Monday, August 15, 2011

great-britain trip photo-log

I wonder how anyone can write a travel log on a daily basis.
I can't, I most absolutely can't. Why not? Well, our days usually start at 7 am or earlier, and go well into 10 pm. So this is being written in chunks. I will try to be as faithful as possible and I might come back to ass stuff I missed.

Day 0 - July 29, 2011, Friday

My greatest fear for the past couple of weeks came true. The itinerary is not ready on Friday morning.
We were supposed to leave at 2 pm and I was frantically printing everything I had ready, packing last minute stuff, and trying to not be a bitch to my husband.
He left to go get the UK money we had ordered from the bank and did not realize the car needed gas and air.
So we left late, as usual, and we still had to go get gas and pump air in the tires.
At the train station, the booth lady at the parking lot was begging to be strangulated by an enraged me. Why? Ok, check this out: The booth lady at the parking lot can't freaking count!!!! We told her the days we'd be picking up the car and she said she had no idea how to figure out how long that was!!!!
Well, I had to do it! And, if you know me, you know much I love doing Math under pressure. My mood started to boil. I figured 16 days. 16 x 6.75 ... ... DECIMALS??? Truck!!! (this is my new swear word. I ran all the way inside the station to get cash out of the ATM machine, which cost us 5 bucks. When I came back, the freak of nature suddenly had learned how to multiply and all of a sudden we were a few cents short, because of an extra fee. Then she started complaining that we were 0.75 short, even though Dean explained to her that we were short .75. So I went back into the station get more money, which cost us an extra 5 bucks, just to come back and find out that the lady had decided to waive the .75.
Yes! Thank you for giving me the heads up before I left to get the .75 you were freaking out about!
Our flight left two hours late. That was good news and bad news, since we were about one hour late but our first day in England was jam packed and it had to start at 7:30 am!

Day 1 - July 30, 2011, Saturday. Sherwood Forest and York

The first day of the trip was a forecast on the tone of the whole thing - late for everything, missing stuff planed so carefully, but awestruck by everything we did see.

I had taken sleeping pills the night before, and I'd be lying if I told you I remember the plane taking off.

We got to Heathrow 2 hrs late. Enough trouble? No! At the car rental place we waited 45 minutes in line to get a car that had been paid for about a month ago!!! They did not have the car we had requested. They gave us an automatic 2 categories larger.

Our GPS however, smart little guy, re-routed us when we hit a nasty traffic in the motorway. We were pretty impressed.
Our first stop was the city of Nottingham. Since we were going to Sherwood,
we figured going through Nottingham made sense. We finally made it to Sherwood, aone hour after we should have left. It is a nice park. We saw the great Oak, the tree that is said to be Robin and his band's hideaway, but the great Oak was but a sapling during Robin's time. If there ever was a Robin.We learned that is is very likely that there has never been a Robin Hood, and that there might have been many different people nicknamed Robin Hood. Rob was a very common name at the time, and many outlaws used the forest as a hiding place. Which ever the case might be, by the 13th century there were already many legends about Robin Hood and we really will never know the truth.

Man, I want a time machine!

However standing there, a few meters away from that ancient tree, was a humbling experience. I could not help but think that she has been there for all those years, and maybe will be there long after we've gone.

We headed to York when we should have been arriving there, so about 2 hours late. York has about 1900 hundred years of history. We got there at 6, when we had planned to be there at 4. The York Minster Cathedral we had wanted to visit was already closed. We took pictures of the outside and walked along streets that are older than the ages of both our countries combined.

The York Minster saw the proclamation Constantine Roman Emperor. We ate fish and chips in a place called Hole in The Wall and got free drinks with a coupon I got online from Marston's Inn.

It was hard to leave, since we met a group of fun people that told us some interesting stuff about York and England. The great-great-grand father of one of them was part of the team that fixed up the city walls, and because of the that he was grated an honor title that was passed down to the descendants. We also met a girl who gets her hairs done with the same guy who does Princess Kate!!!!

We don't have history that dates that far back in one same place. We don't have honor titles given to us by our great great great grand fathers. Dean is lucky enough to know the name of one of them. I don't even have that to go by.

We wanted to walk on the city walls, but it was getting late. The pain of leaving is great but it was time to go. Liverpool and a 3 hour drive was ahead of us. We had to make it there, drop off the car and pack our hand luggage. We had to be at the John Lennon airport at 5 the next day to get to Ireland - our second country. And in Northern Ireland we would go visit a completely walled city. So we could handle leaving that one alone.

