London March 2018 Trip – Day 1

And she’s off!

Long traveling days! Drove to Modesto and stayed with lovely friends and got to catch up. So much going on – must force them to come and visit. May resort in kidnapping their awesome dog – that will bring them!

Drive to San Francisco was mostly uneventful. Some traffic so got to my off airline hotel parking spot (buy ahead on my spot to save $280!!) To snag THE LAST space. Scary!! Technically I was too late to process through and get the 8:30 shuttle but the travel gods did not let me down and s I ran back around with my one (tiny) bag, I was able to step onto the shuttle as the door was closing!

Super early at the airport so when I discovered WOW doesn’t participate in TSA pre-check I didn’t panic. Made friends with a woman taking WOW to Reykjavick with me but going on to Paris. We had lunch together at a great Mediterranean restaurant where I was able to find a vegan and sugar /flour free meal. Gotta love SFO!

WOW airlines, despite the bright purple/fuschia color scheme was great. Lots of leg room in the middle. I sprang for the upgraded $5 window seat and slept for 9 out of 10 hours.

Keflavic airport was nice even at 4 am. Had a fabulous coffee in Iceland, shopped for souvenirs and still had plenty of time to get my 6:30 flight to London. Was so prepared for delays, but landed smack on time – both flights. I don’t even care if the return flight is late!! +Probably just jinxed myself!)

London Gatwick was a very long wait for customs and a bus to the train station. No trains on Sunday – who knew? Due to work on the lines. The lucky bit was I got the front seat on the double decker. (No luggage to speak of so I could go upstairs!)

Crowded but easy, fast and cheap connection from Redhill to Clapham Junction and then made it onto the next train to Putney leaving just three minutes after I got there. Walked down the High Street, enjoying the sights and sounds of being back in one of my favorite cities in the world.

Then the best part – my friend opening to door, huge hugs and then talking nonstop over cups of tea with her and the boys and her neice.

Later walked back to the shops with one strapping boy to carry the bags. Loaded up on Bright Line foods for the week! Made some veggie side dishes to go with dinner. And discovered a sugar free coconut yogurt that is to die for! Wish I could find this in Nevada.

Started to fade before dinner but made it to 8:30 before I crashed. Meant to call Free and Jacob but fell asleep waiting for my phone to charge and reboot. Sorry my love!!

I feel as if I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday talking to anyone who would listen about my amazing husband and son.

I am so blessed. My heart is filled with such gratitude for having them in my life. I miss them already! A week is a long time but I can probably manage to make it through – there’s bound to be something to distract me in London!

Last Leg

Seems very normal to be sitting at an airport, waiting for our flight. But it’s the last flight of the summer and we are not off to a new location, but going home.
Such a nice phrase, going home. We are almost tearful.

Meredith was a star and dropped us at Clapham.
Easy train to Gatwick, though it was a few minutes late.
We are all checked in, bags checked for the first time all summer. (Baggage carousel broke, fo4 a minute I was afraid it was all my shopping!)
Now I feel light as air with only one small carryon.
We’ve picked up water and snacks for the plane. (11 hours is long flight.)
We have coffee and a sandwich.

The only thing left is to wait for our gate to be assigned.

Then – HOME.

Last Day

Our week in London with friends is coming to an end. One last birthday party and then tomorrow we go home. Some sadness, but mostly, happy to have survived the summer with no major accidents, incidents or disasters.

Jacob is still speaking to me, though we have agreed it might be quite nice to not see or speak to each other for a whole day when we get back.

It will be nice to be home. No traveling. Time to sort photos and write down the details of the story of our crazy gypsy summer so we don’t forget it in the distraction of picking up everyday life.

At some point I must pack, as my one small backpack has now morphed into two large bags with all the bits we shipped back to London. Plus, a little shopping in London.

Off to Covent Garden for a bit and then back to set up the party.

Edinburgh Final Thoughts

In retrospect, there is no way that the second  city after London would be wildly successful. We had such a wonderful time and my friend and her family is just wonderful. Also, her house on the Thames is spectacular. The contrast could not have been greater!

We arrived on Sunday night just before midnight, due to delays with the Ryanair flight.  Luckily it was very easy at the airport to  find our bus, because we were so tired. Decent service though Express must be a brand name as it stopped five times before Waverly Station. I treated us to a taxi to avoid stumbling around Edinburgh at midnight in the rain. Lovely driver who found Guthrie Street and our hostel and kept up a charming banter for the ten  minute drive. We did the walk on the way back and it was about a half hour, so glad we grabbed the taxi.

