You guys! I’m finally doing it! I’m hopping on an airplane and headed to a far away land in less than a week! Me! Just a small town girl, 🎶 living in a lonely wooorrrld, took the midnight train…. ahem. Sorry. Got a little carried away. But seriously… I’m heading to England and France; places that I’ve only ever dreamt of visiting, and I’m so stinkin’ excited!
I’ve never considered myself a traveler. I grew up on the east coast and have ventured across the state lines but a few times. Growing up, my family vacations consisted of beach trips in-state, or the next state down, and those were never an annual occurrence. Six years ago was my first vacation by plane down to Texas. Five years ago was the first time I left the country when my family loaded up the camper and headed to the Canadian boarder. We stayed at a campground just down the road from Niagara Falls, and spent a total of 2 days visiting the Canadian side. It was a fun experience and I have some great memories from that trip, but I don’t consider it my first official international vacation.
But my questionable world traveler status is preparing to be upgraded to novice. My passport is ready, plane tickets are booked, hotels are reserved, train tickets have been purchased, a car is rented. What’s left is packing, which if I’m being honest, seems quite daunting. The longest I’ve been away from home was in the middle of summer for 1.5 weeks and with shorts, tanks, bikinis, and toiletries, my suitcase was bursting. I can’t image how I’m going to fit a week’s worth of winter attire into the same size luggage: sweaters, pants, scarves, socks, a jacket; nope, I’ll just buy everything new when I get there. It’s decided.
As you may have gathered by now, my Fella is from England and since moving state side 5 years ago, he hasn’t been back. Cue Spring Break 2017! He gets a week off from trying to teach the incompetent spawn of rich parents basic engineering principals, while I just put in for a week’s vacation from my cushy state job where they hoard pay raises, but supplement your vacation time to make up for the fact that they are under paying their employees… Make sense?
Not only will this be my first international excursion via flight, I will be meeting my Fella’s family for the first time; more specifically, his momma. Seeing as I had a rather rocky relationship with my Ex’s mom (you can read about it here and here), I’m craving that acceptance I’ve always wanted. I haven’t even met this woman, and I’m putting so much pressure on her (little to her knowledge). I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I want her to like me. I want her to accept me. I know I’m slightly over reacting, but it’s an unavoidable gut feeling that I can’t seem to shake. I know, I know. It will be fine… I blame my desire of having a good relationship with my potential mother in law on my wonderful relationship I have with my own momma. Is that too much to ask?
So the trip… We’re going EVERYWHERE. We land in Heathrow; spend the night in London; take the train to Paris; stay the night in Paris; take the train back up to London; rent a car; drive to York; stay in York for 3 nights while taking day trips to Newcastle, Manchester, and possibly Cambridge (if we have time); drive to Luton; stay in Luton; then head back to Heathrow. All in 7 days. It’s going to be a whirlwind to say the least, but I’m so ready. And the best part of it all is that I have my very own personal tour guide. I’ve already shown him my turf; now it’s his turn. 🙂
As for things we have planned…? Since we are spending the first full day in London, we’re going to do as many touristy things as we can: see changing of the guard, Parliament, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, London Eye, maybe eat at my first authentic fish and chips shop, drink some afternoon tea, eat my first English breakfast… Then in Paris, obviously seeing the Eiffel Tower (especially at night), Arc de Triomphe, Pont des Arts bridge to add our own love lock, and I’ve booked the Fella and myself a dinner cruise to see Paris from a different perspective. I’m rather excited about it, actually. In Manchester, I booked us tickets to see a musical based on the Bat Out of Hell album by Meatloaf (the Fella’s favorite [best girlfriend award goes to…]. 🙂 ) I’m thinking about attempting an escape room either in Newcastle or Cambridge, but no big deal if we don’t make it to one.
So here is where I want some input. Any tips on what to pack, what to bring for the plane, what foods to try, what to avoid… I’m also trying to compile a list of souvenirs to get as mementos like tea towels, maps of cities, an umbrella, a post card, a reusable shopping bag and all the tea; any other suggestions?