Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Anglophilia, Willy Wonka, Monty Python's castle, and other travel musings

We're still on an Anglo High here in Jenworld. We'll eventually calm down, but for now we're just so damn excited about going to England in April. I was so jazzed yesterday that I could hardly focus on work. Even the girls are pumped -- all of their Barbies now have British accents.

Thanks to everyone who gave suggestions, either via comments or emails. Y'all have some great ideas and I appreciate your sharing them. Feel free to keep 'em coming. Oh, and Green Girl in Wisconsin? Thanks for the guide book recommendation. I went to Barnes & Noble today and got a copy. Not only will it be helpful with trip planning, but since it weighs about 17 pounds, I can use it to help weigh down my suitcase lid when I'm trying to zip it shut.

To those of you who waxed poetic about how romantic London will be in April, here's my question for you: Have you ever traveled with children? Seriously. There is no romance in sharing a hotel room with the kidlets for ten days straight. Yes, we could get a suite, which is what we do when we travel domestically, but the fact is we'll be in one of the most expensive cities on the planet, so we won't be getting a suite at the Ritz or even at the Dew Drop Inn. We will very likely be getting a basic room at a B&B and paying an arm and a leg AND a boob for it.

Guess what amazing thing we discovered last night? (And Guider, I cannot believe you didn't mention this to me already. I thought we were friends.)

That's right people. A factory tour of my favorite British chocolate company. This could very well be the thing that helps us decide on going to the Cotswolds instead of York. I know, I know, it's probably a tourist trap and not all that great. Who cares? It can't possibly be as lame as Hershey's so-called factory tour and, even if it is, Cadbury World has the largest retail shop of Cadbury's products in the world, so I'm totally good with that.

When I told Elegant about Cadbury World, she mused that it would be just like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Only, without Willy Wonka. And no creepy Oompa Loompas. And no missing children. But, just the same, otherwise.

I asked Pete if he wanted to go to Legoland Windsor. You know, my husband, a.k.a. Mr. Amusement Park. The very same guy who was in Orlando one week ago today. Do you want to want to know what he said? "Eh, I don't know. Maybe." Clearly, something is off kilter in the universe today.

When I woke up this morning, I naturally started thinking about this trip. But then my thoughts wandered and I started remembering some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen:

  • Milford Sound in New Zealand -- The drive there was gorgeous (you've probably seen it in some Mazda ads on TV) and then our tour of the sound was even more stunning.
  • Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona -- Between Sedona and Flagstaff. This is one of the greatest drives we've ever had.
  • Castle Stalker in Loch Laich in Scotland. It's a teeny tiny castle on a teeny tiny island IN the loch. (Also featured in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" -- something every person should be familiar with.)
  • Closer to home, one of the reasons we live in Virginia is the Blue Ridge Mountains. I grew up having mountain views around me and life without them would not be possible.
  • There's a beach near Santa Barbara that is my favorite beach ever. Towering cliffs separate the beach from the mainland and give the area a cozy, protected feeling. The beach itself has the most abundant offerings of shells, rocks, sea glass, and driftwood. And the Channel Islands are 40 miles off in the distance, but look much closer.

But I want to hear from y'all. Where have you been that was so beautiful it took your breah away?


Anonymous said...

The Cliffs of Moher in western Ireland, near Shannon. And Kylemore Abbey, also in Ireland. Definitely 2 of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Helps that I'm 100% Irish (although I now live in South Dakota...).

Traci Anne said...

You MUST stock up on Cadbury - apparently it's a million times better than the Cadbury sold here!

The Cliffs of Moher were actually named for my paternal family, which I think is pretty neat :) My dad's been a lot, but I've never been outside the US, except trips to Mexico when I was itty-bitty. Have to say, Texas is my favorite vacation spot - LA too. I know I'm biased about Texas, but you know how people talk/sing about amazing Texas skies? Seriously breathtaking. And the hills in Hill Country, and the sunset on Padre Island...

