Just some of the pictures... I took over 1500!!
London Birmingham Venice Munich

Vacations are so much fun...

I have a lot of pictures I am sure no one wants to see all of, but I will put in links to my photo galleries for the different locations and activities....

So I got to London about 1:30 pm and it was a typical London drizzle day...;-)) At the airport I found that I could get a train ticket to London, Victoria Station, where I could catch the underground. They had an express train that I bought the ticket for... Trying to read the signs and get on trains and got to one that said it was going to Victoria Station and it was leaving... I thought that was my express, so I jumped on... Of course it turns out it is NOT the express but stopped every few minutes.... so it took almost an hour to get there, not the 30 minutes for the express... I figured that was good, I am starting off normally and can expect no less....

Got into Victoria Station and found the underground. I was able to get a ticket that was good for the day in Zone 1-2 and that was what I needed. I got on the right line and manged to get to the station nearest my hotel... It should have been about a block away. Of course there are so many exits from the underground and I did not get oriented to well to start with so I walked about 4-5 blocks to get where I needed to be. Well this was only an issue because I had bought a backpack suitcase since I thought trying to roll luggage around at places would be harder to do. But then carrying turned out to be more than I really liked... The hotel was Ok, but the room was not much bigger than the bed. It was on the fourth floor and no elevator. The hall was narrow and the steps steep... So I get to the room and try the electronic key card and it does not work!!!
Of course not... So I leave my bags at the door and go back down to desk and she comes up to open. Her key will not work either. So then they get the maintenance guy and his works. They say that I will have to ask to get door opened each time...
oh that is great, the bathroom is down on second floor... So this should work out great...

I got bags in room and freshened up a bit and then took off for Piccadilly Square, Downtown. Go on the underground and did not have any trouble, it took a couple transfers but I managed to catch each train, going the right way, each time... I am in London... Weather clearing a bit... First thing I did was find a place to buy theater tickets. I found that I could go see one called Dreamboats and Petticoats. Sounded like a cute musical... Well of course that is not until 7:30 tonight. So my next stop was to find some fish and chips... Found a place as I was walking down towards where the theater was. So I stopped in, had fish and chips and rested a bit reading my book. I finished eating and walked down street, enjoying the cool weather and looking at other shows I might go to another night. Walked into a square with a lot of activity and some of the mimes. I also found a place called the Texas Embassy. I decided to stop in and see what it was. They say that when Texas became it's own country, a few years back... By the way why did we change that?? That they established an embassy in London and though we are not a state anymore, this is sthe building where it was and now it is a Tex/Mex restaurant. The food was not that great, or at least the chips I had we bland or stale...

Then I walked some more and found that the theater was by the Thames river. I took some pictures around there and walked part way over the bridge. I was back in time for show and it was a really fun and cute musical. Enjoyed it a lot. I was in luck for a change the underground was only about 100 feet from the theater so I was able to get headed back to hotel easy. I stopped for a sandwich and some bottled water and got back to my room about 11:30pm. The desk clerk made me a new key and said it should all be working now... On Saturday I got up and had breakfast at hotel and then headed into London. I bought an all day pass for the Bus Tours so I could jump on and off the double deck tour buses all day. It also allowed me to take 4 city walking tours. So I headed down to the walking tour for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The tour was starting in the square downtown though?? I asked the tour guide, was I mistaking? I thought this was for Buckingham Palace tour... Yes he says they do it different than others... We walked down thru an arch and then down the road that the guards come from to go to the palace. While we were walking down there the horses and guards for the changing of the horse guard when by. That was cool. Then we went to St James castle I think, to see the guards going off duty form up to march to the Palace and they had a band in front that played a couple songs first. It was the New Zealand Army band. The tour guide was so excited. In 12 years he has done tours he has never seen that band. They were visiting England for the first time in years and invited to be here that day. Anyway as the band and guards started to march so did we. We got to watch and see them march and play the whole why yo Palace. Then we went over to the other side where the guards coming on duty were getting setup with another band in front of them. We got to listen and watch them too. After all that I did get a couple pictures of the actual guards in the little hut being changed. Lots of fun...

