Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 12 A Tour of London

We woke up early for our first day in London and had breakfast down stairs in our hotel–a full English breakfast.

We had to catch The Tube and then walk to Victoria Station to find our tour bus. Lin’s experience on the subway in New York City really helped. The nearest station to us was about a 7 – 10 minute walk. The pre-paid Oyster card provided by our tour guide helped ease us into the routine. The walk down into where we caught The Tube consisted of an elevator and an escalator-down, down, down. When we found our platform, we didn’t wait long. I enjoyed our uneventful trip on The Tube and our pleasant walk to Victoria Station–I worried a little if we were going the right direction but we were–thanks to Lin’s great navigation skills.

When we arrived at Victoria Station, we had time to grab a Starbucks and relax some. I needed the bathroom and I had “to pay to pee.”

The crowded queue area for all the tour buses felt overwhelming, and there were lots of buses lined up ready to take willing tourists all over London and England. We found our line and bus and waited.

The jam-packed tour filled our whole day: we saw Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, 10 Downing Street, and drove down White Hall. We saw the famous Big Ben and Parliament.

Our tour guide timed our visit to Buckingham Palace perfectly so we could see the changing of the guard. The soldiers going off duty were the Irish Guard. Those coming on duty wore the Scottish gear with the big hairy helmets. The huge crowd waited patiently. Our tour guide used a unique flag to find her–a skull and crossbones. She waved it high and was easy to find, but we still lost two women. The sculptured flower gardens took our breath away–bright colors, manicured lawns and decorative pillars and statutes.

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From there we bussed to Tower of London for a lunch of Fish and Chips. We toured the Tower and saw the Crown Jewels–OMG!! Again the crowds were massive.

The next part of the tour was a cruise on the River Thames–what a relaxing jaunt! Seeing London from the river gave us a great vantage spot. Our tour ended with a ride on the London Eye, an over-sized ferris wheel on the edge of the River Thames.

I’m not normally afraid of heights, but that ride was a little daunting. We could easily see the Parliament building and Big Ben from the ride. The individual compartments could hold about 10 – 15 people, so I could walk from side to side and take pictures. We had a clear 360 degree view of London. The river laced in both directions–it was awesome. The scariest part for me hit at the top of the ride and then when we started down the other side–I felt protected when we traveled up, but when we were going down, I felt vulnerable and exposed. It truly is the Daddy of them all for a ferris wheel ride.

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The London Eye behind us & across the River Thames

When we finished the ride, we walked across the bridge near Big Ben for The Tube Westminster station to get back to our hotel–it was more involved than the straight shot to Victoria Station, but Lin handled it masterfully. Again we had to go down into the bowels of London to access The Tube–musicians played at a variety of spots. We made the connection back to Victoria Station and then back to the stop near our hotel.

Before going to our room, we talked to Charlotte, the hotel clerk, about seeing a play in the West End on our next free day on Wednesday. She helped us book tickets for “Les Miserables” at the Queen’s Theater in the West End–I was so excited.

A friend from home suggested we see a play in the famous West End of London before we left–I hadn’t thought of it with all we were going to see, but I knew we had to do it.

We had a leisure dinner in the neighborhood and a restful evening in our room after a busy, busy day. We knew we needed to rest up for tomorrow, our free day in London. Lin studied the map of The Tube and laid out our route to get to our destination for the next day–the Charles Dickens museum and the British Museum.

Have you ever been to London? What was your favorite sight?

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Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 11 – Dublin, Leaving on to London

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Aparto Binary Hub Hostel in Dublin, Ireland

Our hostel in the downtown area of Dublin, the Aparto Binary Hub, was a short walk up to James street and across it to the Guinness Storehouse, so we planned our tour for this morning because we flew out of Dublin for London at 3:35 pm. We left our bags at the desk for 10 Euros and walked a short trip to the Storehouse.

The Guinness Storehouse tour was fascinating–years ago, I went through the Coors brewery in Golden, CO often, so I knew the brewing story, but the Guinness story is unique for sure. The six story building had something for everyone, and it was obvious that this was a main attraction in Dublin–lots and lots of people.

