Lovely Cadiz

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bloggo Quinto: A Botched Trip, and Making Up for It

Just when you were thinking that the good Dottore was such an expert travel planner…I really botched a trip I was planning. In fact I mentioned it in Bloggo Quattro: Chichester and Brighton. I booked hotels, I bought a ticket for a play, I thought I was all set, but I hadn’t booked the travel.  I won’t go into great detail but Southern Rail in England has a fairly awful website. I had looked briefly to see what the rates were and was delighted to see that I could get from London to Chichester for about 10 pounds, from Chichester to Brighton for about the same, and then back to London same again – great rates, right? But when you start to look at seats available at that rate, you scroll down and see zero, zero, zero…so you go to the next price and so on up the line. It was almost impossible to get to Chichester by rail the days I wanted to go, except for very expensive rates. And even with those I was unable to get a reserved seat. Having stood all the way from London to Edinburgh on a train I had long been resolved to make sure I had a seat reserved before I booked. So I checked the National Coach (Bus) Service and found trips available – but they would have lasted nearly four hours, with an hour wait at Gatwick Airport.

So while I had lost some pounds (and I don’t mean as in weight, though I have lost a little) I decided that the ordeal of getting there and back was too much, cancelled everything I could, and decided that I might take a day-trip or so from London instead.

And then…the next day, I got the itch to look again at one of the trips I was planning before I chose Chichester, and started researching North Wales. This apparently gorgeous area is accessible by train, and the hotels, even in the middle of summer, are very reasonable. I was able to book my round-trip (or “return” as they say in the U.K.) for a mere £35 and a well-recommended seaside hotel as well.  Three nights, from 29 July to 1 August, for $201 total! I’ll be living in an unpronounceable Welsh town called Llandudno, which Bill Bryson (love that writer!) has called the most beautiful beach town he has ever seen, and which also features dramatic heights, requiring an 18 minute cable car ride to reach the top -- see the pic just above the posst. All this and a Punch and Judy show. What more could I want?

Oh, and, lessoned learned, this time I booked the train first!

4 comments:

  1. p.s. That's Llandudno in the pic above this post!

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  2. I was seeing a Brighton guy back when I was living in London, and never had a problem getting that 50-minute train from London down to Brighton at the last minute. Crazy that it's so hard to book these tickets now! Well, if/when you DO make it down to Brighton, please give Bridgett Ane a big hug for me!!! If you can't find her, just go to The Lanes and look for the bikram yoga studio! :-)

    PS - yay Bill Bryson!

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  3. Yeah, I think it was more about the on line booking for Southern -- I'm definitely planning at least a day trip to Brighton, and BA has already promised to show me around. Just a matter of when...so, you had a fling with a Brighton guy, eh? What fun!

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  4. This is for Kelly Green. Kelly, I got an e-mail with your post comment on it, but for some reason I'm not seeing it here on the blog.

    I wish I could give you really good advice on London hotels. Recently I've been lucky enough to be put up at our London Center and have not had to worry it. I am a real cheapskate when it comes to hotels, though I do require en suite bathroom facilities. I used to stay at hotels in Bayswater, near Paddington Station (convenient because the Heathrow Express pulls into that station. There are a couple of fairly pricey hotels just next to it, but about two blocks away from it there are at least three blocks of small hotels all in rows of former personal residences. Some of them are expensive, but several are affordable, for that expensive city. I would either search on my own for hotels in that area, or do it via Booking.com -- I've had very good luck with them recently, booking hotels for my trip to the Highlands in mid-August and my trip to North Wales in late July.

    Two caveats: I stayed in one small hotel in Bayswater run by a great Scottish couple, called The Admiral. Then it got bought by a large company -- lost all of its charm and friendly demeanor -- breakfasts which had been carefully prepared turned assembly line in nature -- and the price went up!

    Also, en suite facilities have been crammed into such hotels. The rooms themselves are very small, and square-ish plastic boxes have been set up in them -- they house in very packed space shower stall, small sink and toilet -- good luck if you drop your soap in the shower!

    I'm sure there are other areas in London where you can find decent accommodation, and I hope this has helped at least a little!

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