Windows on the world

Arty colorful kitchen
Kitchen of the Airbnb with Yoshi and Yello

Yesterday was a long travel day. Longer than I expected. By the time we arrived at our final Airbnb we had been “in motion” for 8.5 hours. This included a ride to the train Doune station, a train ride to Edinburgh, a tram ride to the airport, some time eating lunch there, a short flight to London Luton, a train ride to the tube station. A couple tube transfers later, we finally made it to Canary Wharf, up three sets of stairs to a lovely and artistically decorated renovated warehouse flat here.

attract fun
mantra on the mantel of this Airbnb

Having been out & about among people for so long (and in such confined quarters on the tube) with people, I was feeling ready to shut out the world, not visit with our hosts. Hopefully they understood. My introvert self wanted to retreat, spend time alone or just with my husband. On day 13 of this vacation, I now feel relieved we will be going home tomorrow. I miss my own bed, our quiet townhome, our kitties who will no doubt be a bit miffed with us for being gone for 2 weeks.

every-moment.jpg
This applies to our trip.

I enjoy doing the Airbnb experience because it gives you a window on people’s lives in another part of the world. While I am not wild about the times we have had to share a bathroom (about half of the lodgings on this trip), I still think the experience beats staying in a standard, traditional hotel. You must read the descriptions carefully and the reviews to make sure a place fits your needs.

On the eve of returning home, sitting in this lovely apartment and enjoying some solitude, I would still do the trip this way. I may be a little more selective on locations, and try to stay at least 2 days (sometimes 3) in each, instead of the few where we only had one night en route. Given the limitations of not driving here, I would say I did fairly well.

I may have a little “armchair” sociologist in me, getting this window on another person’s life and home, getting fuel for my future stories and books I will write. And part of me enjoys the adventure of not knowing exactly what we will find each time. Not only do you save some money off the expense of regular hotels, but you also gain the benefit of receiving an inside look at some of the real ways people live.

I am taking home with me a treasure trove of new experiences, ideas, inspirations and some lessons as well. How grateful I am for all of it.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Unsung art
Unhung art from the living room of the final Airbnb in Canary Wharf.

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude, my lovelies

On Sunday night, after I had walked my dear husband for over 20,000 steps according to the counters on our phones, I took him out for a nice dinner. I had the intention of walking the 90 minute coastal path from Cremyll to Cawsand, but we got lost once, adding steps. Since the path was winding, I believe it was a bit longer than advertised, and took us closer to 2.5 hours.

We headed down to the Barbican with our tired legs after a rest at our AirBnB, finding a steakhouse on the far side of the Marina (even more walking). No matter, once we were there we were treated to a feast.

The meal was delicious, but even more so, the service was excellent. Our waitress (Elizabeth) took such good care of us for the evening, and she kept calling us “my lovelies” when asking if there was anything we needed. I told my husband how much that tickled me – I enjoyed being called “my lovely.”

Just before bringing our dessert she asked us where we were from, admitting that she could not quite place our accents. We sheepishly confessed were were from Minnesota in the U.S., after saying we sometimes like others to think we are Canadian (you know the ugly American phenomenon?).

Happy anniversary board cropped

She asked if we were celebrating anything, and we mentioned our 1-year anniversary coming up, along with my husband’s 50th birthday next month. Those are the main reasons for our epic trip, of course. It’s not like we do this every year…though if I can find a way – I will return!

So for the final dessert she brought out beautiful dishes – one with “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate sauce and one with “Happy Anniversary” written on it. It was so very kind and thoughtful of her to find out why we were there and to take the special effort to make us feel so welcome. But we dearly appreciated it, and I am sure it will be one of the more memorable evenings of the trip.

It reminded me that when someone takes the time to make you feel welcome and appreciated, I respond in kind. I realize that this was her job, but she went several steps further than needed. Sometimes it may be an extra smile you give to someone, or a thoughtful and kind deed. But no gesture, in my view, is ever wasted.

Does it make your heart happy to delight others? In what way can you delight someone you love today? 

