Friday, January 25, 2013

UK 2011 Day 5

Day 5
  • Get car @ Alamo @ 8:30 am
Cost - £ 28.12 (left over)
  • Drive through George's childhood home (25 Upton Green), through Paul's childhood home (20 Forthlin Rd.)
  • Park at Yellow Tree Road
  • Walk to Strawberry Fields (Beaconsfield Rd.), St.Peter's Church, (Church Rd), through Mendips (251 Menlove ave).
  • Drive through QuarryBank School (Harthill Rd)
  • Park around Penny Lane and walk down it.
  • Drive through George's birth home (12 Arnold Grove), through Ringo's birth and childhood homes (Admiral Grove and 9 Madryn)
addresses to park: Burgess St, Craven St, Kempston St, Lambert St.
  • Walk to the Jacaranda (21-23 Slater Street ), The Grapes (corner of Knight St and Roscoe St.) Liverpool Institute (Mount St) and Liverpool Art College (68 Hope St.)
  • Walk to The Beatles Story
address – Albert Dock
cost – £ 13
  • Lunch @ The Cavern Club
address – 10 Matthew St.
cost – free from Mon-Wed
  • Walk by the NEMS (12-14 Whitechapel)
  • Drive (through Prestbury, Chipping, Keswick if there is time) to Days Inn Abington M74
address to park - Welcome Break Srvc Area J13M74 Lanarkshire, ML12 6RG UK

We got the car at Alamo and that's when we were extremely upset at them. They had charged out credit card for those 2 days we were in Ireland, bc they could not figure out where the keys were, therefore we made them lose money on a car that had to stay parked instead of being rented. They had the guts to tell us we did something stupid by leaving the keys inside the car.
"would you do that to your own car?" the guys asked.
"Yes, actually, we do that to our cars every time we leave it at the mechanic, because it's too late at night for him to be there for us." You know, some of us work for a living.Shut up, Virginia. Anyway, he took the charge off the card when we told him where the keys were.
Then we got another Vauxhaul. This one was driving awful, and it was bigger than what we paid for again, but we took it, just to exchange 2 days later.

As usual, since I stink as a tuour group guide, we left the hotel late again. Got to breakfast late to start with. Anyway, we did see George's and Paul's childhood homes, but we couldn't get to Ringo's. 
The walk's first stop was John's Childhood home. From there we took the back roads (it's a very residential area) and found St. Peter's church, where John and Paul met as teenagers. I started to get a little desperate when we kept walking and the church was nowhere, but then this guy with a British accent helped us find it. 
The walk to Strawberry Fields was really long too, and I confess I was a bit scared of the the deserted place, but in the end it was ok - and worth it.

We really enjoyed the walk through the residential area. Getting to see the houses and the cars people have parked in their garage is neat.

From Strawberry Fields we were really close to the car, so we made our way back to the car to go look for their childhood school which we did not find.
We also could not find the parking spot I had scheduled for Penny Lane, there were cars parked everywhere on both sides of every road. So we drove through Penny Lane. I think next time I want to find a way to walk there.

We were late anyway, so we headed straight to the Beatles Story, at the Dock. Dean convinced me to do the Beatles experience. I did, and I learned nothing, bc I already know so much about the Beatles... The cool thing was buying shirts and a lunch box.

That really put us behind schedule.... gotta build in time for unexpected activities next time. We were going to walk to Cavern, but, hey, Dean was tired and we would never make it on any reasonable time. So we skipped the Jacaranda, Liverpool Institute, and Liverpool art College. I have to be honest, they looked so much closer on the map! We drove towards the Cavern club and found a street parking lot.

Of course it turned out that we were late for our lunch at the Cavern Club. We went in there and took pictures, but it was close to 5. We walked to the Grapes and meant to take pictures at the Beatles hiding spot (they went there when they wanted to hide from the crazed fans from Carven Club. We couldn't do that bc some fat old guy with the butt crack showing. We waited and waited and then we figured it was time to go. We ate this pub on Matthew street called Flanagan's Apple. I ordered a blue drink and FINALLY ATE FISH AND CHIPS!

It was too late to do anything, we were driving toScotland and wanted to do it through the Lake District. We got to the lake district at dusk and saw some cute towns - the ones mentioned above - Prestbury, Chipping, Keswick. We got to  our road side Days Inn in Abbington Scotland at around midnight... (what else is new?) and I warned Dean we could not be late the next day or else we would not make to the castles... - now an exercise in making predictions - can you guess what happened the next morning?

