S: England & Paris March 2014
BC: Life is a wonderful adventure!
FC: England & Paris | March Break 2014 | OUR AMAZING JOURNEY
1: We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. ANAIS NIN
2: March 6 Today has been a really good day but it seemed endless. Our wonderful Tour Director, Neil, met us at the airport. Our flight was okay, the seats had hardly any leg room but it went quickly enough. All our luggage arrived and we got through immigration very quickly. A bus picked us up and brought us to our hotel where we were given a big storage room for our luggage. I dumped out my carry-on and all I took with me for the day was my camera bag with some other things like my wallet etc. Neil took us on the overland train to Waterloo Station. We went from an underground world of the tubes right out to see Big Be - it was spectacular! It rang eleven times while we were there! I didn't know that it is the bell that is called Big Ben. Then we walked past the Parliament buildings and we saw the Horse Calvary as they changed guard duty. I got a photo with one of them. We took pictures in a red phone booth too. We went to Trafalgar Square and saw all the Canadian flags flying at Canada House. We saw the monument to General Nelson and the four big lions made from melted canons seized from Napoleon. We let the kids have time for lunch and a bunch of us went and ate in the crypt at St. Martins in the Field church. I tried a sandwich of chicken and smoked bacon - it was a yummy different flavour. Then Dad and Carol and I went into the actual church but we didn't have enough time to stay for the concert. Instead we went to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. We saw some beautiful paintings - a Van Gogh, some Monet and some other French impressionist works. Then we met up as a group and walked over to Piccadilly Square. There we split up again. Dad and Carol and I had afternoon tea. I had a strawberry milkshake that was divine while Dad and Carol had a pot of tea and croissants. We shared some macrons and they were divine (amazing raspberry and caramel flavours). Then we went shopping at Fortnam and Mason and over to Floris and to a bookstore. Then we met up with the group in Picadilly and went walking to a little restaurant for dinner. We filled the entire place. Dinner was really good - breaded chicken with a brown gravy, mashed potatoes and peas with cheesecake for dessert. Getting back to the hotel wasn't as hectic as I feared because we were in the tail end of rush hour. We made it! Everyone is now checked in. The kids are in and out, some in the lobby, some in their rooms. We are both tired. Jackie had a bath and is reading before we do room check (it is after 10 pm). I need a shower and some sleep!
3: The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. SAINT AUGUSTINE
6: Hampton Court
7: March 7 We went to Hampton Court - Palace of King Henry VIII. We walked around the gardens and then our tour guide, Barry, used our group as a living history lesson on the life of the castle. He was very funny. We toured inside and then he left us to wander around. There were actors dressed up and you could interact with them. We spoke with Catherine Parr and her sister and then the King walked by and only Barry interacted with him, the rest of us just bowed. One of the nicest parts of the Court was the Chapel Royal, it was stunning! The beauty of the wood work was overwhelming and it had a very tangible spirit to it. We also did a quick tour of the King's Quarters but I think that they belonged to one of the Georgian Kings . The view out of the windows was stunning - daffodils in bloom and crocus' were springing out of the ground. It's spring in England.
10: After Hampton Court we tipped our bus driver 30 pounds when he got called away and then we were off to St. Paul's Cathedral - it was huge! Jackie & I had to do some banking for tips, so we transferred money around. Our new driver took us to take pictures of Tower Bridge and the Thames River. We took lots of pictures near the river and tipped this driver 20 pounds and Barry, our day guide 70 pounds - it was an expensive tipping day! Dinner was at a pub with yummy fish and chips. Then Neil walked us over to Harrod's. Kari had asked me to buy her some soap - they didn't have any but I got her some hand cream and a facial mask. Carol and I both bought really cute tea tins. Then it was back through the tubes to Waterloo Station. We are all very well trained. We have broken into three small groups of 12 and as soon as we get off the train we head to the wall so Neil can count us! He's very quick at that!
11: On the above ground train we surrounded and sat with a very nice and funny man named Ricky - poor chap, we totally engaged him in conversation an soon all we were doing was laughing. He is soon to be married so we were all teasing him. We finally made it back to our hotel and Jackie & I headed down to the restaurant for a fruit juice and it was really good - OJ2 (orange and mango mix). Two girls joined us and ordered a late supper because they didn't eat the fish and chips dinner. Then we did our room checks. We told everyone to pack tonight as we have a 6:30 wake up call and the bus leaves at 8:30.
