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Travel Updates: Ireland, Scotland, England and Italy


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Since we've traveled to so many different areas I'll post this update here.

Our flight from Tampa to Chicago to Dublin on July 31 was fine. AA kept changing the gate in Chicago but that was the only stressor. We both kept our masks on in the airport and throughout the flight. Most people were maskless.

I'd prebooked the bus into Dublin, mainly because it dropped us off just around the corner from our hotel, so it was much cheaper than a taxi.

We spent 1 1/2 days in Dublin before departing on our 5 day tour. There were 9 of us on a 16 passenger van. We wore our masks for the first 2 days, then felt comfortable since we were in our own little bubble. The trip was wonderful, the guide very interesting, and the group was very friendly and compatible. And Art loved being able to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

We arrived back in Dublin around 6 p.m. The hotel had stored our 2 rolling bags for us since we returned there for our final night. The next morning we caught the same bus back to the airport and flew RyanAir to Edinburgh. Although I found the Dublin Airport a bit confusing, and the flight was delayed 30 minutes, everything went smoothly. We paid extra to have a checked bag and 2 carry-ons - packing for 3 months is challenging for me.
Once we arrived in Edinburgh the challenge was getting to the city center. Previously we'd taken the DART train, but decided to take a taxi this time. Because of the Tattoo and Fringe Festival, the taxi line was quite long, with only a single taxi arriving every 5+ minutes. We saw another line for prebooked taxis, were told the cost was the same, and within a few minutes we were on our way.

My daughter and SIL had already arrived in Edinburgh and were able to meet us at the corner to help with luggage. The hotel in Edinburgh was well located but very basic, as compared to the place in Dublin which was quite posh. It was clean and the people were very helpful, bit I'm not sure I'd stay there again. (Travelodge on Rose St)

My plan was to walk to the laundry and drop off our clothes, but by the time we got settled it was too late. I got up early the next morning and walked about 20 minutes to drop off the laundry, then the 4 of us took a prebooked walking tour. The plan was to end up in Dean Village, but Art's back wasn't up to it so we walked back to the hotel for a rest while Angela and Ed went to tour the Castle. We attended the Royal Tattoo that night and it was spectacular.

Our 5 day tour in Scotland was incredible, our guide was great, but the group wasn't as friendly as the group in Ireland. At least we had the 4 of us, and once again Art enjoyed not having to drive. By the last day people were talking more, and all in all were very pleasant.

After the tour Angela and Ed stayed at an airport hotel and flew home the next day, while we stayed on for 2 additional days in Edinburgh. We used part of our time exploring the train station so we'd know how to get to the platform without having to navigate stairs.

The train journey to London was not only cheaper than flying but also much less stressful.
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We arrived in London to the threat of rain, and once again took a taxi to our AirB&B. Although I'd never seen the information in the listing, I had read the reviews and knew that after the lift we still had an additional 2 flights of stairs to navigate. I should have anticipated how steep and narrow they would be, but hadn't really thought about it. It was quite challenging to get our (out of shape) selves and our luggage up, but we managed.

Our room was spacious, exactly as it appeared on the website, with a tiny balcony, kitchen sink, work/eating table and most importantly, a washing machine just outside our door. The washer-dryer combo was a bit challenging, and there were no instructions, but our host responded quickly to my questions. Once the washing was finished I knew to take out half the clothes for the drying cycle, but it still took ages!

Our 4 days in London were spent doing things we'd never done before: we took the Uber boat to Greenwich for the day, toured Tower Bridge, walked Borough Market, walked around little Venice and went up in The Shard. The location of our room was about a 10 minute walk to the Tower, right across from a Tube station, and very close to both a pub and a 24 hour restaurant.

A Tube strike on Thursday didn't affect us since that's the day we went to Greenwich, but a train strike on the weekend forced us to take a bus (coach) to meet our friends who live in Braintree, rather than taking the train. Our AirBnB host arrived to help us carry our luggage down the 2 steep flights of stairs, and instead of just walking to the train station, once again we took a taxi.

Once we were in Braintree, Janet and Stephen took care of everything, which was such a pleasant break! We visited Narwich, from which the Mayflower departed, as well as several charming villages. We'd never been to Essex, and hadn't seen our friends for several years, so it was nice to sit back and relax while someone else played tour guide. Stephen loves planning as much as I do and our time there was fun.

Stansted is about 20 from their house and they dropped us off with what we all assumed would be plenty of time. Once we'd dropped our checked bags and gone through security, we were disappointed to see that our flight was running late. After gate changes and lots of confusion we finally boarded the plane a full 3 hours later than expected.

Our landlord had offered to pick us up at the Perugia airport, and we felt terrible that our flight arrived at 11 p.m. instead of the expected 8 p.m., but she was waiting for us with a smile and open arms!
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I've said before that we're traveling as if this might be our last trip, but in the end traveling to multiple stops was exhausting and stressful. The packing, unpacking, and repacking was annoying and stressful, and at this stage of the game quite exhausting! But we survived! AND all of our luggage made it!

I'm now dealing with some serious computer issues, but we've eaten porchetta, met with friends and are settling into "our" apartment here in central Umbria, so all in all, we're very happy.
I've said before that we're traveling as if this might be our last trip, but in the end traveling to multiple stops was exhausting and stressful. The packing, unpacking, and repacking was annoying and stressful, and at this stage of the game quite exhausting! But we survived! AND all of our luggage made it!
I've become focused in recent years of seeking out differing locations that are still rather close to each other, the aim being to minimise both the length of transfers, but also the horrible 'wasted' time of being herded through airports / waiting for travel connections etc. Recent examples include
Molveno to Trento (about an hour on the bus)
Trento to Bologna (about 2 hours on a fast train)

With a vague idea of combining Ghemme, Ivrea and Tortona on a future trip (likely hiring a car for simplicity). All transfers likely to be between 60 and 90 minutes.

Whilst I'd be the first to admit there is wasted time and stress in checking in/out, packing and unpacking (and yes it is exhausting - physically and mentally), we find the change of location works for us as we tend to explore the base location quite well in preference to day trips, and it also stops us becoming a little too relaxed (and just 'chilling' at the base).
I think this year's trip wasn't so much due to being denied by Covid for so long, like it might be for others, but rather the sense that our travel days are limited and I'm trying to squeeze every last bit of travel in while I can.

Next year I promise to be a little more restrained! I think the most important thing is to travel in a way that suits YOUR style, and to recognize that things change, and that taking a taxi after a long day is okay, or knowing that we should only plan for 2 activities, not the 3,4 or more we might have done 20 years ago.
Sounds as though you are having a good time even if there has been an odd moment of stress. You are right in saying that things change. We are in the process of planning a trip to France next year. As with a lot of people, we are older and seeing our travel opportunities diminishing. Maybe it is because it has been four years and we are out of practice, but it all seems so much harder this time. Obstacles seem to present themselves that would not have bothered us a few years ago. I know we will get there, but it is stressful at times.

Looking forward to hearing more.

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