Friday, January 18, 2013

UK 2011 day 4

Day 4
  • Drive Belfast @ 8:30am
driving time – 1 hr.
est. arrival – 9:30 am
address to park – Chichester St (parking lot), or Great Victoria St.(parking lot), or Bedford Street (metered parking) or Dublin Road (parking lot).
cost – € ???
  • Walk to the City Hall and The Linen Hall Library.
  • Check out the Oldest Book in Ireland and the Oldest Newspaper still in circulation.
  • Take the City Hall free tour @ 11am
cost Linen Hall Library entrance is free. Tours of the City Hall are free
  • Lunch @ Nex D'Or
  • Drive to Dublin @ 1:30pm
driving time – 2 hrs.
est. arrival – 3:30 pm
address to park – Cook St., or at Heuston Station, Usher's Quay or Thomas St Parking Lots. Other Parking Lot at St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre accessed from Mercer St Lower.
cost – At Cook St - free parking after 7pm. Others - ????
  • Walk to St.Michan's Church. (Upper Church St, between May Ln and Hammond Ln.)
  • Try to spot the Famine Memorial along Liffey River, on Custom House Quay.
  • Dinner at The Brazen Head (20 Lower Bridge Street, Dublin 8, Ireland)
  • Drive to Dublin Airport @ 9pm. Return rental @ 9:30pm
  • Arrive in Liverpool @ 11pm.
  • Taxi or Shuttle to The Holiday Inn Express.
[On day 4 I was looking out the car window and thinking what a great thing that we had already lived so many experiences and it was only day 4. What a beautiful thing to be on vacation.

In the morning we met this couple that had just arrived and they were from America, but they were of Irish descent. They told us they stay at that BB often and that time they were there celebrating their anniversary. They suggested we tried the porridge served there, but it was too late for us. we were saying good-bye that morning.

What did we not like about the BB? One thing only - we didn't get much of the promised free internet in our bedroom. So, to call home we had to use the cell phone - or you could always drive to mcdonald's. Other than that, the place was great.

We left that morning with a bunch of names of places to go to. Names of churches and localities. Names we had gotten from the people we visited the night before. We got really confused with all the localities because they did not follow regular regional divisions we are used to here in America.

We visited a bunch of churches with burial grounds and I cried my eyes out.Babies, some times even without names, just a note saying their family will miss them. Young children and young people taken by some disease or tragedy... 
Cemeteries always make me melancholic. Thinking that all of our lives are now bound to a miserable dash between two numbers. That is all anyone will ever know of us. If anyone can even read our gravestone. We visited some gravestones destroyed by the weathering. Who are those people. Who were they? What did they do? Who did they love? Who did they hate? What were their passions and fears? Nothing of this matters to anyone anymore. All of that is now just an insignificant dash ... at times like these I wish I were famous.
We went to this place called Pomeroy to look for the specific church of Dean's ancestors. We stopped by this vegetable truck and inquired the sellers about the family's last name, after explaining what we were doing. They gave us a very straight forward direction, "you don't want to go to the church up the road, you want to go to the church down the road."
"The one up the road is a catholic church and the family you're looking for were all presbyterians." Wow.

We wanted to make it to the Titanic on this day, so part of me wanted to tell Dean we had to get down to Belfast.... We still had to make it to the St. Michan's tombs and to Book of Kells which we didn't make to on Sunday.

Anyway, we left with lots of tomb pictures in our cellphone.

We made to the Titanic doc and we got to see how big that thing was... We went in to the suvenir store and bought a few magnets and had a snack. No we did not eat at the Nex D'Or, which is supposed to be this very local, not very fancy,not very clean, not very made for exportation place, the kind of place Dean likes to try. We had no time. We wanted to make to St. Michan's church in Dublin. so we traveled down to Dublin and got to St. Michan's to see their Mummies.
On the Ireland website, the girls in the St. Michan video make it sound like this is some quaint and unknown place, but it is actually a turisty place, with guided and paid tours. Our guide was neat, he knew my soccer team and he claimed the Beatles were actually Irish...
We decided to walk to the Book of Kells and we got there just ten minutes after the last group had been allowed in... a terrible foreshadowing of the rest of our trip.
Fine, let's walk back to the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland. ... There I tried the famous Guinness, and we had typical Irish meal. Dean was always going for bangers and mash - I wanted to try all different stuff like stews, and pies, and anything that sounded different. I had a pie this time.

