My Dream Vacation

This is an entry from my old diary. I always liked this one.

Goals. My husband says he hates when people ask the old question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I used to ask my students to write an essay describing their lives at the ages of 15, 25, 35, 55, and 75. Each age was a paragraph – your standard five-paragraph essay. I often got some remarkable stuff. I learned what their dreams were. Where they wanted to be at the age of 75.

When I’m 75, I would like to have lived my life. I suppose one of the reasons I got divorced [from my first husband] was that part of me was empty inside and knew there was more to love than that. And I was right. I would like to just take life by the horns and do some things I’ve always wanted to do. I am taking steps to do that, but some of the things I want to do require money (alas), so they’ll have to wait.

So the number one thing I want to do that will require money is tour the U.K. If I could do it any way I wanted, and money was not an object at all, I would really do it in style. I would cross the Atlantic Ocean aboard a luxury liner, specifically the Cunard Liner Queen Elizabeth II. And as long as I’m doing it up right, I want to stay in the Aquitania Suite. I would need to book a voyage from New York to Southampton. While aboard the QEII, I’d indulge in a spa treatment, and I would never miss tea time.

Once I docked in Southampton, I would take in the local sites: take the Titanic Trail tour; the Museum of Archaelogy, where I can learn about the history of Roman, Saxon, and Medieval Southampton; the Medieval Merchant’s House, a house that was built in 1290; and the Tudor House and Garden on this tour.

From Southampton, I would board a train to Cardiff, where I would rent a car to explore Wales. While in Cardiff, I would be sure to see the castle and Llandaff Cathedral. I would like to catch an opera at the Welsh National Opera. I would let Husband be my guide there. I would drive up to Nelson to take in the Ghost Tour at Llancaiach Fawr. I haven’t worked out the complete itinerary yet, but I would have to see the following sites in Wales (in no particular order): Abergavenny Castle, Tintern Abbey, Caldicot Castle, Hay-on-Wye (the book town) Aberyswyth (home of the university), Chester (which is really sort of England’s gateway to Wales and not in Wales – some of my book takes place there), Llangollen (home of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod), Caernarfon, Beaumaris, Snowdonia National Park, Brecon Beacons National Park (where much of my novel is set), and the little town of Llangors (where my main character begins her odyssey). There is more, I’m sure of it. Just can’t think of it right now.

Next, I would tour England. Starting with southern England, I would need to see Stonehenge, Glastonbury (legendary site of Camelot and the Isle of Avalon), the Round Table of King Arthur (probably really built by King Henry VIII) in the Great Hall of Winchester Castle, Winchester Cathedral (where Alfred the Great is entombed), and Chawton Cottage (home of Jane Austen).

Moving on to London, I will have to take in Big Ben, the Tower of London, Portobello Rd./Notting Hill (loved the movie of the same name), Boudicca’s Statue, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace (got to see the Changing of the Guard), St. James’ Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the New Globe Theatre, the Sherlock Holmes Pub, Baker Street, the Theatre Royal at Drury Lane, Westminster Abbey (where I would have to make rubbings of the gravestones in Poets’ Corner), Trafalgar Square, Kensington Palace (where Princess Diana lived), and Windsor Castle. I would have to go on the London Ghost Walk. Husband might want to take in the Jack the Ripper Walk. Again, all this probably only scratches the surface, but it is a start.

Next it is off to the Cotswolds, where I will visit Stratford-upon-Avon (birthplace and resting place of Shakespeare) and Warwick Castle. Onward to the Lake District, where I will see the homes of William Wordsworth and take a walk by Hadrian’s Wall.

In York, I will have to check out the Jorvik Viking Center, the Shambles, and York Minster, among other things.

After that, it is on to Scotland, the home of my forebears. It is necessary that I visit the following places, in no particular order: Melrose Abbey, Glamis Castle, Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, Crossraguel Abbey (my ancestors did something very nasty to the abbot a long time ago), Arbroath Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel (the home of the Knights Templar and possibly the Holy Grail), and the Eildon Hills (to take in Scott’s View and see where Thomas the Rhymer disappeared with his fairy lass). I also need to take the high road to Loch Lomond and look for Nessie at Loch Ness, stopping to take pictures of Urquhart Castle. I want to pay my respects to the fallen at Culloden Moor. I also want to see Glen Coe, where my Campbell ancestors massacred the McDonalds. I have to check out Drumlanrig Castle, where my Douglas ancestors lived. Edinburgh Castle is a must. Absolutely must see Culzean Castle, home of the Kennedy clan, though my particular Kennedy ancestors didn’t live there, I don’t think. Oh, and I want to see Fyvie Castle. I believe I had some Meldrum ancestors there. It has fantastic ghost stories, and it’s cursed to boot. I probably don’t have enough Gordon ancestry to see the Green Lady. I also have to see the Fairy Flag at Dunvegan Castle and Cawdor Castle, where Shakespeare set Duncan’s murder in Macbeth. If they’ll let me, I want to see Dunure Castle, where my Kennedy ancestors did live. Got to see Stirling, where William Wallace kicked English ass and the Battle of Bannockburn took place. I have to also pay my respects at Falkirk, where many Scots were slain. I have to take a look at Mary Queen of Scots’ House, the Robert Burns Cottage, the Whithorn Priory, the Scottish Whisky Heritage Centre (although I don’t think I’ll be brave enough to down any), the Tolbooth Museum, and the Skara Brae Prehistoric Village. And once again, that’s a start. Actually, I can’t really think of any place in Scotland that I DON’T want to visit.

Right before we leave from Southampton to go back to New York, I want to take in King Arthur’s birthplace, Tintagel Castle.

So that is my dream vacation. Wonder how much that would cost or how long it would take?