Storytime: My European Vacation

This is my first post, I’m so excited! After having my son in 2016, I wanted to take a trip with his father. I planned for some beachy vacation where I sat in the sun all day (you will learn that I am not a sunbathing type of person). After a month of planning, my fiance told me that he was not ready to go on a trip, so I planned a trip to the Bahamas alone. I then thought again, I have been to the Bahamas and the prices for that trip were way too expensive. As a result, I changed my mind and started planning my trip to London, it was a childhood dream of mine to see London.

I planned for my trip and then became a bit scared to travel alone, so I asked my best friend if she wanted to come with me. My best friend Kasey agreed and we began planning for our trip to London. I used different websites to find hotel rooms and planes, but I really didn’t want to use a hotel for my dream trip. I would describe myself as a traveller who wants to blend in with my surroundings, I don’t like touristy attractions that much. As a result, I looked at AirBnB for our accommodations and found this sweet little flat in Primrose Hill near London Zoo and Regent’s Park. The flat had two rooms and two bathrooms and a nice balcony overlooking a quiet little garden. I remember the first thing I realized was the serene sound of the neighborhood, the birds were singing and I felt like I was home. Anyway lets get back to the planning process.

We chose to look for a house on AirBnb, but there is a bit of a funny story and learning opportunity to our AirBnb experience. I didn’t have any problem reserving a space, I am an African-American woman and I know AirBnb has been getting a lot of flack for this but I didn’t have a problem with this. I went through AirBnb and saw many nice places, but found this amazing condo with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and an amazing view of the London Eye, so I reserved it immediately. Come to find out, AirBnb was really on their game and stopped the transaction as soon as possible because the condo was a fake and the host was banned from the website. AirBnb gave me my money back immediately and even gave me a little bit extra for a new place. This is when I learned to communicate with the host and ask questions before I reserve a place, my host’s name was Marina and she was so sweet. After saying all of this, AirBnb has updated their website and app since then and it has more of a verified feel, it’s not really the feel it used to have where anyone could post their apartment on their app, now it’s more of a luxury feel to it. The cost for the flat was $1,115 for the two of us.

The next thing we waited pretty late for were our plane tickets. I went through every website to find prices on plane tickets for two to London, but I settled on Expedia . The biggest option was where did I want our layover to be Iceland or Ireland? Both layovers were a full day, but I didn’t know which one I would want to explore for a day. Kasey and I had a conversation to see what we may want to do, but we still didn’t know which place would be better. Then I thought I should check the reviews for the airlines we were presented with. The one airline I had never heard of was Aer Lingus, I made a few adult jokes about the name and got serious again. We laughed at the jokes and then thought  we should try Aer Lingus, don’t ask me why, we just thought it would be a good idea to try something new. After flying Aer Lingus, I would fly Aer Lingus internationally over and over again, it was so cozy.

Sorry this is going to be a long post, but I love talking, GET USED TO IT!

The trip began on May 13, 2017 in Milwaukee (that’s where I live…it’s alright, I’ll give you some tips and tricks to Milwaukee later) at the train station, we would be taking a Greyhound bus to O’Hare in Chicago. I will say this only once, I HATE LONG TRIPS ON BUSES! I will only take these buses for maybe one hour, two hours max. It took about an hour to get to O’Hare, so we were about an hour early for our flight.

When we boarded our flight, I immediately observed that there was no first class on our flight, I didn’t know what a plane with no first class entailed. As we flew to Dublin (yes, we chose Ireland) the flight attendants on Aer Lingus had the most charming Irish accents on the speaker. Almost every hour the flight attendant announced mealtime, snacktime, and teatime. Aer Lingus made me feel like royalty with the moderate price.

We finally arrived in Dublin after 7 hours and went through customs (I will also give you customs tips), customs didn’t take to long, this is maybe because I love airport culture. We finally took our plane to London that landed in Gatwick after about 45 minutes.

First mistake! We were so tired and we needed to find transportation to our AirBnb. We went to the concierge area to find transportation information. The concierge person pointed us to the area with a line of cabs. We decided to take a cab and the cabby even told us he would schedule to pick us up from our AirBnb. The ride costed over 100 pounds, but we were so tired we thought it was fine. We found out that we could have called an Uber for half the price and the driver was even nicer.

Let’s make this story a little shorter. To make the most of our trip, we decided to go to a different country, we chose to go to The Netherlands. Amsterdam was just a two night trip, but it made such an amazing impression that I have to go back for at least two weeks or more. I have so many tips and tricks for women and families, but that will come later.

To conclude, I now have a new dream, to have a vacation home in London. I felt like it was my home and I never felt uncomfortable. As a black woman in America, weird looks from people are so normal, a few purse clutches from women, and even people following you around a store. Not once in London did I have this feeling, the only time someone spoke to me was to let me know I was in the way, LOL. I would highly recommend a trip to London for any woman or mom looking to relax without a view of a beach.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


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