Returning the car to the airport was the easiest thing, since the clerk had given us very clear directions on how to do it. Ah, I was in love with Hertz and absolutely hating Alamo.

From John Lennon Airport we got a cab back to the inn because we were cold and tired and it was only 5 pounds... and there we learned that people in England don't like to get pounds made in Ireland. The driver was not very happy that we handed him a Scottish pound, even though the Irish the Scottish and the English pounds are all the same value.

At the inn we got our luggage from the storage and check in again for one last night in Liverpool.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

UK 2011 day 3

Day 3
  • Drive to Londonderry City @ 7:30pm
driving time – 1 hr.
est. arrival – 8:30am
addresses to park – Victoria Market/ Foyle Embankment; Foyle Rd; Spencer Rd; Car Park Railway Yard.
  • Walk along the City Walls. Check out the Hands across the divide statue at the end of the Craigavon Bridge (if parked at either Spencer or Railway)
  • Drive to Giant's Causeway @ 10pm
driving time – 1hr. min
est. arrival – 11 pm
address to park44A Causeway Rd, Bushmills, County Antrim BT57 8SU, UK‎
cost – £ 6.00 – parking???
  • Drive to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge @ 1pm
driving time – 15 min
est. arrival – 1:30 pm
address to park – 119a Whitepark Road, Ballintoy, County Antrim BT54 6LS
cost – £ 5.60. Free parking
  • Drive to Fortview, Cookstown @ 2:30pm
address to park - 36 Tullyboy Road, Magherafelt
driving time – 1 hr.
est. arrival – 3:30pm
  • City Hall, local cemetery, etc.
  • Dinner @ Cookstown.

  • [In the morning, we had a nice homemade breakfast with fried tomatoes and fried mushrooms.
    The day before we talked to the Turkish delight seller about our plans and he suggested that we took the ocean side to Giant's Causeway then to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
    The problem was first of all we didn't leave at 7:30 ... we started breakfast at 8 ... then we got lost and that scenic route did take a long time. Besides, Dean wanted to make it in time to go investigate some clues on his ancestry. So we had to skip the Londonderry walls. 
    The scenic route however was beautiful, definetely worth it. I took pictures of sheep everywhere. "Sheep!" Click-click-click-click-click-click! "Darn! Dean, you're going too fast!"
    While we drove there we also found this little community engraved in the stone right by the ocean. Dean went crazy saying we had to go there. Ok. We looked at the map and figured out which turns to take to make to that quaint little place. That definetely added to our time.
    At The Giant's Causeway, we also had lunch. Meals! Meals made us later than everything else. Allotted meal time was no more than half an hour - my plan was to grab and go. Go, go, go. Sitting down, ordering, chatting ... I had not planned for that.
    At the Causeway we got to hear some pretty interesting interactions between mom and child with a very heavy Irish accent. 
    It was 4 oclock when we were done with the rope bridge... We were hoping to be done by 1... so that we could be back to our BB by 6.
    When you are in the search for ancestors, those 3 hours make a difference. But, hey, let's stop at the stone village, and hey let's eat real lunch, and hey, let's take a scenic route, and hey, how come we always leave the hotel late?
    So, yeah, here we are 3 hours behind schedule. We drove back to be able to find Dean's people. ... 
    We found this lovely couple that lives on the street Dean's ancestors probably had a farm on.
    Esme was the lady's name. She's a preacher. They were very scared when we first knocked on their door at almost 8 pm, but when we announced our business they opened the door wide and invited us in and if by 10 pm we hadn't pushed our way out the door they would have had us for breakfast.
    They say they do know someone who might be related to our family but when they got that someone on the phone, he was pretty much drunk - like a good Irish.
    Out the door we went in search of a bar I had seen on the way there, a bar called McCartney - YES, LIKE MY FAVORITE MUSICIAN EVER! - but we could not find our way back there. Darn. SO we made our way back to downtown and ended our night at McDonald's - the only place open that had food. Since they had free wifi, I called home. Dean called home as well - for free.]

