Saturday, February 23, 2013

UK 2013 part 12 - day-by-day maps

Day 1

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

The End... Till next year....

Friday, February 22, 2013

UK 2013 - Messups!

Careful with messups. They usually cost money.

So far here are the 4 messups I caused:

1- when changing the dates, I didn't ralize the earlier flight to Dublin was more expensive. So instead of arriving in Dublin at 5:25 with extra time to drive to Belfast and get there early in the morning, we will land at 8 am and get to Belfast near midday.

2- When changing the dates I forgot to wait for the reply from the Central Inn. By the time they replied saying they were booked, I had already book all other flights and inns.

3- I didn't realize there were two airports in Glasgow and that the ryanair leaves from Prestwick. I booked our super cheap motel (those with rates that don't refund you in case of cancellation) right by The Glasgow Airport.

4- I booked a room that had a mistake on the website. so it wasn't my messup - it was the website. The website said - room rate only (breakfast included). Well, it had to be room rate only, not breakfast included!!!! That's ok, we will not have breakfast in the hotel on that day!

Messup 1 will cost us precious time.

Messup 2 will cost us and extra £5 a day

Messup 3 will cost us £108 instead of £35

Messup 4 won't cost anything bc we could have canceled. ut we liked the place too much.

UK 2013 part 11 - Terrors of Planning

The most terrifying thing about planning a trip - other than running out of money - is planning a trip that does not attend to the interests of the travelers.

I am here planning the trip and wondering "Is that what my husband wants to do?"

How can I ensure that all the travelers will be happy with the trip?

1- make a priority list.But that was already done. And the bad feelign was still there because there was way too much time left for me to fill out as I pleased.

2 - sit down with the traveler, discuss the proposed itinerary (places and activities), show possible alternatives and ask for possible alternatives.
Example - do you want to spend two days hiking in the Cotswolds? Do you want to spend the whole day walking in the Lake District or should we drive around as well? Do you wan to drive 3 hours at night to sleep over in the lake District or do we stay put and do the drive in the morning? Should we go crazy and do Scrubby, York, Liverpool in one day, or is there something you can give up on?

It turns out we are sleeping over at a friend's in the Liverpool area, and we cut York out of the trip.

3-try to make wise use of time.
Because this is a repeat trip, we have cut out a lot of stuff we don't have to do again, and we ended up with extra time to spend in each place.
Besides this trip is majorly about searching for ancestry - what if we don't find enough leads to fill out the allotted time for ancestry search? We will end up with more extra time.

Well, what to do with the extra time?

First of all this trip had to be built on flexibility, but not lack of organization.

I wanted to have back up itineraries and not just a vague idea of places we might go. I'd hate to spend the first 3 hours of my day trying to figure out what to do, just to find out it's too late.

So we created back up itineraries for Ireland and Scotland doing the sit down and discuss possibilities thing

This still left us with two whole day in the Cotswolds to plan for. We are still in the process of planning. But given it is just two days, out of originally 6, I feel much more at ease now.

I know what Dean wants, and I know how what I want can be met with that. We had to compromise very little to meet each other's wants, so I feel this is as close to ideal as possible.

UK 2013 part 10 - Lake District proposed route

From Windermere, to Buttermere, to Keswick by Derwent Water. Then two walks by our B&B.

The Duckboards Walk

River Side Walk - 90 minutes

On entering the Borrowdale road turn right towards Keswick. On the right there is a large rock outcrop called Shepherd's Crag, a popular place for climbers. 200 yards on the left, after the Crag, is a gate. Pass through this gate and head for the bridge over the river which flows into Derwentwater. Follow the duck boards along the lake shore passing through a small gate towards the end of the boards, 200 yards after the end of the boards the path branches left onto a grassy rake leaving the gravel path. Take this path which leads away from the lake shore, along a track and eventually through a gate into the road. Turn left and follow the road round to Grange. See if you can spot the old 'phone box (not working). Cross the famous twin bridges and turn left into the Borrowdale road which will lead you back to Greenbank.

