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Old 10-05-2017, 09:21 AM
 
6,387 posts, read 5,430,396 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
As I said, unfortunately, we will not be driving ourselves anywhere, since I’m not having my vacation ruined by a husband who has a poor sense of direction. However, I know the address, in Ovendon, of the house my great grandparents lived in before they came to the US, and we also know there’s a “Hubby’s Last Name” Wildlife Preserve and a hamlet in England. Since we have an uncommon last name, there must be a connection.

This first time, we’ll just get a good overview.
You keep mentioning your husbands poor sense of direction but how is yours? Surely you can read a map/have a phone with Google maps?
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Old 10-05-2017, 09:50 AM
 
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My first trip to Europe was a study-tour of the "British Isles" (so-called back then) - it lasted three weeks and was insufficient for really seeing Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, though it certainly did allow me to spot places I wanted to revisit on subsequent visits. Which I did - Ireland still awaits, alas.

If you stay in or near London (I'd suggest Windsor - less costly accommodations and within easy bus reach of the city), you could not only see all the famous sites but could also take bus day trips to places like (again) Windsor, Oxford, Bath and Wells, Stratford, the Cotswolds, Canterbury, Cambridge and probably more. Most if not all of these towns are also easily accessible by train - Bath and Oxford are only an hour away from London by rail, and the majority of Bath's attractions are within easy walking distance of the railway station.

British Rail used to offer "Britain-Shrinkers" day trips - not sure if they're still around, but they were a great way to see more of England easily. They combined train travel to the designated site with bus touring of the highlights - I took one to Bath (by train) and nearby Wells (by bus), and had a great time. Participants registered in advance and were checked in by the tour guide at the train station in London.

I've also taken day trips by bus in Scotland, from Edinburgh - just walked up the day before and obtained a ticket, easy-peasy. The most memorable daytrip was on a comfortable bus ("motorcoach" in across The Pond speech), and included Loch Lomond, extremely dramatic highland scenery, free time in Oban, and more. The tour guide pointed out sites of interest along the way - castles, lochs, Highland cattle and more - and gave us good commentary about their significance in Scottish history. Stops were made for both lunch and dinner.

You'd be in good hands on a daytrip, could admire the lovely scenery rather than having to drive (although it's not that hard, outside of London and other big cities, if you avoid motorways and study road signs and regulations in advance - just watch out for the roundabouts!), could largely avoid the luggage issues, and could get a good feel for the countryside and smaller towns.

Many such tours will take you to said places, include a shortish local tour and perhaps lunch, then allow you an hour or so to explore on your own, providing time to grab local snacks at bakeries, etc. - each area of England has its own special baked treats.

Also, most British hotels offer a very ample"full English breakfast" with lots of selections - this is the time to eat heavily, so you can just grab a (local) snack at lunch, perhaps local cheese plus a baked roll and a piece of fruit while seeing the sights, then have a nice dinner later on. Of course your daytrip bus tour may include lunch opportunities.

I'd encourage you to do a lot of research - read English history (plus history of anywhere else on your final agenda), check out videos on YouTube, do online research, read tour guides - older ones are often great for local color and are far more readable as a result, if not quite up to date - figure out where you want to go and what you want to see and do the most, then create an itinerary, even if you're going on a guided tour with limited free time. Make the most of that free time, if this turns out to be your choice.

Most of all, be open to new experiences and have fun!
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Old 10-05-2017, 10:54 AM
 
Location: North State (California)
39,587 posts, read 2,991,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
As I said, unfortunately, we will not be driving ourselves anywhere, since I’m not having my vacation ruined by a husband who has a poor sense of direction. However, I know the address, in Ovendon, of the house my great grandparents lived in before they came to the US, and we also know there’s a “Hubby’s Last Name” Wildlife Preserve and a hamlet in England. Since we have an uncommon last name, there must be a connection.

This first time, we’ll just get a good overview.
Ovendon is in Yorkshire, so why don't you plan to spend a few days there? You can get the train up from London.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:00 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,585 posts, read 39,962,822 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve McDonald View Post
I recommend a small tour group, travelling by roads. You'll see a lot more of the real country and be less likely to catch some epidemic illness, as can happen on a large cruise ship. As you say, the fellow travelers would tend to be more active and better companions. A little exercise carrying in some bags, won't hurt. And the variety of sleeping and eating places, would be much greater.

Really depends on what OP (or the next person) wants to accomplish on their "holiday". (And when / if they will be back)

If you want to 'experience' a destination (Beyond 'look / see tourism') you need to get exposure to the interior and the people. Large tours (especially Cruises) you are 98 % of the time with your 'peer group' +/-. The HUGE time sink of waiting to 'board / unboard / take roll-call / meals / check-in- check-out / border / immigration / awaiting for those that ALWAYS get LOST / are late during a quick stop... really eats up your 'vacation' (?)

