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Thread: Greece & UK

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Maybe my eldest will live her dream of studying in the UK and we can come visit her for an extended stay.
    Not to hijack your thread but my son is studying in Lorraine, Fr this next year. I've been taking notes from all the great posts members share here. We're planning a week in London and a week in France during his winter break!

  2. #32
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thatís awesome! Hope you post a trip report when you get back! 🥰💕✈️

  3. #33
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Cristina - We just need to HAVE the physical railcard with us when we show up to board the train, is that right? (the website was a bit vague about what one does with the railcard ). If I understood correctly, I think we can have it sent to where we're staying, and if by chance it doesn't arrive or it gets lost, we can always buy another at the station - right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cristina View Post
    If you are able to buy a Friends and Family Railcard from where you are now, you'll save a lot on your tickets. You could maybe even have it sent to where you're staying in London, as long as you have it on your journey that's the important thing.

  4. #34
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    Greece & UK

    Yes, you need to have the railcard to show along with the ticket. They have added the option to buy a digital railcard, I just learned this tonight! Info at the link below.

    https://www.familyandfriends-railcar.../where-to-buy/

    The ticket isn't tied specifically to your railcard by the railcard number, so you can buy your ticket before you have your railcard. If you buy a ticket, however, selecting the option for a railcard discount, and you don't have a railcard to show on the train, you could be forced to buy a new ticket. Once I left the railcard at home but the ticket checker on the outward journey let me buy a new railcard at the station for £30 instead of new tickets for £300.

    Edited to add: reading reviews of the Railcard app, I would go for a physical card. Apparently you need to have an internet connection to show the card (reviews from September day this), and I often struggle for a signal on a train since we are hurtling through open countryside.

    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Cristina - We just need to HAVE the physical railcard with us when we show up to board the train, is that right? (the website was a bit vague about what one does with the railcard Greece & UK). If I understood correctly, I think we can have it sent to where we're staying, and if by chance it doesn't arrive or it gets lost, we can always buy another at the station - right?
    Last edited by Cristina; 07-14-2019 at 04:19 PM.

  5. #35
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thank you! I did see the option for a digital railcard but I thought there were too many unknowns - can we install it, do we need to be in the UK, do we need a UK phone, etc. etc, so we are opting for the physical card. I think it's a reasonable fallback to buy a railcard at the station if for some reason the one we ordered doesn't arrive in time. I appreciate the railcard tip, it's definitely a significant savings!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cristina View Post
    Yes, you need to have the railcard to show along with the ticket. They have added the option to buy a digital railcard, I just learned this tonight! Info at the link below.

    https://www.familyandfriends-railcar.../where-to-buy/

    The ticket isn't tied specifically to your railcard by the railcard number, so you can buy your ticket before you have your railcard. If you buy a ticket, however, selecting the option for a railcard discount, and you don't have a railcard to show on the train, you could be forced to buy a new ticket. Once I left the railcard at home but the ticket checker on the outward journey let me buy a new railcard at the station for £30 instead of new tickets for £300.

    Edited to add: reading reviews of the Railcard app, I would go for a physical card. Apparently you need to have an internet connection to show the card (reviews from September day this), and I often struggle for a signal on a train since we are hurtling through open countryside.

  6. #36
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Hello! We have been back for ten days but I am still having trouble focusing on ‘real life’, haha. Greece & UK So I thought I’d procrastinate by putting together a trip report!

    This will be a multi-part report because it was a long trip with very distinct and diverse pieces, and because I have bits of info scattered among different devices.

    I think I will try to post about one location a day. That’s a reasonable goal, right? ;P

    But first! Thank you to everyone for all your trip advice. It was all very helpful for making our trip run more smoothly and give us amazing things to see/do. (More specifics as we go along.)

    Some quick numbers: we were in two countries, six cities/towns, nine separate accommodations over 23 days. We took six flights and four trains (not counting those within London), and did two road trips.

    We each had a TB backpack and a rollaboard with us, plus one checked suitcase. I would have preferred to bring my S19 as my personal item, but I needed to bring my computer and it doesn't fit well in the S19. DH insisted on bringing the big suitcase and while I definitely think we could have streamlined, it was nice to have the extra room for souvenirs. (He was willing to manage the big suitcase so it was mostly a non-issue. Except at the very end of our trip! )








    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by haraya; 08-26-2019 at 03:25 PM.

  7. #37
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    LONDON (part I) and EDINBURGH:

    We stopped in London for two days before taking the train to Edinburgh. (We knew we were coming back to London at the end of our trip so we opted to do most of our London sightseeing later.)

