Mom and I Go to the U.K. – Part 1

I’m an unusual traveler, I know. I don’t make a lot of plans. I try to book airfare and accommodation, but usually. I do not do this months in advance….because….things happen. It seems to make more sense to me to decide where I am going and go soon.

I believe I started talking to Mom about going to Wales in March. It took her a bit by surprise, but she agreed. So here we go in a whirlwind two week trip, our main destination Newport, Gwent, South Wales, where my mom was born and where our family on her side still lives. She is trusting me to get her there. I think we’ll do it….though we’ll see if one if one of us kills the other before it is all over.

I have a travel rule…..we are all responsible for our own good time. Which means I will do what I need to do to have fun. You can join me or not. I won’t feel personal guilt if you choose to be miserable, nor will I join you. I won’t be offended if you want to spend your time differently than I do, and decided a long time ago I won’t do things I don’t want to do. Life is too short to fail to spend limited vacation time your way. I don’t enjoy traveling because everything has always gone right. Some of my favorite memories are when things have gone horribly wrong. They usually turn out well.

I love flying and most of the travel process (other than packing and carrying luggage.) I don’t mind wandering aimlessly, and figure I will spend much time lost. Mom hates flying, likes a plan, and likes when things go as predicted. We’ll see how things go!

Travel is crazy these days. I booked through Expedia because rates were lower. (And I get Exoefia points and still get frequent flyer points.) Our flight over was an American Airlines flight, booked through Iberia Airlines. Mom was suspicious. She thought I was booking her on a cut rate airline with a sketchy safety record, even though I kept reminding her it was actually going to be American Airlines. She finally believed me. I think because her sister Beryl told her she had flown Iberia many times.

For for some reason I still don’t know, they woukdn’t let me book our seats in advance. People in our lives didn’t help me here. They kept saying “They probably overbooked and you won’t have seats.” I scoffed….though a tiny part of me prayed. If it was just me, that would be OK. I’d go with it. That’s not good enough when Mom is with me.

But it worked out fine. The first seats we were given were middle seats, but Mom mentioned she wanted an aisle seat and the woman changed our seats to an aisle and window seat close to the front of the plane. Score! Even better, leg room was ample. Even the food in the plane was tolerable ((I usually rank airline food in the same category as hospital food.) Mom, who never sleeps on planes, slept much if the way. I, who usually sleep on a flight from Charlotte to Greensboro, could not get comfortable. I barely slept at all.

Our hotel stay ended up being free in an Expedia deal. We read a couple of reviews and picked it together. It’s called the Corinthia…..and is about a block from Trafalger Square. To get here we took a black cab. It is one step up from Uber, but cheaper than a regular cab. Our cost, with a generous tip, was 10£ less than a regular cab ride without tip. Still, a long ride so a bit of an expense. Not carrying luggage on the train….worth every penny. (Or rather pound.) Our cabdriver (who Mom was teasing about his testosterone when he carried most of our luggage himself, said he didn’t have much since he was 33. He was from Bulgaria and enjoyed arguing politics with Mom on the drive. I think that helped keep her mind off his driving, which scared her and delighted me. He would fly down narrow streets where it looked like there was no room for one car, let alone two. Be did a three point road turn in the middle lane of a crowded London street. And he showed us his two pence coin, suitable for throwing at the cars of rude or crazy drivers. He claimed to have never really thrown one. I don’t necessarily believe him. But he got us to our hotel, and we got a nice city tour besides.

The hotel is gorgeous. Great location, but for these two exhausted travelers, our plans of shopping at  Harrod’s and going to a show lost out to the need for sleep. The desk clerk said he gave us a triple upgrade in our room. Who knows? But it is great. Mom says it is the nicest hotel she has ever stayed in, I admit I got quite excited when I realized the bathroom floors and towel racks are heated. And there is a TV over the bathtub. It’s the little things.

We napped for a couple of hours, then went out looking for fish and chips. We got them at a place called Garfunkels. (I remember that because of Art.) Fish, chips (French fries y’all), malt vinegar, a bit if extra salt, garden peas instead of mushy peas, and a pot of hot tea with sugar and milk. One reason we love it here. After a walk around the block, we came back to the room. I write, while Mom sleeps. Days 1 and 2…..a success.

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