May 11, 2013 – London Is Amazing

Oh my goodness,,.what a wonderful time. British keypads are a bit different when you are trying to type. LOL. Yesterday was wonderful. Walk through Hide Park, went off to watch the changing of the guards. …which they really should call ‘how many people can you fit into one square meter’. 

Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

May we come in?
Fun at Buckingham Palace.

Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

Having fun with the Constables at Buckingham Palace

I met some Constables. I offered one of them a patch for a patch but he didn’t have a police patch…so he gave me his name tape in exchange, then I asked if I could wear his cover …and he let me and laughed. 🙂 We saw the London Tower Bridge, and London Bridge is Falling Down kept repeating in my head. LOL.  We walked to Westminster Abbey and it was magnificent. Big Ben is much bigger and even more beautiful and grand than you can imagine. We took a ride on the London Eye. They may try to sell you tickets for the fast track but don’t do it. Regular tickets are much cheaper and even though the line was incredibly long…I barely had time to jump out of line to snap a group photo and jump back in before we were almost at our turn. The cars hold approx 25 people at a time. We spent quite a bit of time on the Underground. I have been on the Metro in New York and this is far more crowded. But everyone in London was very respectful. In fact, London was one of the most respectful places I have been. (I realized how quiet it was when we got to Rome.)  

Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace

Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

 

 
View from the London Eye

Al and Mark went to watch Wigan play a “football” game at the pub while Pam and I went shopping. One of my very favorite places was Camden Lock Village markets. So much to see, you can’t begin to drink it all in. I bought Al his favorite team ‘Manchester United’ jersey in LONDON! We met the boys at a pub and had some pints. What a brilliant day.  We ended out night on Brick street where we had some wonderful Curry. Then we were out on the town for more fun in Piccadilly Circus.

Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

London Fun

May 9th, 2013…We Arrive in London :)

After a Very long trip we arrived in England.Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

Al and Jody at Stonehenge. 🙂

We visited Stonehenge. I was hoping to find some magical, emotional connection to the stars..but realized that it was beautifully situated in the rolling hills surrounded by a calm beauty. It does cost you a few pounds to enter the site but there are free audiotour (not guided – a audio player that you use at your own pace). It was very wonderful.

Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

The wonderful lavenham, England.

We later visited Lavenham, a small country side town with tons of swaying buildings…it was hard to believe they were still standing. I hear that Lavenham is quite a tourist attraction during the tourist season but I chose the month of May because we miss that season in both England and Italy by just a little bit. We had a pint at a very nice pub, “The Swan”. It was old and elegant. Quite a proper pub..and always, the girl’s room is in the basement.  Jody Lee Guillaume Smith

Me and the Queen? LOL

 We visited Windsor. I saw the Windsor Castle ..and the Queen was in! She didn’t pop out to say hello or anything…but they were flying the flag for her. The food is AMAZING. My Irish friend Pam made us roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for our first proper English dinner. Why didn’t someone ever tell me that 1) it is not actually pudding & 2) it is amazing!! I had beans on toast for breakfast and it was just wonderful.

Tomorrow we are off to London to stay in a fabulous hotel and enjoy the sights.

 

We leave tomorrow!!

Image courtesy of : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ender112/3900690839/

Our first stop.
😀

We leave tomorrow!! I am packing while trying to eat leftovers because that is less work when I start cleaning out the refrigerator.

I am nervous about the long flight. I am trying to pack enough to keep me busy enough to fly half way around the world.  Yet, I don’t want to take too much. I am trying to pack layers but I want to be very, very cute when I am there so I am going to try not to look so bulky.  Al and I are each taking one suitcase and then we are bringing an empty sea bag (a big old military issued bad that folds up small). We will fill the sea bag with our clothes and then put all of the wonderful goodies we find on our trip into our protective suitcases.

Don’t be worried about bringing everyone something. Everyone has been asking for something. I don’t mind bringing my close friends something but really this trip is about our fun and adventure, not us hurrying to find stuff for others.

I went with some friends to the Toby Keith concert last night and my super small camera broke. That stinks because it was a really good camera for the times that I didn’t want to lug my wonderfully large camera around. I think I do need to run out and grab another. I guess, better it cr@pped out last night then during the trip. I have Tina Fey’s book to keep me laughing on the plane along with snacks and a pharmacy of lotions, aspirin, eye patch, ear plugs, and small pre-pasted teeth brushes.

Well, I had best finish packing….

