“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” ~ Roald Dahl
I really love this wise quote by Roald Dahl. Being a somewhat driven type, nonsense is not always something I’ve necessarily embraced. The more I’ve lived and learned, though, the more I’ve come to realize the value of taking time off for fun and play.
Case in point: Our summer vacation this past July was one of our most fun ever! We flew into Manchester, England, and took a short train ride to Liverpool, to explore the city that gave the world The Beatles. I didn’t realize that Liverpool was one of the largest cities in the UK, and we just loved it – lots to do and see, beautiful architecture dating back several hundred years, great food and, of course, all things Beatle.
London and Paris were next on the list and neither disappointed. We strolled along the Thames, ending up at the very lively Borough Market, famous for food and drink, shopped the famed Portobello Market, and strolled in Hyde Park. The next day was a day trip to Paris where (since this was dubbed the Rock and Roll Tour) we had planned at stop at the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, where Jim Morrison of The Doors is buried. After visiting that site, we explored a bit more – I had no idea so many important figures were buried there. A partial list includes Fredric Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Isadora Duncan, considered the founder of modern dance. Quite interesting!
Next, we visited Montmartre where famous artists such as Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and others gathered in the 19th century, and then it was off to see some of the more famous landmarks for the boys, who hadn’t seen them – the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. Our day in Paris ended in a local pub watching France beat Uruguay to advance in the semifinals of the World Cup.
Our trip was built upon seeing Eric Clapton’s final show in Hyde Park that Sunday, and we headed over there on our last day. Carlos Santana came on before Clapton and had the 100,000 or so gathered there up on their feet and then it was Clapton’s turn. He didn’t disappoint, and it was truly special to see this legend perform. Santana joined him on stage for the last song – “High Time We Went” – and capped off a magical evening.
When I think about this particular trip and what made it so special, here are the elements:
- Planning. We spent a lot of time in planning. It helped a little (ok, a lot) to have a professional travel agent do the planning. We’ve been lucky to have some of the best trips ever planned by our dear friend, Susan Hammond, of Endless Travel in Evergreen. (https://endlesstravel.net/) Even better, we spent the week with Susan, Richard, Max and Jack Hammond, family friends for years. (For Susan’s travel blog, go to: https://endlesstravel.net/classic-rock-n-roll-tour/)
- Having a focal point. In this case, it started out with the Hyde Park concert and soon morphed into a classic rock theme. It made it that much more fun and interesting as we went along, and also was something everyone could enjoy.
- Vacation vs. Travel. To me there’s a difference between the two. Vacation is spending a week at the beach, sleeping in, taking walks, reading and generally just relaxing. This was definitely a traveling trip and we all knew that we would be on the go a lot. If one of us was looking for a laid back vacation, this wouldn’t have been the trip for them. Know what you’re seeking when you plan your trip.
- Travel Companions. We traveled with a family we’ve known well and traveled with several times before. Our sons grew up together, and everyone is simpatico. Having people you know and enjoy being with is essential.
- Chill. Almost any trip is going to have a glitch or two, especially when you’re traveling long distances. Being able to relax and go with the flow will save you from psychic wear and tear, and you will eventually get where you want to go.
- Be Open. When we stopped in at the Penny Lane Barber Shop in Liverpool, there was a delightful older gentleman waiting to get a haircut. I sat down next to him and started a conversation, telling him we were exploring all the Beatles’ old haunts in Liverpool. He was super friendly (as all Liverpudlians we met were – yes, that’s what you call them) and immediately told us his story about going to school with Paul and George at the Liverpool Institute for Boys. He hadn’t seen either since that time, but he was able to tell us a bit about what they were like as school mates. You never know when you might meet someone with a story to tell!
That’s it for our summer vacay story this year. What about you? What’s been your favorite vacation? What helped make it great? If you have any ideas or tips to share on traveling well, please head on over to my blog and post them. I love hearing from you!