Sunday, August 3, 2014


First, let me tell you that my niece is not your typical sullen 16-year old.  She is delightful, smart, and curious about everything.  I wasn't nervous about this trip until a good friend of mine asked if I was stressed about being in charge of my niece's safety.  Umm, no, not until right now, I thought.

Last night in London - hotel splurge - loved it!

And, I really wasn't.  I'm a seasoned traveler and raised by two parents who were very safety consciousness.  I say my prayers and then try not put myself in tricky situations.  Meaning, I don't walk down dark streets, hang my purse on my chair in restaurants, stand too close to subway/tube doors, stay out too late (mostly because I'm an early to bed, early to rise girl), etc.  Of course, bad things can happen no matter what you do to take precautions, but so far so good in my travel experience.

A no agenda day in London

I looked for the least stressful way of doing things on this trip.  For instance, we flew non-stop from Phoenix to London which, while more expensive, was easier than a connecting flight.  And instead of flying to and from Paris out of London, I knew it would be less stressful and far more fun to take the train.

Nancy Mitford Plaque on Curzon Street
We also stayed at hotels which included breakfast--a huge time saver and made for an easy start to the day.

Typically when I travel, I'm all about getting up early and hitting the road.  This time I booked later trains, didn't rush through breakfast, spent one day in London and one day in Paris without an agenda.  This all helped reduce stress and tiredness.  And I wanted my niece to experience the joys of wandering through neighborhoods and parks without a schedule or plan.

James Purdey & Sons holds the Royal Warrants for guns and rifles 

My niece also needed a break from a lot of decision making, so I made a rough outline of our trip based upon her interests, and presented her with just one or two daily choices.  First trips to Europe are overwhelming so I tried to keep her her head from spinning too much!

Last night in London dinner at Rules
I booked ahead special restaurants for first and last nights in London--The Wolseley and Rules (a family favorite).  Favorite Paris restaurants were booked once we arrived in that gorgeous city (although my favorite, Cafe Constant, doesn't take reservations).

Fortnum and Mason window shopping

Last night visit to Fortnum & Mason
A joyful trip to two beautiful cities with a delightful traveling companion.  I really couldn't have asked for more.