Tonight we just finished a 10 day tour of London, Bath, Madrid, and Toledo with a group of eleven teenagers, two teachers and one parent. I must say this has been the most hilarious trip I have ever been on. The group was a perfect mix. The students got along, the teachers were well liked, and they even accepted me and Natalie into the group.
Even with all our pre-tour prompting about packing light and carrying-on luggage, most of the group showed up at London Gatwick airport with way too much baggage. Imagine carting your luggage out of the airport and onto the train. Then, once in central London, you get to haul everything down to the depths of the London underground, crowding in on the tube and jockeying for your own personal space. Finally, you have a “lovely” time lugging it all out again, up numerous staircases, to the station on the other end. Needless to say, our hotel was a welcome sight to the group on that Friday morning.
One of the highlights of the trip was taking the train to Bath and spending the entire day walking around, shopping, and touring the ancient Roman baths. In typical McGuffin touring style we had a picnic in the park consisting of fruit, veggies, meat, olives, etc. This was a big hit with everybody.
Picnicking seems to bring out the best in everyone because you’re there, sitting on the ground, laughing, sharing food, and generally having a blast with each other’s company. Every time we do this on a tour; whether it be in Paris, Neuschwanstein, or high on a mountain top in the Swiss Alps; my friends all come back saying picnicking was one of the best experiences of their tour.
All over Europe we’ve seen people having a good time in city parks. It seems to me that in the U.S. we are severely lacking in this green public space. At home there is no way I can imagine ditching my car, walking to a grocery store, buying a picnic lunch, and finding a park in which to enjoy the afternoon. Yep…picnicking is a winner! Just one more reason why I find traveling to Europe such a unique experience.