    IRISH ACCENT - I was so lost all the time I was in Ireland. I thought the English accent was hard to follow, but next to the Irish, the English is a piece of cake. The Irish people speak something other than English, I have to say. 

    BRITISH ACCENT AND SPECIAL LITTLE WORDS - as a matter of fact, the hardest thing to do was to get myself to make sense and say holiday for vacation, and petrol for gas... oh! and toilet for bathroom.... I kept saying restroom instead. gas... vacation ... me and my big American mouth ... gas ... ay, ay, ay...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cash or Credit? Things to be CAREFUL!

Before we traveled to Great-Britain I did some research on how to pay for our expenses.

We are used to keeping control of our expenses by using credit card for all of our purchases. But there are fees and exchange rates involved in international credit card operations. So I decided to check better options.

I called each credit card we own and asked for the charges I would incur in case I used them for purchases in any of the British countries.
It turns out that you pay a fee of around 3% for each purchase and of course there's the exchange rate which will always be the highest possible.

I called a few places to see what was it like to buy cash. Our bank, Bank of America, was the best option for buying British cash. We checked travel agencies and the AAA. Do your search as well. Maybe call a few banks.

It turned out that, in considering the fees for credit versus cash, cash is the best choice when you travel overseas.

(what to fear):
Travel carrying a large amount of cash, especially to a place you don't know, makes me nervous. Should you carry that cash with you at all times or leave at your lodging place? Both options sound like a bad idea.

Grandma made me one of those money travel pouches (the one that attaches to your body and that's the best way to carry your large amount of money. The only way you can lose that is if you actually get arm-robbed and, well, groped. Just don't go into dark alleys, ok! I guess that takes care of that.

I investigated an option I had read about in one of the credit card or the bank website (and seen it in Rick Steves videos) - Banks overseas will allow you to take cash from their ATMs. Some banks might be linked to your bank, so there will be no fees (or very low fees). We figured we would bring enough cash to pay for our expenses for the first couple of days. and get more cash there as money started to run low. This was a mug-proof plan: in case we were robbed, we would not lose large amounts of money.

Fourth (don't get your or your spouse's cards canceled):

Call all your credit cards and let them know you'll be overseas and on what dates.
It might sound RIDICULOUS, but if you have a joint account with your travel partner, EACH OF YOU HAVE TO CALL FOR EACH OF YOUR JOINT ACCOUNT CARDS. I called to say I'd be traveling with my husband and they only authorized my card - so when we tried to use his, they blocked the card, and (worse!) called our house to ask whether or not we had used the card in England ... well... needless to say we were not there to answer the phone ...  so they went ahead and CANCELED his card.

Fifth (booking with a security deposit):
If you have a Paypal account, see if they take Paypal for the security deposits. If they do, make sure that your Paypal fund is coming from your bank account and not from your credit card. The credit card will still charge you conversion fees, even if through Paypal. The bank account won't. It doesn't matter what kind of cash back rate you get with your credit card, it still won't be higher than the fee they will charge you.
If booking over the phone, ask if they can just hold your card number as a security, and tell them you'll pay it all in cash when you get there. Most places we called did that for us.

When booking car rentals you will usually have to use your credit card, because car rentals are usually paid locally and they work with credit cards.
We tried to pay cash and they would not take it. It doesn't mean I will stop asking, though.
If you pre-pay, try to get an agency that will give you charge local.
Worst-case scenario, take the bite. After all, your vacation is more important than your credit card fees.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

