Saturday, February 27, 2010

Getting from here to there

Today we travelled to Tullamarine Airport to meet Gemma, home after 12 months. Her plane came in 40 minutes early but we still had to wait quite a while as she went through quarantine. Just as well we can fill in the time by people-watching. I don't know how people cope with long delays and cancellations. We'll be back at the airport in just over a week.

I've been checking web pages to plan the best route to travel from Heathrow to our hotel near Hyde Park in London. One called was good, and I found one that is great for planning walking routes It appears that a) we have to change trains three times or b) we walk the last km or more with our bags and wheely cases or 3) catch a cab for the last little bit and pay the price. I think we'll opt for the latter because we're arriving at peak hour.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A bonus

Checked my emails this morning and found one from Glenn, our son who lives in Zurich, telling me he'll be working in London while we're there and free on the following weekend to spend some time with us. Fantastic news - it's more than two years since we've seen him. I was already excited about exploring London but this will be icing on the cake.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The paperwork

Our travel agent, Renee, looks like a teenager, is very capable and efficient and, most importantly, doesn't treat me like an idiot just because I'm old enough to be her grandmother. Perfect qualifications for her job.

Today she gave me a package of paperwork - e-tickets for the various flights, accommodation vouchers, car hire details, numbers to ring in an emergency and pamphlets about what we can and can't carry on the plane. Now her job is done and my job is to interpret the paperwork correctly and end up at the right place at the right time. "Good luck" she said with a smile. "You'll have fun. Tell me all about it when you get back." I wonder if she meant it. Surely she doesn't really want to hear all about it. But I probably will pop in because she'll be able to help me plan my next trip. "What?" I hear Phil say. "We're going again??"

We have to decide whether we need a GPS unit for the car, or make do with paper maps. We don't have one here so we have to weigh up whether to buy one now and add a UK/Europe map. How much would we use it here in Australia when we get back? Hiring a unit with the car in the UK would be more expensive. We have to decide soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


We've never travelled overseas before. We've had a great time over six decades exploring Australia but now the time has come to spread our wings and fly.

One of our chicks, Glenn, has already left the nest and he and Sarah live and work in Zurich so we are going to stay with them for a couple of weeks. But before that we will be driving around the UK and Ireland for six weeks, exploring the villages that our ancestors left behind when they came to Australia in the 1800s. And we might look at a few castles, cathedrals, National Trust properties, museums, natural treasures and beautiful vistas along the way.

The pre-travel preparation has been interesting. I'm fairly computer-savvy and tried planning and booking the trip myself online. In the end I got myself so confused I took myself off to a travel agent and she had us sorted in no time. (If I get to travel overseas a second time I'll be much more confident about doing it myself.) My friends and even brief acquaintances are sick of me bombarding them with demands for travel advice but most people like talking about their holidays more than their listeners are prepared to listen so it hasn't been too difficult to build up a list of dos and don'ts. Time will tell whether their advice has been useful or not.

Neither of us had a passport so we had to go through the whole application process, including getting full birth certificates because we'd never needed them before. Phil had two bites at getting his certificate because his mother's name was spelt wrong on the first one. It took much longer than we'd thought and in retrospect we should have started the process earlier. But now we have them in hand, complete with photos that are very ordinary. One consolation is that the passports are valid for ten years so by then the photos may be a little more realistic or maybe even flattering.

One of our chicks, Gemma, is returning from a year working in Thailand this week and will be housesitting for us while she sorts out her next adventure. And our new grandchick, Geoff, who has just moved from Queensland back to Victoria with his parents Kerrie and Adam, will be two months older when we get back. He might even be able to say "g'day" by then.

So this blog won't be a nature blog like my other one. It's a travel blog so our friends and family can follow us on our adventure.

We leave in just over two weeks. Now I'm getting nervous and excited.