Jody Lee

One week out…

Jody Lee Smith

My girls, Frog and Bella 🙂

Oh my goodness, our trip is getting close. One week from today we fly to London. So right now we have three sheets of printer paper taped to our bedroom door. One is labeled “To Buy”, one is “To Pack”, and the other “Day of”. It looks goofy but we are visual learners (and tend to put stuff off a little bit if we don’t see it in our face).

We have decided to get International Driver’s Licenses. We don’t really have the intention of renting a car but if something comes up or if we want to rent a Vespa to cruise Rome we will be prepared.  Getting one is simple.  You get it through any AAA for only $15 and they take the photo and print it there for you in a passport style book.

Our airline flights have changed twice, very minor but still…it keeps you on your toes. I am so worried about missing a flight, but so far it is staying together. I am set up so I get emails from Delta when/if flights change. However, I fear what might happen if I am away overseas, without the use of my cell phone, and there is a major change. I am not familiar with how cells work over in London and Rome so if anyone has any info they can pass on please let me know.  🙂

It is a bit crazy getting our Wills drawn up, but it is very important. I also want to sit down and write each of my two boys a letter telling them how much they mean to me and mail it from the airport. My mother passed two years ago and, although I told her that I loved her a lot…I would have loved to have said it one more time. I also want to do some fun stuff like get my nails and possibly my hair done. I want some wicked highlights…but we shall see.   A big concern is our dogs. I have two small Yorkies. Bella is 7 yrs old and Frog is 5 yrs old. They are good girls and super important so it is vital to find someone I trust with them. One of my girlfriends is going to take them and she is AMAZING with animals so I know that they will be safe and loved. Then comes the boring stuff.  We must pay all of our bills, do the laundry and clean out the refrigerator so we don’t come home to a stinky house. I have to make copies of all of our information (passport, driver’s license…) so it will be easier to replace if, heaven forbid, something happens. We also much be very aware of the current exchange rates so that we understand what we are paying for something and if we are getting a good deal.

I am trying to figure out what to pack. The weather will be nice yet cool. I know that I would like to go to the Vatican City and see the Sistine Chapel. I also know that if I have uncovered shoulders and knees I will not be allowed in. So I am thinking about packing a long dress with mid length sleeves. I want something that I can roll up and pack in my backpack that won’t get too wrinkled. I bought myself and my boyfriend a backpack. His will be used to pretty much carry all of our stuff while we are out for the day and mine will be used to carry my camera :). I had gone back and forth on whether to just bring a small camera or my very nice Nikon D700. I hemmed and hawed but decided that if I were there and didn’t have my camera and lenses I would be very sad and feel that I wasn’t able to capture all of the beauty in the way that I wanted to.

It gets stressful as we are getting closer. I am still working night shift, doing college, taking family portraitures for a friend and her family over the weekend, shopping, packing.….it can all be very stressful. But you suck it all up because the end result will be a lifetime full of memories. Wonderful memories and a few extra pounds on my rear end from all of the wonderful food.

Life is an amazing adventure.

Jody Lee Smith

Looking for hotels in some of the wrong places…

Oh my gJody Lee Smithoodness, time is getting close. We leave in 15 days. So I feel badly that we spent so much time planning London and Rome and had yet to get a hotel in Venice. So yesterday Al and I worked hard to remedy that issue.

First of all, when I attempted to contact hotels they were almost all booked for our days. That was nerve racking and I felt bad for putting things off. But I stuck with it and found a wonderful Bed and Breakfast. They would not do reservations over the phone; we had to communicate through email. I found this common with several of the B&Bs. So I emailed back and forth and was given banking information for a wire transfer. We are having a bit of difficulty as our bank charges a $25 fee for bank transfers and if any of the information is wrong then the transfer does not go through but you are still charged that fee. So maybe we should have stuck with a travel agent or an on-line booking agent. Lessons learned.

Another interesting, yet shocking event happened as I attempted to make reservations on-line. I emailed one B&B and they emailed back. The name sounded familiar but I really could not place the hotel, so I clicked on their link. My computer blew up with viruses. I am still doing college and all I could think about was my homework that was done, saved on my computer,  yet not turned in. LOL. At that moment I realized that my virus protection was over a month out of date and I was in a bit of trouble. The virus would not let me back onto the internet so that I could renew my virus protection. It let me see the website for it but advised me that I did not have permissions to use the internet on my own computer.  I was a wee bit scared now. It would not let me restore to an earlier date. I could not find the source of the virus on my C drive to remove it and found nothing to uninstall. My computer would have pop-ups yelling at me, stating that I had a virus and it wanted me to push yes so that some strange antivirus software (which I knew that I did not have) to “correct” it for me. NO WAY buddy. I don’t know you. If I say yes it may grant it access to much more of my computer.

