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London in late May/Early June--Part I

I’ve decided to break my trip report into several parts, so as not to overwhelm you and myself. ;)

Day One:
The trip started May 28 with a surprise: an email from Icelandair telling me that I would be flying nonstop via United, instead of stopping in Reykjavik. That was fine with me, since it meant I might get some sleep on the flight, plus a free meal in Economy.
The drive to EWR was uneventful, but it became painfully apparent to me that despite my efforts to pack light, my stuff was still too heavy for me. I have since made a list of what I used and didn’t use, and I know what I’ll leave home next time. Some of you may recall my posts about looking for a handbag/daypack that would work. Sorry to say, I never did find one. I bought a lumbar pack just days before I left, and because it could not properly fit my back, it was painful to use. I bought a crossbody bag in London, and that didn’t help either. I ended up buying Tylenol with codeine (available over the counter) in London, and that DID help. I am happy to say my shoes were great. Brought two pairs of Skechers and had nary a problem.
The flight left a couple of hours late (and I’m beginning to understand that is par for the course these days). Arrived in London around 10:45 a.m., and it took about an hour to go through Immigration at Heathrow. There were very long lines and I’m guessing several planes had arrived at once. Took the Heathrow Express to Paddington, and then due to the Bakerloo line not serving Paddington at that time, did a couple of Tube changes to get to Lambeth North, where my B&B was. A bit frustrating trying to get my luggage up and down stairs but overall, I was happy with my new spinner bag.
After unpacking a bit, I had a bit of a mini meltdown. I went to a pub and forgot that they don’t wait on you at a table; you must place your order at the bar. I left and went back to my room and cried. I feared I’d made a terrible mistake. I had not been to London since 1987 and thought, “I don’t belong here! What the heck am I doing?” I even seriously considered flying home the next day.
But then I realized I had to rely on myself, and that I needed to pull myself together. So I walked to a different pub, went up to the barman and told him I hadn’t been in England in nearly 30 years and asked for help. Ended up with an excellent meal of cider, fish and chips, and then started walking in the direction of the London Eye, which was visible from my room. I did get there after a long walk, and then I saw Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. I suddenly felt overwhelming joy: I’m finally here!
Day Two:
I slept a good twelve hours in an extremely comfy bed, then headed out to Highgate Cemetery. The weather was cool and overcast—my favorite kind! Walked through Waterlow Park, which was full of greenery, flowers, trees and dog-walkers. Saw and heard my first magpie ever. Walking was a little difficult, as I was sore after the long walk through the airports and to the London Eye.
Highgate surpassed my expectations. One of the most beautiful but saddest places I’ve ever seen. Birds singing, deep overgrowth and graves far off the path in the overgrowth. Visited both the West and the East Cemetery. Took dozens of photos!
Later, I had dinner at Café in the Crypt in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, as per Rick’s advice. I had the vegetarian option, which was a veggie casserole with beans and summer squash, salad with sour cream dressing, and rice. Huge portions! Had to get the apple crumble with custard for dessert.
I had tickets for the Trafalgar Sinfonia’s “The Four Seasons by Candlelight.” It was wonderful! I sat in the third row at right on the aisle. There was such joy in the musicians’ faces. It was fascinating to watch them.
When I had reached Trafalgar Square earlier that evening, there was again that sense of oh my, I’m really HERE when I saw the National Gallery. And at the bus stop, again, that thrill when I saw Big Ben again.

Posted by
23550 posts

Great report - glad you picked yourself up and kept going.

You could add the following days right here by replying to this post and then all your days would be in order and not scattered by other threads getting in the way.

Are you home now?

Posted by
491 posts

Oh, yes, I've been home for a month now. I've just been overwhelmed with working on my journal and getting my more than 300 photos in some sort of order.

Posted by
2427 posts

Sandra, I think your initial “I don’t belong here! What the heck am I doing?” is not unusual for the first day. Sleep and fuel usually help. I tend to ease into that day to settle into my new surroundings. I've also found bartenders to be the best people from whom to obtain information of all sorts as you, too, found out. I'm looking forward to Part 2! Wray

Posted by
661 posts

Awesome trip report, glad everything worked out for you!

