Lovely Cadiz

Lovely Cadiz
Cadiz - my favorite place so far in the trip to Southern Spain

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bloggo Quarto: Dottore Gianni Books a Trip

There are days when I wonder if I should be more spontaneous about travel. It seems like a more adventurous way of dealing with seeing new places than the way I usually do. But for me, particularly in recent years, being certain (as certain as it’s possible to be in an increasingly uncertain world) that I have a seat on this train, that I have a hotel (with ensuite facilities) to go to when I get off the train, that I have a full schedule, trump spontaneity. La vita e breve and Dottore Gianni does not want to waste a single moment of a single trip!

As those of you who have been reading know, I’ve already plotted and booked hotels and transportation for every move I’ll make during my highland fling in mid-August. I am now working on other trips, one even earlier than the fling. I have never spent more than about an hour in Wales, and I looked into a trip to the coast of North Wales, specifically to the easy-to-pronounce Llandudno, immediately after arriving in the U.K. I also thought about a few days in the Lake District, spending more time in Yorkshire, and/or heading down to Plymouth, and even nearer land’s end, Penzance (perhaps I’d spot a pirate or two performing patter songs on the beach – you never know). And then I remembered my budget.

I may well see all of those places during the course of my year in the U.K., but I opted instead to attend the prestigious Chichester Festival for the first time ever! It’s only an hour and a half from London and more affordable than the above-mentioned trips. In fact I’ve already booked a hotel, know the train rates (VERY inexpensive) and know as well that I will NOT be able to see Ian McKellen in a world premiere – sold out some time ago. But there are other interesting plays in the line-up and I’m excited to see the theatre that was the model for the Olivier Stage at the Royal National Theatre, as well as a city that I understand is quite lovely.

It’s also near Brighton, where one of my favorite alums, Bridgett-Ane Lawrence, is living, so I may swing by that seaside resort for a quick visit before heading back to Londontown.

In case you’re interested, the method to my meticulous madness in arranging travel is to focus on a town, or an event, or an historic site, a performance festival or museum, or an alum I really want to see and leap into action! I used to be a great fan of a series of travel books called The Rough Guide, and still am, but paper weighs more than you might think, and Rough Guides are thorough, therefore thick and heavy books – and anyway, Barnes and Noble (a fine free research site, if you can keep yourself from spending money on the coffee) is much more partial to Lonely Planet and other guides.

So I tend to spend much of my time researching on line. The highland fling, for example was born by a desire to see the Isle of Skye, the Orkney Isles and to taste Oban Single Malt Scotch at its source. So I found information on day trips to the first two places from a highland town I’ve been curious about, Inverness, and about tours and tastings at the Oban Distillery. As soon as I discovered that there were day trips with available places for me I started to sketch out the rest of the trip. Where would I begin? Not Edinburgh! Height of the festival, if not impossible to get a place to stay at this point, impossible to get a reasonably priced place to stay. And I’ve never been to Glasgow. So I looked at National Rail schedules, found an affordable trip from London to Glasgow, found a pretty reasonable hotel in the center of that city booked train & accommodation, and moved onward from there.

One of the many things I love about research is the moment when I discover something I had no intention of finding. Occasionally such a discovery becomes more interesting than what I was looking for in the first place. More often it adds a dimension to the research that makes the original subject more compelling than I’d thought it could be. A very simple travel example or two: the train ride from Glasgow to Oban is said to be one of the most scenically stunning trips in all of Scotland – and that is one scenically stunning country! Also, in addition to being the home of Oban Single Malt, the village of Oban is called (on Oban tourism sites) the seafood capital of Scotland! These discoveries helped me realize that I could do Oban in a day trip, rather than booking another hotel, and be rewarded by a beautiful train ride and a tasty piece of fish for lunch, as well as a wee nip of a fine Scotch. It would also allow me to get back to Glasgow, see a bit more of that exciting city than I’d planned, and get a ridiculously inexpensive train fare from Glasgow to Inverness: a 3 ½ drive for £10!

And that’s how I build my trips. You may say, “That’s how I want to travel!” Or you may say, “That’s nuts – and anal as hell!” It’s just one way of doing it and it works for Dottore Gianni, who is now off to plan his September trip to Paris, in much the same fashion! Ciao tutti! A prossimo bloggo!

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