Friday, February 08, 2008

Tripping in the UK, Part I

Last May, I envisioned a simple trip to London and Scotland. Maybe a quick side trip down to Exeter. That trip has totally morphed into something entirely UNRECOGNIZABLE – but beyond GLORIOUS!

My friend, known as Dilly, is living in London where she’s working on her Master’s Degree. The minute she heard me ever so casually mention the idea of coming over, she has been scheming, and prodding, and pleading. Once I committed, I made cow-eyes (not really) at Blue, and he decided, spur of the moment, to join us!!!

The three of us are all Aries babies, and we’ve decided this trip will be our best EVER birthday presents to ourselves.

Now I have most of the trip planned, and feel like not much can be jinxed at this point – so I will tell you all the lovely details!

I’ll leave on Wednesday night on a non-stop red-eye from RDU – and awake the next morning as I land at Gatwick Airport outside of London!! From there I will (crosses fingers) get on the plane train, to go to the tube, and end up exiting the platform and see Dilly’s smiling face. From the tube, we’ll trundle off to her apartment. This is where the schedule picks up.

3/13 (Thursday) – London

Hang out with Dilly

Eat Fish and Chips somewhere

3/14 (Friday) – London/Edinburgh

On Friday morning we’ve booked tickets for train from London to Edinburgh.

Once we get there, (around noon time) we’ll stash our luggage, get on a bus (hopefully the RIGHT one) and arrive at the Glenkinchie Distillery, which is right outside of Edinburgh. We’ve heard rumors of them starting the last tour of the day early, so we are calling ahead to let them know WE ARE COMING!!

We looked at going to the Isle of Islay or to Oban, but as you can see by navigating to the east and north on that map … they are IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. They also believe tourist season starts in June (maybe because of the average temperature in March 8 C / 47 F !!)?? I also found out none of the distilleries were open (much less on SATURDAYS!), so it seemed like a lot of work to get nowhere. I am happy with the current plan.

After the Glenkinchie Tour, we will bus back to the train station, get our luggage, and hop another bus so we can check into our APARTMENT"! We discussed at length where to stay – and what we wanted to stay in, and finally decided that “self-catering” (it means it has a kitchen) was the best/smartest/cheapest way to go. This way we can eat breakfast in, we can buy nibbles to take along for lunches … and maybe even cook one or two nights! (Clearly this is Dilly’s concession to me, because who else would want to COOK ON VACATION?)

3/15 (Saturday) – Edinburgh

The plan is to visit these things: National Galleries of Scotland Where admission is free! (oh! I like that price!)

We will also drop by the Writers Museum, in honor of Josiah, and my attempt at this craft. (Admission here is also FREE!!)

Just down the street is the City of Edinburgh “City Art Museum” and they have an Ansel Adams retrospective going on 3/9 – 4/19. T he exhibition includes 150 original prints of photographs spanning Adams' work from the 1920s to the 1960s, from his most famous images of the American West to portraits, still lifes and abstract photo studies. Unfortunately, this will cost £4.00, but I think that’s $8.00 USD, well spent.

That evening, we will recover from all the visual stimulation by drinking here: The Guildford Arms We have it on from a friend they do some nice (and unusual) Belgian beers. Sadly, the afore mentioned recommender will be in London, while we are in his home town. (*sheds a tear or two*)

We are also hoping to meet up with this friend too, but he has a "football" game commitment. But he's said, maybe on Sunday!

3/16 (Sunday) – Edinburgh

On Sunday morning we’ll attend church St. Giles (Presbyterian) or at St. John’s (Episcopalian)

(although if we are out late Saturday night I have a sneaking suspicion we might not make the 9:45 or 10:00 am service at either location). Also, rumor has it I need to get, Dilly in the shower at least an hour earlier, than she thinks she needs to, so we can be on time! Hello this is like traveling with TP :D

After church, we’ll go here for a self-guided tour. I want to do the University tour, because part of my novel (might) take place in Edinburgh (it certainly has its roots there, as this is where Joshia’s parents immigrate from, and where his Dad, William Hannaford, got his engineering degree and learned how to run a printing press). It will be loads easier writing about it, after visiting.

If luck holds with us – and neither one of us is ready to pass out, we’ll go to Edinburgh Castle. There is a Tartan Weaving Mill right outside .. I can’t tell if it’s open on Sunday’s or not … but we might stop and see it, if it is open.

Another friend CraigWA, recommended The Bridge Inn as a dining spot. I think it would be great to sail through “largely undiscovered countryside” for Sunday dinner while enjoying a three course meal with a full choice of quality, locally sourced and seasonal dishes at the Captain's Table.

3/17 (Monday) – Edinburgh/Cardiff, Wales

We will take a mid-morning train from Edinburg to Cardiff, Wales, where we’ll visit with our friend Binooby and her husband, the Rector of Cardiff! I have no plans – and expect to bask in the delightful company of the Noobs, while laughing hysterically at the antics of Erica, man-stealer and heartbreaker extraordinaire (total inside joke)! By this point, I’m sure Dilly and I will be ready for the quiet and relaxation.

3/18 (Tuesday) – Cardiff/London

At midday (around lunchtime, I believe) we’ll leave Cardiff arrive back in London and meet up with Blue!!! Who flies in that morning.

I have nothing planned, except maybe indulging in Curry at the Camden Lock Market Stalls. Plus, maybe looking at him, and squealing with joy a few times. Maybe even squeezing his arm to make sure he’s really there. It’s quite possible I might even gather he and Dilly into a group hug – just to make sure they really, really, feel my joy! (ME! BLUE!! DILLY!! All together!)