Posted by
4011 posts

Sandra, I suspect we've all had those "Oh my God what have I done!" moments while traveling. I know I have. I think it's the feeling alone and bereft that is so devastating. Thanks so much for sharing. And don't delay adding to the report, please.

Posted by
1447 posts

Did you take the tube or bus there (my sister is going the end of August and was wondering)?

Posted by
491 posts

Hi, Barbara: I took both Tubes and buses when I was there. Was your question regarding how I reached a specific destination?

Posted by
491 posts

Part II of London Trip Report

Day Three

Let's just say that now I know why it's hard to predict the weather in London. Tuesday the 31st of May was cold, rainy and windy. The kind of day where that cheap umbrella you bought at the chemist's blows inside out and back again. I was sorry I hadn't packed my silk long underwear, and I put the lining back into my raincoat.
I set out for Kensington Palace, but despite looking at my map, I couldn't find it. It was in the "I know it's around here somewhere" category. Finally I asked a flower seller, and her dad, who was helping at her stall, not only told me what to do but stepped out to the curb to hail a cab for me. It really was only a block or two from where I'd been. The cab driver had to drop me at the end of a long drive, since vehicles can't go up said drive to the palace. I really enjoyed the "Victoria Revealed" exhibit. There were several of her gowns and her coronation robe on display, as well as personal items from her and Prince Albert's lives, such as jewelry, a painting made especially as a gift for Albert, and a piano they played together. I also saw the "Fashion Rules" exhibit, featuring gowns and dresses made for Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret. Very often the original garments were accompanied by photographs of the occasion and the wearer in the actual dress! I never realized Diana was 5' 11", as opposed to Queen Victoria, who was a foot shorter.

I had to leave shortly thereafter because I was meeting my pen pal in the V&A Museum. I was able to find it due to the many maps and street signs in the district. I don't remember those being around town in 1987, but I was able not paying much attention to that sort of thing. I was getting a little tired at that point, and checked my bags, just keeping my wallet with me because again, I couldn't stand the weight of carrying a bag. Meeting up with Cath was wonderful! We hadn't seen each other in 29 years, and the first thing we said to one another was "You look exactly the same!" We had a cream tea in the cafe (and I freely admit I am now addicted to scones with butter and clottted cream). As it was late in the day, we didn't have a lot of time to look around, but everywhere I looked, I didn't know what to look at next. It is like: Every single thing is a treasure! I did get to see the Manchester Tiara, as well as some original letters and drawings by Beatrix Potter. Then the museum was closing and we parted ways.

I headed for Piccadilly Circus and Fortnum & Mason. I have never seen such shiny china & there is not a speck of dust to be found anywhere. I love how the male assistants wear cutaways, ties in the F&M blue color and striped trousers. In the basement food hall, I bought a mushroom and spinach pie for dinner, which was absolutely delicious.

I also bought a crossbody bag at a place called Cotswold Adventures (I think), went back to my B&B, had dinner and watched a bit of TV.

Day Four

I was looking for Emma Bridgewater in Marylebone, but could not find it it for the life of me. About £9 later, a black cab dropped me off right there. Seems I was miles out of my way. I bought some mugs for my friends and family at home, then headed to Daunt Books. Wonderful place!! From there, headed down the High Street and kept popping into shops (Eileen Fisher, Oxfam, Neal's Yard Natural Remedies) and then to the Wallace Collection for tea. The cafe there is a large, airy, glass covered atrium. I saw seagulls flying overhead. Tea was delicious.

Then...my second cabbie of the day told me that London is full of twists and turns, not laid out on a grid like New York. No kidding! We were looking for a Japanese stationery store in Covent Garden. Never did find it but ended up at Gudrun Sjoden, where I bought a scarf. By the time I left there, the London Transport Museum was closed.

To be continued...

