As spring kicks in (hopefully!!), so will my travel schedule. It’s the nature of the rhythm of our industry and the number of key industry events and meetings that will be taking place across the country in a blur over the next seven months or so. In the spirit of getting off to the right foot, I figured that it was also an excellent time to “cash in” some of my miles and bop somewhere with Don for a few days so that we could get away and enjoy ourselves while reaping the benefits that sometimes clogging around through airports, airport shuttles and strange hotels (strange only in that they are not home) bring along with it.
I had an easy set of criteria; where could we get to that would mean reasonable travel so that we could spent more time on the ground in a fun location than traveling to get there and where we could go that would require minimal research since I simply didn’t have the time to explore a completely new land and culture on short notice? The answer? London!
We were able to jet off late night last week and are now journeying back which meant four full days on the ground (and a half day, kind of groggy after not sleeping on the overnight flight that was spent at the British Museum…nothing like a few mummies to keep me awake until I could find myself horizontal. We’ve had the luxury of heading to London a couple times in the past – once with both of our girls and once when Kelsey was studying in London for a semester. That helped in terms of knowing what we still wanted to see and what we wanted to see again. In addition, we figured out a way to journey out of the city itself to see some worthwhile historical venues. Windsor Castle was impressive and fit right into the stories of the Tudor reign. One could almost see Henry VIII stomping around the grounds or recounting the stories of the English Civil War under Charles I. Not to mention that the entire little village of Windsor was in a tizzy preparing for a royal wedding in a month. Don tried to encourage me to wear some Northwestern University gear with hopes that sharing the University with the new royal-to-be would score me some swag or at least a wedding invite. Alas, I tried to be a gracious American and dressed accordingly for a palace visit and simply had to settle for a quick tour of St. George’s Chapel where the wedding will take place. We whizzed by Runnymede, the location where the Magna Carta was signed, on the way back to London; this spurred some evening internet research on the early push for a separation of powers by those in governance.
On the rainiest day of our visit, we made our way to mysterious Stonehenge. Despite the driving rain, the two-hour drive from London and the throngs of tourists still willing to make the schlep on a cold, rainy day, it was still magical! The site was more fascinating from an early engineering feat; mystical with stones that were hinged together through early brackets as well as the effort it took to drag 8-ton stones from a region 200 miles away. The part you don’t see in photos (unless taken by a drone) are the burial mounds and trench around the stone circle which really led to stories more in line with security, burial and rituals. So worth the effort and one of my many “must see” locations now checked off the list. We then journey up to Oxford to see the lovely university with its 30 some colleges (I am still trying to figure out the UK higher education process) and the home of the Rhode Scholars. Hearing of the rivalry between Cambridge and Oxford was almost as exciting as U of Michigan vs. Ohio State given that they even name their college bars the same names.
Of course, other than having a dedicated tea time (who doesn’t love a reason to eat cookies in the middle of the day), London is rich in history and a treat to visit. We’re now ready to wing our way back home and while I don’t relish the long flight, at least on the return, we will be traveling backward so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on more sleep since the lovely time away was exhausting but a treat! I almost felt an affinity with the queen as I resorted to using any available clothing to keep dry in the English mist.