Monday, August 6, 2012

England Arrival and Day 1

When we knew we were coming to Sigonella, Italy we were so excited to be able to travel Europe!  Our first major trip was to England.  We were stoked!

We left on Good Friday for our Spring Break trip to London.  We made it to Catania Airport and found a place to park.  It was packed since a lot of people travel for Easter Holiday.  The most memorable thing from the airport was the old Italian man that literally growled at me when I didn't move when he tried to push past me.  Y'all know I'm a wide woman and this old man tried to push me out of his way; well I didn't move and he growled at me.  I laughed.  

We flew from Catania to Milan.  In Milan we had a long layover of about 4 hours.  It was not fun.  From now on I refuse such a long layover with the kids.  We ate lunch at a cafe there and it was decent enough food.  

We boarded our plane for London after passing through a little boarder control that actually stamped our passports with a a Linate Italy stamp!  We arrived at Heathrow airport and followed the signs for non-European Union residents and ended up in a long line where we discovered that each one of us needed to fill out a disembarkation card.  Yeah.  All. Five. Of. Us!  That took us a while to do.  We stood in line and then were questioned thoroughly by the Boarder control guy.  We finally made it to get our luggage just as they were about to move it over to the unclaimed area.  Then we made our way to the car rental area to discover that no one was there.  We asked information and they told us where to catch the shuttle to the car rental place.  We stood out there for fifteen minutes and watched all the other car rental agency vans come and go; then finally ours showed up.  We got there and waited in line again.  Finally we got our car.    

The next task was to find our hotel.  It was only 2 miles from the car rental, shouldn't be a problem right?  WRONG!  It took us 2 1/2 hours to find our hotel.  At one point we could see it, but couldn't find our way over to it.  Finally we managed to get in there!  We had to get two rooms because they don't allow you to have five people in one room.  We ate a quick dinner (it was a buffet) and went upstairs to pass out.  

The next morning we got up and ate breakfast (again a buffet) in the hotel.  We tried to get some pounds out of the ATM machine, but it would not take our card!  I started to panic a little.  We decided to drive out toward our cottage and hoped to find an ATM machine on the way.  

We headed out toward the village of Marden where our cottage was located.  We stopped at a roadside rest area that had a McDonald's among other eateries.  We tried the ATM there, no luck.  I was able to use my debit card to buy lunch at McDonald's though.  It took a few tries though.  Apparently in England the credit and debit cards have a chip in them and they do not have to swipe the cards.  After a few tries it finally worked.  

We started looking on the GPS for ATM machines and finally found one we could use.  All the ATM's in England did not take Master Card.  I was relieved to have the cash for the country we were in.  We made our way to the cottage, though we were early.  They weren't exactly ready for us, but were kind enough to let us in anyway.  I was so ready to relax for a minute.  

The cottage looks just like the photos online, so I didn't take any pictures there.  It is exactly as it appeared.  They had left chocolate eggs for the kids for Easter.  We rested up a bit and then decided to go look for a grocery store to pick up a few items for the week.  We found one called Sainsbury in the nearby town of Maidstone.  We picked up some goodies and I managed to sneak some more chocolate eggs in to leave out for the kids for the next day.  The cashier was pleased to speak with someone from the US since it's not really a tourist area and they don't get many tourists there.  It was fun.

We ate some of our goodies for dinner and got a good nights rest.  

Still here, not keeping up!

Wow, am I ever the slacker on here or what.  Not only am I behind with the Spring Break trip to London and the Taormina trip.  Now I'm also behind on two trips to Germany!  How in the world will I ever catch up?

I know!  I will just sit my hiney down here and just do it!  It's so easy to get distracted by silly tv shows and facebook.  Then the next thing you know it's time for a meal or it's time to do something more productive and my blog posts have been pushed back yet again.

Not anymore!  I'm getting ready to streamline my time, do some serious pruning of time wasters and get things in a good groove.  I want to document our fun cultural activities while living here in Europe and not waste so much of my time on ridiculousness.

I will start the London trip tonight!  Look for it here in the morning.  It will happen!