Posted by
7680 posts

Excellent reports! I, too, am glad you problem-solved and asking the barman was brilliant! I usually get travelers remorse a few days before I leave, but I have also found that on my first morning somewhere I need to have concrete plans to get me out and about.

I'm glad you mentioned the Wallace Collection because I forgot I wanted to go there! Added to the list...

Posted by
491 posts

Part Two, Day Four continued

I was quite hungry by then, so I went back to Cafe in the Crypt. Found that they were hosting Jazz Night, and I had to pay £5.50 extra to go in and have dinner because I hadn't gotten there early enough (sort of a cover charge).

I had actually reached the point where I was "hangry" and exhausted. I don't know how to pace myself, and it was painfully obvious that I'm not fit or in condition, and that walking a tiny bit on my lunch hour is not enough. Just going up and down Tube station stairs was hard for me. And add to it some weight in a bag or two, nope, no can do. My husband had suggested a shopping trolley (and I have since found out they make once that "do stairs") but I thought it would look stupid pulling one around behind me.

After dinner, went back to my room, worked on my journal and Skyped with my husband.

Day Five (June 2)

I went to see the Crown Jewels! Would you believe this was my fourth trip to London and I'd never seen them? They were beyond belief. I couldn't believe they are real. There's a huge, nearly 7 ct. diamond in one of the crowns. A sceptre with a huge, heart shaped diamond. Went around on the conveyor belt to see them twice, then saw Queen Victoria's tiny little crown that she had made in 1870 to go atop her mourning veil. And all the golden ceremonial banquet dishes! oh my!

Unfortunately, while I was trying to look at some of the armor, my back began to feel as if a hot poker were being stuck into my spine. A very nice Tower employee helped me find a staircase out of the Armoury. I decided to leave via the wharf. I wondered why there was a crowd of people behind a chain, but decided to bypass it and ducked under it. A yeoman shouted at me, "Madam! Get back behind the chain! It's there for a reason!" Sheesh, even when they're chewing you out, the British are polite. ;) I think they were doing some sort of gun-salute for the Queen (but as far as I knew she wasn't there). Had to turn around and take the long way out toward the Tube station. Cried a bit.
Went to Peyton & Byrne for lunch & tea. It was OK. Then, on to the Transport Museum. I was on overload after that. The pushing and shoving in the Tube really gets to me. In the museum, there were children running and screaming everywhere. I guess I should have expected that, because of half-term break. I don't know if the museum is always that crowded or if it's mostly for kids. Overall I did enjoy it, especially the little film they had about the Blitz.

Then it was time to have dinner and go to the Harold Pinter Theatre to see "Sunny Afternoon." I had dinner at a pub called the Comedy, which was pretty good, though very loud and the barman couldn't hear me and my order was a bit wrong. I LOVED the play. As a longtime Kinks fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Day Six, June 3

Went back to the V&A to see the jewelry again. I also went to the Fashion Gallery on the ground floor. Visited the Middle Eastern area on the ground floor and took pictures of some fantastic tiles. Visited the gift shop. I got tired very quickly. (Looking over everything I've written, I can see why. For a person with a sedentary desk job, this was a LOT of activity in a short time). After the V&A, I found a French bookstore near the South Kensington Tube station and bought a Clairefontaine notebook. Discovered they sell Unscented Dove soap at Tesco so next time I don't need to bring my own.

Had to make it an early night since I had to get up at 6 a.m. to catch the train from Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh.

More on that later...

Posted by
4011 posts

It's good that you can carry on and find the good parts, even when tired, "hangry," and in pain. We're looking forward to the next installment...

Posted by
1845 posts

I'm very much enjoying reading about all your good times along with the "learning" you're experiencing in one of my favorite cities. Thank you for posting your trip report and I'm looking forward to your next installments!

Posted by
7680 posts

My thanks as well...I cannot let myself get hangry. Just no. can. do. Next time you will pace yourself better.

Were you wearing a Fitbit or some other step tracker? I find in London I do between 6 and 11 miles a day so when I am preparing for a vacation (now, lol) I try to increase my mileage so I am comfortable at that level. If you don't have one, that might be a good step, lol, for tracking your mileage before your next vacation.