I jumped into my computers “safe mode” and plugged in the Ethernet cord. One of the times that I was attempting to get onto the internet there was a weird statement saying that I didn’t have permissions and it had “Rebecca” as the file extension. I took a wild guess that this was my virus and in safe mode searched for Rebecca. I found three places it showed up. Two looked like red life rafts and one had a picture of a female whom I had never met. I deleted all three, restarted my computer, and mentally calculated the cost of taking my computer in for repairs….mostly to save my homework and family photos. Well, what do you know….it WORKED. I was able to get on the computer and internet. I just re-upped my antivirus and it is now scanning (only finding one more virus). I AM SO LUCKY.

I am not sure that the B&B website was bad or when my computer asked if it could run something I didn’t actually say yes (I have been working long hours and had not had my coffee yet). But I am so thankful that it worked out. So words of wisdom…please be careful!  And, now off to upload my college homework :).

Well, in 15 days we leave for London. I am sure everything else will go perfectly as planned 😉

Jody Lee

Life’s Large Adventures-Tips and Tricks I have learned so far

This trip to London, Rome and Venice is the first major trip I have ever taken… anywhere. I wasn’t sure how to start but I am a researcher at heart so here are some things that I have learned so far.

Tips and Tricks:

Al and Jody Lee

Life’s Large Adventures. Having a partner to share your trip with is fun….he can also help with all of your luggage 😀

1. Even if you have a passport..make sure your boyfriend has an up to date passport. 🙂 We knew he had a passport but for international travel it must be valid for 6 months AFTER your expected time of return. We had to send his passport in and get another one. It is scary to send a valid document away when we will need it very soon. The post office was actually really fast and it took less than two weeks.

2. I love looking online for airfare deals!! It is like a challenge for me. I try to figure out what the best time of the week/of the day is to buy tickets, and many times I get good deals. But for this trip of my lifetime….I wondered if I should ask for some help. My boyfriend Al and I went to a small travel agency in Chinatown. It appeared to be in a quite seedy part of town and he was unsure but I was adamant. While I believed that they could never get us a better deal, I figured we could check it out and use them to help us get an idea of what airlines and travel path would be the best. I WAS WRONG!! The man who helped us, Fransisco, was AMAZING. He listened to what I wanted, asked questions, and was able to look up a deal that was hundreds less per ticket! I could not believe it. He sent me an email with two itineraries and hotel suggestions. I then attempted to find those flights and schedules on line and was unable to find them at that price. We went back to the travel agency and bought out tickets. A few days later Francisco sent me an email saying that the hotel in Rome was having a discount (although on non-refundable rooms) and we saved hundreds on our upcoming 8 day stay there. Wow, he was just wonderful. It may not always work out this way for every one/every trip…but it doesn’t hurt to check it out.

3. Plan your trip. I am currently in the process of picking out what places I MUST see. While in London, Al, would love to see Stonehenge. I remember Prince Charles and Princes Diana’s wedding (I was quite young at the time mind you) and want to see Westminster Abbey. I want to go to the local flea market as well. I love deals. 🙂  While doing my research I found that the train from London to Paris (via the Chunnel) is only 2.5 hrs. Unfortunately we will not be able to make Paris this trip.  Al has a friend we will be staying with “in the country” the first night. For our other two night we all have a hotel in London proper as they agreed to show us around. So we shall make the Paris trip another time. But it is always good to know what is available.

This is long and you are probably tired of reading so I will write more soon. Have a great day. 🙂

Jody Lee

Life’s Large Adventures

 www.rome.info

In about one month I will be sending you all a picture from here :D. I feel so incredibly blessed.

I have a fun new adventure coming up in less than a month. My boyfriend Al and I are going to take a wonderful trip overseas. We are going to go to London, Rome and Venice. I will post pictures and thrift saving ideas while I am there. I am a small town girl who wants to travel the world so we are starting in London. Al is a huge fan and neither of us has ever been. He would love to see a football game but, with the season, we are not going to be in luck. I want to go to Rome. I am so excited about the architecture and the food. 🙂 I want to find thrift stores, flea markets and mom and pop stores. It will be amazing; I am super flexible and easy going. In Venice I want to secretly ride in a gondola under the Grand Canal singing 80’s Madonna.

Life is wonderful.