Sunday, September 26, 2004

Europe Trip 2005

Day One & Two (getting there)
(Wednesday Sept 15, 2004 and Thursday Sept 16, 2004)
I went to class as usual this morning. It was Web Design II. I slipped out early with a “headache”. And rushed to the airport to catch my 2:25 flight to Newark. On the way, a distressed mom called to tell me she missed her flight. I knew she was frantically trying to get with me in Newark. For some reason I didn’t worry. By god’s grace she made another flight from B-ham to ATL to Newark we were able to meet up together and fly to Birmingham / UK together. She was pretty stressed from an intense day of getting to the airport. The flight was very long, 7 hours. We did get to sit together and we both slept. On the plane they played Harry Potter 3 and Johnson family reunion movies.

When we finally arrived at the Birmingham Airport we very glad to be off of the plane. We went directly to customs. I had a hard time with the customs passport lady. She thought I was trying to lie about where and with whom we were staying with. Because she misunderstood me and what mom was saying. But we made it through. Our bags were waiting for us on the other side of customs. We proceeded to the Hertz “Car Hire” and got our car a Toyota ???. Once all the paper work was filled out we headed to the Car park to get our car. We took a shuttle over and got off in the wrong area with all of our HEAVY bags. Then once we realized we were in the wrong place we then got back on the shuttle and had to lift our own bags on and off the bus. That is a convenience we have but take for granted in the states. It was pretty rough because mom’s bag was so heavy! We finally arrived at the Hertz Car Hire and got our car. I began to drive at first it was very scary!! Driving on the wrong side of the road and the steering wheel on the right side of the car. We got our directions and headed out the airport. I was pretty nervous and so was mom… we got sooooo lost trying to get to the first road M42 South. After getting turned around a bit we finally got on M42. From there we were to get on A435 and we had fun with A435 for about 2 hours… We stopped at about 5 gas stations getting directions. One station I went in a lady looked at me and said, “Lost are we?” in her British accent. I said how could you tell? And laughed. After getting frustrated with trying to navigate and drive, reluctantly Mom drove and I navigated. She was so scared just like was. But she drove great! We finally got going in the right direction and reached Alcester.

Once we found the house we were so happy. It took us about 10 minutes to figure out how to get the key to work in the door. The house is pretty nice. Lots of bedrooms and bathrooms. A cute little sunroom and garden area. Nice little kitchen. Not a mansion side a sizable house. We unwound a bit and lay down because we were so exhausted and napped until dark. It was about 8:00 pm when we woke. We dressed and decided to head out for a bit to eat. We went Rossini’s Italian Restaurant. The first place we passed that was a restaurant. When we went in the people we a bit startled. The restaurant had little sitting area where they brought you drinks and took your order. Once our table was ready they took us back and our food was out in no time. I had Lasagna and mom had Stuff Chicken Breast. Our food was sooo good! Mom had a few glasses of wine and was feeling good. We had a great time over dinner and really enjoyed our selves. It was a good way to end a very eventful day! After dinner we headed back home. We got our selves organized for the next day and had a restful sleep.

Day Three – Downtown Alcester
(Friday Sept 17, 2004)
We woke up at 11:30 or so both of us rested well. We slept together in the same bed. With all the rooms in the house we choose to sleep together… We decided to get going and head out and see what we could get into. We drove to downtown Alcester. The weather was a bit gloomy. It drizzled most of the day. It never really rained hard at all. Mom insisted on wearing her rain-hat and scarf, to ensure that her perfectly done hairdo would stay cute. It was pretty chilly today we both wore jackets. Mom was a little bit more nervous this time around. After making a few wrong turns I had to force mom to switch over and let me drive. We found a grocery store called, Tesco Express right near the St. Nicholas High School. We walked from there to the downtown shopping area.

The little shopping area was really cool. There were all kinds of one of kind shops, pubs, and stores. We were pleasantly surprised to find several consignment shops. The shops had shoes, clothes, and purses. I even found a store that was like a Dollar Tree. I got a cute Plate set. 19 pieces! For only 6 pounds… Mom found a few purses and a jacket. We ended up having lunch at the Tudor Rose a little teahouse. We both had Fish (cod) and chips and peas. Mom had hot tea that was too weak but she fixed to her liking. The food was very good. The fish was huge. The people were very nice in restaurant and stores. Once we finished shopping we walked back to the car that was parked at the Grocery store and we bought our groceries. We just bought a few items like bread, fruit, and soda. We spent 8 pounds. We made it back home safely before dark. We watched “My Wife and Kids” on TV in the sunroom.

