have already been in London...her posts signify Day 34 which would have been about July 22-25 thereabouts...they are now in Sweden at least. Seems the entire trip covers 77 days (11 weeks) and it should culminate around first week in September. What a great trip!!

Linda Boniti...happy you are taking the trek with my wayfarers..if you have any questions you would like to discuss, write me directly [email protected]'s that for direct service, eh? (We also send personlized "signature decals".. if you'd like one, just give us an address)
Stu T.


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