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Old 02-29-2016, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,628 posts, read 17,932,507 times
Reputation: 6716

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BellaDL View Post
I had just booked our flights for a 16-days trip to England, Scotland and Ireland in May.

We had planned to go to Iceland this year but last week, I got an email from Delta about their European Award Travel Deal good for travelling between March 4 and May 31, 2016 starting at only 42,000 miles. Since travelling to Iceland was not included in this sale, we decided to go England, Scotland and Ireland instead.

It's interesting to see the significant differences in airport taxes/fees between airports in England and Ireland. Originally, we planned to fly to Ireland then fly back to NY from England. The taxes/fees were close to $200 per person. We then decided to switch the plan around to fly to England first then fly from Shannon back to the US mainly to avoid the expected longer security queue at Heathrow on departure. It was a pleasant surprise to see the airport taxes/fees dropped to only $47.

We have about 9 weeks to plan for the trip. The rough plan is to spend about 5 or 6 nights in England, 3 or 4 nights in Scotland and 5 or 6 nights in Ireland. There are so many things to see and do in 3 countries but we will try to take it easy and make it a fun and relaxing trip.

I'd love to get recommendations and suggestions from other retirees who had visited these countries recently especially with tips on scenic places, BnB lodging and transportation logistics.

Thank you in advance.
We were last in the UK last year. But only London (we pretty much stick to big cities these days).

OTOH - we have seen most of England - and a part of Scotland. Multiple trips over the decades. The best advice I can give you is nail down all your reservations. For lodging and even for dining if you plan to try any "big deal"" restaurants. May is pretty much high season. And - with the British pound trading at multi-year lows - it should be *very* crowded. Note that the Euro is the official currency of the Republic of Ireland (in Northern Ireland - it's the British pound).

I think you're trying to squeeze too much into one trip. I would forget about Scotland and stay in England for the first part of your trip. I assume you'll be staying at least part of the time in London. I would give London at least 3-4 full days. Then pick 1 or 2 areas outside of London to explore. Popular destinations include the Cotswolds and the Lake District. But I've enjoyed seeing lots of other areas in the country. I've been to 7 of the 10 places mentioned in this article (not Cornwall - Norfolk or Suffolk) and can recommend all of them:

Top 10: best places and cities to visit in England - Telegraph

One important issue outside London is how do you plan to get around (you don't need/want a car in London)? I think it's necessary to have a car when exploring the countryside. But driving on the "wrong side of the road" can be challenging. Both on the motorways and the back roads. Are you up to it? Keep in mind that your US auto insurance doesn't cover you in Europe. So you'll have to plan to get a supplemental policy (probably from the rental firm). Also give some thought to the logistics of picking up a car. I'd probably pick up the car at Heathrow on my way out of London (driving in London can be tricky because of things like "congestion zones" - where you're not allowed to drive).

Also keep in mind that Medicare doesn't cover you outside the US either. So you'll need to buy a supplemental health insurance policy. We buy our supplemental policies here:

https://www.insuremytrip.com/?linkId...yI4BoCZnLw_wcB

How do you plan to get from England to Ireland? I've never to Ireland - so I can't recommend any places there. Robyn
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Old 02-29-2016, 07:21 AM
 
6,256 posts, read 4,734,369 times
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Now that I am retired, I can travel anytime. Certainly I do not need to worry about a "summer" vacation. This past year I traveled from the beginning of August through Thanksgiving. Two weeks ago I was in Hawaii. I will probably plan another short trip for the Spring or early Summer before schools let out. Then I will do a major Fall trip again.
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Old 02-29-2016, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,628 posts, read 17,932,507 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
Late summer is really crowded time to be in Europe. Those are the few months I stay home in PNW. Alaska / mtns of Canada are other options for late summer...
I think that winter is the only time it's not high season in Europe these days (except when to comes to ski destinations - Christmas markets and the like). We were in London last May and it was packed. Especially when it came to major tourist destinations like the British Museum - the Victoria & Albert - etc. We had been to London several times before - so we tried to get a bit off the beaten path. To lesser known places. Like the Design Museum. Or places that are so big/spread out that they can handle lots of people. Like Kew Gardens (May is a very good month for gardens). Once we got off the beaten path - we were fine. The weather was great - and the food was excellent. Robyn
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Old 02-29-2016, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Idaho
1,454 posts, read 1,155,436 times
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Robyn,

Thank you for your always very practical advice. Yes, I was wondering whether it was too much to cover 3 countries in 16 days. We don't have any particular must-see places in Scotland and just want to have a general feel for the country. I am thinking of just taking a train trip from London to Edinburgh and maybe another train trip to another part of Scotland.

We are likely to use public transportation in England/Scotland and rent a car in Ireland. To go from England to Ireland we can either take the ferry or fly. The air ticket is incredibly cheap for something like $30 or $50. We have driven on the wrong side of the road before (in New Zealand and many Caribbean countries) so this should not be a challenge.

I am still under Cobra. My husband will apply for Medicare part B/D and probably a Medigap plan F starting next month. We have to pick a plan covered by the Future Health Account with my previous employer. I will check with some friends to see which one is the best especially with oversea coverage.

Thank you again for your suggestions.

P.S.
I did a quick check on Medigap and travel and here is what I found
https://www.medicare.gov/supplement-...nd-travel.html

Quote:
Standard Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S.

Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer for sale, but if you bought one before June 1, 2010 you may keep it. All of these plans also provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S.

.......
Medigap coverage outside the U.S.

Medigap Plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M, and N pay 80% of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 deductible for the year. These Medigap policies cover foreign travel emergency care if it begins during the first 60 days of your trip, and if Medicare doesn't otherwise cover the care.

Foreign travel emergency coverage with Medigap policies has a lifetime limit of $50,000.

