It’s so nice to be back in Northeast Pa. I spent 10 days abroad in London and France on vacation with my mother. In England, it’s called ‘holiday’. We took a late night flight out of Newark to London. With the time change, we arrived at 9:30 in the morning. We were exhausted as not everyone is able to sleep on a plane.
To adjust your biorhythm to the new time, it’s best to stay up that first day until your usual bed time. In that fog of little sleep we checked out the infamous Tower of London and it’s creepy dungeons and torture chambers. Funny, it seemed so much smaller than what I envisioned.
Looking back at some of the photos, it does seem odd to see myself smiling next to the glass pillow shaped monument that marked the courtyard where Ann Boleyn and a number of others were beheaded during the reign of King Henry VIII. Poor Katherine Howard, the teenage wife of King Henry who also got ‘the axe’, had practiced placing her head on a pillow the night before her execution, because she wanted to do the beheading in a proper fashion. Westminster Abbey was as glorious as we expected. We took a double-decker bus and saw most of the city, the statuesque Big Ben, the weirdly wonderful London Eye. The British Museum was fascinating, and we enjoyed a whirlwind day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and the Roman City of Bath. Everywhere we went there was Prince William and Katherine memorabilia. I still can’t figure out how that whole monarchy thing survives, but it’s probably only remained because of the tourism factor. The Crown Jewels are both mesmerizing and disturbing.
The English are a lovely people. They are pleasant and more than happy to help out the lost tourist. Numerous times residents stopped on the street as I stared at a street sign or map to ask if they could help me. Their food, like their weather, was pretty bland. Perhaps that’s why they like to dress up in loud and funny looking hats, to add some pizzazz to a pretty dreary atmosphere.
In London, it’s also tough to find a restroom you don’t have to pay for. In the Westminster tube station it was 50p to use the facilities. It doesn’t matter how serious the matter is, you can’t get in without forking over some money.
We took the Eurostar train to Paris and stayed there for a few days. What a gorgeous city. You would have to stay there for weeks to soak in everything it has to offer. We did Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, La Concergerie, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, a Seine River Cruise, Versailles, Pere Lachaise and a day trip to Versailles in just 4 days. There is so much more I want to see, and the food was to die for. Every night’s meal was spectacular, and reasonably priced. We found Paris to be a better value overall, and the people were terrific. Forget the stories about the snobbish French and their disgust with American tourists. Maybe it used to be that way, but not anymore. They were more than happy to speak English, and most restaurant menus had the items in both French and English.
Free restrooms were also more abundant in Paris, and I didn’t see one bidet!
It was a great trip, but I was more than ready to come back to NEPA. As Dorothy said, “there’s no place like home.”