Posted by
12099 posts

Good report, enjoyed following it. I was in London in 1987, the next time I went back was not until 2009. I made the mistake also in 2009 on arrival day from SFO at the pub near to Kings Cross where my B&B was that one had to place the order at the bar, ie no waitress service. I didn't know that. So, I sat there, waited and waited, finally a waitress walked by and I asked her if she could take my order. She did, probably thought I was an idiot. Why did you say "I don't belong here ?" If not in London, then where in Europe?

Posted by
1568 posts

Sandra,
I enjoyed your report, London is one of my favorite cities. Glad you had a great time.
The weather in London - I happen to like the variability, one day it is cool and drizzly, the next sunny. It is part of London's personally. Whenever I am there, I am just thrilled to be there!

Also, the Wallace Collection is one of my favorite places in London, absolutely wonderful furniture (some pieces from Marie Antoinette's rooms, I believe) paintings and an extensive collection of armour. And, we enjoyed tea there as well, a thoroughly delightful house museum. Interesting story of the family that donated the house to the nation.

Judy B

Posted by
491 posts

Pam, no. I don't have a FitBit but I am considering getting one. I may be surprised at how much (or how little) I am walking!!

Posted by
2427 posts

Sandra, The rest of us 'get it'. There's an adjustment period, particularly when solo travel is new. Have you ever read this blog: http://solotravelerblog.com/solo-travel/ ? I think it is particularly about women's solo travel. Many women (or men, likely) experience the same discomfort and there is one section of this blog responding to a woman who was on her first trip solo, in London, who wanted to get right back on the plane, and all the helpful suggestions she received. You might have to search a bit for it. You will now be able to help other people. I don't think an anxiety disorder has anything to do with it. You're reaction is quite typical so don't get down on yourself. Think of all the people who wouldn't even try to travel alone! (I think that is most people.) Being afraid of something an doing it anyway, must come from a strong character. Purposely being rude, is just mean, which does not come from a strong character, IMO. And there is always at least one rude person in the crowd. On the other hand, he/she could have had a particularly bad day that day... Love your posts, Wray

Posted by
491 posts

Thank you for understanding. That is an excellent blog. I found the post you've referred to.
Not to hijack my own thread, but I did wonder if staying somewhere other than a self-catering flat might work better for me, giving me someone to talk to occasionally. The guesthouse where I stayed worked out because it had a little kitchen and I need to have a fridge and space for my dietary needs. The location was also very good. Perhaps I need to look around more.

Posted by
23550 posts

I'm proud of you too. I remember your first posts.

There's no need for people to be rude to you.

Posted by
2372 posts

Sandra, I am enjoying reading your trip report very much! Thanks for writing it! I am so glad you had a great trip. You really saw a lot of things! I admire the way you just kept going.

First, I very much identify with many of the things you felt while you were there. London is a great city, but it is easy to begin to feel overwhelmed. I was in London for most of the first three weeks in May. I must have caught something on the plane on the way over, because I was very sick for most of the trip.

So I do understand how a trip to England can be good and bad at the same time!

One of the highlights of my trip was seeing the jewelry exhibit at the V&A, as you mentioned. Absolutely amazing! I am glad you got to go to the V&A!

Don't feel bad about not knowing to order food at the bar in a pub. Many Americans make the same mistake. I think the Brits are used to it! The first night I was in London, I was sitting upstairs at a pub, had just found a cute table by a window. The upstairs barmaid came by and asked if we wanted drinks. We said yes, and when she came back with the drinks, she told us she would be up at the bar if we wanted to order food. She knew from the start we were tourists! Very kind of her to make it easy for us!

I am proud of you for undertaking this trip by yourself! I think you did a great job of seeing a lot, and getting around like a pro!

About your most recent comment, "I did wonder if staying somewhere other than a self-catering flat might work better for me, giving me someone to talk to occasionally." I think The Aster House Hotel may be a good place for you next time. It is a small, family run hotel recommended in the Rick Steves London Guidebook.