Last edited by BellaDL; 02-29-2016 at 07:51 AM..
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,628 posts, read 17,932,507 times
Reputation: 6716
We have that $50,000 in Medigap coverage and it isn't enough IMO. So we buy supplemental policies. Note that coverage options (especially the amount of coverage you can get) become worse when you're over 70 - and much worse when you're over 80. But we were able to get excellent coverage at a reasonable price before my husband turned 70.

I think public transportation - especially trains - is practical for going city to city. Not practical for exploring smaller towns/the countryside. And - to me - some of the most charming parts of the UK are the smaller towns/the countryside. Still - it really depends what you want to/like to do. My husband and I enjoy fine dining. So our general game plan is finding a nice place to eat (often lunch) and then spending the rest of the day walking off the calories . When we used to drive in the countryside - we would often book an excellent restaurant with rooms - and use it as a base for exploring an area.

In terms of cities in the UK - here's a list for you to consider:

Top10-edinburgh | Britain's 10 best cities - Travel

I've been in all but 3 (Norfolk/Liverpool/Durham) - and each has something to recommend it.

One thing about the UK - especially London - is that just about nothing is cheap (except for public transportation - and museums - many of which are free). Especially when it comes to food. I don't know what your budget is. But - whatever it is - try to avoid restaurants "in the middle". Which tend to be mediocre and overpriced for what they are. Go high end - or low. But not in between for the most part. I recommend using this website to explore restaurants (London based food writer):

Andy Hayler's Restaurant Guide - food and restaurant critic

I used Opentable UK to make reservations for our last trip - and it is as easy to use Opentable in the UK as it is in the US. When it comes to restaurants you think you can't afford - take a look at lunch menus. For example - Gordon Ramsay's flagship restaurant (3 Michelin stars) has a lunch menu for 65 pounds:

https://www.gordonramsayrestaurants..../#Lunch%20Menu

You can easily wind up spending that much (or more) at a much lower quality restaurant.

Then there's a restaurant like the Harwood Arms (1 Michelin star gastropub). < 40 pounds for a 3 course lunch/dinner:

- Harwood Arms Fulham

There are similar restaurants with similar lunch deals outside London as well. This was one of my favorites (in Devonshire):

Menus - Gidleigh Park Hotel, Devon - Gidleigh Park

Note that restaurants like this are extremely popular and are often booked well in advance (most open up their bookings about 3 months in advance - although some booking periods are longer and some are shorter). So it's important to start planning/making reservations now for a trip in May.

BTW - when you get into London - first thing you want to buy is an Oyster card (for public transportation). You can buy them at most/all tube stations. Your travel is discounted versus buying individual tickets - and you don't have to sit there figuring out the right fares for various trips.

We spent 8 days in London last year - and didn't run out of things to do/places to eat. Robyn
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Loudon, TN
5,785 posts, read 4,838,667 times
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We will take a cruise of less than a week, but other than that we will stay in our home state. WHy? Because spring, summer, and fall are the best seasons here and I don't want to miss boating season.
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Old 02-29-2016, 10:04 AM
 
13,909 posts, read 7,411,228 times
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Why would anyone who is retired pick the peak of tourist season to go somewhere? I can't imagine visiting the cesspool in Venice in July/August with 100,000 of my closest friends.

If you're doing a Nordic country or St Petersburgh or Alaska, sure. You want to go when it's warm but you can also go in June before the masses show up. I've been to Italy in business in the summer. I can't imagine why anyone would go there then as a tourist when the weather is beautiful in the spring and fall.
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Old 02-29-2016, 10:20 AM
 
Location: SoCal
13,235 posts, read 6,335,450 times
Reputation: 9854
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
Why would anyone who is retired pick the peak of tourist season to go somewhere? I can't imagine visiting the cesspool in Venice in July/August with 100,000 of my closest friends.

If you're doing a Nordic country or St Petersburgh or Alaska, sure. You want to go when it's warm but you can also go in June before the masses show up. I've been to Italy in business in the summer. I can't imagine why anyone would go there then as a tourist when the weather is beautiful in the spring and fall.
Come on, you have a way with exaggeration. Cesspool? Geez. I will be in Europe May to Sept, because it's too cold for us Californian any other time. Alaska, thanks but no thanks. I don't have the desire to go there.
With that said, I'm looking forward to tasty Indian food in UK and cheap pub food . I'm also look forward to see the War Museum, my husband is into WW stuff. Ive been to London multiple times, I once worked for a UK company, I still think it's too cold any other time. Plus the days are shorter in the winter and much longer in the summer.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:16 AM
 
7,339 posts, read 16,646,140 times
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Hey, what kind of boat do you have?
We have a 1992 20' Celebrity 200 Cuddy Cabin that we are going to start getting ready for the water. Just topped off the air in all 4 tires on the trailer and will be greasing the wheel bearings shortly. After that, two new batteries. A Deep Cell and a Starting Battery. Couldn't take it out last year due to my rotator cuff surgery last March.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheShadow View Post
We will take a cruise of less than a week, but other than that we will stay in our home state. WHy? Because spring, summer, and fall are the best seasons here and I don't want to miss boating season.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:25 AM
 
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Sometime this summer, will be a visit to Disney World/Launch Bay/Hollywood Studios in Orlando, FL for their Star Wars exhibition. Will be there for the day. After that, it will be a day at Aquatica Water Park in Orlando. Love floating down the river in a lifejacket and the other river in a tube and hitting the Wave Pool. Makes for a great time in the water.

The rest of the summer, will be cruising around the river here in our boat and heading to the Pistol and Rifle Range for target shooting. Wife still works a full-time job, so, will take a week off during the summer and then it's just the weekends for boating and shooting.
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