The Watendlath Walk

Lodore Falls, Watendlath, Rosthwaite Walk - 3 hours

On leaving Greenbank turn right onto the Borrowdale Road. Walk through the car park of High Lodore Farm. Take the gate at the back of the farm. Follow the fell path up through a broken gap in the wall. Continue on until the path turns sharply to the right. Follow this until you reach a wooden bridge. Do not cross the bridge. At this point if you look down at the floor there is a direction indicator cemented into the path. Follow the direction for Watendlath that takes you alongside the river to Watlendath Tarn. On passing through the gate next to the small bridge, it may be a good idea to visit the tearooms by the Tarn and also ponder on the fact that this was once the home of Judith Paris (Hugh Walpole). After refreshment retrace your steps back over the bridge and follow the path that leads upwards avoiding the path that goes left along the tarn side. If this path is followed as far as the third large gate which is on your right-hand side, pass through this until you reach a bridge over a stream. Turn right and you are at Rosthwaite a good place for an icecream. Turn right and follow the Borrowdale Road back to Greenbank passing by Grange with its twin bridges (and excellent Tea Shop with Riverside Tea Garden).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

UK 2013 part 10 - Scotland Castles

We have decided to visit 3 Castles while in Scotland.

After doing much search of many good and bad websites, I found that actually has a list of Castles to visit and links to their websites.

Anyway, the first one will be:

  Edinburgh Castle

Why? Because it makes more sense, since we will be driving up from the Lake District.
Edinburgh Castle is open all year. In the summer months from 9:30 to 6.
The cost is £ 16 per person.

At 1pm (every day but Sundays and Black Friday) they fire a gun as a time signal to shipping in the Firth of Forth.

We tried visiting it last time we were there, but the lines were humongous, thanks to my inability of getting anything done on time. Has we been there at the time I had established - bright and early in the morning - things would have probably gone fine.
But, hey, we can avoid the lines by purchasing your ticket on line:
They also offer a print out of a Castle Visit Itinerary.  I've just printed it.
At the Castle they offer complimentary guided tours - but I am afraid I won't understand a word they say!!!!

There is a story about ghost appearances because the city was built over the old city after the plague, entombing bodies and half-deads.

When we leave the Castle we will walk down the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile goes from the Entrance of the Castle to the gates of Holyrood Palace. We will walk past St. Giles Cathedral one more time. And possibly check where John Knos is burried one more time - Parking spot 23.

Near the Castle, in the Roayl Mile is this nice restaurant called Ensign Ewart - where we ate before. We might eat there again.

We might visit John Knox House as well.
it costs £4.25 per person and they open from 10 to 6 M-Sat or 12 - 6 on July and Aug Sundays.

Parking - the website helped me find parking places for us.
this is the one we chose:

Morrison Crescent, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

It's the farthest one from the castle - a 25 minute walk - but it costs only  £4.80  to £ 12.50 to park there. Since I guess we will spend no more than 6 hours there we might pay around £8.40

After we leave this place we will do that Fife Coastal route then head to our B&B.
This will be a 307 mile day..... Here's the snapshot of the map:


The next castle day will include two Castles

The first one will be ...

Castle Fraser

Some quick info:
Castle Fraser is one of the grandest of the Scottish baronial tower houses.
Begun in 1575, the present castle contains an evocative Great Hall, fine furniture and many Fraser family portraits.
Castle Fraser is reminiscent of a French chateau filled with family treasures, furniture and interesting family portraits.

Dean wants to go there bc there are Frasers in his family.

The website for Castle Fraser stinks

Most of my info was obtained with the first website I posted.

Hours are:
Jul - Aug, daily 11 am – 5 pm
On the other months it is not open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!

Last admission: 4:15! DON'T MESS WTH THAT TIME. Last time we got there at 4:20. and they made me cry.
Cost: £ 9.5 per person

Parking: £2.00

Yes, Castle Fraser is haunted by a visiting princess who was murdered while asleep in the Green Room. She was dragged down the stone stairs.The blood was could not be cleaned, so it was covered with wood paneling. But she still roams the castle at night when a piano can be heard.

From there we will head to...

Glamis Castle

Quick info:

The present owner is Michael, 18th Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne.
The castle is famed as being the childhood home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother , birthplace of HRH The Princess Margaret and the setting for Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'.

This will be our last of the three castles. It's the one I have wanted to see most of all. Last trip, we gave up on Glamsi to make to Fraser, and you see how well that worked out.

The Glamis Castle has a a lot of haunting stories.
There one of the Baby Monster who was walled up inside the castle.
Another one is the story that to every generation there is a baby vampire who must be walked up inside a room.
There is the story of the servant vampire who was found sucking the blood of a victim.
There is Lady Janet Glamis, the Grey lady, who was hated by her nephew, King James V and condemed to be murdered in the stake. Her ghost still roams the castle.
There is the story fo the Earl Beardie, who played cards with a dark stranger on the Sabbath, after claiming, just minutes before the sabbath started at midnight, that he'd play with the Devil himself. Well, the Dark stranger took his soul and now he is condemned to play cards till dooms day.