Good-bye York. Good-bye Sherwood. Maybe we will see you again someday.... maybe ... someday...

Dean, my wonderful husband dove right into the driving on the left thing and was worn out. Speed cameras are everywhere and we were trying to be careful not to speed. But I will not be surprised if Alamo charges us for a speeding ticket. I am, I must confess, I little bit scared that that might happen.

We could not by any means figure out what to do with the car keys, since there was no drop-off box, so we kept the car for that night. While Dean fell asleep (he needed his sleep, since he is the driver), I packed our hand luggage for the flight. I might have slept half an hour that night, since when I was finally done packing, I could not find my sleep. When I finally started having dreams, the alarms, all of them, went off mercilessly!!!!

Day 2 - July 31, 2011, Sunday

We arrived in Ireland today after waking up at an ungodly hour in the morning to catch the flight from Liverpool. We landed in Dublin, capital of Ireland and got our new rental car - a cutie-petiltie Pegeot 107, silver, stick-shift.

Since it was Sunday, we drove right into Dublin. I figured it being Sunday, we would not get much for traffic. We parked on an otherwise paid parking spot, and went to St. Patrick's church for Eucharist at 8:30 in the morning.

Interesting thing about Eucharist: the liturgy at St. Patrick's. They are part of the Church of Ireland, which is an Anglican Church (reformed). They have a very clean liturgy, with prayer, confession of sins, communion, reading of the creed and reading of the Word. They do not however have any preaching of the Word. We wonder how exactly people learn about the truths of sin, and redemption by grace alone, without effective and careful preaching of the word.

Dean enjoyed so much the inside of the church, that he decided it was worth paying for a more thorough visit. And we did, and during our visit we met a couple from - what do you know!!!! - Chicopee, Mass. Yes, believe it or not, we had neighbors in the very same part of the word we were at!

Because St.Patrick's longer tour was not part of the itinerary, we got delayed and could not make it to the Book of Kells. We walked around, saw the Dublin Castle, Christ Church and bought a couple of souvenirs.

Then we drove to Northern Ireland, straight to its capital Belfast, in order to make it to the St. George's Market, a weekly market, much like the Big E, with food and handcrafted stuff for sale. We had a yummy lunch there and walked around the city after that before we headed to our B&B.

Our trip back to the B&B should have included a drive through streets that have the famous murals. We did see a couple, but it started raining heavily, so we skipped the final 3 streets.

I am trying to be conscious that, during this trip, Dean, the official driver, is putting up with a lot. Driving on the left, according to him, is go against everything he has been trained for since childhood. It's a constant re-thinking about the act of driving. Something that, for an experienced driver like him, comes already so naturally, an automated process like walking or thinking in your own language, is now being part of the non-automated processes such as paying attention to cars around you.

Now, when I asked him, how is it driving on the left? He said, the toughest part is to re-adjust the car limits. What does that mean? The lines around the car - we are used to having the left line right next to us and the right one to the far right end of the car. Well, now things are different. The line that must be put to the far end is the one on the left. According to Dean, getting used to these new limits was the hardest part.

I am trying to be conscious of my driver's extreme conditions, because this is his vacation as much as mine. I want him to enjoy it, and not to be constantly worn out and dreading every new day.

He has asked me to drive through small towns so I am getting out GPS to avoid highways when possible. Of course, that was not possible on the way from Dublin to Belfast, but on the way to the B& B we sure did. we drove through farm land and took lots of pictures. Maily pictures of sheep. Sheep, sheep, everywhere!!!!! Sheep graze free in every freaking road here in Ireland.

And the roads! The roads are narrow, so narrow that our tiny car feels big for them. They are also surrounded by walls, walls made of either tall bushes, or trees, or stones. They are interesting, and Dean is enjoying driving on them, but they scare me.How can roads be that narrow. When other cars come towards us, one of us has to allow for the other to go by first. Why would anyone want to drive like that?

Our B&B is in a town called Cookstown, where Dean's great-great-great-grandparents are probably from. Tomorrow we will go try to find some of them.

Today we just want to enjoy being in a bed with actual time to sleep. There is a TV in our room, but we are not going to be watching it. We just want to sleep.

We left for dinner at a hotel in Cookstown, and came back to just crash.

Oh, btw!!! I got to move the car today!!!! I am not allowed to drive it on the road, bc of the rental contract, but I did get to move it from one parking spot to the other!!! I was so excited!

Well, tomorrow is another day!

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