Looking forward to reading your next chapter of your Trip Report!

Posted by
491 posts

Rebecca, thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to your PM. Sorry you were ill. I had a bad cold the first time I went to London, in 1984. I got caught in the rain and I think that didn't help.

Nigel, and everyone who has been so kind, thank you again.

My English friend told me the first time she came to the U.S., she did not know about tipping, so she went to all sorts of restaurants etc. and never left any money for the wait staff. She was rather embarrassed when she found out later!

Posted by
5817 posts

I totally understand that it can be confusing in pubs if you are not used to ordering at the bar.

When I am not sure what the correct thing is to do in circumstances like this I try and see what everyone else is doing. You can usually get a good idea of what to do. If I get really stuck I ask someone. I am naturally quite a shy person but I have learnt over the years that the quickest and easiest way to find out is to ask, rather than sit and get stressed. In my experience people are generally kind and helpful

Posted by
4011 posts

Our last trip to London we visited one pub (of many) that seemed to have table service. We sat at an empty table and observed for a few minutes, then I went inside and just asked! I was told we did need to order from the bar (the servers were delivering food that had already been ordered) and that we would be assigned a table - we shouldn't just choose one! So when in doubt, ask! The natives are friendly. And they are used to tourists.

Posted by
2427 posts

Sandra, When I travel alone I do use hotels, preferably small hotels. That way the desk people or owners actually know who I am. Also, there is someone there to ask questions if I have any or with whom to chat and, if I'm ill, someone to know and assist if necessary. That's just me, but I don't need to have a refrigerator. I have no desire to have my own flat when alone on vacation. I feel more secure in a hotel, I guess. Wray

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491 posts

Day Seven, June 4

Made the train in seconds flat, to paraphrase the Beatles. I should have left earlier or gotten up earlier. I did not count on having to find platforms for the train at Paddington. The Tube also took longer than I anticipated. I also had some issues with the ticket machine, and left half my tickets in it. Luckily a very nice man called after me and gave them to me.

I was very excited to be on a train. I don't live anywhere near Amtrak lines and have rarely ever been on a train. I had booked a "quiet car" but there were some noisy children on it. Their parents were playing with them. The kids were little, like under 7, and I'm not really a "kid person" so I kind of wondered why they didn't get on one of the regular cars. Still, it wasn't anything to get too upset about. As I looked out the windows, I saw a few fields that had little sheds and what looked like garden plots, with ground covered in black cloth of some kind. I wonder what they were. Also saw, near Oxford, little canals/riverways with houseboats like I'd seen in the Regent's Canal.

The Secret Cottage Tour was wonderful. Becky is a great hostess. We were split into two groups, one in the Land Rover and one in the Mercedes mini-van. Things we saw: a swan on a nest, a partridge, a live fox, dead foxes, a robin, Morris dancers, cows in the road, May blossoms, like a bridal parade, lots of cow parsley, fat fluffy sheep and lambs dotting the landscape like cotton puffs, a former woolen mill converted into flats, manor houses, people on horseback, a 12th century church, Great Tew (a completely restored village), dovecotes, forget-me-nots and buttercups everywhere, saddle stones.

I also made friends with an Asian American woman who lives in Leeds, but is moving back to the U.S. soon.

The countryside was stunningly beautiful. I wish I could have stayed. And the menu at Becky's cottage! Egg and cress, smoked salmon, prawn and mayo sandwiches. More scones! Battenberg cake! Clotted cream! Elderberry cordial! And an Aga in her kitchen (had never seen one before). My only issue with an absolute nightmare of a wooden spiral staircase. Going up was fine, but going down was frightening. I had to cling to a rope banister and put my hands on built-in bookshelves. It reminded me of the hole Alice fell down while chasing the rabbit. The house was comprised of three former individual cottages, one up and one down. The rooms were very small and low-ceilinged, but each had a huge fireplace.

The villages were really interesting. Each one had a tiny schoolhouse for the kids to attend before busing. It must have been so very isolated back in the old days. The houses don't have numbers. They are often called what they used to be: i.e., the Old Vicarage, the Schoolhouse, or things like Bee Bole Cottage or Rose Cottage.