Parking: free

Then Back to our B&B. This will be a 240mile day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

UK 2013 part 9 - tentative routes in Scotland

Today we looked into Scotland.

Dean wants to go back to Edinburgh and go visit the Castle, which costs £16 each and is open from 9:30 to 6 (last admission at 5)

He wants to walk the Royal Mile again. Fine. I like walking.

We could even eat at the same restaurant as last time.

From There we will drive up to our final destination of the day. But wait! And just sit around and rest? But we are not going to to rest!

No way!

What about all the other days we have there?

We started looking for key words such as "Scotland off the beaten path" and "Back Roads Scotland" "Things to see in Scotland" and I came across this website:

The link is already taking you to the part I care about which was relatively hard to find.

(Since I like to be able to re-do my steps, let me register that here:

If I ever need to get there from, here is the way: hover the mouse over travel, click on around Scotland, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on Scotland's National Routes)

This page gives suggestions of drives you can take in Scotland.

My criticism of this site is that the drives don't come with maps. Not detailed maps - I don't need those, but maps which would high light the area in wich the walks are being suggested. Kind of that first page of each drive suggested by those Eyewitness Travel Books. I'd like to have an idea of which area you are suggesting me to drive through before I waste my time reading the whole paragraph.

Anyway, we have opted for three of those drives (after a lot of reading and plugging names of places on google maps). 

One ride will be done on the same day as Edinburgh - it's the Fife Coastal Route - which is right above Edinburgh.

Fife Coastal Route

The Fife Coastal Route runs 85 miles (136 km) around the beautiful north east coast of theKingdom of Fife. Follow the route north from Edinburgh or south from Dundee. Starting from Edinburgh, cross the iconic Forth Road Bridge and stop just before reaching Fife at Deep Sea World where an underwater tunnel will take you exploring far beneath the waves.

Following the signs west will take you further into the Forth Estuary, where, around half an hour from Scotland's modern capital, is the country's ancient capital Dunfermline and the Royal Burgh of Culross, which is an outstanding example of a 16th century town.

The coastal route can also be followed east from the Forth bridges, where you will find lovely sandy beaches such as Aberdour, Silversands and Kinghorn and the picturesque villages of the East Neuk with their distinctive red pantiled roofs, arts scenes and unspoilt beaches. Keep following the route and you will reach St Andrews, the Home of Golf , seat of Scotland's oldest university and a fascinating historic town.

Next day, on more drive from the website - Moray Coastal Drive will take us rhough the area where Dean's family clan - the McBeans - is from. In one of the stops there is a place to find info on your clan, so we might stop there.

Moray Coastal Route

The Moray Firth Route takes you round in an 80 mile (128 km) semi-circle from Inverness around three of the most beautiful inlets on the east coast of Britain - the Beauly, Cromarty and Dornoch firths - as it heads north into the heart of the northern Highlands.

The Struie viewpoint over the Dornoch Firth will take your breath away, as well as salmon leaping at the Falls of Shin. Stop at the Storehouse of Foulis to discover your clan history, or see whisky being made at Glen Ord .

Other things that you may wish to do on the route include a walk to the dramatic 18th century arches of the Fyrish monument, a visit to Beauly Priory or learn about the archaeology of the north at Ferrycroft, Lairg. You can also enjoy creative attractions and events along the way.

The next day we will do the Castles I so desperately want to . Glamis Castle and Castle Fraser. Glamis costs  £10 a person and parking is free (10:00-6:00; last admission at 4:30). Fraser costs £9.50 a person and £2 for parking. (11:00-5:00 - last admission at 4:00) Oh, yes, I learned that the hard way.

We don't know if the next day will be avaiable, or if we will be following clan clues. If it is available, we will do the Argylle Coastal route, then sleep over near the Airport in Glasgow, where our vacation will end at 8 in the morning the next day.

Argyll Coastal Route 

On this 149 mile (238 km) journey from Tarbet on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond, you will travel up through Argyll and on to Fort William in the Highlands. As you climb steadily be sure to enjoy the famous viewpoint, the Rest and be Thankful, before descending to Inveraray and continuing on along the shores of Loch Fyne to Lochgilphead.
Turning north, you’ll pass the lovely Crinan Canal and reach the bustling port town of Oban, which is a gateway to many of the west coast islands. Enjoy the fine view across the Firth of Lorn and the Sound of Mull to the Inner Hebrides. From Oban, cross the impressive Connel Bridge and journey on up through Ballachulish to Fort William, which nestles at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain.

Monday, February 18, 2013

UK 2013 part 8 - Floating costs: Fuel, Food, Parking

Budget, budget, budget!

