The excitement had been building for several months around our household, ever since we had pushed the "Book It" button on the Rick Steves website to book two spaces on the Best of England In 14 Days Tour. As soon as we received confirmation of our booking by email, my husband said "Come in here. There's something on the computer screen you'll want to see!" When I saw the confirmation, I yelled, "We're going on a Rick Steves tour! We're going! We're actually going!" We jumped up and down and danced around the living room. Husband yelled, "We're going to Wales, baby!" Then we went to the kitchen and opened a bottle of wine.
A toast was made to Rick Steves. "Here's to Rick and to all of his books and videos that got us to this point." A second toast was made, "To all of our tour mates and future friends."
I sent an email to a friend from the forum who has taken many RS tours telling her we had signed up and received confirmation, and she wrote back "OMG! OMG!"
Then, of course, the bags were dragged out of the closet and packing began. Over the next several days, many outfits, sweaters were laid out on the bed in the spare bedroom, eyed with suspicion, some made the grade and were put in the carry-on bag.
The day arrived that we packed the car and drove to our hotel near Dulles airport. We like to drive up a couple of days early and stay near Dulles, visiting favorite restaurants and historic sights in the area. Husband had been wanting to see the Udvar-Hazy museum, so we stayed the first night at the hotel, got up the next morning and visited the museum all day, stayed a second night. Then it was time to catch our flight.
Virgin Atlantic direct to Heathrow. Great flight. Arrived at Heathrow, went through the usual entry process. Walked to the Heathrow bus station. Bought tickets to Bath. Walked out to the bus shed, bus was already there. A friendly Indian man wearing a turban greeted us. He ended up being the most skillful bus driver and a great source of information about the towns and villages we would go through.
We zoomed along country roads and through little villages. Soon we were in Bath. The entry to the city of Bath took my breath away. Huge elegant buildings built of beautiful cream colored
stone appeared on both sides of the street. Some had balconies on the second story with black wrought iron detailed railings. Slate roofs. Wide sidewalks and clean streets. Green leafy trees along the streets. Picture-perfect. I was impressed. Bath knocked my socks off. And we had not even arrived at the bus station yet.