...maybe I should work for the Texas Tourism board when I move back home :)

Family Adventure said...

Eh...Norway...! Okay, that sounds totally lame, but it is true. The fjords in the west of Norway are unbe-frigging-lievable. Apart from Norway, I'd have to go with Costa Rica's beaches at Manuel Antonio, the mountains in Banff, Canada and the rolling hills in Tuscany.

I love to dream, though, and New Zealand is *high* on my list of dreams!


erin said...

I think B&Bs are the way to go (at least in the countryside). When I went over with my parents during high school, we mostly stayed with family, but we rented a car and hit the road for part of the trip, so had the chance to stay in some fantastic B&Bs throughout Scotland & Ireland. We met some really interesting people, and my dad and I were just talking about the breakfasts some of the B&Bs served. Mmm. Anyway, we stayed with family outside London, but I'm assuming English B&Bs will be just as good.

As for beautiful places:

-Galway Bay in Ireland (yes, we watched the sun go down over the bay - it was my dad's only request on the trip!)
-Inverness, Scotland (really, all of the Highlands)
-thought Edinburgh was a beautiful city & I'd love to go back
-Cape Cod/Nantucket/Martha's Vineyard

The Guider said...

OMG - I forgot to mention Cadbury World? I am so stoopid! I really thought I had.

Plus, I have a tip on the hotel thing, will email.

Kris Akarti said...

As far as theme parks go, there is a really neat looking one called Alton Towers in Staffordshire. But you don't have to tell your husband that.

I've been to a looot of places, but off the top of my head the most beautiful places I've ever seen are Loch Lomond/Balloch in Scotland, the North Shore of Oahu and Hanama Bay, and Antigua (and surrounding areas) in Guatemala.

I think my Utah mountains are the prettiest, but then I've never been to Virginia.

clemsongirlandthecoach said...

Hello? Harrods? That's the most important part! Just don't come home with one of those cheesy-ass pleather bags with Harrod's stamped all over it.


Flutterby said...

I live 5 minutes from beautiful. Ok maybe 10.

Mrs. G. said...

The Isle of Capri the summer of my thirteenth year. I swam in the Blue Grotto. It's never been better.

MizMell said...

I went to Jamaica with two kids. It was a good trip and I'm glad we did it. We had a suite. I think the girls were 9 and 11, then.

Melissa said...

Oh I totally picture the Barbies speaking with the accents! Thank you so much for that mental picture!

Karen MEG said...

Okay, Heidi beat me to it, but I would have to say fjords too, but in Iceland, totally blew me away (as did the the glacier mountains, and I am soooo not a winter person).
Jamaican sunsets, Canadian rockies, Great Wall of China (when you look past all the tourists), view from Mt. Pilatus near Lucerne Switzerland.
Hey, this was mean! Catching the travel bug from you now!

Aims said...

Literally took my breath away? When I put my head under the water for the first time while floating above the Great Barrier Reef.
Seriously, all the Animal Planet and Finding Nemo in the world can't explain how incredibly alive, colourful and serene that place is. I will never forget that moment!

Linda and her Surroundings said...

Until recently, whenever we went away my boy Stuart slept in the bed with me whilst poor old husband was relegated to the fold out sofa! Well, we are off to England 20th March, back 11th April. For me, the first time I spotted Portobello Road Market from the top of the hill and looked down on all those antique shops was rather breathtaking (sad but true).

I love, love London so much. I cannot wait.

Kristabella said...

I cannot wait to hear all about your trip. Every last detail. Because I’ve never been and want to go, so I shall live vicariously through you.

Sedona is one place that took my breath away. Back in the 90s when I went to school in AZ and Sedona wasn’t a touristy place OR where celebrities went to spa.

Another would be the drive from San Jose, CA to Santa Barbara down the coast. Pismo Beach in particular. And also, the view of the Mumm vineyard in Napa on a perfect day at sunset sitting on their little patio area.