Yup, we need to figure out whether or not we can afford the trip.
All the time taht I am planning transportation, lodging and attractions, I a also noting the cost of each, as you can see on my trip itineraries.

But what about expenses that we can't pre-pay or book such as food, fuel, park charges, and souvenirs?

Souvenirs? What souvenirs?
Well, souvenirs will have to wait for their turn. If we can we can, if we can't, too bad.

How did I plan our meal expenses?
Well, in most cases our breakfast is included. There are only 4 days in which it isn't.

So we mostly have 2 extra meals to pay for.

What did I plan on? About £25/€25 per meal for 2.

How did I get to this price?

I did some online searching for typical prices of meals - eating cheap, like pub grub - and it turns out it ranges between £5 to £10. I figured then we might spend an average of £25 per meal. Some days might be slightly more, others slightly less. We might skimp on lunch to splurge on dinner. Either way, the idea is to average £25 or €25 per meal and try to not go over this price. That means try to not eat fancy.

How did I figure out those typical prices? Bing searches for "typical meal prices in ____" and google docs for local restaurants.

Doing it backwards is also an option. That's how I do when we go to Orlando and Brazil. I have an idea of what is realistic to expect of course. Then I establish how much I can spend meals, divide it by the number of meals, then find the places that will serve food for that price.

Gee, that's the hardest part. What I did was find the approximate mileage that we would be driving. Figure out the average mpg of the car we will be driving. Then I check websites that give us prices of fuel in England (in liters.

After I get all this data I use the following formulas:

Total of Miles/Miles per gallon = total gallons spent.

Turn gallons into liters.

Liters * pounds per liter = total pounds spent on fuel



That's not really hard, just time consuming. What I did was find the parking lots (car parks) on google maps or one city websites. Some city websites will also give you the cost per hour. So I could calculate the approximate amount of money spent by the approximate amount of hours we were going to spend at the place.

I also checked for places where I could park for free. Some street parking is free at certain times of the day and on certain days of the week.

UK 2013 part 7 - lodging and transportation

Tight budget
Because we travel on a super tight budget, price is a major thing we have to consider. many times we passed on great places because the price was just too high above our means. However, when there's minimal difference between the ideal place and the cheaper place - we go with ideal.
We have also learned that cheapest is not always cheapest if you consider distance and breakfast charges. If you are going to be too far from your attractions or if you will be paying ridiculous amounts of money for breakfast (if you eat breakfast), the cheapest place might end up expensive.
Also - be ready to get there, take the bite of the charge for a one night stay and say - "sorry, can't stay in this piece of junk." Your sanity is more important than your money.

Searching for transportation

Transportation is a big thing I consider. Car rental or public transportation? Which public transportation options do I have and how can I get deals for them?
Also are there sight-seeing tour buses? Is it worth it?

When we stay in big cities we forego the car. Driving in a place like London, Boston, NYC, Washington-DC, Salvador or Rio de Janeiro is a terrible idea for me. The terrifying thoughts of being stuck on mile-long traffic jams, lost in some dark street, and spending a lot of money on fuel waisted. 

When we were in London, we turned in the car and saved 4 days of rental. We purchased the Oyster card - which allowed us to travel on the Tube and on buses. The Oyster is rechargeable and we each put £50 in our cards, which gave us extra cash. 

We took the Tube a lot, and we also walked a lot. Many attractions are within walking distances, and walking also makes for finding little wholes-in-the-walls. We only took the Tube when the distance was too long to make a walk worthwhile. We also took a cab when we had no idea where to start - for instance, from the airport to the hotel.

In Dublin, Belfast, York, Liverpool, Bath, and Edinburgh, where we only spent a day each time, we found a cheap parking garage (in British is car park), and dropped the car there for the hours we stayed there. I had researched parking garages before I left home. I knew where they were and how much they cost. I also researched free street parking. Certain places are free at certain hours and days of the week. 

To NYC and Boston, I leave the car at a train station (some stations have free parking) and take the train in. When I was there with family, we took sight-seeing buses. When I go by myself I take the subway.

In DC I also take the subway and the sight seeing bus with my family.

In Rio de Janeiro, since the fam was with us, we rented a van with a driver/guide, and a sight seeing bus. But if it were only Dean and I we would have used public transportation.  

In Petropolis we had a driver/van and paid a city guide to come with us for a few hours, but we were not very fond of his work.

In Salvador, I take the bus. But if you are not a local, get a van with driver. Salvador's public transportation system is insane and makes no sense to anyone who has not lived there their whole lives.