Then I started riding the bus again to tour around London and see lots of fun things. The Eye of London is the big ferris wheel they have. It is so large and moves so slow you have to make an appointment for the “Flight Time” you want to go. Most people book a flight time for tomorrow and come back. You can not just buy a ticket and get on. They say when it was built, it was floated into the location on the Thames and then it took them 2 days to stand it up. I did not do the river tour, it was drissel again that day and cold. I had a good time touring and bought tickets to a show called Top Hat. They say this is the preopening show. It is a show that has never been a play before, only just released for such. It was a black and white movie from back 1935. (This joyous Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical features an Irving Berlin score and the classic duet "Cheek to Cheek." ) It was a great show.... So after show it is late and I had back to hotel...

Sunday I get up and pack and checkout of hotel in search of my Avis rental car.... I got a small BMW and I am really glad I spent $20 a day more for one with and automatic. I never would have gotten the shifting, wrong side the road, circles and such and still shift....

I headed out of town to Birmingham. I have the Jaguar factory tour scheduled for Tuesday there. On the way up I see a sign for the Hermitage Auto Museum... so off I go... It was great, then I see a sign for the Warick Castle.... I spent most the afternoon looking around there. Of course they had the parking lot about 30 minutes from the castle... More walking. Weather was great... Castle was really cool...

Then it was back on the road to Birmingham. It is exhausting trying to remember to stay on wrong side the road. To remember there is a lot of car on the left side of me... When turning to the right you have to make sure to go to the far side of the street. Opps did not remember once. Circles are no fun either. Try to keep track of a lane, and exits and others coming and going from circle. So found hotel and had a nice dinner there. Rested in room and checked out things to do on Monday.

Had breakfast at hotel on Monday and then went to the Black Country Living Museum. It was about coal mining and the canals and boats they have. It turns out that England has more canals than Venice. It was a great place. Took tour on boat into tunnels where they did the coal mining. Lots of pictures.

Tuesday was time for the Jaguar tour.... It was great to see them making cars and following things thru. It turns out it takes 3-5 days for a car to go from start to starting engine and rolling off the line. They are lucky to make 70-90 cars a day.... 85% of all Jaguars are sold outside of Great Britain. One thing I never new was that all models can be bought in either short or long frame. A difference of about 6 inches. They say that the US and Europe buyers like long wheel base and other countries like short. Now how much difference is it really....6 inches? Well enjoyed the tour and then headed back to London....

Just as I was getting into London, I was getting off M1 autobahn and the navigation says to take circle to right and take the 4th exit. So since it was the 4th one I tried to stay in close to center of circle until time to get out. But then there is an exit to the right and I am back on M1 going north. Now instead of being 3 miles from destination... I am 23 miles from it. The first exit on M1 was 10 miles. So then I take that exit and another circle and missed again... Going further north on M1.... yeah great fun... Finally got to London and my hotel. Turned in rental and went downtown to get tickets to another show. Got to see Ghost. They did a great job on it for a stage show.

Got up early on Wed and was ready to head out of town. Caught the right train to the airport and then spent the day flying to Venice. Got to Venice about 8pm and found a bus to the train station and then a taxi to hotel. There was a little pasta place down from hotel so I had dinner there. The hotel had a bigger room than in London thank goodness. It was right next to bus station. I bought a pass for bus and boats in Venice for 72 hours. It was easy to ride the bus to Venice and then walk and tour all over Venice. I road the boats on the canal. They were just like buses. They had about 10-12 routes and I took most of them sometime in the three days of touring. Took lots of pictures.

I really enjoyed Venice. When you came across the road from mainland to Venice you come to a bus station, train station, car park. It cost like 24 Euros for 4 hours to park a car. There are NO cars in the rest of Venice. No roads, only canals. Everything this is used, everything they do is done and brought in by boat. I saw boats with furniture, replacement doors and windows. Boats with supplies for bars and diners and everything. Everything they use is by boat. It is amazing.... it is hot to. It turns out the close the whole town in August it is so hot. No tours, nothing.

On Saturday I had to get up and catch the train... I took the train over the Swiss Alps to Munich. Spent some time in Munich for the afternoon and evening and then took train to airport. Slept in Airport so I could catch my 6am flight to Frankfurt and then 10am flight back to Dallas. I had a great time and ready to go again.... I have put in for over a week off the first week in September so will see what I can dream up to do then. Maybe finally get in my trip to St Petersburg, Russia....