3/19 (Wednesday) – London

10:00 Go to the Tate Modern and see the Juan Muñoz (1953-2001) exhibit. It includes well-known sculptures such as Many Times (1999), The Prompter (1988) and Conversation Piece (1996).

14:00 We’ll take Tate Boat and journey down to the Tate Britain Where there’s an exhibit of “Modern Painters: The Camden Town Group” with a guided exhibition tour at 15:15. (Because I don’t know CRAP about art, but always like to learn something!). There is also the Peter Doig exhibit, which I think will interest Blue.

3/20 (Thursday) – London/Amsterdam

Blue and I catch a God-awful early (6:40 am) flight from Gatwick to Amsterdam. We’ll once again brave the bus/train system on our own, so we can go to the hotel and drop off our bags. The, catching a quick coffee and pastry, well head to the Van Gogh Museum.

For lunch, I hope to find an Indonesian Rijstafel Restaurant. Rijstafel, is the traditional rice table served with 16, 20, or 25 zesty side dishes. Warming trays are placed on your table and the service is buffet style. You can season your plate with peppers rated hot, very hot, and palate-melting.

(If you have a good suggestion, please let me know!)

After lunch, we’ll hit The Rembrandt Museum and gaze at the Old Masters and marvel at their technique and skill.

That evening, Blue is off on his own … and I am joining some Amsterdam friends for dinner IN THEIR HOME!!! (This is a total score!)

I am so excited, I can barely contain myself. My friend Pom (aka as “Knowing-Nose”) is going to make “… a wicked tomato soup.” He tells me, “Everybody who has tasted it is blown away, it's pure tomatoes (no water added, only the juices of the tomatoes), with some fresh herbs(mint mainly), and that's about it.”

And then my friend KerPlat is “...(going) to make something Persian to for you to taste!”

From this delightful evening, I will stumble back to this hotel that I booked for us! I can hardly wait. It should SOOOO cool!

3/21 (Friday) – Amsterdam/London

We leave A’dam around 9 am and will be back at Dilly’s by 11:00 am.

Late in the afternoon, we’ll go to the V&A (also known as the Victoria and Albert). There’s a Curtis Moffat Exhibit that is free of charge (God I love typing that!) that we can catch. The best thing about the V & A is they are open late on Friday nights (although the Moffat Exhibit closes at 17:45), so we can hang out there, grab some dinner – then meet everyone for the 2nd US/London, 3rd International OKC Drinking Society Social Extravaganza. (location TBD!) Mingling and Munching with our UK Friends … somewhere, what a great way to celebrate our birthdays a little early!

3/22 (Saturday) – London

Whatever Blue and Dilly have planned

Do you see that??? ANOTHER DAY where I have NOTHING PLANNED! I think there are a total of 4 in the whole trip. Somehow, my “lazy, lay around and do nothing but cook, eat, drink, read, and write trip” has turned into something MUCH DIFFERENT! But I am not complaining in the least!

3/23 (Sunday) – London/US

Leave for home :(

Okay – now I’m complaining. I don’t WANNA go home.


MitMoi said...

I still have a few things left to do:

#1 - Find out if my debit card will work over there. (they read micro-chips, not magnetic strips)

#2 - Get some $$ exchanged into £ so that when I land at Gatwick I am not farthing-less.

#3 - Get bus number and time from train station to distillery. (Dilly is responsible for booking the tour)

#4 - Book tickets for the Amsterdam Museums and The Tates. (also make sure I have Euro's for Netherlands)

#5 - Get bus/train schedule/numbers from airport to A'dam hotel. (Hotel will drop us off at the airport the next morning for our flight out.)

The rest I have booked/covered!! Go Me! (or rather GO DILLY who is doing much of the Edinburgh planning)

tp said...

What a fanatastic trip !!!!!!!!! So glad you thought of me, too, while you were planning it !! giggle, giggle

I H8 24 said...

Great trip and well deserved!!!!

ctatplay said...

I am totally envious too. What a fabulous birthday present for all of you. I can almost taste the Glenkenchie; the museums sound wonderful; and it would be a hard decision between dinner on a Bridge Inn canal barge and that fantastic Captain's Table menu; not to mention all of the other awesome things you've planned. And 4 unplanned days in there too. Enjoy!!! (Can't wait to cook, eat, imbibe, and hear all about it when you return!)

Gina Elizabeth said...

I am SOOOOOOOO envious of you!!!!! This looks amazing...and YOU deserve it!

tp said...

OMG - I've just looked at all the inserts in this blog - What marvelous places you're going !

Who are the people you have inserted - besides yourself and I assume, Blue ?

saturday's child said...

Oooo, I love this!! Love . It! Your card will work @ ALL ATM machine, most stores & restaurants so, you're "golden"!

M.O.T.O.R said...

Oh this is wonderful! You deserve it. D.O.T.O.R said he wishes he could go with you to "Scotch"land! Me, I would just like to watch you enjoy all those museums!
We will be watching for full descriptions and pictures!

Hot Mama O' Two said...

My Maid O' Honor lies over the sea!! O' I hope she brings something back for me!! WOW! I am so excited for you, Mit. I hope you have a blast and take lots o'pics as this valley-bound girl has high hopes of one day traversing the wonderland of Scotland, England, and Ireland! But alas, I hold not my breath as my big hubby fits not in planes! ;O) But I shall endeavor forward with a page from Paula Deen- Butter. I'll butter his rear and fit it in the %$#@ seat! I will be thinking of you while lying at home in my guilded cage filled with Disney Princess and Elmo! Take Care and call or email this product of the valley and mutal lineage!