I was very unhappy with my first during-trip blog post; it was just a list of things I’d checked off of my to-dos. It read like an old grocery list. And after the last post–or, more accurately, after thinking about all of the unhappiness that created that blog post–I’ve realized that this is what is wrong with this trip. I’m treating it like a checklist. And that’s driving me crazy. It’s not London that sucks; it’s not the public transport or the obscure neighborhood we’re staying in or the distance between things I’d not accounted for–it’s me, and my stupid need to plan and control everything, along with the little voice in the back of my head telling me to ‘go go go!’ all of the time–after all, I have to make the best of every minute, right? Right–but how can I make the best of anything on three hours sleep?
So this morning, I did something very unlike me–I slept in whilst on vacation. Until 11am. To be fair, we spent 16 hours on a day trip yesterday, getting back to the hotel at around 12:30 in the morning. After checking my email and writing that last cranky blog, it was after 3am when I went to bed, at which point I’d been up for 23 hours. So I ignored the alarm (which I’d set for 6:45) and slept until I was done. And I felt much better.
I then–along with my husband–rethought my vacation strategy. First, it needs to feel more like vacation and less like work. Second, I need to find a way to fit sleep and food into our ‘schedule’. And finally, I need to throw the schedule away.
I thought about why I wanted to go on this trip in the first place–to experience different lifestyles and cultures. Well, do you know what? A very good example of a different lifestyle is one that involves reliance on public transit. I make this one point, because I think that’s the thing I’m struggling with the most–I am a control freak, and I hate being at the hands of a system over which I have no control. But lots of people live that way, so I must learn to embrace it. After all, that embracing is the point of this trip. And do you know what else? I’m not going to ‘experience other cultures’ by running from one museum to another. On any given day, I’m willing to bet that the number of tourists at, say, the British Museum, far outweighs the number of locals (though I also imagine many locals go there as well–I would. It’s an awesome place.) So we decided that for the duration of our trip, we are limiting ourselves to one ‘plan’ per day–we can plan to go to one ‘high profile’ touristy spot per day, and then go from there. This also introduces flexibility into our trip–which it was sorely lacking.
Today our ‘one thing’ was the Tower of London. We then planned to take a boat down to the Embankment Pier and walk to Trafalger Square and the National Gallery, but we saw a sign when buying boat tickets that announced ‘only 18 minutes to Greenwich’–so we went the other direction instead. And Greenwich was lovely on a Saturday–lots of people walking their dogs, a very town atmosphere, and a very nice ‘hike’ up to the observatory (which we didn’t actually enter–it was ten minutes to closing time by the time we arrived.)
We then took a boat back, and a cab back to our hotel, and had a drink in the very happening bar downstairs (don’t think hotel bar–the cab driver who dropped us off the first night didn’t even know this was a hotel–‘I thought this was a club’, he told us) and then took the time to look up some restaurant recommendations online. We ended up at this fantastic Indian home cooking place just north of Brick Lane (London’s ‘Little India’, apparently, which is right down the street from our hotel) and it was amazing. Definitely the best meal I’d had so far–probably because I wasn’t in a mad rush to finish eating it.
I realize that if I’d told the me of two weeks ago–the me planning this trip–that ‘all I did today’ was go to the Tower of London, walk around Greenwich, and have dinner, I’d have yelled at old me. But the me who is actually on the trip–she’s fine with that. And will continue to be. Perhaps we actually will spend a whole day in Paris, eating bread and cheese and drinking wine, just like my husband wants. I’ll let you know in two short days.
We think we are going to take a bus to Oxford tomorrow, but I’ll let you know if that happens, too. After all–flexibility is my new ‘thing’. And I’ll let you know how THAT works out, too!
PLEASE NOTE: I realize that this would all be more interesting with photos, and I did spend a good amount of time uploading pictures to my netbook. Unfortunately, the wifi here is not the best, and attempting to attach one to a blog post causes everything to freeze. Thus, I am not going to frustrate myself further, and will instead add photos when I get back home (to my beloved Mac). Thanks for understanding!