J and I haven’t traveled for a while, but that is partly because my Mom and Dad came to visit us earlier this month. It was their first time to Europe and despite the average of 23,000 plus steps of walking a day I think they enjoyed it.
What I learned:
-Playing tour guide is more tiring than you would expect. I think it gave me a taste of what having kids will be like– Can they walk all the way there? Will the tube be too crowded? Are they hungry? Are there places that serve the food they like near here? Are they bored? I’m sort of happy I have a few years before that becomes a constant… good luck to my little sis who’s expecting!
-How good a place is can really be determined by the weather, lines and the claustrophobic factor of the crowd, but a good (professional) tour guide can make everything worthwhile. We were lucky enough to have them at both the Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe. I may even ask for them by name if I ever return there. (I only wish we had this respite while waiting in the rainy cold outside Windsor Castle’s state apartments.)
-You will always spend more money than you think you will, so either stick to the budget and eat the equivalent of ramen or just let it go.
-No one can just spend an entire day in a museum (especially when the crowds grow)— plan snack and coffee breaks or just give up. You won’t remember everything you learned anyway.
-Also plan for rain and cold…. especially if you’re visiting London, even if its been 60-70 degrees and sunny for three weeks. Yikes!
Places that were more amazing than I expected:
-Kew Gardens: You have to pay around 13 GBP to get in, but its is amazing. Growing up with the trauma of spending Saturday afternoons in the garden department while Mom took her time to find plants that look exactly like the ones we have, I was nervous, but the gardens are large, peaceful and with enough exotic pants, architectural feats and rotating exhibits to keep even the less enthusiastic entertained.
-Shakespeare’s Globe: Its more than just a recreated theatre made to take advantage of tourist money (my cynicism growing up in tourist beach town comes out). In fact, its not that. Its a full blown, beautiful historically accurate (as much as possible) theatre that uses tourists to pay for its renovations and its live shows to show its passion. We had to rush through the exhibit part of the Globe, so I can’t wait to go back to explore that and to see a play (or five).
-Natural History Museum: Yes it has awesome dinosaur bones (that you have to see before noon on a weekday because ohmygod I’ve never seen so many children in one place), but I was really excited by its innovative rotating exhibits and its weird, but kinda cool Victorian collection of stuffed, preserved, and dissected animals, including some that are now extinct.
This is a short little mini recap of my parents visit, at least from my perspective and eliminating most of the details that I was too busy acting like a mother duck with her brood to take photos of. Next up is a visit from J’s sister, which may see some repeats and some new “hosting” wisdom for me. The last people that visit me and J before we move back will get the perfected experience. Sign up here. (Yea, there’s no link.)
I’ll let you know how three people in our tiny one bedroom flat for 10 days works out.