Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Travelgirl's Trip of a Lifetime (

kenderina Jun 18th, 2006 05:34 PM

That's a good beginning, sure :) Waiting for your next chapter !!

SandyBrit Jun 18th, 2006 05:35 PM

travelgirl2 - What an adventure you are all on. You are all truly blessed.

Looking forward to your reports.


maryanne1 Jun 18th, 2006 05:38 PM

Enjoying your post. Keep it going. It is wonderful to have someone waiting for you upon arrival. What a wonderful experience you had at dinner!! So generous! It makes you feel all the planning and worry are worth it all. Will look forward to your further adventures.

Croque_Madame Jun 18th, 2006 06:20 PM

Hmmm..let me tally this up..

Dishwasher, kaput. Septic tank, questionable. Garage door, a goner.

Family flew across the ocean, arrived safely. Airport limo driver, immigration officer, London driver, all friendly. Free dinner, good. Cross cultural, genuine human to human connection at dinner, remarkable. Educational and entertainment value for children, inestimable.

I'd say you're definitely ahead of the game. Keep it going! You and your family are exactly the sort of ambassadors this world needs.

noe847 Jun 18th, 2006 06:22 PM

Your report is so great, travelgirl! What a wonderful start to your trip. I love reading the in progress trip reports. Where are you going on this trip? Are your boys keeping journals? They will certainly want to remember the different experiences.

rkyracr Jun 18th, 2006 06:39 PM

Travelgirl -
It sounds like your trip is now off to a good start (maybe the house just needs a vacation too!).
I look forward to reading your future posts, it is great that you are posting during your trip, as I really feel like I am along for the ride with you.
I would like to hear what you children enjoy while in London - I will be going there in December with my family.
Have a great time!

HappyCheesehead Jun 18th, 2006 06:48 PM

Hiya Tripgirl2:

I am in for the duration and loving it. It will be fun to hear of your adventures as you go. Hope you will have the time and inclination to keep in touch with us here in Fodorland as you make your way across this wonderful planet of ours!

Bailey Jun 18th, 2006 07:07 PM

Oh, what a grand first day!!!!

Have a trmendous time!!

You didn't miss anything here in Jersey today....very hot n' humid!!

degas Jun 18th, 2006 07:24 PM

"When we return to the hotel, it hits me that we are actually in London and our adventure has begun!"

Is that not one of the best feelings in the world? Hope you have a great time.

LCBoniti Jun 18th, 2006 08:35 PM

travelgirl -
I love the story about the Indian gentlemen! They demonstrated the true definition of the word "gentlemen".

Please do post when you can. It's such fun for us to enjoy your trip with you!

annabelle2 Jun 18th, 2006 09:33 PM

Good for you for taking your family on this adventure. How long will you be in Japan, your next stop, and where are you planning to go? I lived there as a kid and it is a favorite of my family's. I think your boys will find it fascinating. What countries are on your itinerary?

Look forward to hearing more from the road...

christieCA Jun 18th, 2006 11:05 PM

What an amazing trip already! I can't wait to read more about it. My Dad took us on a couple 5 week vacations when we were the age of your sons. It was the greastest thing he could have done and I am addicted to travel because of it. Your boys will appreciate this trip forever.

kamahinaohoku Jun 19th, 2006 05:47 AM

Bookmarking this because I want to read the rest of your excellent report!

SiobhanP Jun 19th, 2006 06:52 AM

This is such a great experience for your kids as well. We always end up chatting to someone unusual and discover new places to see/eat and drink in a city. found a great restaurant when we went for new Years this past year through a doorman at a pub we chatted to all night. He was from Gujarat, India studying in London and reccommended a Lebanese restaurant (Tasty!) and a few Indian places to eat. Such a lovely person

Enjoy the adventure thats what its all about!

lolfn Jun 19th, 2006 08:20 AM

can't wait to read more!

travelgirl2 Jun 19th, 2006 02:57 PM

Day 2 - London

Ah, London. What can I say? A place where they remind you to "mind the gap". Where the sign in the subway says "please give your seat up to anyone who needs it more than you do". Charming.

We decide to sleep in. Then we work on our iPod. It seems to have crashed. We consider going to the Apple store in London, but eventually decide that there are other things we'd like to do. So, we have a late lunch at the Churchill Arms Pub. It is near the Notting Hill Gate tube stop. We love this place. It has Thai food and most (all?) of the dishes are 6 GBP. The dining room is very casual and atmospheric, with a canopy of hanging plants. We order 3 dishes for the 4 of us and enjoy them so much that we order another Pad Thai to share.

Then, we stop at a bookstore. Our next stops are: Tokyo (2 nights), Kyoto (5 nights), then China. I see evidence that the Europeans really do travel more than the Americans. Their travel section is amazing. I could stay here for hours, just browsing. But, we quickly pick up a couple of books for Japan. One thing I notice is that they have a lot of books covering 1 city, rather than a whole country. This is great, as I really want a book on Kyoto, which I was unable to find at home. Here, no problem.

