Castles and Cobblestones — My Journey to Europe, Part One

Europe092014 002It all started with a dream to see the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle,located in Highclere Park, Newbury, West Berkshire, UK.  If you’ll stick with me over the next couple of weeks, I’ll attempt to show you London, Paris and Rome through my eyes.  I hope to inform you, entertain you and whet your appetite for a trip across the pond and beyond.  So, let’s go!

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Day 1

After saying goodbye to my mom and Shadow, my ever faithful dog, I was off to enjoy the biggest item on my Bucket List — a trip to London, Paris and Rome over twelve days and eleven nights.  Over a year in the making, months and months of saving money, shopping for comfortable walking shoes, stewing over what to wear, my suitcase was packed to the last square inch.  It was so heavy I could barely lift it.  Thank God for wheels.  At Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, I held my breath as I heaved the suitcase up to the scale.  Counting, counting, whew!  Fifty pounds on the dot.  No overage fees, but no room for shopping in Paris either.  What’s a girl to do?  Nothing at the moment.  Shopping could wait.  I needed to catch a plane.

A short flight to Detroit and a change of planes found this little girl from nowhere back in the sky at 9:30 p.m., for an overnight flight to Europe.  Have you ever flown all night long before?  I don’t recommend it.  The seats on the plane did not recline more than an inch, and it truly was a most uncomfortable ride.  Next time, I’ll check other airlines for a daytime flight.  Meanwhile, the lady seated next to me was friendly and helped to pass the time.

London, England is six hours ahead of Panama, Illinois.  I left Panama at 1:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.  Our plane landed at Heathrow Monday morning and discharged its weary, bleary-eyed overnight passengers into a beautiful sunny day perfect for vacationers.  We boarded a lovely coach for the trip into London, specifically the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington.  My first look at the English countryside and the outskirts of London reminded me of the Midwest here in the United States.  My perspective would change in less than an hour.

Next:  Part 2 – The Royal Borough of Kensington, United Kingdom.

 

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