Our dream of blogging regularly during our travels through England, Scotland, Eire and Wales hit the daybreak of reality rather quickly, but here we are again…
After the long flight from Adelaide to London it was a nice surprise that as we get older we seem to have ever less trouble with jetlag; in fact this time we had none at all. So for 3 energised days we walked all over dynamic London and in our first two blogs we wanted to give you a tiny taste of this.
On Day 4 we joined our U K bus tour with Trafalgar, a slightly down-market part of the South African company which also owns Insight which have us a fabulous time in Israel and Turkey four years ago. One gifted woman in our group remembered all our names after just two days, but we found our Trafalgar group too large to get to know more than a fairly small part over 16 days. Ours numbered 51 with a wide age range, drawn from Australia, Canada, the US, NZ and South Africa, and they were a quite diverse but great bunch of people. Our tour director was so well-informed and organised, and our amazingly skilful bus driver – we really needed him here with so many very old cities, narrow streets and so much traffic to negotiate.
Trafalgar enabled us to do more than we could have expected: in those 16 days we covered exactly 5000 km, typically with 2 or 3 significant stops daily, and we saw really as much as was possible in that time. If we had travelled independently by hired car we would not have seen and leant nearly as much in the time available. We typically hit the road around 8 am and checked in to the next hotel about 4 – 5 pm. Often we would do something local after check-in: a dinner combined with a cultural program, or just a simple pub meal followed by a walk in the lingering daylight to check out some part of the city. So they were long and full days. Three times we stayed in a city for two nights, and often of course we’d wish we had longer in a place. We’ve certainly been able to extend our bucket list (and have a mental wish list for a return visit), but who knows when? We’re very much aware that the body’s time clock keeps ticking and there’s so much else we’d love to do.
In the Land of Oz our work year ends before Christmas and restarts in January – February, so it’s been interesting to observe what happens in northern parts of the world, with school kids and uni students all out in the streets and cafes celebrating the long summer evenings and end of the holidays. It’s been so much fun being out on the city streets and in the restaurants and pubs in cities like London, Edinburgh and Dublin! Edinburgh was celebrating what is reputedly the world’s largest Fringe Festival: it reminded us of home, but the Scottish capital’s Fringe plays out over 200 venues! Wow! You can’t help but feel the electricity – it’s one of those (rather few) times when we’d love to be young again!
Weatherwise also the UK was great for us: temperatures very nice with enough warmth and (despite the frequent overcast skies) very little rain. Once again for this part of Europe at least the summer happened last April with another nice 3 day spell just these last few days: like last year’s it’s been rather cool and dreary during the holiday months, which is disappointing for the locals. We didn’t come here for the beaches, so for us a modest summer has been just great: comfortable temperatures for lots of walking and travel!
We flew across from London to Amsterdam on Friday, and with five of Helen’s Aussie siblings we have settled into a Netherlandishly compact but quite adequate holiday “bungalow” in the middle of this small but crowded country. Over the next three weeks we plan to walk and ride Dutch bikes, and travel out to see our relatives as well as a few of the treasures in other parts of the Netherlands.
Without being able to promise anything, I expect we’ll have some more time in the next few weeks to share some more of what we enjoyed most in the UK. Please excuse our irregular posts: “silence may be golden”, but “all good things come to an end”.