Monthly Archives: August 2008

First Impressions of England!

So I have arrived in Bath! But more on that in the next post. This is just for first impressions of England,  and maybe a bit of the process getting there too.

It didn’t hit me that “Wait. . . I’m GOING ON A PLANE alone” until I was putting my things through to be scanned (despite the fact that at that point, Mom, Heather, and Teresa were still almost visible, waving like mad every time they caught sight of me). But, I got over it.

The best part of the plane ride was when we were waiting and one of the workers kept paging “Uh. . . I have a flight for. . .um. . . BAY-SELL. . . BAA SEEL? [I had noticed there was a flight to Basel. He apparently had never heard of, nor could he pronounce the city]. . . Could um [insert unintelligible, badly mangled, Arabic sounding name here] please come? We are waiting for you” At which point he then tried several other ways of pronouncing the name, and then let out a huge sigh. This of course was all on the intercom system. Everyone snickered.

The worst part of the flight was the food. It was the microwave curry just like Lucas had been telling me about.. (a choice of Chicken curry or vegetarian curry). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a curry fan. I just don’t like mush. And it’s not exactly the choice of food I’d pick for spending 7 hours in a plane with people.

Anyway. Once I caught the first glimpse of Britain from the plane, I was surprised at how different it looked from home. It was very much a patchwork quilt in browns and greens, with curiously rounded trees in neat (but not always straight) lines separating the patches.

I got to take an earlier train, since getting off the plane was so simple (I took a ride to Reading. But I did not Pass Go, so I did not Collect $200).

And through the ride I kept noticing the little differences. I was expecting more similarity, but I kept thinking how BRITISH all the little villages we passed were. But of course they were. The cars were delightful, and the licenses were just like the ones I see in the movies. Even the COWS looked different. They’re still black and white, but not the SAME black and white. Very curious. But my favourite part was the kids with English accents! Now I hear it relatively often in adults, but never in kids. My favourite expression by a little boy talking out of the corner of his soother. “Oi, Mum!” (And his Mom was all, “yes hunnie?”)

Anyway. That’s all for now. Just to let you all know I arrived alive. Stay tuned for my thoughts on Bath!

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And Some Favourite Podcasts ** 2 weeks today!!

So that first big trip is finally becoming visible on the horizon. Two weeks today I’ll be madly making sure I have everything before my drive up to the Toronto airport. Things are really coming together!

Although that also means I have that first tinge of anxiety. Even though my trip is so planned to such an extent (wow, I’m getting kind of anal retentive about it), I’ve got that worry. Like… you know, “Wait a sec, have I ever really taken a train before? And now I want to travel by train around an unfamiliar place [with mostly unfamiliar languages] for 2 months?” But… it goes away. Pretty easily, because I’m just so pumped to get out of here and get on with seeing things!

Today’s plan: rip up my guidebooks to make a MASTER GUIDEBOOK of only the most pertinent information (of course).

For today’s post though: I don’t only adore books & websites, but I also love podcasts, so I decided to make a bit of a review of some of the travel (or European travel) ones I’ve been listening to.  In alphabetical order from my iTunes…

A Year in Europe – my very favourite! A couple in their mid 30’s leave their jobs & California home to.. yep… travel Europe for a year. Nice long episodes (about 1 hr each) with entirely personal accounts of their experiences in different cities and countries.

Amateur Traveler Podcast – Not one of my top podcasts, but still enjoyable. About 30 min episodes of one main guy talking about a place he has been, or alternately interviewing someone on a place that they have been.  Lots of variety, but most seem to be in the Western hemisphere/Northern hemispheres.

Frommers.com Podcast – around 20 min podcasts, which are mostly (like the books) for the more higher budget traveller (though there are some “MTV” and “Student” specials) Not too many off-the-beaten-path locations.

Lonely Planet TravelCasts – about 15 min long, and pretty much only off-the-beaten path locations. Hardly any to listen to for my “getting excited about Europe” mode, but there’s lots of interesting places to hear about. It’s also a very youthful podcast… pretty much the opposite of the Frommer’s one.

Rough Guides Podcast – For some reason I expected this to be similar to my Rough Guides guidebook.. but really they are not even all travelcasts. (Such as “The Rough Guide to the Rolling Stones”) – I wonder if they get many listeners, because their topics are all over the charts.

Travel with Rick Steves – This one I also think is fabulous. Each episode focuses on a location or two, and has an expert/travel guide from there as well as a call-in show. This is an internet broadcast of Rick’s radio show. I loved that it was heavy on European topics, since Rick is kind of known as an expert on Europe. But it has enough other places to get a really nice taste (and get bitten by the travel bug again)

Walks of a Lifetime – An interesting one for once I arrive in Europe – 15-25 minute walks of famous cities all around the world. And this podcast has been going on for a while, so they’ve got a good number of cities.

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