The hostel was about what I had expected, but their photos are clearly older than Jacob. Jacob on the other hand was horrified and angry that I had made him stay in such a place. I have to admit, it was a little scary as the floors creaked ominously with every step. We were on the fourth floor (fifth floor to Amercans) and the thought kept ocurring about what would happen if it collapsed.

On the other hand it was a quick walk around and up to the Royal Mile. It was  clean and there was never a wait for the toilet or the shower, which I had been expecting. We both slept well and found the beds surprisingly comfortable.

We got out early on Monday and found a Starbucks. After a bacon buttie and a large Americano, we were both ready to head to St. Giles. We took a bus, which turned out to be relaxing and restful as we got on going the wrong direction and it took an hour to go around which  we both appreciated. St Giles is  beautiful and  we arrived during the practice  for a lunchtime concert and got to enjoy the New  York  pianist while  we  wondered among the tombs  and admired the ceilings and  stained glass windows.

After the cathedral, we hiked up to the Castle and got lunch and waited for the daily horiwitzer shot at 1pm. Then we went right up to the top and the royal chambers, saw the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Scone. In one of the banqueting halls an acapelo(sp?) group was performing and I stopped to listen to their concert, which ended with Auld Lang Syne and me in tears.

After that, I lost Jacob when I went to the loo and then we left, both of us in a bit of a huff because  we were so tired. Found our  Starbucks again and charged our phones in case of future separations and our caffiene levels before heading out to find dinner. We had bangers and mash and a fry up which was fun, filling and cheap. 

Next morning was a quick visit to Sir Walter and the museum before heading to Dublin.

Pictures of Edinburgh

It is amazing how fast I get behind on posting. Have to wait for downtime and internet connection.
Plus, problems with my phone so very few pictures. Jacob got about a zillion but we are having no luck uploading from camera so far.

Looking up Castle view


Excellent pointillist painting


The Scottish National Museum model


Waiting outside


Van Gogh from the asylum


Breakfast in Princes St garden sitting on the steps of the museum ( we were two hours early so got a rest and caught up with Free!)


Sir Walter Scott memorial


Did not notice the bird until now!



Our first airbnb experience has been great. We have a one room flat in Dublin all to ourselves with shower and kitchen and even a washer/dryer. It is right on the bus line and quick minutes to College Green and Trinity College. We have been very comfortable. Even Jacob’s fold out sofa was okay, though a bit firm compared to American mattresses.
We shopped and made breakfast and dinner which saves a lot and is more relaxing than going out for every meal.
The flat cost $60 a night which was less than the hostel in Edinburgh and much nicer.

St Patrick’s and Chester Beatty’s collection

Continuing our theme of great books, we took a quick tour through Chester Beatty’s collection to see some fabulous Books from Islamic, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist traditions. Looking forward to Spain and more of those beautiful designs.
After an amazing lunch at Bite of Life, we went next door to St. Patrick’s. I love the churchyard which had children playing even in the rain.
Forgot to get a picture of the floors which were beautiful mosaics of tile. Great memorial to the Boyle family (son famous scientist for, among many things, Boyle’s law) which included the daughter’s husband’s but not the daughters. It really is a good thing I was born in the 20th century and not earlier.
Tons of great stained glass windows. I wanted to stay for evensong but SOMEONE was too tired.
Tomorrow: National Museum Archaeology exhibits and National Gallery.

Book of Kells and more

Loved the exhibit on the Book of Kells. Kept imagining the monks bent over their vellum, scratching away with their swan quills and oak gall ink. Great exhibit and very nicely done. Jacob’s favorite was seeing the pigments for making the inks. The two volumes and four pages on display are awe inspiring. Incredible to have survived for over a thousand years.

The Long Room, the famous Trinity College library with the busts, must be my true spiritual home. I could live here. In fact, they would probably raise a ton of money by having special sleepovers.

Stopped for coffee and a sandwich, then off to Dublin Castle. The guided tour took us down to the medieval bits where the River Poddle can still be seen, though cleaner than it was in the days there was still a castle.
The chapel is lovely and as a bonus a women’s singing group held a concert which we enjoyed for a bit to rest our feet while we enjoyed the voices raising up to the rafters.

Everywhere in Dublin we see memorials and celebrations of the hundredth anniversary of the 1916 uprisings which led eventually (painfully) to independence from Britain in 1923.