If you've never travelled a great distance with a baby let me be the first to tell you don't. Just don't. It's more work than you can imagine especially if you plan your trip thinking like you used to in pre-baby times. After finally arriving at our family's home in Edinburgh we both looked at each other and said: 'Never again.' It was tough, but we will, of course do it again but this time smarter. Much smarter. I will fly from my home city to wherever we are going and stay there- no matter what the cost. A seven-hour drive followed by a nine-hour flight, followed by a three-hour layover, followed by an hour long flight, followed by an hour long drive (plus time to go back to retrieve forgotten pasports) equals a looooooooooooooooooooong day. Stupidly long. Without baby- doable. With baby- hellish.
So lessons learned and all that. The trip was great overall. We got to see loads of friends and did a lot of catching up. I snuck away to Dublin following the wedding in Belfast and walked to nearly every shop, pub, and sentimental spot I knew. I did around 6 miles of walking and only had two pints (very restrained I agree). Dublin appears the same but much has changed. Empty office blocks and 'for lease' signs are everywhere. Archaeology mates are working for 50% of what they used to get and some are barely getting by (one friend turned on the heat 'in honor of my visit'). All of then are very jealous that I got out and managed to start again elsewhere. It was nice to go back, both to reminisce, and to verify that leaving was the right decision.
I made it to the Bovington Tank Museum (pics to follow in another post) and spent a day in London as well. The British Museum was rammed with large groups of students (off for the Easter Week) and they over-booked the Pompeii exhibit which severely impacted my ability to enjoy it. It was so full you could barely move and I was very, very disappointed with them. They were timed bookings and I think they just got greedy and over-sold. At 15 pounds a ticket (and the fact I went all the way to London just to see it) I felt very cheated.
I then had the great fun of trying to make it to Gatwick Airport from Central London (Soho) via public transit at rush hour. Yikes. As it was a one-off for me I was able to be a 'detached obsever'. I have no idea how people live their lives like that. It was busy, congested, stressful, expensive, and horrible. After being away, and returning, I finally 'get it' though. All those unwritten social rules of British society- don't make eye-contact, avoid talking, don't smile, be polite when bumped into- finally make sense. You just simply have to close up to survive. Too many people. Where I live you will often say hello or smile to people you pass by in the street but that's because we don't have the congestion. I drive to work (by myself) every day so I have privacy and space (and it only takes 20 mins lol). Saying hello to someone isn't a bother because I don't see all that many of them. In London it's wal-to-wall people and you just need your internal space. Besides, only crazy people make eye-contact or chat to you- and only tourists smile :)
In the end, it was a great trip and my only souvenir is a lung infection. Yes, that's right, the land of damp has struck at me from afar. It started as a sore throat, morphed into the flu, and then settled into my chest as an infection. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, phlem. I wonder which one of those, approximately, 7 million people I must have encountered passed it on to me? Bloody Brits, living like animals, packed into their commuter trains like cattle, jostling each other with murmurs of 'sorry mate, sorry'. Yea, I'll bet their sorry.
Happy Friday Everyone!