In small towns we drive. We could have opted for the rail in England if we only cared about going from point  A to point B.
But the getting there is part of the experience, so we drive.

Car rentals
There are several ways we usually rent cars. We use:
the AAA website,
the airlines mileage website
the credit card website
 Kayak (my new favorite) searches several different travel agencies, general car rental agencies, and specific rental agencies. They found me a British car agency called Holiday Autos that charged my credit card as a local transaction.

Consider the  size of the car, as well as whether it is a manual or automatic. We always try for manuals and mini sizes. They fit anywhere, are more economical and fit our family size.

Hidden vs. disclosed fees - call first and get a better deal
Comparing rentals is very complicated. 
There are fees that don't always get disclosed. 
The cheapest rental might actually be the most expensive.

Tip: read the fine print, read the contract, read anywhere that says "fee", "included", "not included". In doubt - call them.

With Holiday Autos, I was not sure what fees were included in it. It sounded like the 3rd cheapest one (after autoeurope for $250 and rentalcars for $258 - they all quote in dollar)
But autoeurope had a £40 one-way fee, and rental cars - I found after a lot of searching in their website - has a £50 one-way fee, even though the first additional driver was already included.

I called Holiday Autos to inquire about a one-way fee. They assured me there was none, and even quoted me on $261 instead of $285.

Fees - These are the ones I learned about:
  1. prime-location fee
  2. mandatory insurance
  3. additional driver fee
  4. value added tax (UK)
  5. fire insurance
  6. mileage (limited or unlimited)
  7. one-way fee (different drop-off location)
  8. road fund fee (UK)
  9. any extra addition to your rental, such as baby seats, GPS, etc.
  10. airport fee
When you get to the rental agency and they charge you a lot of extras and you say, "But I didn't see any of these values", they will point to the part of your contract that says, "additional fees might be charged locally"

Searching for lodgingAgain, here are my websites where I have searched for B&Bs as well as Inns/Taverns:    (used it last trip) - I just found this one, but they don't have much. I actually just posted the two places I found in Cookstown there. is another good place - since it saved my life. I post reviews there too.
google maps (looking for icons of beds on the map) (typing key words such as "inns taverns England" or "inns taverns near _______")

The following is a list of some places I have looked into while trying to find a place to stay:

Costwolds  - We choose The Mouse Trap Inn for its best price and for being a tavern

In Bourton-on-the-water:
Dial house hotel (over £100 per night)(hotel)
The Mousetrap Inn  (Jul31-Aug2 -£122.00)(£61 per night)(breakfast included ) (tavern)
In Bledington:
The King's Head: - (start £95 night ) (hotel)
In Winchcombe:
The White Hart Inn:  - (£81 per night) (hotel)
In Great Rissington:
The Lamb Inn:  (£115 night)(hotel)
In Lacock:
The Thatched Cottage: (£80 to £90 night) (B&B)
Damson Cottage: (£70 night) (B&B)
In Stow-On-The_wold: - (£65 night) (B&B)

Oxfordshire - we chose The Crown Inn for being a cheaper tavern relatively close to the places we will go. The Buckingham Hotel was a better location and price, but for just £3 extra we chose a tavern over a hotel. 

In Dorchester-On-thames:
Crown Cottage  (£70 night)(B&B)
In Benson: (£50 per night - no breakfast)(£150)(tavern)
In Long Wittenham (start £60 per night) (B&B) 
In Wyncombe:
Buckingham Hotel (£47 night - no breakfast)

Scotland - we chose the Alvey House

In Newtonmore
Eagle view. (£72 night) (B&B)
Alvey House Hotel: (B&B) (£63 night)
The owners just recently retired but the new owners said they would honor the previous rate we quoted on line.   

In Glasgow
 - We are spending the night here bc this place is across the street from the airport and our flight leaves in the morning. This way we have a full day wherever we want to go and drive to the airport the night before the flight. ( £23night) (motel)

Lake district - we choose the Greenbank Country House. We were decided to stay at the Elm Tree, whose owner is an Everest climber and the place is just minutes away from downtown. But toprooms showed me this gem - a wonderful view in the country part of Keswick, for a lower price? What a find! Bye bye, Everest.

In Kewswick :
The Elm Tree Lodge -  £32.5 (pp/pn)
Little Town Farm - this is a farm Hotel (80.00 per night).
ivy lodge start @ £30 (person, night)
the inn £47.5 (person/night)
oakwaite house £33(person/night)
The GreenBank Country House (farm hotel) (£55 night)

Northern Ireland - we chose The Belfast House for being a Tavern.