12: March 8 - very late at night. This is going to be short because I am very tired and I just want to go to bed. We have had an amazing day. We were up early and down to breakfast and met our new driver, Robert from Scotland (of course). He drove us to Winchester - we went to see the Cathedral and it was beautiful. Lovely complicated stained glass windows and huge Gothic arches that stretch to the heavens. The stone work was spectacular! Then we went to see the Great Hall and King Arthur's Round Table, but it has been carbon dated to the mid 1200s. We grabbed lunch at a cute little pub and met as a group in the middle of their market and then drove to Stonehenge. It is so different from the first time I was there. It's simply spectacular and to think that the Henge is thousands and thousands of years old! We took a tonne of photos. And shoe photos for Jackie to enter the Blundstone "Where will your shoes take you" contest. We also took lots of jumping pictures - we joke that we are jumping our way around England! Then we had a bit of a snack in the little Stonehenge shop and it was off to Marlborough where Kate Middleton went to school. We saw their market area and did a little shopping and then drove to Swindon and our hotel is called Jury's Inn. Dinner was lasagna and garlic bread and a salad. Dessert was cheese cake - it was not sweet which was a nice change. We decided to give the kids some free time and off they went while we had some time just sitting around. Two girls came back to get me because the ATM ate Shannon's bank card. We had to call her mom to get her up-to-date. Shannon then called the bank and canceled her card. I tried to check our CIBC tip money but they actually blocked me so I ended up having to call them to reset the password. I ended up using Rebecca's ipad ! That was the only glitch in an otherwise wonderful day!
15: Stonehenge... bucket list!
18: March 9 It has been a lovely day! Today we left fairly early and drove to Bath. The weather was warm and the scenery was pretty amazing. Our step-on guide was named Barbara and we took a city tour around Bath with her, to see the Georgian architecture. Some of the buildings are so regal! It was incredible to watch Robert navigate our huge coach through the narrow streets! After our tour we had time at the Roman Baths and they truly are incredible. They've done so much since I was first here in the 80s. There were lady actors pretending to be Romans relaxing in the bath and there were lots of signs up telling about the displays and there was an audio commentary for us to listen to on hand-held devices. Then we had free time. I took some pictures and found some lovely shops to poke around in - I love glass so I bought a sweet little blue penguin, the blue is natural and native to the region because of the minerals in the water. I also bought myself a pair of blue glass earrings. Then I ran into Carol and Dad who were waiting for a table at a little cafe and stopped them from ordering lunch because we didn't have enough time for a sit-down meal. Instead we got sandwiches to go and they were pretty good. Our next stop was Stratford where we went to see Anne Hathaway's family cottage. It was so cute and we also had time to wander through the gardens. Then it was off to the down-town area where we went to Shakespeare's birthplace and family home. It was interesting but the house was so tiny it was claustrophobic! We had free time in the town and I discovered that I can only withdraw 200 pounds from the ATM at a time. At least the machine didn't eat my card when I tried to withdraw more money! I have to call the CIBC again because we need to be able to withdraw enough for Neil's tip. We were sitting in the touristy area near Shakespeare's home waiting for the whole group to assemble when the waiters from one of the local shops came outside with a whole tray of chocolate cake! YUM! Then it was back to the coach and more driving until we reached Rugby where we are staying for the night. Dinner was quite good - roast potatoes, veggies and roast chicken with a dessert. We ended the night with a giant tea party in one of the rooms. Even the boys were there! Rules - everyone had to drink tea (I had lots of flavours), everyone had to wear a hat or something silly on their head and when you drank your tea your baby finger was up! It was hilarious! Now a special birthday wish for Jackie. Today was her birthday and I hope it is one she will always remember. We drank a toast when we were in the Roman Baths with the hot mineral water - so gross! I wouldn't have tried it for anyone else or on any other occasion! At dinner they made her stand on a chair so we could sing to her and they organized a card signed by everyone on the trip. It was great for her! Such a great travel partner!