UK 2011 day 2

Day 2
  • Five-min. taxi ride to Airport @ 5am. Gate closes @ 6am
  • Arrive @ Dublin Airport @ 7:20am
  • Get car at Hertz. Pre-paid.
  • Drive to St. Patrick's Cathedral
address to park – alongside Bride St, after crossing Bull Alley St and Golden Ln.
cost - ?? € 8 ??
  • Attend Eucharist @ 8:30am.
  • Walk the Dublin Castle (2 Palace Street Dublin 1).
  • Walk to Trinity College (out through the front door of City Hall, right on Dame St. College Green, Dublin2). Visit the Book of Kells @ 9:30am
cost - €9
est. visit time – 1 hr.
  • Drive to Belfast @ 11am.
driving time – 2 hrs.
est. arrival – 1pm
address to park: Lanyon Place – multi-storey car park
cost - ?? £11 ?? parking
  • Walk to St. George's Market (East Bridge, Oxford or May Street) (on East Bridge Street, turn right)
  • Lunch: samples @ St. George's Market
  • Check out the Big Fish (1Donnegal Quay), the Albert Clock (Queen's Square), Bittles Bar (70 Upper Church Lane - off Victoria Square), the Linen Hall Library (17 Donegall Square N), the city hall (Donegall Square S), and the Liquor Crown Saloon (46 Great Victoria Street).
  • Drive to Titanic's Dock and Pump House @ 2:30pm (last tour starts @ 3pm – might not be able to make it)
driving time – 20 min
est. arrival – 2:50pm
address to park:Queen's Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
cost - £6.00 (tour) or £3.50 (parking).
  • Drive (through the Belfast Murals: Narnia-1 Pansy street; Nationalist-Falls Road; Loyalist-Shankill Rd and Newtownards Rd) to Fortview, Cookstown @ 4:30pm
address to park - 36 Tullyboy Road, +44 28 8676 264
driving time – 1 hr.
est. arrival – 6pm
  • Dinner @ Cookstown.

[we had breakfast at Holiday inn and walked a mile and a half to the airport. We decided to walk the night before when we realized it was such a short walk. The problem is we arrived at the airport  with very little time left. I messed up the the schedule. But we made it to the flight.

Ryanair was the company that sold us to tickets to Ireland and back for a total of $119.25. That is about $60 a person, which is about 30 POUNDS. They are already cheap but come with super deals every once in a while, so you have to keep checking their website. However, the super cheap deals are extremely restrictive - only at certain times, to certain locations and don't you dare to bring real luggage. So you can imagine how desperate I became when I realized that Luiza wasn't going to be in England to meet us with us. I was counting on leaving most of our luggage in her house. ... Thankfully the Inn allowed us to leave our luggage there for those 3 days we would be away.

John Lennon Airport stinks like cow poop. When we found Ryanair we got a little desperate. The line was humongous. Actually, we are not sure if that was a line. It was more like a very disorganized crowd of people. We got in line and as time went by we realized we should have been there earlier. In a few minutes we heard them calling any one who was on our flight.They always do that

But that delay turned out in our favor. When we took the flight from America they gave me a hard time because my passport had my maiden name. the ladies at the counter had to talk to the manager, then the manager's manager... We were very concerned that they would not let me travel. They did. But then our next concern was out next flight - the one to Ireland. 

Well... since we were late they basically rushed us through and glanced at the passport. They were more concerned about the luggage size. hehehe.
In Ireland we got the car at hertz... it was such a better experience than  Alamo. I am very pleased with Hertz. I will sing their praises. The guy who helped us at the counter was a trainee and he was very detailed about everything. The car was tiny, which means they actually listened to our request - it was a Pegeot 107.

The idea of attending eucharist was to experience a worship service in a different country in their national church. St. Patrick's Cathedral of course. We were very disappointed at the lack of preaching. But impressed at the ammount of biblical readings.
Then we decided to walk through the church and that's when we got in trouble. I am a terrible at being the evil tour guide who keeps everyone on schedule.

When we saw the time we decided to drive to Belfast and leave the Book of Kells for Tuesday.
In Belfast, St. George's Market was really all it's cracked up to be. We bought turkish delight, ate some awesome food and sampled a bunch more and go to know a guzunder. .... if you don't know what a guzunder is ... it's that pot that goes-under the bed filled with bodily fluids.

We took pictures of all the other sight seeing places. But against my will we did not make to the Titanic. Again, and again we ran behind schedule. The places we ran behind schedule the most were the eating places.

We decided to go see the murals. We saw the Narnia one, and the political ones as well. As it started to rain heavily, we figured we would not stay there anymore. if we wanted to make it to Cookstown on schedule we had to go. So we left.

We made it to Cookstown around 8 pm and were hoping to have dinner at a tavern, but we didn't find any decent place to have dinner other than a hotel that served nothing very typical.

We took pictures of the sunset at 10 pm and went to bed.