In Cookstown
Fortview: (£60 night) (B&B)
Manorview: (B&B) (£50 night)
The Central Inn: (tavern) (breakfast incl.) (£50)
The Belfast house: (tavern) (breakfast incl.) (£55)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

UK 2013 part 6 - date change: Skype & Tripadvisor

Date change mess-up - Tripadvisor to the rescue

So I mess up sometimes. I try to be as thorough as possible, but sometimes I mess up.

Before I start booking places, I first check availability of every lodging, flight, car rental and anything that might make our trip non-viable concerning price and availability.

Once everything is checked and double checked, I start booking and paying.

Since our dates changed twice, I went back to every lodging place, every car rental place, and checked the flights as well. 

As soon as I made sure everything was viable, I started booking and paying for the stuff that had to be paid in advance.

Well, I made sure about everything but The Central Inn. 

Yes, I had emailed them to check the new dates, but I forgot to wait for a reply. By the time The Central Inn replied saying they were fully booked on my new trip dates, I had already paid for and booked everything else.

I freaked. I had already exhausted my searching places - 4hotels, toprooms, google maps...  the only place I had left to look was trip advisor. Praise the Lord! Trip advisor had, at the bottom of the list, an extra tavern in Cookstown - the place called The Belfast House.

Booking without internet - Skype

They had no online booking, so the next day, in the morning we called them with Skype. They had B&B rooms for £55/night. True. £5 more a night - I lost us £20.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

UK 2013 part 5 - Flights

Last night I got on the computer to go back to planning. This part of my trip  planning is called ... Ta-dah! ... booking flights!

Best money-time-value relationship

My go-to site to book anything within the US or US-Europe has been Expedia. However is a great helper too!


I checked leaving from a nearby airport. It was so much more expensive, that it was cheaper to rent a car in and out of Logan.

So yeah, check for different starting options. and consider how to get in and out of there:
Do you have a ride?
Where are you going to leave your car? How much do they charge for long term parking at the airport? Some airport motels charge very little to have you leave your car at their parking lot. Call them!
Will you take the subway or a cab into the airport?
Do you really want to drag luggage (if you travel with large luggage like I do when I go to Brazil) cross town till you get to the airport?

In case you are wondering, all Brazilians carry large luggage when going home to visit. That's because they are carrying order packages for mom, little brother, neighbor, church friend, classmate from first grade they just reconnected to on Facebook  and the classmate's dog. If you are like a Brazilian - remember to consider how to get to airport carrying all that luggage. it might be worth to pay more for transportation.

I considered how to maximize the itinerary and specific dates that had to be met. We had to spend one Sunday in Cookstown for family connections and another Sunday in Wendover for more family connections.

To maximize time on task and minimize time in transit - still keeping budget in mind - I looked into a number of flight combinations - single and multi-destinations:

-Boston-Dublin-Edinburgh-Boston (that would made need for only one flight between islands)

At first I had opted for Boston-London-Edinburgh-Boston. I figured we'd land in London. Saturday - London; Sunday-Wendover; Midweek-Cotswolds; Luton-Dublin via Ryanair; Ireland till Sunday. Dublin-Liverpool via Ryanair; midweek-Lake District; end of week-Scotland; then home.
This was the second cheapest option. It made sense from a travel line point of view, and not lose a day going back to your original port of entry.

I had to take into account the cost of the tickets between islands as well. Ryanair is the cheap way to fly if you are not carrying luggage. Tickets as low as €16. But you have to keep checking for sales and they usually have sales for flights in 14 days - don't book too early.
Since the cheapest option was Boston-Dublin-Boston, I considered the option of starting the trip in Ireland. Then Ryanair Dublin-London. Then follow the path up to Scotland. on the day we fly home we would take Ryanair Glasgow-Dublin.  To get to Glasgow from our final destination was just a matter of hours and no day would be lost except for the day already lost which is back-home day.

BOOK IT! After I made sure the dates were set on stone, I started booking. I booked the flight with Expedia this week, after I made sure every Tavern and B&B we wanted was available and car rentals were reasonable. Then I went on to book the lodging.

Booking lodging is another posting.

For now, that's all, folks!

UK 2013 part 4 - Ireland

Since I had lined up the South of Liverpool part of the trip, I went on to Ireland.

I started planning Ireland first, bc we were looking into traveling into Dublin.

