Planning a Trip

My husband and I (hat sounds a bit like the Queen) have been planing out trip to England and Scotland in May and early June. We did know where we wanted to go but had not arranged the nitty-gritty details of when and for how long in each place. In other words, the tough stuff was undecided. Well, it is now arranged.

It is at times like these that I see the virtues of cruises and packaged vacations. If all you have to do is to pack the bag, then the whole thing is a walk in the park. You are given an itinerary so you don’t even have to type one out for the family with the names and dates of the hotels and relevant cities. You probably also get a map and info on the various tourist sights. And the hotels have presumably been vetted for comfort etc.

When you are travelling on your own, the whole thing is a bit of a gamble. Even if friends and family members give you the name of places where they stayed on their trip to Scotland, you are likely to find that hotel is not available when you want it. So you read the reviews for help and note that one person found the place to be nosy and dirty and the next said it was quiet and clean. Did they stay in the same building? And has the whole staff changed between the hostile and unhelpful comment and the pleasant and helpful one? How much is due to customer attitude? It’s a balancing act. You end up saying , well, on the whole the place seems okay. I am sure if we had an unlimited budget for travel and only chose the $800 a night rooms, we would always be happy with our selection.

We have had some surprises with hotels and gone from shoeboxes where we tripped over our bags to rooms where you could throw a party in the bedroom and add half a dozen guests in the bathroom. A hotel in Amsterdam where we were upgraded was a case in point. And it had windows on two sides for us to watch the hundreds of cyclists riding to and from the train station and often defying death as they did so. .

We probably haven’t got the dates right and may wish in retrospect we had stayed one more day in Lincoln and one less day in York but that’s the way it goes when you are visiting foreign places. You know a city’s reputation but cannot know your reaction to if. I will always remember my first real look at Barcelona. It was a bright sunny day with people sitting on the cathedral steps eating ice cream. A jazz quartet was playing and a tiny boy was dancing to the music. It was a sight that has imprinted itself on my brain and will always represent Barcelona.

So now, I am looking forward to gathering more snapshot memories as we travel to of Edinburgh, Inverness, York, Lincoln and London. .