 

Barbican to Cornwall

Window onto the sea, Cornwall
Window from Cornwall

On Sunday we took the Plymouth Ferry from the Barbican to Cremyll. I was excited to arrive in Cornwall. This is where my Grandfather (Jim) was born, and where my great Grandma Tizzie (Elizabeth) and great Grandpa (James) lived before they emigrated to the New World. Great Grandpa died when Jim was very young. He’d been a coal miner, according to his marriage certificate. It is probably not a mystery why they chose to leave England. Opportunities in the early teens of 1900’s were slim where they lived.

Welcome to Cornwall
Cremyll upon disembarking the Plymouth ferry

Tizzie raised her two boys mostly on her own. She was a proper English woman, though not of noble birth. She loved her tea and scones.

She was a practical woman, and I believe she was thinking of her health and wellness when she re-married in her 70’s to a man in his 50’s. It was a bit scandalous at the time, but given that she lived well into her 90’s, I believe she chose well.

I dearly love this coastline and the English countryside. So far, this has been my favorite part of the U.K. trip. While in London, it was fun to see the historical sties and to enjoy the city life. But I much prefer the more open spaces and the charm of the coastal towns of England.

Mount Edgcumbe Castle
Mount Edgcumbe in Cremyll, England

There is plenty of history here, and Saturday evening my husband and I found the Mayflower steps, where the Pilgrims first set sail for the new world in 1620. I love thinking about what that might have been like, to get on a ship to a land which scarcely anyone (except the First Nation people, who already lived there) had seen.

I thought about the courage and blind faith of people who sought religious freedom and better opportunities for their families. I considered all of the things that could (and did) go wrong on board the ships. Disease, storms, failures of navigation, starvation aboard ships, and all manner of risks beset travelers in those days.

Cawsand from the Coastal walk
Cawsand, Cornwall: view from the Coastal walk

With odds like that, it is a wonder that so many made the journey. Tossing caution to the wind, early immigrants dreamed of a future that would hold more freedom their past.

It makes me distinctly proud of my heritage and the people who brought me here, particularly my grandparents. I consider the brave choices that they made that allowed for the privilege of my life as it is and I am profoundly grateful. It makes also me sad that today we seem to have a political climate that seeks to isolate rather than welcome immigrants today.

Since I am a mix of English, Swedish, Mexican, possibly Spanish and some German ancestry, of course my bias is that mixing cultures is a good thing. I realize not everyone feels this way. But I hang onto that vision of the “new world” that my ancestors held in their minds as they traveled.

Then I contemplate how we might extend this privilege to more people in a world that is more polarized than ever, yet globalized at the same time. I do not have the answer. I just wonder if it might be possible. What do you think?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

London Eye

Hello Friends!

Happy Friday to you and yours. We arrived safely yesterday in London and had a lovely sightseeing and walking tour (self-directed) of the Westminster area of London. My hubby took this photo of the London Eye. It was a lovely and sunny day here, so a great start to our trip. Happy weekend to you. I am off to see Buckingham Palace and some other sights today.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

London Eye by Clem Sept 6 2018
Original photo taken September 6, 2018. Use with attribution only.

Can I ask you a favor?

My Friends,

Hubby and I are planning our September vacation/honeymoon trip to the U.K. and I would like to ask your advice if you either live or have traveled to England and Ireland.

From September 5-19 we will be traveling. We have already reserved AirBnB’s in London (St. James Park), Plymouth (with day trip to Cornwall planned), Wiltshire (close to Stonehenge), and Liverpool. We are hoping to fly from Liverpool to Dublin for 3-4 days there and then will return to London for a couple of days before the final flight home.

London by night
Photo credit link – London by night

Questions:

What is the train transportation like? Is it better to just buy the Rail Europe passes to use the trains? What about the Oyster card? That seems like a great deal for getting around London.

While in Ireland, we hope to visit Belfast and Londonderry (where my husband’s family originated). Any advice on things to do in Ireland for non-drinkers? Not that we never drink, but we are not especially into it, and I like historical things, but am not particularly interested in breweries.

Other transportation advice while we are in the area or suggestions for what to visit are welcome. My grandfather was from Cornwall, so we would like to see that Southwestern part of England and perhaps see Land’s End as well.

I know that a number of my readers are from the U.K. and surrounding areas. Hey, if it’s possible, let’s meet for tea while I am in your area! It would be fun.

Thank you in advance for any advice you are willing to give us. I realize some of this can be located on the googles, and I will be doing research that way as well. But sometimes people can give you the inside scoop and that is infinitely more helpful.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com