20: Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. MIRIAM BEARD
23: Stratford Upon Avon
24: One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. HENRY MILLER
25: Making Memories!
26: Tea Party!
28: March 10 Our holiday is speeding by! We drove to Oxford today and took a walking tour and visited Brasenose College. It was really interesting to see the town. It looked like something right out of Harry Potter! We had free time or we could go see the Jesus College dining hall which was the Hogwart's dining hall. I did some shopping - nothing here fits me! But I got Olivia too cute outfits! When we got back to the bus one of the boys realized that he'd left his envelop full of money at the restaurant. Neil took him back but it was gone. He'd lost 150 pounds and 100 euro. We told him things would be okay and I took the coach speaker and asked everyone to please make a small contribution if they could afford it. Everyone donated and he has the same amount of money. I was so proud of our kids! Then we drove back to London and dropped our luggage at the hotel. Some of the adults stayed there but the rest of us hopped on the tube and went in to London for dinner. Dinner was great - mashed potatoes and brown gravy and some sort of meat pie along with French vanilla ice cream for dessert! Then Neil took the remaining adults back to the hotel and we stayed there and let the kids do some shopping in Carney street - we kept them in one main area and we ended up in Marks & Spencers when everything else closed. The kids bought fresh fruit to munch on and then we made our way to Picadilly Circus and we successfully got ourselves back to our hotel! Yay us! We have decided that we want to plan another trip. After room check we just sat and talked and decided that we travel well together. Busy day tomorrow - need some sleep!
29: Oxford 2014
32: Selfies on the Eye!
33: March 11 I have just had a very relaxing bubble bath and I hope I fall asleep because we are getting a 4 am wake up call tomorrow morning and then we are off to Paris. Our last day in England has been spectacular! We were up at 7 am for an 8 am breakfast and we left at 9 am for the trains. We went right to the London Eye and got our tickets and it was simply amazing! I loved it! It was about 40 minutes and is a very smooth ride. You can see so far and it is so stable that you don't feel like you're even moving. I'm so glad that I didn't give in to my fear of heights and that I went. The view was amazing! It was an overcast day, would have been better if the sun was shining. Then we took a cruise of the Thames, reminded me of our NYC harbour cruise. Dave & Jackie & I had a chance to talk to a really nice EF agent about our trip. AFter the cruise we went to lunch and we all had some fish chips -- sooo good! Then Dave and Jackie and I went to the London Eye 4D movie. It was cool that Dave asked Neil if we could get the entire group to watch it so all of us did! Next we took the tube to the Tower of London. I was so excited to go back to it. It is an amazing palace! Dad and Carol and I went right to the Crown jewels which are on display and they are so amazing that you almost don't believe that they are real! We walked through the white tower where the armor is kept and by that point we were exhausted (too many stairs). I flirted with one of the ravens and then did some gift shop browsing and bought 3 royalty books. Dinner was noodles at Wagamama - quite good! Jackie and I withdrew the rest of Neil's tip and then it was time to go back to our hotel. We walked across one of the bridges towards the Eye and saw it all lit up. Such a lovely sight to have as my last of London! At our hotel we discussed safely, tomorrow's train trip and being vigilant. Tomorrow we go to Paris!