Monday, January 14, 2013

UK 2011 day 1

In regular writing is the original plan. In brackets, find out what really happened:
Day 1
  • Arrive @ Heathrow @ 7:20 am
    [our plane left 3 hours late, so we arrived in Heathrow at around 10 am.
    At Heathrow we looked at a few options of pre-paid phone SIM cards. We had a device that I had purchased in my last trip to Brazil, and all we had to do was place the Britsh SIM card in it and choose the plan we wanted. It was a little overwhelming to figure out which company to purchase from and which plan to choose, but, taking the time to look through each option was worth it.]
  • Get Car at Alamo.

    [Alamo's rental place was hideous! Even though we had a pre-paid reservation they still had as wait in a line for about 1 hour. When we got to the counter the lady had no idea our credit card was a credit card. They gave us a bigger car than what we asked for, which terrified us, because were already scared of driving on the wrong side of the road, let alone in a big car. The car was a Voxhaull Astra. Voxhaull is the Australian Chevrolet.]
Cost - £ 5.58 (left over)
  • Drive (through Nottingham) to Sherwood Forest @ 8:30am
    [Needless to say that didn't go as planned since we left the place at around 11:30 am. We were planning on arriving there are 11:30 am.

    I was half asleep because of the sleeping medicine I took the night before to make myself sleep in the airplane. Word to the wise - DON'T take sleeping medicine when boarding a plane.

    We took pictures of nuclear plants. Dean thought it was interesting that they are demonized here in America. A lot of things are demonized in America and are so normal in other countries. In Brazil we took pictures of petroil platforms.

    We got to Sherwood Park at around 2:30 pm. If you are a Robin Hood fan, by all means, go to Sherwood Park. They have a festival once a year. We chose to skip the festival date and opted for the calmer regular stroll at the park. Don't miss the Great Oak. If there was ever a Robin Hood that Oak was a sapling when he was around. So no, this is not Robin's band hideaway. But hey, why the disappointment? This old lady was there back in the 11th century.

    We bought a few souvenirs at their souvenir store, because Robin Hood is a pretty British thing to take home to the US and to Brazil.

    We ate at the cafe. It is more like a cafeteria. Very regular food like pre-packaged sandwiches and yogurts. Nothing really typical and different. I was a little freaked out about the whole paying process, but it went ok.

    Pictures! Of course we took tons of them there.
    We left at around 5pm - 4 hours behind schedule - this silly little thing called flight delayed messed us up big time. We were already on a tight schedule, and that made our days - all of them - much more tiring.
    We did pay the 3 pounds for parking.]
driving time – 3 hrs.
est. arrival – 11:30am.
addresses to park – visitor center: Edwinstowe, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, Tel:0844 9 80 80 80 OR Forest: Sherwood Forest Country Park, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire NG21 9HN, +44 1623 823202 OR The Cafe in Sherwood Forest (for maybe free parking) Forest Corner, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire NG21 9RN, United Kingdom
cost - £3.00 (parking – maybe free at the cafe)
  • Lunch @ The Cafe in Sherwood Forest
  • Drive (through Loxley Rd) to York @ 1pm
driving time – 1 ½ hrs.
est. arrival – 2:30 pm
address to park – Bootham Row, York.
cost - £11.00 (parking).
  • Walk to the right toward York Art Gallery.
  • Free walking tour @ 2:15. (if we arrive on time)
address - by the York Art Gallery, just outside the city walls.
  • Sight seeing – walk on the city walls (left or right), the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey (facing the wall, go right), downtown York.
  • Visit the York Minster
address - Deangate, York YO1 7HH, United Kingdom (right behind the city walls)
cost - £9 (w/ guided tour) + £5.50 (climb the tower).
  • Dinner @ Hole in the Wall
address - just inside the city walls.

[We got to York at around 7 pm ... Yes, I know, time to leave. We missed the walking tour. And the York Minster was already closed. The place we parked was found over the internet, on the city website. It was right outside the city walls. I looked at it all with street view on google maps. We walked on the city walls, visited the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, leanred a little about it, by doing some reading, took pictures with Constatine - who was crowned there - and with the pillar that was excavated and put up as a monument to the city's 1900th anniversary in 1970 ... 
As I walked through those streets and as I touched the pillar, I could not help but wonder at the thought of it - that city alone was older than Brazil and America combined. ( I mean as Federative Republic of Brazil and United States of America of course).
We ate at The Hole in the Wall. We met an American girl who was married to someone from there, and a girl who's father was some sort of honorary city member.]
  • Drive to Liverpool @ 7pm
driving time – 2 hrs.
est. arrival – 9pm
address to park – 1 Speke Hall Avenue, Liverpool L24 1UX, United Kingdom (Holiday Inn Express Hotel Liverpool-John Lennon Airport)
  • Check in at Holiday Inn, drive car to Alamo, walk back to Inn.

