Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday - London to Charlotte to Syracuse to Sackets

It was a very short night, but this amazing group of travelers were all ready with time to spare. It was about an hour and fifteen minutes to the airport where we got checked in and said our good-byes to Paola, our most wonderful tour leader. Then on to the gate to await the departure of our flight to the U.S. It has been a wonderful trip and experience for all involved. We had glorious weather, learned so much, shopped, and got a taste of traveling to faraway lands.
Au revoir and cheerio!

The flight home was close to 9 hours, but it was smooth and on time. We caught up on some sleep and watched as many as 4 movies. Some of our wonderfully diligent students also managed to catch up on some homework that was assigned over vacation.
It was a dream to fly into Charlotte. Passport control, luggage claim, and customs were handled in a most efficient way. We had some time there with free WiFi to catch up on email and texts. There were some leftover prizes from all our scavenger hunts/quizzes so students got to choose some new souvenirs.
Another on-time flight brought us to Syracuse where many families were waiting to herald our return. An hour more and the rest of us were home with lots of great memories and hopes to return to Europe again. We have many stories to tell and that will keep the Anglican Adventure alive for many months to come!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday - York to London

We seem to have grown accustomed to the early mornings. Again, this morning it was wake-up at 6:15, breakfast at 7:00, and departure at 8:00. The kids have been so punctual and even alert. The adults have all remarked about what great travelers they have been. We thought maybe our luck had run out with weather since it was cool and foggy as we left York, but the closer we got to London, the sunnier and warmer it got. Our luck holds. We hope that we can bring the sunshine and warmth home with us. We arrived in London close to 13:00 and were surprised that our rooms were ready at the St. Giles Hotel We quickly dropped the luggage in our rooms and boarded the coach so that Danny could take us to The Tower of London.
We said good- bye to Danny and thanked him for being a wonderful driver.

We ate a quick lunch and then entered the Tower. Most of us went straight to the Jewel House to see the Crown Jewels. The queue was long, but the wait was worth it. We were totally amazed at the bejeweled swords, maces, and orbs used in the coronation ceremonies. Also on display were crowns from the monarchs, including the 7 pound crown of St. Edward, the coronation crown. Many gold serving pieces filled glass cases. One student remarked that you could swim in the punch bowl.

Some also joined one of the Beefeater's tours, while others explored the Tower on their own. We saw the Bloody Tower, including Sir Walter Raleigh's room, Tower of Torture, Armory building, the chapel where Anne Boleyn is buried, and Traitor's Gate.
Of course, the ravens were there to greet us.

On the way out, we saw the set that the CBS Morning Show will be using for covering the Royal Wedding in the upcoming week. Then it was time for our daily group picture. Lots of sunburned noses and the beginning of tans thanks to the hot sunny day.

A couple of tube rides and we arrive at the restaurant for dinner. Ms. Montrois, did you enjoy the solo ride? We couldn't leave England without a fish and chips dinner and that's what we did on this, our last, night.

After dinner, we took the tube to Waterloo where we thought we were going to have our last night recap as well as witness a Good Friday procession. As we exited the tube station and walked a couple of short blocks, we realized that we were standing underneath the giant London Eye. Change that procession acidity to a surprise ride on the Eye. We did do our trip recap and thanks before boarding the Eye. In Sacket's tradition we posed a lot of "what ifs."

Then we joined the queue for the Eye and before long we were afforded magnificent views of London. Many of our travelers have vowed to return.

Back to the hotel and the news that we needed to be up and ready to board our coach for a trip to Gatwick Airport at 6 am. Not much time to organize our suitcases and get much sleep. But, we can sleep on the flight.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday -Stratford to York

Again an early start and we were traveling down the Motorway on our way to York. Students and adults completed their scavenger hunts from Stonehenge and Shakespeare's birthplace. While some slept, most watched Shakespeare in Love before our rest stop. Why does Mr. Fingar not want us to see him at McDonalds? Traffic was light and Danny, our coach driver, made good time, and we arrived in York around 11:00. Rooms were ready and with a quick stop to drop off suitcases we were on our way to explore the lovely medieval city.

We entered the walled city through Micklegate Bar and proceeded towards the area known as The Shambles. Lunch and shopping were on the agenda until we met again at 2:30. After a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets, we were greeted with the massive York Minster. It was another photo opportunity and then time to see yet another awe-inspiring cathedral. One of the sculptors must have been confused since he carved the subject's shoes going the wrong way. The workmanship in the Quire is indescribable. Some were still in the Minster when the ornate bells chimed the hour and quarter hours. We saw the dragon's head, the Five Sisters and Jesse's stained-glass windows. It still seems unbelievable that these massive buildings were designed and erected with ramps, pulleys, ropes, and scaffolding. OSHA would have a field day.

With last-minute purchases being made, we wandered back to the hotel and dinner. Some even had a time to shower since all that walking in the sun and heat made us feel a little grubby. Dinner was a buffet tonight with a nice salad bar, and a choice of roast lamb, baked cod, vegetable lasagna, and chocolate cake for dessert.

Hope you're not afraid of ghosts because tonight was the York Ghost Walk. We met Chris at Cliffords Wall and began our stroll through haunted York. Story after story through the alleys of York kept us entertained and sometimes scared. Back to the hotel and bed. Caitlyn, what was in that Starbuck's cup? On to London tomorrow with an 8:00 departure. Looking forward to coach naps.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday - Bath to Oxford to Stratford

After a restful night we gathered for breakfast at 7:00 and were ready to depart our hotel by 8:00. On the sunny drive to Oxford we enjoyed the film, Mrs. Brown starring Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria.

We arrived in Oxford around 10:00 and walked to Christ Church College. This college is one of the most famous colleges of Oxford University. We made our way to the Great Hall. You might recognize this from the Harry Potter movies as the dining room of Hogwarts School. You can imagine exactly where the sorting hat was placed and where Dumbledore and the other teachers sat.

From there we went to the Cathedral. We were lucky to arrive at the Cathedral of the college before it closed for the afternoon. Then a stroll back to the Radcliff Camera, Sheldonian Theatre, and Bodleian Library. Lunch and more shopping until we met back at the coach at 12:30. Each traveler was given £20 from Passports as a token of understanding for the London leg of the trip. A class act.

After lunch we had about an hour's drive through the beautiful English countryside - thatched cottages and flower gardens. In the outskirts we stopped at the home of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife. Although the house was quite small, we learned that the Hathaways really were fairly well off for their time. The gardens were in full bloom and they afforded a wonderful backdrop for our daily group picture. Michelle was well prepared for the hot and sunny weather - nearly 80 today During the short ten minute drive into Stratford, Ms. Montrois gave a brief explanation of what to look for in the play that we were going to see. She cautioned us about saying Macbeth in the theatre since it could cause the casting of a curse. The exhibition started with introductory films and insights into Shakespeare's life and works.

Dinner was at Bella Italia. Tonight we enjoyed a mixed greens salad, spaghetti cabonara, and a choice of ice cream.

Then it was a short walk to the Royal Shakespeare Company performance of Macbeth. The interpretation of the play was quite different from what we had read in class. The three witches were replaced by children with dolls. Thanks to Alex R., Ms. Thornber, and Mr. Barber and their uttering the word Macbeth, the performance was interrupted by a fire alarm and the subsequent evacuation of the theatre. We guess the curse theory is valid. The play resumed after about a 20 minute investigation into the cause of the alarm. We suspect it had something to do with the firecrackers that were set off in the first act.

It was then to the hotel. Another late night - we are getting used to it.