40: March 12 Boy were we up early! We had to be ready to go soooo early because of expected heavy traffic as we crossed the city to the train station from our hotel. Jackie and I were all packed the night before so we were able to just get up and go. We made sure to check all passports - good thing because Matt left his in his room! James went back and found it. The traffic was almost non-existent so we got to the train station earlier than expected, early enough for Neil to take us to Platform 9 3/4. None of us muggles were able to get through to the Hogwarts Train! DRAT! There is a display complete with the trolley sticking out of the wall. We took the group picture (above), bought some breakfast in the station and then pushed through customs. We were glad to finally get on the train. Dave and Jackie and I made some of the kids move so that we could sit together. I think at some point we all slept. Talk about a speeding train! The Eurostar is super fast and the scenery races by so fast that you get motion sick. Good bye England. It has been so wonderful to be here! | We were met in Paris by our step-on guide, Bridgette, who was nice enough but dull and the city tour of Paris was a real disappointment. We only had 15 minutes at the Eiffel Tower but that was wonderful! It's huge and brown...brown! I thought it would be black for some reason, or gun metal gray, but I didn't expect light brown. Bridgette's city commentary was all about shopping and people going to work and taking a lunch break and trees being in bloom. We tuned her out. We tipped her well though, 40 E and the driver got 20E when he dropped us off at our hotel. Lucky day! Jackie and I got our own rooms! What a wonderful treat! The hotel had one extra room assigned for a driver, but since we didn't have one we used it ourselves. And all the kids are in one spot so room check tonight will be easy. The beds in the hotel are small but are the most comfy ones we've had on our trip so far. At night we braved the Paris subway to go to dinner and it was delicious. We had beef stew and it had carrot and potatoes in it. Then we had a wonderful treat...Mary found us! She and her friend Agatha popped in and it was wonderful to see her! She and Agatha are translators at the same company. She stayed and had a glass of wine while we finished our dinner. She's going to meet us tomorrow at the Louvre. After dinner we took the subway to the bottom of the hill to the Basilica at Sacre Couer at Montmare. We took the ride up the hill because it is so steep. It was dark when we got there and there were vendors all over the place and they were calling our girls "You boom-boom cheeky-cheeky girl, come buy" and some of the girls were really scared and in tears. But it was a really cultural moment to realize that this isn't home and I am seeing something I'd never see at home. Neil got us around the outside of the Basilica onto one of the side streets where there were lots of little tacky souvenir shops and that calmed everyone down. We bought lots of little trinkets. Then we made our way back to the hotel. Everyone came back safely - no one was mugged. We kept our eyes on everyone and made sure that no one had a wallet stolen. Paris is lovely, dirty and smelly in parts, but lovely. I'm glad that I've had the chance to see it. I think, however, that I like France better than Paris.
42: The Eiffel Tower So beautiful!
43: Paris | Paris in the Spring
46: March 13 Our last day in Paris and then home tomorrow which I'm actually ready for. Today we went to the Louvre. Wow! Amazing! Spectacular! Inspiring! There aren't enough adjectives to accurately describe it. We saw stunning art work. We saw the Venus de Milo, the Supper at Canan, and the Mona Lisa. I also got into the Mesapotamian exhibit and that was amazing to see the code of Hammurabi! Even the glass pyramid is amazing. Mary and Agatha found us in the food court and we ate lunch and then did a bit of shopping in the concourse. I found the French tea my sister wanted and bought her some. Then we went walking along the Seine to the love lock bridge. It was so cute! Dad and Carol bought a lock and put it on the bridge. Some of the kids did too. It was just romantic. Then we walked to Notre Dame. We were just starting to take pictures when the accident happened. We heard "Bill! Kristy! Carol fell!" I turned back and ran! A crowd had already gathered around her and they were so caring. They helped her sit up and so many of them had tissues out and holding it to her head. She cut her forehead and it was bleeding quite badly. | Dad was in full panic and we were both trying to figure out how to get an ambulance to take her to the hospital. All around us people were yelling in French and it felt like chaos and then Mary zoned in on one lady who was very emphatic in her gestures. She told us that there was a hospital right there in the square and she was on the phone with them. We got Carol up and helped her across the square and were met by someone with a wheelchair. They took us right into the hospital and right to the ER and she was getting medical care immediately. Mary stayed with us to help with the medical forms but then she had to catch a train home to be with the twins. Thank God she was there! Next thing I know an EF representative was there too. He made some phone calls and made sure that the insurance took care of the bill. Carol needed 5 stitches in her forehead and she is badly bruised. We put her and dad into a cab and sent them back to the hotel. Then I did a walk around and through the Cathedral before buying a few souvenirs including a sweater that says "Paris". For dinner we headed to a really nice little crepe restaurant. We had pizza crepes - like flat bread crepes that were divine! And we had salad and then dessert flat crepes. YUM. The kids made me teary at dinner. Ryley stood up and I thought that they were going to thank Neil but instead they thanked me. They gave me two lovely crystals - one from England and one from Paris and a wonderful Paris journal that they'd all written in. I teared up! After dinner we walked to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lit up - wow! And it sparkles at the top of the hour. We sat and watched while eating soft serve chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream. Then we took a river cruise on the Seine. That was a bit of a disappointment - it was crowded and enclosed so we couldn't take pictures. Poor Neil felt badly but it wasn't his fault. Then we headed back to our hotel. Carol wanted to see all the kids to let them know she was okay - and she was so cute, she'd wrapped a lovely scarf around her head and looked quite stylish! We told the kids to pack tonight because we leave early tomorrow. I also had them all sign a card for Neil. We are going to miss him. He has been a fantastic guide. We have invited him to come to Canada and we asked him to guide our next trip in two years. I think he'll agree to both! I can't believe our trip is over. We go home tomorrow. What an amazing adventure it has been!
