European vacation, or international incident in the making?

Later this spring we’ll be taking the whole family on a 3-week trip to the U.K. and Europe. About all we know right now are our departure and return dates and times and that London’s Gatwick airport will be our portal coming and going (I moved quickly to take advantage of a short-term offer that leveraged my frequent flyer miles). Plus we’re timing our trip so that we’ll be in the vicinity if Uncle Ben needs to be bailed out of jail.

Beyond that we don’t have a firm, or even gelatinous, itinerary. Negotiations are ongoing. I thought all along that what we’ve been talking about is a trip to England and Scotland, but now the girls want to see Ireland too, and the Reverend Mother is saying since we’re that “close” she wants to see the Champs de Elyse, the Eiffel Tower and Greece, and she’s heard that Geneva is really nice, too. I will admit to a desire to visit the Normandy beaches and surrounding area. My deepest desire, however, is to not have to set a pace that takes us to 42 cities in 20 days. Pray for me.

I spent a semester in England back in ’79 with stays in Falkirk, Scotland and Paris so I have a comfort level with getting around and we have a couple of good guide books, but I’m open to travel tips and suggestions from folks who have more recent experience. What are your thoughts on 3 1/2 Britrail/Eurail passes vs. renting a vehicle big enough to haul the Mall Diva’s luggage and paying the cost of “petrol”? Know any nice cottages or B&Bs slightly off the beaten path but still conveniently located to attractions? Is airfare on the Continent as reasonable as we’ve heard? What is the prevalence of wi-fi? (I’d like to bring my laptop and blog our trip, but I don’t want to carry the extra 5 pounds around if I can only log-on twice.) Do you think we’ll get to Paris before they burn it down?

6 thoughts on “European vacation, or international incident in the making?

  1. “…we’ll be in the vicinity if Uncle Ben needs to be bailed out of jail.”

    Bring plenty of Euros for bail. The leading candidate at the moment is a charge for stalking Melissa Theuriau. Odds are running 3/2 in favor at the moment.

  2. Speaking of jail, I was in a train station in Lisbon when a guy approached me and asked if I wanted to buy some hash. Thinking “Orient Express” and prison scenes, I quickly walked away, lest he be police plant wanting to drop a stray packet into a large, open bag I was carrying.

    OK, so that’s the kind of experience you’d like to avoid, right?

    I would like to know how the cost of train passes stacks up against, as they say in the UK, hiring an auto. One thing against the train: it’s a lot easier to haul MD’s luggage in a car–no traipsing through train stations!

    If there’s any one piece of advice I would give, it’s to do something outside of the museum/ famous buildings /shopping routine. I don’ t know what it would be like for you, but one thing I remember is renting mopeds in the south of France, and zipping along the Med, enjoying the sunny skies and the view of the sea. This was a great break from the cloudy days of December elsewhere.

    If you’re going to Scotland, why not a round of golf with the RM. (Though I don’t think there are many malls in Scotland!)

  3. PolicyGuy, I’ve been told that most vehicles available to rent in the UK have small “boots” so luggage is still a significant issue. For England and Scotland I’m thinking of selecting two or maybe three “hub” cities that we can operate from for a few days at a time, taking the train to nearby locations. Like you, I’m not as much into the museums and “attractions”; I like walking the streets or parks and trying to imagine if I lived there. I’d love to play a round of golf, but we’ll see what circumstances allow.

  4. 42 cities in 20 days!! Are you nuts?!

    I’m not a fan of rushing from place to place, so I advocate cutting back on the itinerary to really soak up the environment in fewer places. But that’s just me. I was in Europe for 5 weeks and only did Oxford-London (and everywhere in between them) and Florence, Rome and Venice. I had at least 5 days in each city. It was perfect.

    Enjoy your time.

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