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9,000 Years Lease in the floor as you enter

“The owner of St. James’s Gate Brewery required 100 pounds as a down payment and 45 pounds per month for rent. On the last day of December 1759, Arthur Guinness somehow managed to get the owner to agree to a lease for up to 9,000 years on these terms. Guinness is still brewed at St. James Gate, and the company still pays 45 pounds in rent each month.” (

Lin thoroughly enjoyed the tour. He was excited about tasting “Real” Guinness beer because he had been a bartender at the Leprechaun Bar in New York City for many years, and any Irish patrons said the Guinness in the USA didn’t taste the same as the Guinness in Ireland. After his sampling, he agreed.

I’m a recovery alcoholic so there were parts of the tour that were hard, but I kept focussed. While he did his sampling, I roamed the gift shop. We ended our time there up on the top floor with a 360 degree view of Dublin–it was breathtaking.

Afterwards, we retrieved our bags and hailed a taxi for the airport, arriving early, so we ate lunch leisurely. Our flight to London left at 3:35 pm, and both of us regretted leaving Ireland. We added Ireland to our trip more for Lin than me, but Ireland and its people captured my heart, too! It had been a delightful experience.

When we landed at Heathrow and retrieved our bags, we had a hard time finding our taxi driver that our travel agent had pre-arranged, but finally Lin succeeded amidst a sea of drivers waiting for arriving passengers. The driver was talkative and informative on the drive to our hotel, The Mornington Hotel.

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Mornington Hotel – our home in London!

The rest of this day was leisure and low-keyed. The hotel clerk, Charlotte, helped us as we prepared for our week in London. She directed us to where we could exchange dollars to pounds and how to get to “The Tube.”

So off we went on a walking tour. First we exchanged money, then we made our way to the Subway station–easily in walking distance. Our tour guide had sent us two Oyster cards preloaded with 20 pounds to get us started–what a true gift!

We returned to our lovely room and relaxed in the evening, excited about our next day’s adventure in London. Our tour guide had set up a wonderful itinerary for our five days:

  1. First day – Total London Tour – Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Tour of London, River Cruise on the River Thames, and Ride on the London Eye
  2. Second day – a free day to do as chose – we chose to see the Charles Dickens’ museum but it was closed. The rest of the day we spent at the British museum.
  3. Third day – Tour outside of London – Enjoyed a day-tour to Warwick Castle, probably England’s finest medieval fortress, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, the rolling hills of the Cotswolds and the historic university city of Oxford. Admission to Warwick Castle, Christchurch College and a walking tour of Oxford were included in your tour.
  4. Fourth day – a free day to do as chose – We went back to the Charles Dickens’ museum and “Les Miserables” at the Queen’s Theater in the West End of London
  5. Fifth day – Tour out of London – Enjoyed Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury Tour

That’s a quick summary of our time in London. I will go in more detail with each day because they were filled to the brim with adventure.

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Share your thoughts and comments below–I would love to hear your reaction to this post! Have you traveled to Ireland? England? Let’s have a conversation.

Ireland & England · Travel

Day 1 – Our Travel Day from Hell!


Our much-awaited trip started on July 12, 2017. I got up at 4:00 am to shower and be ready to leave, hopefully before 6:00 am, but it was a little afterwards. We decided to travel with a medium size suitcase and a carry-on instead of one big suitcase and that benefited us with our two rental cars.

We arrived at the airport later than I like–they were boarding the plane when we arrived at our gate. We were in the B group, so we were OK. I had to pinch myself to see if this were real! We had planned this trip for six months, and here it was!

Immediately on the plane, I took selfies of Lin and me to start a notebook journal about our trip–sad to say it only lasted a couple days, but I did buy a journal in Blarney and took notes the whole trip.

Back to our first travel day. Lin and I regularly use our Southwest credit cards, so we had free flights to New York, but we had to travel through Midway in Chicago. The flight was uneventful at first–Lin napped, but I couldn’t! I was too excited. Sometime into our flight, the pilot announced that a thunder storm had hit Chicago and both major airports were closed and they were diverting us to Kansas City. I started praying!

When I had booked our tickets, I had allowed ample time to facilitate a transfer because we were flying into La Guardia and British Airways flies out of JFK. I knew we were in trouble now. The prayers continued.

I questioned a flight attendant about what we should do. She had no idea because we weren’t the only one affected. When we landed in Kansas City, they ushered the passengers traveling to New York off the plane first. They put us on a flight leaving at 1:30 pm, but it wouldn’t arrive in New York in time for us to transfer from La Guardia to JFK. My prayers continued.

