We are having a fantastic vacation, but I have not felt like blogging. Well, I have felt like blogging, but have not made the time for it. I will summarize what we have done so far and then try to fill it out a bit later. This is the first trip in years that I have not kept a daily journal and I look back over a week and cannot remember what we did. It is kind of nice not keeping track for a change.
This is a ten week trip, arriving and departing from England – a week in Paris, June in the Cotswolds, July in Switzerland.
Pre-Vacation and the Flight
Because of a great British Airways sale (you can only purchase tickets from one of their hubs) we were flying out of Phoenix, so we started our vacation with a pre-vacation. We rented a car in Santa Fe and drove to Sedona, spent the night, then drove to Phoenix airport for our flight.
We love Sedona and this time we saw a rainy and overcast Sedona, which was delightful. We stayed at the Amara Resort (have stayed there several times) and this time had a riverside room. Had a lovely evening and next morning in Sedona before leaving around 2pm for Phoenix.
British Airways flight was wonderful – we were in First! We were in First on the last trip because they offered a paid upgrade on checkin and we jumped at the chance (it is not easy to get into First on BA). This time I bought Club World sale tickets and upgraded them one way. So we flew to England as if flying in our living room. We both slept well.
Part 1 – Arrival in Windsor
We spent our first three nights in Windsor, only 20 minutes from Heathrow (used a car service). We stayed at the Harte and Garter on the High Street, looking at the Castle. We were there for a Bank Holiday weekend and Windsor was packed. Many visitors liked to stand outside the castle and scream late into the night. Why? No idea. But I did like standing on our balcony and seeing the church where Henry VIII is buried.
Windsor was a good arrival town – lots of restaurants and cafes, great walks along the River Thames and our friend Wendy and Richard live nearby. We had two wonderful days with them, including one day with Richard taking us on a tour of the towns along the Thames. The weather was hot and sunny. We had a picnic of Waitrose sandwiches sitting on a bench beside the Thames. Went for some lovely walks and visited a National Trust garden.
Part 2 – A Week in Paris
Next we took the train to Paris! We used a car service to take us from Windsor to St Pancras station in London (because it was not much more expensive than the train tickets). Windsor Cabs was great at giving us an airport pickup with a fragrance-free car but failed miserably at this one and we rode in a scented cab. I assumed they had told the driver of my request and we were smelling leftover air freshener but towards the end of the ride we saw an air freshener in the front. Argh!! Should have taken the train.
The Eurostar from London to Paris was fast (under 2 1/2 hours) and easy. It was not that comfortable – sort of like flying Southwest but at a lower altitude. Arrived in Paris, got a taxi to our apartment, met the representative from the agency at the apartment and were checked in. The apartment was fabulous (I reviewed it on Slow Europe). The only problem was that the bedding was scented. They had washed everything for us in unscented laundry soap but they usually use a soap with a strong scent, so the scent was in the pillows and comfortor. I rewashed the sheets about four times and then it was mostly okay.
We were in the heart of the Latin Quarter, a block from a Metro stop, with a great cafe beside our entrance, but were up on the fifth floor, above the noise (except some jack hammering from street work on a couple of days). The apartment was spacious and two walls were lined with windows. From some we look down on the Medieval Cluny Museum – looked right at some of the gargoyles. From others we looked north and could see the top of Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur sitting on its hill. We had our binoculars and could see the people sitting on the steps.
We loved being in Paris (our last visit was 21 years ago) but it did not capture our hearts the way it does for many people. It was cool for half the the week, hot and sunny for the other half. We spent most of our time walking around the city. We went to only one museum (the Cluny since it was next door) and we spent most of our time in the 5th or in the Marais. It was a very easy city to deal with. People were friendly, the Metro was easy to use, there are lots of vegetarian restaurants. We ate in restaurants, but cooked several meals at “home”. We spent one evening with Dana who I know through SlowTrav and Twitter. We spent a day with friends from Germany who we have not seen in the past few years, but have known for 20 years. I will write more about our time in Paris later.
Part 3 – June in the Cotswolds
After our eight nights we took the Eurostar back to London, got a cab from St Pancras to Paddington, then took the train to Oxford. Took a taxi from the Oxford train station to the Europcar office (1/2 mile away) and got our rental car. Drove to our first cottage in Fulbrook, just outside of Burford.
We were both thrilled to be out of the big city and back in the English countryside. We have been in this cottage for over a week now and on Friday we move to another cottage about 30 minutes away for the next two weeks. The weather has been heavenly – most days sunny and warm and some even hot! A few cold days (when we realize we had no idea how to heat this cottage).
We have spent a lot of time in the Cotswolds, but usually in May. June is a whole different story (either that or we have just been lucky with the weather). It is warm and sunny and it is light until nearly 10pm. These long days explains why I have not been blogging or getting much work done.
I love the Cotswolds! Wendy and Richard stayed in a cottage nearby for our first weekend here. We had a fabulous pub lunch with them at The Swan in Swinbrook (near Burford). The next day we all went to Snowshill Manor and then drove around a few towns, followed by a lovely dinner in Broadway.
We have done some exploring around and some fabulous walks. I started driving in England on our last trip (January – February 2008) and easily picked it up again on this trip. Now we share the driving! I feel like we are really staring to know the Cotswolds. Burford is a fabulous town and this is a great location. There is only one good hike that we can do from our doorstep, but others are a short drive away.
So that brings us to where we are now – sitting in a cottage with a rose covered doorway on a quiet lane in a small village near a lovely market town. If I were to stand, the ceiling would be only six inches above my head. This is an old cottage and people really were shorter a few hundred years ago. I have learned to duck.
On vacation everything takes longer – grocery shopping, cooking meals, working on the computer – because it is not what you are used to. Laundry always takes longer. So the days are fuller just with day to day stuff. Then there are all the things to do and see and I never want to miss out on things by spending time organizing my journal or blog or photos. Usually I manage to post to my blog, but I think the long days – or short evenings – are influencing that.
We only planned and booked the first six weeks of this trip. The day before we left I booked an apartment in Switzerland for the first two weeks of July (in Nendaz, in the Valais). From here I booked a flight from Heathrow to Geneva and a hotel for one night in Nyon, near the airport. That reminds me – I have to book our rental car!
In summary – having a great time, England in June is fabulous – why didn’t we think of this before?, I miss my comfortable bed, and I really miss Buddy.