We concluded the evening with watching “In the Bedroom” on mom’s laptop in bed and eating chips and cookies. What fun! The movie was good. We stayed up pretty late until 2:30 am. I received a call from Rod at 2:15 am about 7 pm his time.


Day Four – Stratford Upon Avon
(Saturday, Sept 18, 2004)

Shop-till-drop day. We woke at about 7:00 am to a sunny morning. Mom had oats and peaches and mango with orange poured over that we got from Tesco. I had a granola bar and a slim jim.

We dressed in our dressing room downstairs and headed out for the day. When we went outside it had gotten kinda overcast and dark. We drove to the Tourist center/library and got some brochures on Strafford. We also got directions. Mom drove today. Before heading to Strafford we went to Alcester again. We got turned around and got directions at the Roebuck Inn. But we didn’t see Barry. We got to downtown Alcester and Mom headed for the post office to get 50 pounds converted from US and I went to the vintage shop to get a luggage that I had seen on the previous day. To my dismay the luggage was being purchased as I walked in the door. I guess it wasn’t meant for me to have it. I found mom back at the post office and we looked around a bit more. We went to the Red Cross store and found a few things. I found some cute boots and mom found a few scarves and hat. We went to more vintage stores and finally headed back on the road for Strafford.

The drive to Strafford was really easy and straight forward. We took A46 all the way there. It took about 40 minutes. Stafford upon Avon was about twice the size of Alcester or maybe three times. There was a very modern Safeway store. Upon the river were lots of boats that you could take tours on and buy food from. There were tons of shops and tours of the Houses in the area. Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Ann Hathaway’s home. Once we found a place to park, (pay parking) we left the car for 3 hours. We started walking and we found another vintage store! And then another... We found a few nice things in each of the stores. We headed on deeper into the massive shopping area to find lots of interesting one of a kind shops. We both found lots of souvenirs. We were shopping in this corner and we almost missed a scrapbook store!! It was a cute little craft store that had a lot of the same brands from the US. But I did buy a few things of course. Mom did too. We had lunch by the river from the Baguette Barge a floating sandwich “stand”. I had a hotdog baguette and mom had a tuna sandwich. The lady behind the counter get a little confused and messed with mom a bit. It began to rain and we went into this store called Fred Winter and bought some pulls for my bathroom. That looks like toothpaste and tooth brush. I can’t wait to get them home and get Rod to install them in our bathroom. As we were walking we stumbled upon Shakespeare’s birth home right in the middle of the shopping areas. We took pictures out in front of it. It was kinda surreal thinking that Shakespeare himself walked in those areas that we were standing in.

We found our car and to our surprise a ticket was attached to it. For Ï50 pounds because we parked just 30 minutes over the time limit. Mom seems to think it was my fault and I think it was her fault because she is a shop-a-holic! Any how we left Stratford we a trunk full of bags and goodies. We were back at our house in no time. We unloaded all of our stuff and went through it in the sun room and enjoyed seeing our stash.

Later Mom made a salad that she thought was so delicious and sat in bed and watched Along Came a Spider on BBC at about 9:00.