[We left to Liverpool at around 10 pm. We got to Liverpool  at around midnight, and did the check in. Then drove to the Alamo parking lot to drop off the car.
Here's another crappy thing about Alamo - We could not figure out how to return the keys. The rental parking gate was open, but there were no key boxes. ... We ignorantly left the keys in the car, hoping that would be the right thing to do, and walked back to the motel. That was almost 1 am.

 I stayed up till almost 2 packing our super mini luggage for the trip to Ireland. That's because the plane we got would take our regular luggage for a fee. For free we were only allowed one small carry-on each. So two days worth of "us" had to fit in two small carry-ones. Yes, I did it. But I had only 2 hours of sleep, because we had to be back at the airport at 5 to catch a 5:45 flight. Another bad idea.]

UK 2011 Itinerary and beyond

If you want some help planning itineraries, here's the link to our itinerary plan from 2011:

The next thing you will see - little by little - is the description of each day.
Since I did a crappy c=job at keeping notes from the trip, you'll see a memoir, rather than a diary. But I will do my best.

From now on however, every trip posting will be a diary. So every vacation I live from 2013 on, you'll live too.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Great Britain instead of just England – heritage issues

This post is the reasoning behind the trip to Great-Britain in 2011

This was supposed to be a trip to England. We were thinking about the next place we would visit and we both knew that both of us really wanted to get to know England. We both want to visit Italy badly as well, but we settled for England for our first trip outside the American continent. I have a friend and former student who lives in England who is always asking me to go there to visit her. And my husband's heritage does go back to England. Yes, England was definitely the place that we should go first.
As a planner that I am, I got on to my computer and started planning. London, Liverpool, Bath, Nottingham, Sherwood forest. As I excitedly shared with Lu, my friend/ex-student, about our plans she even suggested we should include a couple of trips to France. Why not? it's so simple to get there from London! Lu lives nowhere near London. She, as a good Beatlemaniac, found herself a husband just a few miles away from Liverpool. Oh, when I think I taught that little girl her English... But she would not mind a trip to London and a quick escape to France!
I thought that was cool! My husband thought it was cool! That was it! We were going to see Paris, and a few Cinderella Castles, and the French Riviera. How tough could it be, right? Yeah... I know what you're thinking. Shhh, don't say anything, but she's crazy.
I soon found out however that there was too much ground to cover in France. Paris and a few castles around the area would do for a 4-day escape. After all, this is a trip to England! Or so I thought...
My talks with Lu went on. We should go camping in Scotland. Scotland? That is not England, is it? My husband however does have Scottish ancestry. He liked the idea. He also thought, since we were right there in Liverpool we should hop on a boat to Ireland and go visit an Irish pub. After all he does also have Irish - Northern Irish! The protestant ones! - ancestry.
The trip was getting packed. More packed than what I usually make sure they do. I have this problem - since I know I probably will not be going back to that place any time soon (because remember we want to travel the world before we start popping out babies), I want to include everything there is to do. And the days are packed. As in packed full. As in we-slept-soundly-through-every-night-of-our-honeymoon full.
However there's only so much cramping of activities one can do. It's not only the money issue. And do believe me, money was getting to be an issue. It was the time and distance issue. It was physically impossible to everything we wanted to do. How would you like to go on a trip that you've dreamed of going your whole life and have the feeling that you did not get to enjoy it? It was a constant hop-out! Picture! Hop-in! Quick! We must get to the next stop!
No, that was not what I wanted for our trip. It had to be enjoyable! Yes, fast-paced, packed full, but not a constant stress. That's when it hit me! We have two weeks and this trip is no longer about England and a quick escape to Paris! This trip is about the United Kingdom and a quick escape to Ireland! After all, doesn't Dean want to go visit the land of his ancestors? Doesn't he brag about the fact that he is x% English, y% Scottish, z% Northern Irish and n% American Indian? If we are going to see the land of those ancestors we can't waist time in France! France will have to come some other time. We're no longer going to England, we're going to Great Britain!