Then, we head over to our "event" for the day. London is having an Architecture Week this week (June 16-25) - the "London Architecture Biennale". There is a walking tour at 6 pm. We have to find the Smith House, which is near St. Bartholomew the Great (church). So we go to the church and start walking around in circles. Soon it is 5:50pm so I start asking people. No one has any idea. One fellow says he is going to a neighboring pub and he thinks someone there may know. We accompany him to the pub. DH does not hear this conversation exactly, so he wonders why I tell everybody that we are following this guy. Well, the friends at the pub don't know either. Then, one of the friends says he knows someone who may know - a policeman. We go over to another fellow sitting at the bar. He says he did see them renovating a house for the biennale and maybe that is it. We get directions and set off. The original man and friends say that if we don't find it, we should come back and have a pint with them.

We find the house, which is the Smithfield House, purchase tickets and sit to wait for the arrival of the guide.

travelgirl2 Jun 19th, 2006 03:30 PM

Everyone around us is enjoying a beer. We sit in the courtyard and notice the hip vibe. Soon the tour guide comes along. His name is Benedict O'Looney. He tells us he is a professor of architectural history. We set off on the walk.

The walk turns out to be fascinating. Although a little heavy on architecture and a little long (3 hours) for DS1 and especially DS2 (dear son 1 and dear son 2). There were about 20 of us, including 5 architects, in the group. It was billed as family friendly and it truly was. He was an excellent tour guide, very informative while still light and entertaining. We walked from Smithfield Market to Clerkenwell Green to Exmouth Market to Kings Cross.

One thing he pointed out is that London has a "jump in perspective" from one building to the next. Due to the different historical periods in which buildings were built, they may be only 3 stories or 6 stories, for example, but they are right next to each other. I began to notice this over and over as we were walking. We stopped to look at various buildings as he pointed out things that made them unique to their period in history - type of building materials, how recessed the windows were (related to new fire regulations in the 1800s), decorative elements, etc.

The biennale is set up as a walking path, with various exhibits along the way. There are red circles on the ground to show you the way. You can pick up a map at Smithfield House (at the corner of Lindsey and Charterhouse). One unique exhibit is "Urban Oasis". A modern architect has set up a spaceship looking plastic and metal structure which is self-powered. It uses fuel cells, methane gas, moving solar panels and I don't know what else to power lights and sound. I cannot describe it adequately. I guess you have to see it to believe it. Very strange yet oddly beautiful in design.

From our tour guide, I also learned a new word. He told us if we had a chance we should "circum-ambulate" a certain area. It took a moment to realize he was saying we should walk around.

I was amused when I was chatting with a Londoner who was also on the tour. He said that the tour guide had an American accent. Huh? He sounded English to me. Maybe with somewhat less of an English accent. We learned later that the tour guide did indeed spend a large amount of time in the US. Interesting. I will have to listen more carefully.

We crossed paths with another of the Biennale events. A local cycle club had arranged bicycle tours along the Biennale route. We actually wanted to do one of these, but didn't know how to go about renting a bike. Probably better, because we stopped to listen to their group for a while. They were quite serious, debating the social implications of public versus private squares over time.

At the end of the walk, we finished at the building of the architecture firm that sponsored the walk. YRM. They have designed much of Gatwick Airport. They have recently converted an old brass foundery into a loft-type work space. They hosted a cocktail reception for all of the walkers and showed us around their office. In designing their own building, they seem to have thought much about the social implications of the architecture in the workplace. They designed an open floorplan, under huge crossbeams. No one is allowed to eat at their desk, to encourage interaction. Everyone is to clear their desks of extra papers every Friday afternoon, in order to have a clear head on Monday morning, not a messy desk. They have an open second level overlooking the first, which is designed as the meeting center, coffee room, lounge, library, etc. The purpose of this is to encourage interaction between co-workers. The gentlemen from YRM were very gracious and delightful to answer all our questions and chat a while.

The guide was very sweet to come up to the kids after the tour and tell them that they'd done quite well for all the grownup architecture talk that had been going on.

Then, even though DS1 had said at lunch that he would never eat again (something about being too full), we had a quick bite at a fish and chips and kebab place (only in London).

Tomorrow, we will spend the day on our 12 hour flight to Tokyo. Later in the trip, we'll be back to London for a 6 day stay. I'm already looking forward to it.

travelgirl2 Jun 19th, 2006 03:40 PM

The edit function is not working...

I meant to say that they did a lot of design work at Gatwick Airport, not that they designed much of Gatwick Airport (I don't know if that would be true)...

Vera Jun 19th, 2006 04:01 PM

Terrific and interesting report. How nice of you to take time from your trip to write this. Seems you have enough on your hands with two boys to keep up with!


laartista Jun 19th, 2006 04:13 PM

I second Vera, Very interesting report.Looking forward to the next installment.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:32 AM.