Travel Books and Videos:
Part of planning is going to Barnes and Noble, grabbing a coffee, and flipping through travel books. I decided to do that bc we had too much free time in Ireland, too much free time in the Cotswolds, too much free time in Keswick, and too much free time in Scotland. Not too much, but simply free time and I would hate to be driving up and down without a clue of what to do. So let's have fun at the bookstore together.
Those books have so far helped me find interesting things in Ireland.
But videos are also useful. Besides Rick Steves, we have watched Traveling with Kids, a Channel on Roku made by a couple and their 2 little boys.


Linen Hall Library in Belfast

We found out in a travel guide (either Michelin or DK) that the Linen Hall Library in Belfast has a place where you can make genealogical search. we also found out that they open on Saturdays (9:30-4) and admission is free (though donations are encouraged).
The Linen Hall is the oldest Libray in Ireland, and I read somewhere that it holds the oldest books in Northern Ireland, as well as the oldest newspaper. The Bobbin is their new cafe, and apparently the name is the result of a popular contest.

Originally we would spend this Saturday in Dublin, but we figured we'd do Dublin on the last day, and go try to find genealogical info before we made it to the church.

St. George's Market - click here to watch a video abut it.
From Dublin to Belfast is only 1h40m-trip, so we would make it there at around 11. We figure we could eat lunch at St. George's Market (Sat 9-3). St. George's Market is one of Belfast oldest attractions (1890) and considered one of the best markets in Great-Britain. If you are a New Englander, think one of those Big E convention center buildings, with lots of free food sampling. Last time we were there we bought Turkish Delight, learned what a guzunder is, and talked to locals. I was not planning on going back there, but, hey, now that we have an important genealogical research to make on a Saturday, why not?

So, lunch at St. George's Market, the research at the Linen Hall Library till 4, then a black cab tour of the city murals.

Black Cab Tours:
They are tours of Belfast that last approximately 1h30m and cost between £25-30 for up to 2 people. The neat thing is that they take you to a tour of the murals, but they will also do
 - City Centre
- Political Districts
- Wall Murals
- Cemetery and Graveyard
- Titanic Shipyards
- City Hall
- Traditional Pubs and Bars
- St Annes Cathedral
- Cave Hill
- Queens University
- Ulster Museum
- Belfast Peace Wall

This list is taken straight our of this website:
But the other one i found, more expensive, is this one:

That's church day. We will go to a Presbyterian Church in Pomeroy, where we found a lot of family last name in the burial ground at the church.

Probably spend the day on genealogy reserach. We might do the City Hall records in Cookstown, and follow up on any links we find.
Dinner at McCartney's. We have to to find this place that we drove through while getting lost in Cookstown whereabouts.

Why dinner at McCartney's? Well, can you guess which McCartney I love? Of course I want dinner or a drink at this place.


If we run out of genealogy links, we will probably do the drive from Cookstown, through the Sperrin Mountains, to Londonderry - the only completely walled city in Northern Ireland - and to the Giant's Causeway (which we both loved), doing a coastal drive (which Dean fell in love with) all the way to Glenariff Forest Park.
Than back to our homebase in Cookstown.
 in case dinner the night befoe didn't work, we will try dinner or drink at McCartney's again.

the Book of Kells at the Trinity College (€8.50 each, if booked online).
The Book of Kells is a 9th-century gospel manuscript - the four gospels in the latin Vulgate text- written on Vellum (prepared calfskin) - housed in this 18th-century library at Trinity College. It's supposed to have originated in a monastery the island of Iona, west of Scotland, and maybe finished at Kells (after a Viking raid made the monks take refuge at Kells, County Meath).

The Crypt of St. Michan's (€4 each) after lunch.

 The Crypt is these vaults underneath this still active church where mummified remains of the Dublin's most influential families were found. There is a lot of legend around it, such as a supposed crusader, but apparently and unfortunately, the oldest body in there is only 650 years dead.
Our guide in 2011 was amazing! So knowledgeable about the world. He knew I was either a Corinthians or a Palmeiras fan, and argued that the Beatles were actually Irish.
I hope we meet him again.

On Saturday it's better to do St. Michan's first, bc they close earlier (10-12:45 vs 2:00 to 4:45  during the week).  On Sunday, forget St.Michan; the church is active and they hold service there.
On another weekday, I'd do Book of Kells first since they open early [Mon-Sat 09:30-17:00; Sun (May-Sep) 09:30-16:30; (Oct-Apr) 12:00-16:30.]

We will have lunch or dinner at the Brazen Head - supposedly the oldest pub in Ireland, then head to the airport.

We might turn in the car as soon as we get there and take public transport to save on parking  Let's see which is more economical.

UK 2013 part 3 - South of Liverpool

Last I wrote I had been looking for taverns.