    We kept our schedule light since we knew we would be dealing with jet lag. The one thing we scheduled was a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe, which was good since it gave us the impetus to get up and get moving despite our sleep deprivation. We did also squeeze in a stop at the Museum of London which was a nice introduction to our surroundings.

    It turned out that our trip up to Edinburgh was well-timed, as London was in the throes of a heat wave (people were feeling faint in the shade when we were at the Globe and had to step outside to cool off). Edinburgh teased us: the day we arrived and the day we left were the only days when the sun came out! But we had packed our good raincoats so we had a great time tromping around, most especially when we climbed Arthur’s Seat in a steady drizzle.





    Tip o’ the hat to everyone who had great suggestions for this part of the trip, including Frank II, Cristina, allanorn, Lia, elisa (AlaskaGirl), and RosemaryOrchard. We were able to figure out the train system and the ride turned out to be a great way to get over jet lag while still moving.

    Highlights for us (in addition to the hike): tea and a tour of Edinburgh Castle; brunch in Stockbridge (highly recommend The Pantry) followed by a stroll along the Water of Leith; and the National Museum (I loved the ceramics and the Viking stuff, including the Lewis Chessmen; lots of interactive stuff for the kids especially in the science & machines section).





    Things I learned:
    - don’t count on WiFi on the train (I will likely do the SIM card switch next time we travel in Europe);
    - hiking boots are great for flat-footed tourists like myself;
    - August in Edinburgh is all about the Fringe Festival (and this introvert is glad to have missed the crowds!!).
    - Oh, also, VRBO (that is, AirBnB-style lodging) worked out really well for us on this trip - great value, more flexible than hotels in terms of check-in times, more personalized service, and the laundry facilities were key. I did not have to do any sink laundry at all.

    Saving for next time: the Highlands, the Real Mary’s Close tour, Grassmarket, Glasgow, Shetland, Isle of Skye (really, the whole countryside!), owls.




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by haraya; 08-27-2019 at 11:46 AM.

  8. #38
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    If you have the time you should go to a Greek Island for sure. There are some nice ones only an hour away from Piraeus. I found this website very helpful when planning the trip I'm leaving on next week (I'll be in Mykonos, Sifnos and Milos)
    https://www.greecetravel.com/

    I note you're back already! Leaving up this post as others may find the link useful.

  9. #39
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    @haraya
    the river picture is awesome
    just a Bihnion here

  10. #40
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thank you Katcalls! We definitely want to go back and see some Greek islands!!

    Thank you Rei! The reeds just look surreal, don’t they? Like an impressionist painting.

    Picking up from where I left off... I recall that the sub-forum is headed “Packing Lists and Travel Tips,” so I wanted to drop in some bag-related notes.

    DS with indigo S29 at King's Cross station:



    London/Edinburgh EDC (sightseeing edition), aka Sightseeing/Hiking with the Luminary

    (I'll do an overview of my complete pack-out later on, this one is just what I took while we were traipsing around Edinburgh)







    Down vest – not waterproof, but made such a big difference once we were indoors out of the rain and I wanted to warm up. This one is extremely packable, but it’s not technical – I just found it on the sale rack at Athleta. I would choose a different more durable/waterproof item if we were going on a more difficult hike, or if we were on a trip with multiple cold-weather activities.

    Raincoat – this one is the JetStream by Kuhl: I was debating whether to bring a shorter jacket, but am so very happy I chose the ĺ trench for this trip, as we spent many hours outside in the rain!

    Baseball cap
    – I find this makes a huge difference when I’m out in the rain – keeps the brim of my jacket off my face and the rain away from my glasses!

    Plastic bag (this one is from Boots), for shielding dry things, carrying wet things when indoors, or carrying groceries on the way back to our flat. I had Shop Bags with me but chose not to bring them in my Luminary.

    First-aid kit (in a mini OP):
    - Flexible fabric Band-aids (my favorites are the H-shaped/butterfly-shaped ones for fingers - they stay on really well and the shapes really fit a surprising variety of otherwise difficult-to-cover locations, like elbows or knees)
    - Antibiotic cream

    Swiss Army knife

    Spare glasses, in case my contacts start acting up

    Eyedrops (artificial tears)

    Jackery charger and cord - we also added Porta Pow data blockers
    (not shown) to our travel kit - recommended by a friend who regularly travels abroad on government trips.
    Larabar

    Q-kit as coin purse: Necessary because my Nik’s wallet doesn’t have a spot for the coin of the realm.