51: Visiting the Louvre
58: Ms. Gordon, As a group we have decided to put together a little book of thank-yous and favourite memories from the trip you have worked so hard to plan over the last year! The trip has been amazing, and the everlasting relationships made here have you to thank! :) Our little Spartan family has experienced so many new things together over the past 10 days, and I think everyone can agree they've enjoyed seeing all the sights. My favourite memory is seeing everyone reach out and help out Matt after losing his wallet. Also our SHOPPING! PS. Thanks for helping with Matt asking me to prom, it's official! Thanks so much, you're the Bomb Diggity! Love ya long time Girl! Enjoy your book...Ryley | Kristy, just a quick thank you for allowing me to join you on this wonderful adventure. It has been an amazing trip and a pleasure to meet the kids and other adults. So thank you and I'll see you in Scotland! Helen Howe Kristy, this was the trip of my life! Thank you so much for allowing me to join in with the group. The trip was amazing, the kids and adults were great and I take away many great memories. Ellen Oliver Kristy, WOW! Thank you doesn't come close. Amazing from beginning to end. Anytime you need an adult, don't hesitate! Rebecca Pickering Kristy, thanks so much for having us. This has been an amazing trip and life experience. Chris & I won't forget it. Christina Morrison & Chris Cody
59: Ms. Gordon, I am so happy I came on this trip, you're just about my favourite teacher, this trip is so incredible and London is so beautiful. You're such an amazing person. I know planning a trip like this wasn't easy but I don't think anyone could've done it better. Love ya! Larissa Ms. Gordon, This trip was amazing. Thanks so much for planning it. I loved all the places that we got to see and I made some great memories. Thanks to you! Ashley Ms. Gordon, I'm really glad that you convinced me to come on this trip and not get off the plane. Thank you so much for everything! This is the trip of a lifetime! Natalie | Ms. Gordon, I love this trip. It was a great experience. I'm glad I came. Thank you for planning it so well. James Ms. Gordon, this trip was a really great experience and I'm so glad I decided to go. Thank you for organizing it and making it such a great time! Caitlyn Ms. Gordon, this trip has been phenomenal! Seeing the beautiful sites of London and England as a whole has inspired me to pick up and move! In a year or so! London is by far the most beautiful city I have ever been in. Thank you for this beyond incredible trip! Kyle Ms. Gordon, this was a once in a lifetime trip. So thank you so much for planning everything. Keith | Dear Ms Gordon, absolutely loved this trip. It was the first time I have gone on a trip without my parents. I know people say this a lot, but I had so much fun, every day something hilarious happened and I don't think I will ever forget this trip. Travis Dear Gordon, I am very happy that you were the teacher to come on this trip because you are amazing! It just wouldn't be the same if you didn't come. I've had an amazing time doing everything on this trip! so glad I came. I'll never forget this trip! Love you Gordon! Megan Dear Ms. Gordon, Thank you so much for this awesome trip. You have been very thoughtful and made it very fun. This is for sure the trip of a lifetime that I will never forget. Meg
60: Ms Gordon! This trip was absolutely fabulous and I thank you very much for making it so wonderful! Our group was great! I'll never forget this experience and will treasure it forever...you know, the cheesy stuff! Sam Dear Ms. Gordon, This was my first trip and I was happy to be on the trip with you. You have made this trip so more amazing and exciting. This trip will never be forgotten ever, and I'll always have the happy memories of being on this trip with you. Could not imagine this trip with anyone else! Love you so, oh so much! Emmaline Ms Gordon! This trip has been amazing! A lifetime experience and an unbelievable way to spend my March break! Thank you for everything you did! Jennessa | Dear Gordon thank you so so so much for organizing this trip! I know you put a tonne of hard work into putting everything together and I really appreciate it! This trip was on my bucket list and was so worth spending my college savings! I can't imagine you not being the supervisor because you just made it 10X more fun; you also smoothed over any bumps in the road really easily and quickly. Thank you for making it possible for me to make so many new, great memories, and for making this trip memorable. Love ya to bits Gordon! Rebecca Dear Ms. Gordon, Where do I begin? This experience has been unbelievable. Every day is an amazing memory and I will always remember this trip. I cannot thank you enough for organizing this trip. There are so many great places we saw that were beautiful and unique which makes London seem big and different. I really liked our group which made this experience perfect! I am very happy that I shared this experience with you and this group of fun people. You are amazing Ms G! xox Brittany