That was my last full day in England. Next report will be my final day and return trip. :(

Posted by
5817 posts

The "fields" you saw are called allotments and can be rented from the council by people who wish to grow their own vegetables. Once largely the preserve of old men (probably escaping their wives) they are now positively trendy. Many sites are oversubscribed with long waiting lists. The black sheets you saw on the ground were probably on plots that hadn't been used for a while and so were covered in weeds. The sheets help to kill the weeds making the ground easier to clear.

One area almost guaranteed to start a "discussion" is the concept of the quiet train carriage. Some people interpret quiet as silent so they can be the preserve of the passive agressive tutter (ie people who tut :-)). Many parents know better than to travel with young children in one but I do know from experience that sometimes you can end up with a booked seat in one even if you disn't ask for it. It can't be heled. Rather a child than the loud phone talker.

Re almost missing your train, as a Londoner I always say leave much more time to travel in the city than you think you need. It always takes longer than you think. And always check you have all your tickets!

Posted by
491 posts

Hi, Emma--thanks for the explanations. I have read about allotments, mostly in novels that take place in England. So now I've seen them for myself!

Posted by
491 posts

Final Day Report

I saved the worst for last! ha ha ha

Seriously, I think this was the worst day because I was overtired, hadn't gotten enough rest the night before (up late packing) and as I found out, things don't go smoothly at airports.

I got off on the wrong foot by not being able to find the bus that was to take me to Victoria Station. My landlady told me to go down a little street two doors up from the B&B, and there'd be a bus stop that would take me there. OK, so I looked down that street, saw a bus stop, but didn't walk up to it to make sure it was the RIGHT bus stop. I was panicking when I realized it was not, so I figured I'd take the Tube. And across from the Tube station was the correct bus stop. Next time: Check ahead of time.

Next thing, remind me NEVER to overpack again. I had a packable bag full of souvenirs on top of my spinner PLUS my personal item into which I could not squeeze another item. I ended up buying a trolley at Gatwick to help. It was not very helpful as things kept falling off it (I had 50 pounds left over and spent some of it at the airport buying tea for my mom).

I don't know if the Gatwick Express is always crowded, but it sure was that morning (a Sunday). I was afraid to wait for the next one as it was 9:45 a.m. and my flight left at 1 p.m.

I needn't have worried. The next entry in my journal begins "Gatwick was hell." Sounds like a T-shirt. I went to the North Terminal, only to find I needed to go back to South to get my Oyster card refund. This time, I was on Icelandair so I planned to buy food to take on board. Only I ended up running to the gate because I mistakenly thought the plane was boarding. There was no food anywhere near the gate and I was afraid to leave it. We sat and sat and left the ground at 3 p.m. instead of 1. At that point, I was so tired I didn't care if I made my connecting flight. I figured I could check into a hotel in Iceland and SLEEP.

In the airport, I was crying. I bumped a guy with one of the airport trolleys and he turned around yelled an obscenity at me. Sure, I knew I hurt him, but sheesh...Then I started to cry at the security checkpoint because i was so tired and confused about what to put in which bin. A kind lady helped me.

Rolling that trolley around was just BAD. Better than carrying all those bags, I imagine, though. Next time I am not buying souvenirs.

If I thought Gatwick was bad, Keflavik was worse. We were so late everyone ran through the airport looking for the gate, only to find the flight was delayed yet again. Crowds of people everywhere, poor organization, the toilets were downstairs at the other end of the airport and I would have had to push my way through crowds (with that luggage of course). Could not buy any food or water and so I had to buy it on board (which wasn't too bad). I don't remember traveling being that stressful 30 years ago, but back then I had a lot of stamina.

And now I know "just carrying luggage through the airport and onto the Tube" (a quote from my DH) can mean walking for miles, going up and down stairs, and jostling people and being jostled.

Halfway through the flight to Newark, the entertainment system bit the dust. When it came back up, the seatback controls for my screen weren't working. I gave up and went to sleep.

