Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Travel Tuesday - Wednesday edition

The great thing about being your own blog’s boss is that you can post whenever you feel like posting. Or whenever you have time. Yesterday got away from me (most days do—I never seem to accomplish as much as I want to accomplish in any given day), so you get Travel Tuesday on Wednesday.

Oh well. Nobody’s paying me to stay on a deadline here.

Two weeks ago I ended my TT post by saying that pretty much the best parenting decision B and I ever made was to let me take each girl to England by myself when they turn 16. I still hold to that. Great decision for me. Not-so-great for B.

What can I say? The man is a sacrificial giver.

Anyway, the first great mother/daughter bonding trip took place last spring when Kate, our oldest, turned 16. We had planned for months and months beforehand, checking flights, looking for hotel deals, and trying to decide what we wanted to see and do in each city.

Kate, being the ever-sly-and-creative daughter suggested that while we were over there we might as well see Paris too. I heartily agreed, having never been to Paris myself, so that somehow got incorporated into our plan.

A word on planning . . . Make sure you check the school calendar before you book your tickets, especially if you’re planning your trip during Spring Break, because you might end up taking the week BEFORE Spring Break instead of the week OF Spring Break. But who would be that careless, really?


As I was saying, we planned for months for the great event. We knew where we would be staying and what we would be doing pretty much every day of our eleven day journey. We left some flexibility in each day that would allow us some time to stroll through the streets of London or take in a sidewalk café in Paris. It was going to be perfect.

But there’s just one thing you can’t plan for when you take a trip, any trip.

The weather.

Did I mention that we traveled in March? What was I thinking? Well, I’ll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking that their weather isn’t as harsh as our weather and that the daffodils would already be in bloom (they were) and that it would be actual springtime in London (it wasn't). And I imagine that sometimes it actually is beautiful in London in March.

Just not March of 2008.

I kept a journal throughout our trip. Here are a few snippets:

Friday (arrival day) . . . “The day was sunny and COLD (they must have had a wind chill—it was terribly windy and just plain freezing!)”

Saturday . . . “The weather was absolutely awful and we needed to go inside somewhere.”

Sunday (Easter in London!) . . . “Now, getting to church was not that easy. We took the bus, which was fine, but the weather was SO terrible that the few blocks’ walk to the church was a real challenge. By the time we got to the church we were freezing (this will be a theme of our time in London) and sat with our coats on the entire time.”

You get the picture.

By Monday we had been so cold and wet for three days that we thought we’d never be warm again. And that day turned out to be the worst. We got up early to head to the TKTS Booth in Leicester Square in order to get theatre tickets for that evening. While we were waiting, the rain turned to sleet and took a new direction—sideways! Thankfully we did get some tickets to a show, but we had to cancel our plans to see the Changing of the Guard.

No worries. Knowing we’d need to be inside for a while that day, we decided to head over to Westminster Abbey. I guess everyone else had the same idea because when we got there the line was long. VERY long.

We were desperate, so we decided to wait, figuring that once we got inside we would just hang out there for a while and try to get warm.

We didn’t count on the Germans.

While we were standing there, patiently waiting behind a very nice family from Spain, I noticed a group of three people who were speaking German to one another. At first they were several places behind us in line. And then just a couple of places in line behind us.

Next thing I knew, they were right behind me, trying to scoot past me.

Now, my children will tell you, when justice is on the line, you don’t want to mess with their mom. And cutting in line when I am FREEZING, with the sleet and snow flying into my EARS, just will not be tolerated.

So I inched to the right to block their path.

They inched closer.

I inched a little more to the right.

They inched closer. We could have been sharing an umbrella by now.

It got to be funny, me not looking at them; them not looking at me. But we both knew the game was on.

Kate got uncomfortable--poor teenage daughter of a determined mom. She told me to just give it up and let them go past. But no, I would not.

By the time we got to the huge double doors of Westminster Abbey, we were in all-out line-jumping war. Elbows were thrown out a bit, shoulders nudged. I was not to be deterred.

And who do you think won that war?

We all did. The line-jumping war just made our 45 minute wait that much more interesting, and it made the time go faster. By the time we got to those doors, I didn’t care that they got to go in first. I was finally in a warm, dry place and that was my goal.

And Westminster Abbey wasn’t bad either.

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