61: Dear Gordinator, I don't know if you know this but...I've had a blast in England. This has been a great experience. The fact that I get to go on the trip of a lifetime with my favourite teacher makes it 10X better! Thanks so much for the adventure! Love Shannon Ms Gordon, Thank you so much for this life changing adventure. This trip has honestly been a dream come true! You were able to give us grade 12s a WAY better option on how to spend our last March break together! Thanks again, Olivia Ms Gordon! Thank you very much for such an amazing and beautiful trip! You have given me a trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful for it. Thanks to you I have been given the opportunity to open my eyes to a whole new world, so thank you. This trip has been wonderful. Ashley Ms. Gordon, what can I say? Thank you very much for this amazing, life changing March break! This trip has been unreal and unforgettable! You're the best! This has been an amazing way to end my grade 12 year! England and Paris 2014!!! Love Alli Ms Gordon, Thank you so very much for allowing all of us to get the opportunity to go on such an amazing trip! I've experienced and seen more in this past week than I could have ever imagined. None of this would have been possible without you! Thank you so very much! Parker | Ms. Gordon, thank you so much for the opportunity to go on this trip. Thank you so much for organizing the fundraisers also, they helped out a lot. I am very grateful for this trip and the group we went with. Rebecca Ms. Gordon, this trip is incredible. My family and myself thank you for this chance. Thanks, Carman Ms. Gordon, thank you so much for all of the planning you put in to this trip to ensure everyone had a wonderful time. This trip was so amazing. As this was my first time leaving Canada, this is all very new and exciting for me. Without all your hard work I never would have had this amazing experience. Thank you! Matt Dear Gordon, Thank you for putting this trip together for us! It's been such an amazing experience and I'm so glad I got to do it with such amazing people such as yourself! It's been life changing and we've all learned so much. Not even historically, but with everyday things. When Matt lost his money it taught us how to put differences aside to help someone we care about. We learned how to all work together. Paris is not as I ever imagined. It has a lot of character but it's taught me the dangers and that not everyone has it as good. I've learned that even if things don't go as planned doesn't mean it can't be good. I did a lot of first times on this trip and came out of my shell. You did an amazing job and I'm so thankful for everything you've done for everyone on this trip. You really are a super star! Taylor
62: You keep walking in to my room! I will never get my thoughts written down...SQUIRREL! Wow! Can't say much more. Janessa just ran by happy because she found out she got accepted to the school she wanted! Awesome! Okay, these interruptions are annoying. Now back to WOW! I can't explain in words how much this trip has meant. I feel something that we are two people wanting two totally different things in life. I am by nature foot loose and fancy free but chose a life that was comfortable and ordinary. The other part/side of me always feeling like a caged bird wanting to spread my wings and never look back. This trip was the start of my new life, the next part that's no children, life a little less stressed and simply doing for once all those things that I have wished, wanted and longed for. This is only the beginning. Dream! Discover! Explore! Thanks so very much! Jackie, aka Daisy Duck
63: Kristy, thanks so much for including me on this great adventure to London & Paris. It has been a great experience. It would be amazing to get the gang back together again in 2 years and head to Scotland! Remember: Mind the Gap! Dave
65: Trip Highlights