Here are some of the things I’ve accomplished thus far or need to get done for our impending Big Trip to Great Britain:
- American (fooey, coach. No agent deals available)
Rail and transit
- Purchased Heathrow Express tickets online rather than burn a rail day
- Ordered Essential London Kit
- Britrail Flexi-pass
- Advised Stow hotel our arrival time
- Need advise London, York, Dublin friends of arrival times
- Need book York-Dublin in Britain
L28 per person at station
- Book petsitter for Riley
- Stage packing items
- Need tidy
- Need make packing list
- New backpack with laptop sleeve, media pockets
- New clothes – mix and match
- Need get some gel shoe inserts for dress shoes
- Need remember to grab phone USB wire/charger from work
After much wittering and checking websites over and over again, I finally settled on what we’re doing – 3 days in London, 5 days in the Cotswolds, a couple of nights in York, and 4 nights in Dublin, Ireland. We’re repeating some of our previous trip to Britain but adding more time in the Cotswolds, and Ireland is a new adventure picked because David has an acquaintance there that we’ll meet up with.
I decided on a London transit package deal that includes 3 days of unlimited Tube and bus travel, rather than an Oystercard, because it came with admission to several things that we’re planning on seeing (or seeing again because we enjoyed them so much before). In London, we arrive late on Saturday night and although we’re probably going to be wide awake, we’ll try to get some shut-eye to keep the jet lag to a minimum. Yes, it’s a shame to short London a Saturday night, but that’s how the flight schedules worked out. The alternative was to try to leave Chicago on a Friday night AFTER WORK, which is never a good idea, and the arrival time is first thing in the morning, hours before the hotel room will be ready. We did that last time, and the first day was a blur although we did enjoy hanging out at what became our “local,” The Victoria.
I went a little crazy Saturday and bought a new “road warrior” backpack with a very organized interior – three compartments, with a very well-constructed laptop sleeve and a clever little side pocket that your laptop charger goes into: you can charge the laptop in the bag if you’re at an airport or a train station or school. My previous laptop back is a heavy leather satchel that David got from work, and I’ve never really liked lugging it around on trips. I had considered not taking the laptop, but will want to work on photos a lot in the evenings and this time, we’ll have wireless access in all the hotels (if not right in the room in one place). Also Saturday, I decided I wanted some new solid-color T’s and tops and perhaps a new pair of travel-appropriate slacks for wearing “out” of an evening.
That was the plan, anyway, until I hit Coldwater Creek and not only were they having a sale, the “no-iron slacks” were a perfect and flattering fit and were on sale for $10 off. Well, I did get some good deals on a variety of colored knit tops (I briefly considered a no-iron cotton shirt but ultimately rejected it) and my one extravagance is a really need ikat-weave jacket in greens, browns, mustard, and blues that goes with virtually everything. It’ll be my “evening out” jacket for a number of years to come. I’m really happy with it. Managed to get out of there without falling for chunky bead necklaces or other accessories. Felt sorry for the gentleman who was sitting in the Husband’s Waiting Area when I arrived, and was still there when I left. It was a pretty torrid hour of trying on, combining, and rejecting, and at one point I had a swarm of shop ladies all bringing me things. One of them actually said “I was walking past this rack with a new item and I thought of you…” Oy! I didn’t buy that, but I did drop a few hundred ducats. As one lady pointed out, the four pairs of slacks were “core pieces” and I know from the cut and way they’re made that I can easily wear them for years. Probably 10, as I don’t give a half-hearted goddamn about trends.
Then she tried to sell me some shoes and earrings, and I managed to get out of there with my life, my half-melted credit card, and my well-packed and heavy shopping bag. I won’t be taking all the slacks, though – just 2 pair, navy blue and black, along with some brownish ones I already have that are great for traveling in. I’ll leave the things I’m taking packed in the tissue, too. I’m going to look halfway decent and not quite as shlubby as usual. I’m taking at least one pair of hiking pants (zippy convertables) and I’m seriously considering not taking jeans. Wow, how un-American of me.
The camera will travel in a small older case I have rather than in the bulky new case, but I’ll be taking the telephoto, too. Have to think seriously about whether I want to mess with the tripod; may make do with the hiking staff that converts to a monopod. However, it would all go in a wheeled bag (the rolly-bag, we call it) so it can be dragged behind me most of the time.
As for the yet-missing pieces of the puzzle, we’ve got a 4 day rail pass that will be used to get us to the Cotswolds, and from there to York. I’m hoping to use the remaining 2 days for a couple of day trips, one from London possibly, but more likely from the Cotswolds. I wish we had more time in London, but it didn’t work out that way. The rail fare from York all the way to downtown Dublin is a special one-way fare, and we’ll either buy that outright to save a rail-day on the pass, or pay a supplemental fare of some kind – will work that out at the station (probably Paddington, while we’re still in London).
So that’s mostly sorted. More to remember later.