Sunday, June 30, 2019

Adventuring! Reykjavik to London and beyond

When I planned this high school graduation trip with my granddaughter Kai, the core of it was a Rick Steves group tour called "London in 7 Days". I built the rest around that tour, which starts today at 3. Two days in Iceland, two days on our own in England. I knew the first four days would be the toughest for me; I'm a good planner, but I'm not much of an adventurer. I knew there would probably be hiccups, and there have been. Fortunately, Kai and I have complimentary strengths so we have managed. 

Here's what's happened:

1. We made it fine during the five-minute walk between our Airbnb in Reykjavik to the Radisson Blu Saga, our pickup point for the first bus (of two) to the airport. And the transfer to the actual airbus was smooth. Part of the reason was probably that we had done the same thing - in reverse - two days earlier when we arrived.

2. At the Reykavik airport, Kai took over, checking us in before I even saw where the self-check kiosks were. She has the nimble brain of a 19-years-old-next-week person, and the accompanying physical flexibility. She took over the process of holding my 17-pound pack while I slipped (well, that's a kind word; "struggled" is more accurate) into the straps. We found our way to the gate where we sat for an hour before a random comment by a passerby got us to our feet: "The gate has been changed from D21 to D15."  No announcement from the airline whatever. Oh, well.

3. Routine flight into Heathrow. Easy entrance through passport control. Feeling pretty good so far. And THEN! The ATM in the baggage claim area wouldn't accept either of our debit cards or my credit card. Kai converted her dollars into pounds (I hadn't brought any, for some embarrassing and stupid reason) and we headed for the subway (Picadilly line) into town. All went well until we couldn't find our way out of the Green Park station for half an hour. It's hot down there! And crowded! And two other subway lines cross there! And people push and shove instead of waiting their turn! By the time we got to the street we were both sweaty, and Kai was irritated and informed me she never wanted to go on the subway again. Through all of this, London was experiencing the hottest day of a record heat wave in Europe.

4. We needed some cash. I went out into the evening to find an ATM. The hotel concierge directed me to one about four blocks away - "right across the street from the Green Park station" - and I only needed to talk to two shop owners on the way for more specific directions before I found it. Money! I can do this thing!

5. In the hotel room, Kai found the a/c switch and figured out the lights. Biggest challenge: we couldn't charge our devices (two phones and two laptops) unless the light was on. Guess who slept with the lights on the first night? The second night went better because Kai unscrewed the bulbs. 

6. We had one too few outlet adapters. Well, I had one too few. Kai had two adapters, for her phone and her laptop. I had two also, but needed one more, for my CPAP machine. So I charged the laptop during the day and changed out the adapter for the CPAP at night. Fortunately, the tour bus for the next day's trip to Bath and Stonehenge. had a charger for the phone. I've since been advised by my friend Ed via email to bring along an American power strip so I only need one adapter. Of all the traveling I've done, how could I have not figured that out? Even Kai asked me that question. See, I am still learning even as an "elderly person"!

7. Bath: crowded and hot; missed the walking tour with our guide because Kai needed to buy some shades and I needed a hat; walked on our own instead; had a delicious vegetarian lunch and an ice cream cone. I'd been to Bath about 20 years ago. Kai seemed fine with looking at shops and people watching. I will say that, when spoken by a Brit, "Royal Crescent" can sound an awful lot like "Royal Prison". Kai and I have figured out how we best operate: I ask the questions and she understands the answers!

8. Stonehenge: smaller than I expected! Well organized to handle crowds, and respectful of the site. There were multiple large crows (rooks) on the ground and on the stones. I thought about how we don't know too much about Stonehenge because it was constructed before there was writing. But the crows might know; their ancestors were there and watched it all happen. Here's what I learned about the birds there:

Glad we went! This was my first two-ice-cream-cone days in a very long time.

Kai in her new shades. Oh, and Stonehenge!

9. In two hours we join our Rick Steves tour. From now on all the planning and decisions will be made by someone else. Kai and I, in our first four days together, have established a practical relationship that's kind of new for both of us. This trip is her gift from me, but it's really turning out to be a gift for both of us.


DJan said...

It sounds wonderful, other than being in Europe during a record-breaking heat wave. Love that picture of Kai at Stonehenge. It sounds like you two are doing great together. :-)

Anonymous said...

That's great that you had AC in your hotel. Having been in England during a warm (not quite so hot as you're experiencing) in a hotel that had no AC, the window would barely open for security reasons and there was a duvet on the bed, you were really lucky in your choice of hotels! We were in Bath in late April. The museum at the Royal Crescent was one of the highlights, IMHO, as well as the Fashion Museum. Interesting to see how those Georgians lived and what they wore.


Maebeme said...

While there have been a few hiccups I'd say you both have managed with them very well. Smart kid to unscrew the light bulbs.

Enjoy the rest of the tour!

Cynthia said...

I’m enjoying your trip with your granddaughter so much! You have had a few hiccups but nothing serious and hiccups do make good memories. You make such good traveling companions with your complementary strengths. And good traveling companions are not easy to find!

Janette said...

What a great trip! I hope my grand will be up to something like it when he is 18!
Chargers? I carry this one all of the time
you can plug it into any adapter. I had no idea that my USB items did not need a converter!
It is a four port wall charger. I also carry a spare battery.
Looking forward to learning more about your adventure.

Linda Reeder said...

All's well that ends well, I believe someone said.
It sounds like your mishaps have been fairly easily handled without permanent damage. I do hope it cools down over there.

mbrichan said...

You are making a bond with each other that will remain “until death do you part”! You compliment each other in your strengths and experiences! More memories to be made, stay healthy and safe!...don’t go finding ATM’ by yourself! Buddy system!

Continue your “blog”, daily diary for us...we learn through you!💕🤗