The UK trip I finally got to take

For two years I waited to take a trip. When the time finally approached and people asked if I was excited I answered, “eh.” Not that I wasn’t excited but because of COVID this trip had been postponed twice. So, it was hard to get excited or even believe it was actually happening. But it finally happened. I went on my 2020 trip with my brother and sister in law.

Over London

Our flight was scheduled to leave Salt Lake on Monday. I live in Wyoming and springtime in the Rockies can always be a bit iffy. A snowstorm was forecasted for Sunday through Monday. After waiting to take this trip for two years, a snowstorm was not going to prevent me from leaving on that plane. We drove to Salt Lake earlier than planned to beat the storm.

Monday afternoon I was on that plane headed for Paris. Fun fact, when traveling internationally, you now have to go through security again to catch your connecting flight. Did not have to do that the last time. This time I did.

I wasn’t at the Paris airport long. Just long enough to take a little walk and see a giant cat. Because why wouldn’t there be a giant cat statue in an airport?

Paris Airport

From Paris, we flew over London and into Edinburgh. There we met our travel guide, Sandi. We boarded our bus and were taken to our first hotel. Since I am single, I pay what I call a single tax. Basically, a little higher fee to get the perk of not sharing any hotel rooms. Totally worth it.

The whole point of the trip, the sole purpose I went, was to see Scotland. What I saw was two nights and one day of Edinburgh. Not only was the time short, but it rained while I was there. I bought me a jacket and an umbrella along with the obligatory souvenir tee shirt.

Edinburgh

We toured Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, went on an interactive tour of the Scotch Whiskey Experience (no, I did not sample the whiskey). Our tour guide for the day was actually German. He did a fine job and was knowledgable enough but he didn’t have the Scottish brogue. He had a German accent. That was a little disappointing.

One thing about Edinburgh, the tourist industry really seized and tries to capitalize on its Harry Potter connection. No, the story does not take place in Scotland. But it is where J.K. Rowling lived while she wrote some of it. So, what is offered is to see “possible inspirations” for some of the key locales. And it is a draw. I mean, if I had more time I would have taken the “Harry Potter” tour.

I thought he was a little underdressed to be a tour guide. He came in pajama bottoms. It took me until almost the end of the tour to realize they weren’t pajamas, they were his family’s tartan. Such an American touristy mistake.

We were taken to the Queen’s Yacht, also known as the Royal Yacht Britannia. After touring the little boat I can assure you, I am in a completely different league, more like universe, than any royal.

While in Edinburgh, we went to a Tartan shop looking for my mom’s maternal tartan. No luck. Couldn’t even find the name. Another dead end with family history. I am beginning to believe my family doesn’t exist at all. Maybe I am a figment of my own imagination?

Wednesday morning we headed south and left Scotland. I would like to go back and spend more time in Scotland itself. It was a 10-day trip with little samples of a lot. I’d like to spend a lot of time in a fewer places now.

Leaving Scotland

We entered England after watching the rolling green hills dotted with sheep. Everything was so green. When you live in a desert you notice the green.

Our next destination was York. There we met with another tour guide who took us to the York Minster. A huge cathedral that took centuries to build. My question, how do they know when it is complete? It took hundreds of years to finish, when and how do they call it done?

York Minster

The next day, we continued on our way and stopped at Stratford-Upon-Avon. Or, William Shakespeare’s birthplace. We toured his house and I bought a little book of Shakespeare’s quotes. Also, another fun fact, Avon means river in Celtic. The place is really just Stratford-Upon-River but that doesn’t sound as cool, does it? That is also why there are so many places with the name Avon in them in the England area.

In front of Shakespeare’s home

We were in Bristol for two nights. It was not my favorite part of the trip. Partly because the hotel messed up our dinner and we ended up ordering a Dominos Pizza at 8:30pm. Dominos? Really? It was so American.

The other reason I didn’t like Bristol is because I think my hotel room was haunted. I will leave it at that but trust me when I say I wasn’t exactly sad to leave Bristol. I would have preferred to stay two nights in York and only one night in Bristol. But that wasn’t to be.

While we were in Bristol, we spent a day in Cardiff, Wales. The weather was cold but doable. We toured the castle and walked around a bit. It was a Saturday and there happened to be a huge Rugby game between Wales and Italy. At first, we thought Wales had won because they all seemed to be celebrating. Then we found out Wales had actually lost by one point. They weren’t celebrating they were commiserating. Funny how the two can resemble each other so closely when pints of liquid is involved.

Who is the idiot wearing an Italia sweater in Cardiff?!

For a ten day trip, I don’t pack very much. I wear the same clothes more than once. When I saw what the weather forecast was for Cardiff, I planned accordingly. I wore what I had. What I had happened to be an Italia soccer sweater I had bought on my last trip. It didn’t dawn on me that might not be a good idea considering the Rugby match. Not until someone in our group pointed it out to me. After the game, my new Edinburgh jacket got zipped up to cover my Italia sweater. Not that anything would have happened, it just seemed like a good idea.

The next day we stopped in Bath. This was one of my favorite stops. Actually, one of my favorite days. After Bath, we stopped in Salisbury. After Salisbury we headed to Stonehenge.

Anyone else think of the Clark Griswold family when you see Stonehenge? Just me?

In the late afternoon, on March 20 (which happened to be this year’s vernal equinox). Now, all week we had been touring man made structures. Cathedrals and castles. And then whatever Stonehenge was built for. Mankind doesn’t change. Man builds. Man likes to build. The only thing that changes is his tools. From strategically place massive stones in a circle that is connected to the calendar to strategically placed stones on top of one another as either a cathedral or castle. Mankind builds structures.

After Stonehenge we went to London where we spent our last three nights. The morning after we arrived we went on a whirlwind tour of one of the largest cities in the world. I might need to go back and, oh, I don’t know, spend a little more time there, also. We did get a tour of Westminster Abbey and we walked to Buckingham Palace for some photo ops.

London

The next day, our last full day, we were on our own. What to do? Should we go to a museum? Should we venture on the Tube? What to do? What to do?

A few of us ended up going to Madame Tussauds. Honestly, I thought it was going to be rather lame. I mean, wax figures of people? When there is so much history in London that could be viewed?

Let me just say, I was wrong. It ended up being fun and probably more memorable than another museum. I probably enjoyed that more than, or at least just as much as, anything else we could have done.

Helping out

Afterward, my brother and sister in law met up with friends and I walked Hyde Park. It is a rather large park, I did not see it all. Plus, knowing my track record, I was a little afraid I’d get lost. It’s happened before. But I walked a bit and then sat on a bench and people watched. The weather was finally fairly decent.

After I left the park, I went into a tourist store and bought a London tee shirt and some snacks. Then I went back to the hotel to wait for the adventure of COVID testing so that I could get back to the USA.

Our group lined up outside a testing facility and waited for our turn to get a COVID test. We then waited for about a half-hour waiting for results. All but one passed. All but one could go home the next day. I’m just thankful I wasn’t that one.

After that was sorted, we went to our last group dinner. The trip that took two years to go on was now done. Although I was glad I wasn’t going to be detained, I was sad it was all over.

The next day we headed to the London airport and after waiting in a line of what felt like a million people we made it to our gate and headed to Detroit to make our connecting flight home.

Heading home

I’m not fond of airport lines and checks but I sure love to travel. Where we going next?

5 thoughts on “The UK trip I finally got to take

  1. Aww, what a lovely trip, you certainly saw a good range of sights. The haunted hotel room, along with the the giant cat in the airport – Paris….bit scary!! 😊

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