Got into Newark around 8 p.m., and it took about an hour to get through customs. I was so happy to see my husband that I cried. (I cry a lot.)

I only wish I'd been able to stay longer in England. I am also very grateful I had the opportunity to have this trip. I never thought I would get back there. I'm praying for a safer world so that everyone can enjoy the benefit of travel (as well, of course, as just being able to live in their own home safely!).

Thanks for reading!

Posted by
4011 posts

Oh, Sandra, it's so terrible when your last day is miserable. (Been there!) But you're right; being too tired, having too much luggage, and not checking your departure route out ahead of time are a recipe for a very bad day. But on the whole, your trip was great, you had a good time, and you've learned a few travel lessons. And, as important, you've posted your mistakes here so other people can take advantage of what you have learned.

So thank you for your reports. Don't give up on travel; the benefits way outweigh the problems.

Posted by
332 posts

Yes, Sandra, thanks very much for posting--both the good and the not so good. If it makes you feel any better, I once had a similar experience of breaking down crying toward the end of a trip, from exhaustion and travel snafus. Ever since then, I make a point of scheduling in periods of quiet/alone time during my trip so my (introvert) batteries stay recharged. Hope you keep traveling!

Posted by
11613 posts

Just want to add thanks and kudos for your perseverance! I know that my "hangryness" is exacerbated by blood sugar dips and too much sun. Constantly learning to pace myself better.

Posted by
65 posts

SandraL - Thanks so much for your post! You should feel very proud of yourself for all that you accomplished on your trip. I also get easily stressed by the logistics when traveling. My husband still laughs about the time that I started crying in the middle of Berlin, saying, "I just want to go home - NOW". It was 1990 and we had driven all day through the old East Germany and arrived in Berlin with no hotel booked. The lady at the tourist "i" booth (that was back when you would go to the i booth to reserve a room) chastised us for coming to Berlin without a reservation and then said that we had one hour to get to our hotel, or they would give the room to someone else. We just could not find the hotel, even though I speak some German. After an hour of walking around in the rain, I burst into tears. My husband calls it my "Mary Tyler Moore" moment, and we can laugh about it now. (We did end up finding the room and having a wonderful time.) I am glad that overall, you had such a great visit to London.

Posted by
7680 posts

Yikes! What a last day! BUT what a learning experience you had. Your next trip will be every so much better. You'll scout things out better ahead of time and leave yourself more time so you can take care of yourself. Someone on here posted one time saying something to the effect that "It is better to be early to the airport and bored than late and stressed". I love that thought!

Posted by
785 posts

Good trip report, Sandra! I am sure looking back on it, the memories are all the good stuff and not the tears.
So many times people are against taking a cab when in reality the cost is usually small compared to the time wasted wandering around lost. Vacation hours are expensive and the occasional cab is a small price for a little peace of mind. We typically prefer a metro or walking, but if I know I need to be somewhere at a certain time (like a dinner reservation), and I don't know exactly where I am going and am cutting the time close, I'll take cab or uber.

Posted by
700 posts

Good trip report, Sandra! You were brave to take this on by yourself and honest to tell it as it happened. I've traveled a lot, and I'm also a textbook introvert, but I've found some of the rare tough times were when I was traveling alone. As much as I love sneaking off unaccompanied to an art museum, what I really enjoy most is traveling with a simpatico compadre. I really miss having someone to share things with when I travel alone, and a friend can definitely increase my adventuring spirit. Hope you'll be off to another adventure soon. And as another poster mentioned, don't underestimate the value of a taxi ride! I build some taxi reserves into my plans for whenever I'm lost, tired, hungry, or wet. They are an immediate mood elevator for me and often a memorable conversation break.

Posted by
491 posts

Thanks, everyone!
I will definitely be traveling again. In fact, I'm trying to decide where to go next year. I'm hoping to spend two weeks in Europe.

I also made a "to do" and "to don't" list in my journal, so that I don't forget some of the valuable lessons I've learned.