Then I went on to do some actual planning. I will get back to lodging later.

Assuming we would be arriving in Ireland on a Saturday, then moving to the London area mid-week, the next part of the planning is the Cotswold district.

Visit the Cotswolds. Windsor will be packed anytime, but the Cotswolds will probably be empty of tourists during the week.

I discoverede the Cotswold District by chance last trip-planning, while searching with the key words "Quaint villages in England." I started reading on them and the name Cotswolds got mentioned a lot. So I started narrowing my search by using that word too! 

Cotswold means any of an English breed of a large, long-wooled sheep. That area had its hay day during the height of the wool industry.That's why you'll see huge cathedrals there. As wool declined, so did the area. The houses decayed and the people could not modernize them. It stayed stuck in time, giving the Costwolds that quaint little-village atmosphere my Dean so dearly wanted to see. Who would have thought their demise would also become their glory.

While searching, I came across this website: 
It has given me a north on my trip planning. It lists (probably) all the Cotswolds towns and some suggestions of where to eat and where to stay.

This Website helps you navigate the Costwolds. It even has a map to give you an idea of what the are is like.
While in the website, check out a link that talks about deserted towns:

Saturday morning: 
Visit the Windsor Castle. 
£17.50 each, and extra £5.45 each to visit the Great Kitchen (which has been active for nearly 750 years).

They suggest you plan to arrive after 11:30, when it's  less busy, and plan about 2.5 to 3 hours for that visit.

But from March to October the place is open 09:45-5:15 (with last admission at 4pm). 
You can also choose the tower tour instead of the kitchen; there's the tour of the Queen Mary's Doll House. Check their websiteThe Semi-State rooms won't. They only open from October to March (odd!)

We want to be there as soon as it opens. We will try to see the change of the guard there instead of in London. Check out the dates for the change of the guard. I July it happens everyday. From August to March, it happens every other day.

In the afternoon: 

Visit London.
No, we are not doing the London sight-seeing stuff.  We've done that, and decided no need to repeat it. If we were doing the London experience, we would need more time - like last time. We did sight-seeing and we went into several buildings, such as the Jewel Tower, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London.
This time, we are going to London for some private reasons. ....  a few old-style-shaving stores (Taylor of Old Bond Street is one of them), and Paul's house. You know which Paul I mean - the love of my life, the most talented musician on earth - and yes, I know where his house is. What kind of a Beatles fan would I be if I didn't know that? 
If I am lucky he will be there ... if not lucky, I will leave a note... something like, "Drop Nancy, I'm yours." kind of thing. Oops, did Dean hear that?

Pick and Choose

We were going to try to visit the Buckingham Palace, but chose to skip it. Since our time is limited and we want to prioritize our own little selfish reasons to go there, we chose to pick one royal home to see, and we picked Windsor. Why? Windsor will definitely be open in either July or August, while before July 27 the state rooms in Buckingham are closed for visitors.

We could co see the Royal Mews (the stable) or the Queen's Gallery (I am so not an artsy person...) 

The change of the guard, happens everyday (from May to July) at 11:30 till July. But I read in a forum at Rick Steves website that the one at Windsor is more beautiful. Also It costs  £19.00 (latest admission at 4:45) versus £17.50 from Windsor.

It's breaking my heart that we can't go in to have a cup of tea with Her Majesty... but hey I will survive...


Church in Wendover to try to find Humphreys. Rest of the day to follow up on clues about the Humphreys.

So far on Monday we will drive up to Liverpool and maybe York.
The Beatles Liverpool is already out of my system. I did it last time. I'm good. ... I did my once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to the Beatles Mecca.
We have also already done the York thing (even though we didn't make it into the Cathedral). If you want to know about those places, read my memoirs of UK2011 trip.
The reasons we might stop by Liverpool or York is to meet friends of Dean for a drink or meal while we drive up to our next destination - the Lake District.

However, I have suggested Dean to maybe look into genealogical archives in Wendover on Monday, skipping Liverpool and York altogether.

Well, that's all for now, folks!

Here are the links for the places I have mentioned in this post:
Costwolds information place:
What's cool about it: The Costswolds is a place where, centuries ago, the Wool industry made afluent. With the decline of the wool industry, so did the affluence of the area. T
What's cool about it: The Buckingham Palace is the working headquarters of the Monarchy, where The Queen carries out her official and ceremonial duties as Head of State of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth.

What's cool about it: Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. It has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. It is an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. The Kitchen has been active for about 750 years. And I read on a Rick Steves discussion forum (where people give their opinions) that the change of the guard there is much more impressive than at Buckingham.