One of my elderly friends (a couple in their 80's) took private / smaller tours of much of Europe and had great experiences. (10 people max, usually 6) Boutique hotels and small family cafes,
Very enjoyable trip and experience. VERY ez too!!! personal service / personal stops / SLOW paced (if you so desire)
As mentioned, it is not difficult to find this type of tour.

Another friend enjoyed Wales and Britain via horseback tours (stopping at a country inn each night)

Trekking (hiking) is very popular in UK. (another rich experience)

Maybe not for the OP, but there may be someone else reading C-D and planning a trip to Europe

If OP has another couple or two, they could tailor a custom tour and rent a minivan. Maybe friends could drive, or hire a local driver. (That may save some wrong turns!) Good thing for the 'rotaries' / traffic circles, we sometimes go around several times before we decide which route to take. (Not EZ in UK, as road numbers are not noted, usually the 'next town', which is likely NOT your destination.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
37,121 posts, read 45,641,400 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantabridgienne View Post
You keep mentioning your husbands poor sense of direction but how is yours? Surely you can read a map/have a phone with Google maps?
My sense of direction is fine, and I don’t worry about getting lost either. I’d probably adjust to driving on the left side of the road, too , but it’s not happening, ok? We do not want to drive ourselves.

I’m chewing on the idea, though. If we have an extra day in London, the hamlet of “our last name” is only an hour and a half away. Hmmm. There might even be a train or bus.

Last edited by gentlearts; 10-05-2017 at 12:53 PM..
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Old 10-05-2017, 01:48 PM
 
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Sorry, I thought you meant your husband was hesitant to do anything non-guided (walking, train, tube etc) for fear of getting lost. I'm glad that's not the case.
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Old 10-05-2017, 05:19 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
15,512 posts, read 17,740,343 times
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When I was 16 I took my first solo trip to Europe (i.e. not following my parents around). My parents bought me a flight to Amsterdam, a Eurail pass, and a fistful of travelers checks (it was '88). The only requirement was that I spend at least two weeks with my family in Norway.

My strategy was to go to a tourist info booth (one in every major train station in every country) and tell them I need an inexpensive hotel. Go to the hotel, drop the big backpack, and head out to see what there was to see, mostly girls.
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Old 10-05-2017, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,075 posts, read 19,019,086 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
My sense of direction is fine, and I don’t worry about getting lost either. I’d probably adjust to driving on the left side of the road, too , but it’s not happening, ok? We do not want to drive ourselves.

I’m chewing on the idea, though. If we have an extra day in London, the hamlet of “our last name” is only an hour and a half away. Hmmm. There might even be a train or bus.
As I've stated before, I'm GLAD you will not be driving yourselves!

Please see your PM.
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Old 10-05-2017, 06:47 PM
 
4,688 posts, read 2,318,235 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IonRedline08 View Post
I thought I was the only one who loves going to foreign grocery stores! Love it!

Good info in this post!
I also have my favorite grocery stores when I travel (to Spain). I even get their store cards. At the end of my stay, I donate any points I’ve accrued to the World Wildlife Fund.
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Old 10-06-2017, 12:22 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,585 posts, read 39,962,822 times
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Other Euro trip ideas:
1) A retired couple on their first trip this summer bought a used campervan and will spend 6 months in UK and Western Europe., Then resell it.
2) There are some great blogs about taking vacations via "Euro delivery cars". (Your new car purchase, delivered (to you) in Europe, but shipped home after you use it in Europe. (currently limited options are limited to only Audi, BMW, MB and Volvo.) Ends up being about 10% discount.

Porsche will do it too, but you don't get a discount.

Car / van rentals were a significant hit to our last trip, ($1k / month is typical).
We will buy 'used' next time if staying more than a month.

I know a couple from Canada who sent their mini RV to Europe in a shipping container. (It has remained there 6 yrs).

Driving on the left, is not too bad, just follow some simple rules...
  • Keep steering wheel toward center of road, (with a vehicle suited for the country)
  • Make WIDE Right turns to avoid meeting oncoming traffic...(you are CROSSING traffic when turning RIGHT (Similar to turning LEFT in Right hand drive areas)
  • Keep in the OUTSIDE lanes ' slower'
  • Watch our for tractors (they drive on the freeway)
  • Traffic Circles go CLOCKWISE.
  • Local routes seldom have signage with route number, it is typically indicated as the 'Next Town' (important to know when you enter a 6 lane 'rotary' at 60 Kph)
  • Be very cautious when passing.
When renting a car (Called 'Hire Car" in UK).
If you want an Automatic transmission RESERVE one!(automatic trannys are uncommon, ut rental companies usally keep some around for USA renters.

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 10-06-2017 at 12:36 AM..
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