I have the opportunity to spend time in Europe this summer. I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled to Paris three times. None of them was a glamorous romantic trip, however. I was one of a few adult chaperones for high school students. Oh, I could tell you stories, but I won’t since we all survived and made it back to the States. This year, a group of adults booked a trip with the same company. Because our group is small we will be with high school students again. The beauty of this is I am not in charge of any of them. As an adult, I have freedom and don’t need to stick with the group for each sightseeing tour if I don’t wish to. It is a ten day trip that begins in London and ends at the Vatican and I cannot wait!
We will land in London on a Saturday (probably late morning) and then get organized, to our hotel, dump stuff in our rooms (or store our luggage until rooms are ready). I will be refreshed and ready to go. I know anyone who has traveled overseas probably finds this difficult to believe, but I will be one of the most alert people walking off of our plane. You see, I have this phobia of flying over large bodies of water. I accept that it is irrational and after having done it once (with medication) I figured I could do it a second and third time without the help of anxiety medication. Such was not the case because the closer the departure date got, the more that little panic built, and I didn’t want to be the one on the plane screaming and crying. Remember, I was traveling with students and I wanted to set a good example of confidence and authority. So, I called my doctor, explained and he wrote the prescription. I am lucky because this is one of the few times I’ve ever needed to rely on anti-anxiety medication. I have friends who have severe anxiety issues, and my heart goes out to anyone who suffers from this. It is not easy.
I know it doesn’t make sense, but I can fly across the country with no problems. Okay, I do get a little nervous, but nothing I can’t handle. The great benefit I learned from the medication (besides the fact that I am not a complete mess) is it also knocks me out. So, I sleep most of the way (it helps that we fly through the night) and I am ready to go as soon as the wheels touch land again. I am proud to inform you that I refrain from kissing the ground when I get off of that plane (though the thought crosses my mind every time).
Nothing is planned until the next day when we take a bus tour to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and end at the Changing of the Guard. By the way, from experience, these stops include the director giving us history and a quick stop for a photo opportunity, not necessarily tours. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see all of these things, but I want to make every second in London count because on Monday we are on the Eurostar headed to Paris. This is when I expect a second phobia to rear its ugly head. I don’t like enclosed places and the thought of taking a train under the English Channel already has my heart racing and hands shaking. I should probably mention that to the doctor when I call about the prescription for flying. I would try to do this trip without medication but I already know it won’t be pretty. I am not going to try and fool myself and just do what needs to be done to get where I want to go. I refuse to sit home because I am afraid of what I need to do to get there.
Paris I have covered, and between you and me, there is a fairly good chance I won’t stick with the group but go off on my own to see the things that have been missed in the past. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. This may be my one romantic trip to Paris because this time my husband is going with me (instead of one of my children). I can’t wait to take this trip with him, and I hope he loves Paris as much as I do, though he is looking forward to London the most, like me. I want to stroll with him through Luxemburg Gardens, get ice cream along the walk outside Tuileries, see his face when he realizes how small the Mona Lisa really is and sip wine at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
As for Florence, Tuscany, Rome and the Vatican, I will stick with the group. These are all new places to me and I don’t speak Italian. I am simply going to enjoy and absorb this history. I am also looking forward to the food. When given a choice I will eat Italian over anything else, and I can’t wait to see how it tastes in Italy.
But, back to London (the place I am so excited to visit). I’ve never been there and being a Regency author I have a list of places I want to see but I have no idea how to tackle this challenge and see as much as possible in the limited amount of time I am allotted. I calculate I will have about a day, maybe a day and a half, to see everything I should probably see. I know it isn’t much time so I need a plan. I want to be able to hit the city, itinerary in hand and go from place to place until time runs out. So, this is my plea. If you have been to London, what itinerary do you suggest so I can make the most of my visit in such a short amount of time and have the greatest Regency experience? It is never too early to plan J.