Packing Mania and Thinking of London

Hi, again! Well, the preparation and packing marathon is nearing an end. Steve and I have done long vacations before, but not quite as long as three weeks. A long camping trip would be a breeze, back in the days when we used to camp, because you just could bring various layers of extremely casual stuff, along with ratty old jeans that you would wear every day. When things started to get a little ripe in the tent or camper, well, you could chalk that up to wild animals in the area. However, this adventure, with two cruises through more northern climes and the expectation that we will dress to the nines on the QM2, requires an assault on suitcase space unprecedented in our travel history.

We are bringing summer casual wear, cool weather casual wear (we are expecting pretty cool temperatures at night, especially on the Disney Magic cruise, where we will have a veranda to enjoy), summer somewhat dressy wear, cooler weather and air-conditioning immune somewhat dressy wear, formal wear, formal wear accessories, several types of shoes, assorted socks and undergarments and swimsuits, lots of toiletries and cosmetics, our lovely new ScotteVest Pack Windbreakers, and, of course, a flotilla of tech stuff (digital cameras, video camera, iPads, iPhones, chargers, Bluetooth keyboards, and adapters).

We also have to bring currencies for six countries – nice exchange rates right now – plus travel documents, passports and other assorted required items, like the pirates hats for Pirates night on Disney Magic. At least we are not bringing any books; my iPad is loaded with plenty of excellent reading material on the Kindle and iTunes readers and the battery lasts for a long time when you turn off the wireless and 3G. As a precaution, I am also bringing a travel wheelchair so that we can bring it on a couple of shore excursions that will require long periods of time standing around in museums looking at stuff (certainly not good for a very bad knee). Whew!!! We will have five bags in all, including three big ones that will be checked. Thank goodness that these will be handled by someone else most of the time! There will be absolutely no room for any souvenirs, sadly (Steve could be heard cheering in the background).

On to another topic: London. This will be our fifth visit to the British capital, but our first since 1987. After we got married in 1979 and took the obligatory honeymoon in Hawai’i, we realized that we wanted to travel more, so our very first big adventure was a trip to Britain in May, 1980. We stayed in lots of inexpensive Bed and Breakfasts and drove through many locations in England, Wales and Scotland after spending a few days in London. We repeated this adventure in 1981 and 1983, exploring more of the countryside and even claiming the “Lands End to John O’Groats” circuit in 1983.

In 1987, we again journeyed to London and a few areas in the English countryside, then took the ferry from Wales to Dublin, Ireland and spent some time in that country. Steve won this last trip after we completed the world beer tour at the Old Chicago restaurant (you might still see our names on the plaque at the Old Chicago in Boulder). The trip to England and Ireland was the grand prize for folks who had completed the beer tour and it was sponsored by Bass and Guinness. I am not overly fond of drinking beer ever since we did the beer tour, but Steve still loves beer and I must admit that the English real ales are awesome.

London is an amazing city and worth visiting if you have never been there. It is noisy and full of diesel fumes (as are most big cities in Europe), but the historic sites are fairly close together, the museums are wonderful and the views from the bridges on the Thames are stunning and comparable to the ones of Paris from bridges on the Seine. We hope London has not changed TOO much since we were last there, but I’m sure we will see many changes. We will do eagle-eyed reporting in the short time we have there, provided we can break free of pub touring.

Check back often for more updates! The big flight is tomorrow night, so this long-awaited vacation is nearly underway.

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