I panicked but did what I do in a crisis–act! I was on the phone with British Airways for well over an hour trying to solve our problem. I couldn’t understand either agent I talked to. He repeatedly put me on hold and said, “I will be back in a couple minutes.” This went on and on. This agent did know there would be a fee for missing our flight and booking another one at such a late time. He transferred me to a second agent, and he told me it would be over $1600 each to rebook–I was shocked! I hit high gear on praying. I knew my God was in the midst of this and would handle it for us, but I was so worried. It’s hard to let go at time like this.

I spent all my time on the flight to New York on the Internet searching for a flight that would work and a price that would work–there wasn’t one that would work because all were over $1500 each. Lin was adamant that we do nothing until we got to New York. My panic increased–were we going to miss our flight to London? We were to arrive in London at 7:10 am and had a flight to Ireland at 10:30 am. Would it all get screwed up because of a summer thunderstorm in Chicago? I had to keep trusting it would work out!

Again I talked to the Southwest flight attendants, and they helped us move up from the back of the plane to the front and helped move our carry-on bags too. We deplaned quickly, I retrieved our bags, and Lin hailed a taxi with a determined driver.

It was slow going from La Guardia to JFK because we hit rush hour traffic, but the taxi driver drove like a maniac–like they do in New York. I had to close my eyes several times because I was sure that he was going got to clip the car he passed. He also took my phone and talked to British Airways as he drove, trying to help us.

We arrived at the British Airways ticket counter a few minutes after they stopped accepting passengers for our flight–for International flights, they close the gate twenty minutes before the plane’s scheduled departure.

Determined to deal with this in a positive way and get to London on time, we talked to a British Airways agent and she sent us to a manager. Lin calmly shared our sad tale. She wasn’t interested in our lament about a thunderstorm in Chicago that delayed our Southwest flight.

She stated, “We don’t care what happens to you before you get to British Airways.”

I swallowed and shot up a barrage of prayers.

Then she softened some as she searched the computer screen, “Let me see what flight I can get you on.”

I knew the answer: I had memorized the flights from my earlier search. I  interruptted her, “I know what flights are going out. . .’

“Stop,” she said as wiggled her finger at me, looked me dead in the eyes and exclaimed, “I’m trying to help you. Don’t go there.”

Lin grabbed my arm and pulled me back and agreed with her, so I stepped back, shut up and continued my litany of prayers.

We couldn’t have hoped for a better ending:  she got us on a flight that left about twenty minutes after our original flight, so we had to scurry to the gate. Lin offered her a kiss and she giggled. We ended up not paying anything more. Thank you, British Airways for taking care of us–and thank you, God!

Have you ever had a travel day like this ours? Share your experience in the Comments section below!


A Trip of a Lifetime!


Lin and I just got home from a three week trip to Ireland and England. I would like to share some highlights with you from that trip. I’m going to start at the end of the trip that was spent in Bury St. Edmund’s, a beautiful quaint city north of London.

The picture above is in the Abbey garden and the cathedral shows in the background on the left.

We attended a family wedding there and the Brit’s really know how to party. My cousin, Meghan Berg, married Mike Edwards at Raven Hall. All of Mike’s family and friends were so hospitable and made us feel welcome. Meghan had lots of family members in attendance which was fun.

While in Bury, Lin and I toured the city and saw the movie, “Dunkirk.” It resonated with us in a different way by being in England. We attended Anglican church Sunday with the family at the St. Edmundsbury cathedral and again the people were so friendly.

As a large group, we went to Cambridge by train and what an experience that was!  Bicycles everywhere! We did a city tour and saw many of the colleges that make up Cambridge University.

We loved the Traditional English breakfast–I have pictures to share.

Lin and I drove to Lavenham, a medieval city south of Bury for an all day adventure. We toured the St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, Guide Hall and the Little Hall. At the church, we were surprised to see the American flag and a memorial to a unit that was stationed near there during World War II. Many of the medieval buildings still stand and again the people fascinated me with their pleasantries.

Lin drove from London to Bury, to Lavenham and then back to London. He had driven in Ireland at the beginning of the trip and did well, but he was hesitant to drive in the London area. He did a great job in both countries–I coached him when turning with mantras a friend had taught me. Driving on the left side of the road is a challenge, but he managed it admirably.

Have you ever been to England and Ireland? Leave me a comment!