    Nik’s minimalist wallet: I usually carry a bigger leather wallet when I’m at home, but this is perfect for the few things I carry when I’m traveling.

    Headlamp – My family makes fun of me for almost always having this with me on trips (it either lives in my Travel Tray at the hotel or I throw it in my bag when we go out at night. But I liked the security of having it with me even though we started our hike in the morning. What if one of us had sprained their ankle on the way back, and we were overtaken by nightfall?

    14 oz. Takeya bottle I love the lids on Takeya bottles. HydroFlask keeps water a smidge cooler, I think, but the Takeya lids are the best.

    Scarf – this one I bought in Edinburgh and ended up using for most of the UK portion of our trip. Perfect for keeping the rain off the back of my neck and adding an extra pop of color.

    Duck tape

    Fuji X-100: Honestly I could have left this one home for most of the trip. I brought it because it does low-light/nighttime portraits better than my iPhone can. For the second half of our trip I learned to leave it in the hotel/flat if we were not going to be taking pictures indoors/at night.

    All of this fit nicely into the Luminary (original flavor – so I guess L12?). I have really been delighted with the Luminary! It is just big enough for my essentials, but small enough to be out of the way. I think this is the best-fitting backpack for my size that I’ve ever had. The L12 just streamlines everything. It forces me to think about what I’m taking with me, yet when we’re out and about it has just enough space for a little souvenir, or for stashing my raincoat when we’re walking through a museum. The tech pocket is a good size and shape for stashing a notebook or that stack of postcards I need to mail. Or my phone so that it’s out of the rain but I can access it quickly. Plus, it’s just so sleek and smart-looking!
    Last edited by haraya; 08-28-2019 at 11:11 AM.

  11. #41
    Forum Member Rei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    [...]

    Thank you Rei! The reeds just look surreal, don’t they? Like an impressionist painting.

    [...]
    they do, like a Van Gogh painting
    just a Bihnion here

  12. #42
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Greece & UK

    ATHENS:

    (I was going to do one post for Greece, but we saw some very distinct places, so I am breaking it up into different posts...)

    To continue with the "traveling tips" theme -

    Traveling with teens (tweens) - What worked:

    -Staying close to sights – can start late, or take a break in the middle of the day, or drop off stuff and head back out. My family does not like mornings; plus, I have flat feet and a bad toe, so about 4-5 miles/day of walking seems to be the right amount for me. I’ve learned to use local transport (Uber, etc.) to get TO the sights, and save my legs for when we are actually going around looking at cool things. Sometimes I feel guilty that we don't 'maximize' every hour on the ground by checking out the sights (we missed seeing Big Ben and the Athenian Agora on this trip), but then I figure there is as much to learn by being immersed in a culture - eating out, walking the neighborhoods, buying groceries. (I realize proximity can be a privilege. On this trip at least, in the cities, we were able to find good value hotels right in the heart of things. VRBO/AirBnB can be exceptional values for families - in some cases we had separate bedrooms for the kids, laundry, and a kitchen, for half the cost of a premier hotel room. But I am willing to squeeze into small rooms if it means we don't spend an hour each day commuting into the city.)

    -Variety. Kids and husband claim to dislike museums but I've found that as long as we don't do back-to-back museum days, they are willing to check things out. I also really appreciate free admission - it makes it easier to decide to go for an hour or two. (We make a donation on our way out, and I also make donations via the gift shops. ;P)

    -Planning 1-2 things at start of each leg of the trip, leaving some days open. My family would not make decisions before the trip. I made a few executive decisions for them (like booking theater tickets) but built in leeway to make spontaneous choices - take a beach day, go for a hike, etc.

    So we stayed in Athens for two full days and saw the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, and Plaka. On our way out we also stopped at Sounion to see the temple of Poseidon.

    (Still to come: Marathon, Meteora, Delphi)

    Obligatory Parthenon shot, with bonus finger photobomb



    The Erectheion - I loved this temple even more than the Parthenon




    Selene's horses at the Acropolis museum. The detailed head is a plaster copy of the original that is displayed at the British Museum. The two that are more damaged are marble originals.



    Detail of Caryatid (this is the original from the Erechtheion, the ones outside (second pic above) are copies. The hair provided extra mass so that the column could support the roof above.



    View from the temple of Poseidon at Sounion. It was scorchingly hot when we arrived here. It's hard to see the temple as you approach on winding roads, so it was perplexing as to why they would choose this landlocked site for the sea god - until you reach the top of the hill and see the ocean on three sides. Just breathtaking.



    On the way to our next stop

    Last edited by haraya; 08-28-2019 at 11:09 AM.

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