A travel update and blogging lowdown

Does anyone know the Greek word for “Bite me”?

I’ve spent the last three days trying to schedule a Greek sidetrip to Crete or Santorini into our upcoming family vacation, only to see my carefully balanced (and thoroughly analyzed) plans sink like Atlantis when the airfares literally jumped more than 500 budget-busting dollars right before my eyes. (I love the internet!)

We are now less than two weeks away from invading Europe and I’m about five minutes away from losing my grip. By the time you do all the work around your home and on your job (including a two-day business trip to New Jersey) that is necessary in order for you to go away for three weeks … well, you really need a long vacation. Part of my stress is in working out a suitable itinerary that allows us to see the things we want to see without rushing all over the place, all while staying within the budget. While you might think the “see Europe on $300 a day plan” doesn’t sound like much of a challenge, you should try it with four people at today’s prices and British exchange rate (not to mention the hotel rate, the BritRail rate, the cost of petrol, etc.).

Plans have been slipping through my fingers about as quickly as the remaining moments before our trip. This weekend, though, I was resolved to tie everything up in a dream itinerary: purposeful, yet flexible; affordable yet high in value. It seemed workable; the segments were broken down,: so many days in London and vicinity, off to Greece for four days, divvy up the remainder between Ireland and Scotland, while trying to make it to Normandy for Memorial Day. Not a particularly Herculean task, but right now I’m feeling about like the stuff that was washed out of the Aegean Stables.

I know, no one feels sorry for me. The major part — getting over there and back — has been handled and even if we picked our destinations by throwing pub darts once we got there we’re sure to have a good time and see lots of interesting things. Plus, in all my on-line investigating I discovered EasyJet and low, low airfares in the UK and from there to western Europe. Right now the leading candidate to replace Santorini is a flight to Turin (about $30 per person each way), followed by a little drive down the Tuscan coast from Genoa to Pisa. Once back in England we can fly to Cork (about $20 each), or to Edinburgh (about $30). Of course, if I wanted to see the country from on high I’d simply buy a map, but it’s nice to know rapid, affordable transit is available.

The weekend wasn’t a total waste, then. We didn’t get any of the spring yard work done because of the rain, but put a small but noticeable dent in the housecleaning in preparation for our house-sitting friends. The Reverend Mother has been known to get down on her hands and knees to scrub baseboards when people are just coming for dinner; you might imagine what it’s doing to her to think of people living unsupervised in her house for three weeks. (Personally, I’m thinking of stashing some unmentionables behind the sofa pillows just for fun). Well, I’ll admit to being interested in having everything in ship-shape around here as well; there’s no way I want these people to know I’ve got copies of Sports Illustrated lying around that are older than those in the Dentist’s office.

SO, thanks to a job list that isn’t getting any shorter while the time remaining is, I’m going cut back on posting new things to this blog for the next couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to blogging from the road (I’m taking my laptop and lining up accomodations with wi-fi), but until we get away I’m only going to post quick things that occur to me rather than sitting down purposefully to compose each evening.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be something different here every day or so. Borrowing a page from our radio friends, I’m going to queue up (hey, that’s a British word!) a retrospective “Best of the Night Writer” from the last 15 months that I’ve been doing this, especially some of my favorites from the early months when I was getting maybe 15 visitors a day. While it might be “old” stuff, it could very well be new to you, or, if not, I hope you won’t mind seeing these again.

And I will see you again, very soon.

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