Day Five – Warrick Castle
(Sunday, Sept 19, 2004)
Mom woke early this morning and did her exercises on a bed of pillows on the floor. She choose not to wake me up. The first thing I heard this AM was “Trina breakfast is on the table… wake up” so naturally I got out of the bed and came downstairs wondering what she had prepared…nothing. Just a plot to get me up. She was cleaning the kitchen and had eaten her oats already. After we had breakfast we went upstairs to get ready. Neither of us had curled our hair since we have been hear so we decided to fire up the curlers today. Well I plugged them in they started to smoke! The tips of the curling irons burned off! So there was no way we could use them. And I think they were ruined. Ms. Wilbank’s had a curling iron that we ended up using. Once we were dress and ready to go we heard someone ring the doorbell. It was Walter the groundskeeper. He was an older gentleman. He needed me to move my car so he could get into the garage. He helped us figure out how to open the doors off of the sunroom. Once we got outside we took lots of photos. I even posed with Walter in one of the pictures. The sun was out and it was a very pretty day so far. He gave us directions to get to Warrick Castle.
We left today at about 1:30 or 2:00. We made lunches our lunches and headed out in the car. Mom drove again today. She had lots of courage today. We drove the same way we went to Stratford. And bypassed Stratford and headed to Warrick to visit the Warrick Castle. It took about 40 minutes or so. The countryside was so beautiful. Lots of sheep farms and beautiful green hills. Mom and I were both in awe. Along the drive people would pass us because we weren’t going fast enough for them. But the scary thing is that they passed in the middle of the road between 2 cars!!! (With cars coming in both directions) The cars here are so little that they can do that. Another thing we noticed on the roads is that on Sunday’s there are lots of motorcycle riders out. There were even signs posted specially for being mindful of riders.
We reached the town of Warrick with no problem. Once we reached the town we found the castle easily. We found a parking space, and paid 3 pounds to park. I sat in the car and had my sandwich while mom organized her things to get out. The walk to the castle was pretty long. Once we got there we paid the 14.50 pounds to enter. The castle was really big and elaborately laid out. In side the castle area was a large sort of courtyard with beautiful green lawn. We toured the inside and saw how people in the 1700’s lived and worked. We also did the ghosts of Warrick tour. Sort of a haunted house. It was fun. Afterwards mom and I had ice cream on a bench in the courtyard. We then headed up to the highest lookout of the castle. The trip up was 530 steps! It was a long winding stairway. Mom and I were both winded by the time we got to the top. I had to abandon my ice-cream on the stairway up because I needed both hands to grab the railing. Once we reached the top the view was so beautiful. You could see for miles and look down on the village of Warrick below. We took pictures up there of course. The trip down was the same as the trip up… just as many steps. But it was much easier going down. Once down we were pretty much ready to head home. We did visit the Ostrich Garden and got to feed them. There were also lots of beautiful flowers that became great photo opportunities. We then headed towards the car park. We made our way home by about 6:30 or so. One the way home she turned into the wrong side of the road and met a car head-on. But thank god that we didn’t have an accident. Rodney called tonight. I was excited to talk to him. Mom and I decided to pack our bags for home since we would be gone to London and Paris for 3 days and would only have one day before we headed home for the US.



Day Six (LONDON)
(Monday, Sept 20, 2004)
Sorry, sorry, sorry, no hot water.
Cab ride to Waterloo / Eurostar
Bought paris book, 7 pounds


Day Seven (LONDON PARIS)
(Tuesday, Sept 21, 2004)

couldn’t use phones in Paris
people a little meaner not so friendly


Day Eight (PARIS)
(Wednesday, Sept 22, 2004)
Eurostar ride was noisy, people talking.
L’Open Tour.
Cold Windy on top of bus
Eiffel Tour
Notre Dame, café
Arc de Triumph
Long train ride on Chiltern train.
Dinner at Zen Spice Room. Fish cakes, Teriyaki Tofu.
Stopped by police on A46 going to slow.

Day Nine
(Thursday, Sept 23, 2004)
Today we rested up after so much running yesterday. We slept well and woke at about 9:00. We slowly got dressed and did our hair and got cute. We headed out to Stratford to pay our parking ticket and to get a little last minute shopping done. When we got there we parked in the same spot and got an hour and half of parking time. We hit about 4 vintage stores. I got a cute pink leather jacket for 15 pounds. A few other jackets and some books. Mom got so much stuff! Purses, sweaters, knickknacks. We wondered how all of our stuff would fit. We went to the police station to try to pay the ticket and they said it was from a private company. So we decided to not pay it.

Afterwards we headed to Alcester to shop more. We hit the Sue Ryder shop, the Shakespeare Hospice shop, the Dress for Less store, the Red Cross Store… all “vintage shops”. We racked up. Mom went to the post office for more cash. We tried to have a late tea at the Tudor Rose but it was closed. We headed home at about 5:30. The stores closed at 5:30.

We came home and looked at our goods and tried on stuff and then began to pack our bags. We had to do some creative packing to get all of our stuff to fit. We bought a rolling backpack a few days earlier and that is what I am taking my dish set back in. I gave mom my rolling bag so she now has 3 bags to take back. After an hour or two of packing and organizing we got ready to go our for our last dinner. We choose Rossini’s again. We stopped at the Roebuck Inn first to see Barry. We went in and people just stared at us like we were from outer space. Finally I asked some one if Barry was in. (Ms. Wilbank’s friend). He finally surfaced and boy did he look shocked. He made small talk but never asked us if we would be staying for dinner or if we would like drinks or anything. He wondered and asked how we knew Johnnie. The whole thing was awkward. We just said we were stopping in to say hi. And then we headed back to Rossini’s. The older Italian guy was flirting hard and got on my nerves and really on Mom’s. I ordered a white wine and lasagna again and mom had salmon and red wine. After dinner we had desert, she had cheese cake and I had tiramisu. Dinner was a little more expensive since we drank and ate dessert. But it was good food. I enjoyed it!

After dinner we came back to the house and prepared for our journey back home tomorrow.

Day Ten – Going Home
(Friday, Sept 24, 2004)

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