It’s Really Happening

Things have been kind of quiet here as I’ve slowly been booking stuff for my trip. Now that I’ve got a significant portion of it fleshed out, I’ve updated the itinerary page, and am writing this post so the few people who follow the blog1 can see where things stand.

Now, on the trip, London and Edinburgh were pretty much no-brainers. I wanted to start with London2, and finish up with Edinburgh, winding my way north over the three weeks of my trip. I had originally intended to take in some stuff in Cornwall, but the research I did showed me that it would be pretty time-consuming and expensive, taking me well out of the way, and leaving me less time for a lot of other things.

Side note: the UK is significantly more expensive than Ireland. Like, 50-100% more expensive, at least for accommodations. I thought things would get cheaper outside of London, but that did not turn out to be the case. I’m paying for as much of the accommodations and tours as I can before the trip, so that I don’t need to worry about that part of the trip ON the trip. It’ll give me time to pay off the expense before the actual trip.

Anyway, the days between London and Edinburgh. I kind of wanted to see Oxford – it’s full of neat history3, amazing architecture, and is centrally located so that I can take a couple of day trips to interesting places like Bletchley Park and Stratford-upon-Avon. Maybe even Blenheim Palace.

A little more research convinced me that the next stage of the journey should be York. Again, a lot of very cool history and architecture4. I don’t have a lot of solid ideas of what I want to see there, yet – I need to do some more research. But I’m convinced that a few days there will be well-spent.

Now, the next stop is a little more problematic. I really want to see Fingal’s Cave, which is off the west coast of Scotland. It’s off the beaten path, and it’ll take me pretty much a whole day to get from York to Oban5. Then, the actual boat tour may not land on Staffa6 if the weather is not co-operative. So, I may be taking two days to go out of my way to see something that I may not, in fact, get to see. Sounds a little like my abortive attempt to see the Skelligs, doesn’t it?

But I really want to try and see Fingal’s Cave, and I’ve got a couple of days to spend. I figure it’s worth a try.

And from Oban, it looks like another full day of travel to bring me to Edinburgh. And from Edinburgh7, I take the train down to spend my last night in a hotel near Heathrow before flying home the next day.

I’ve booked a few tours, etc. already. Here’s what’s officially on the books:

  • The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. This is free, but you need to register in advance to be allowed to see it. I’ve got my certificate of entry, so I’m good!
  • I’m staying in Whitechapel while in London, so of course I need to take a Jack the Ripper tour. I’ve found one that looks pretty good and booked it.
  • I also booked a tour that takes me to Stonehenge, Bath, and Lacock. It’s a bit of a pricey tour, because it gets me8 a private viewing of Stonehenge at sunrise. Inside the inner ring of stones. I’m sure Bath and Lacock are cool and all, but INSIDE STONEHENGE!
  • I found that one of my favourite performers, Derren Brown, has a new show that will be playing in Edinburgh while I’m there. The morning the tickets went on sale, I went online and snagged on in the front centre of the stalls. I’m very excited about this!

There are a number of other things I want to see and do, but haven’t finalized yet9:

  • Avebury. There’s a massive stone circle and a long tomb there. It looks easy enough to get there from London on the train and bus. I should be able to pair it with the next item for a full day trip.
  • Salisbury. Lots of cool history here, including Salisbury Cathedral with it’s Magna Carta.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe. If they’ve got a Shakespearean production on, I pretty much need to get a ticket.
  • Bletchley Park. WWII codebreaking museum! Looks to be an easy day trip out from Oxford. And very, very cool to see.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon. This is all about the Shakespeare, of course. Another easy day trip from Oxford. Maybe I can even combine it with Bletchley Park into one full day.
  • Rosslyn Chapel. Okay. I’m gonna go all conspiracy hipster. I thought Rosslyn Chapel was weird and interesting long before Dan Brown got his mucky fingerprints all over it and Da Vinci Coded it up. So, I’m gonna take the bus out from Edinburgh to see it. Maybe I can even find a tour that will take in the chapel and some other interesting sites in Scotland.
  • The Highlands. I think it’ll be fun to take a bus tour for the day through the Scottish Highlands. Why wouldn’t I? If it stops at Loch Ness, bonus!
  • So. Many. CASTLES! They’re everywhere! And I wanna see them all.
  • Ghost tours. No, I’m not credulous enough to think I’m going to see a ghost10, but you get such cool stories and hidden history on the tours!

There’s probably other stuff. I’ve got more than six months to keep planning and researching. It’ll flesh out.

But this is a decent start.

  1. Hi, Dad! []
  2. After all, I’m landing at Heathrow. []
  3. Not to mention it’s the site of the Inspector Morse mysteries. []
  4. Detecting a theme? []
  5. Via Glasgow []
  6. The island where the cave is. []
  7. After several days in the city, of course. []
  8. And the small group of other people on the tour. []
  9. To be fair, some of the things don’t need to be finalized in advance. But still. []
  10. I do not believe in ghosts. Want to change my mind? Show me proof. []

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