London, Stonehenge and The Cotswolds with Teenagers: A Three Day Itinerary

Our Itinerary for Three Days in England, Travelling with Teenagers

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Plan coming – keep checking back; I use this page as an active planner for all my trips, an interactive Apple Wallet.

London Itinerary Day One: Arrive in London from Prague, pick up Rental Car and drive to Stonehenge

Driving Time: About Three Hours, without stops

  • Stonehenge Visitor Center – we Booked our tickets in advance online for the 11:00 option and selected the Family Pass to Stonehenge for £49.40
  • Salisbury Cathedral – home to the best preserved of only four surviving original Magna Carta (AD1215)
Salisbury Cathedral Day Trip from London with Teens

Photo Courtesy: https://www.firsdown.org.uk/salisbury-cathedral

  • Chedworth Roman Villa – Built towards the end of Rome’s imperial domination of Britain, the villa is a fine example of the advances in Romano-British engineering, and a well-preserved Villa full of history and design.
Chedworth Roman Villa, Day Trip from London with KidsPhoto Courtesy: https://archaeology-travel.com/england/chedworth-roman-villa/
  • Cotswolds – Following a visit to Stonhenge and Salsbury Cathedral our family of four will be hangry, so a leaisurely country drive, stopping in for snacks and a light lunch on the water will be the perfect way to wrap up the day before heading back to London.

London Itinerary Day Three: Victoria & Albert Museum and High Tea in London with Teenagers

High Tea in London

As a mother of sons I recognize, I need to pick my battles.  But, High Tea in London is a battle I am willing to wage.  I could go on and on about “culture” and “exposure” and “how good it is for their global awareness” but really.  I want some pretty – and I’m planning this expedition so two hours or my say so is what happens.

So, for our second full day in London, we’ll be hitting tea at the Mad Hatters Tea Party at the Sanderson hotel for an afternoon tea, with teenagers.  I researched the Savoy and the Ritz but decided against the more traditional options due to the required “Smart Casual” dress.  There’s no reason to lug “smarter-than-average” casual attire through Europe for two weeks when the rest of our activities are more in the range of “smarter-than-your-average-tourist” casual attire.

So, we’ve booked in for a Mad Hatters Tea Party in London for

Shallot Carbanara

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Okay, I know, this is not technically a carbonara. Technically, a carbonara should contain pepper, egg, pancetta and a hint of cheese. But, “technically”, in order to get it right you need a perfect pancetta and a homemade noodle – and on a given Tuesday night I have neither. Fortunately pretty good and a willingness to ignore the purists can result in a damn fine dinner.

Ingredients:

Splash of white wine
1/4 stick butter
1 pound sliced portabella mushrooms
1 diced shallot
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 pound cubed pancetta
1 cup milk
1 box angel haired pasta
Parsley
Salt and pepper

30 minutes, serves four

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Brown the pancetta in a medium sized skillet on high heat (or use your Le Creusette if you scored an awesome Christmas pot from the hubbs in 2009) and set aside on a folded paper towel. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine and turn down the heat.

Sautee the butter, shallots, and mushrooms over low heat while boiling the noodles. Melt cubed cream cheese and parmesan while slowly mixing in milk (carefully adding heat so as not to curdle).

Crack an egg into the cream sauce then spoon in the noodles (do not rinse) and mix to coat noodles. Add pancetta, salt, and pepper to taste, and heat through.

Serve in shallow bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

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Boozey Brunches

Once upon a time there was a lazy Sunday in May, seventy-eight degrees, a carrot-infused  bloody mary, a roasted beet and honey salad, lavender scones, and three perfect hours with my childhood best friend.

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Then there was a closet shelf of just the perfect size to become a shrine to Chanel … the perfect pumps with the baby soft lambskin soles in nearly perfect condition.

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And there were bacon jam samples at the deli where I stopped to pick up frommage D’affinois.

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My family was healthy.

My heart was full.

And for that day, life was better than I even dare to hope for.

One Day in Rome

The thing which never happens, has happened! On my upcoming trip to Italy I will have 24 full, unscheduled hours – all to myself.

No colleagues to entertain

No meetings to attend

No children to attend to

Just me, my map, and an ungodly amount of Frascati

I’ve visited Rome before, years ago, and after two weeks in Venice, Sienna, Cinque Terre, Bologna, and Florence I found it a sore disappointment: dirty, crowded, and overrun with tourists too lazy to do more than visit the big ten greatest hits.

But, Rome is the Eternal City for a reason. With a history that spans nearly 3,000 years Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. Rome is commonly considered the birthplace of western civilization and was the capital city for the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.

So, yeah, I get that it is important … but so is Detroit; I don’t exactly want to visit every Christmas.

In fact, I’ve always kind of considered Rome the Italian city that tourists visit when they don’t really take their time to research the beauty that is Italy (hence the endless brigade of tourists marching nose-to-tail behind a flag wielding tour guide).

As for my interests, want amazing ruins, visit Turino, want breathtaking chapels – Venice, and don’t forget the art, culture, and food that is Florence!

However, I recognize that I’m sorta … well … wrong.  In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy (which is exactly the type of description that would keep me away). But, people love Rome. People eat, pray, and love their way to Rome and back year after year.

Rome is ruination and reinvention, thriving, bustling, sleepy, and special.  There is no denying that moment when you walk around a corner and come face to face with iconic ROME – the Trevi fountain, the Vatican, Hadrian’s Arch, or any of a thousand other spectacular glimpses into the astounding history of this eternal city.

So, I am putting on my rose colored glasses (they fit quite nicely after a catastrophically shitty trip to Bali, strep throat in Istanbul, and a July heat wave in Shanghai) and prepping for the next great adventure.

My itinerary for one day in Rome:

1. Skip the Caesar Shuffle and the Vatican, I’ve been there and done that. Instead I’ll start the day with a leisurely stroll and cappuccino in Trastevere.

2. Then, I’ll continue across the Tiber to the Parthenon, a visit to the daily markets of the Campo De’ Fiori, and a stroll through the Piazza Navona .

3. After a full day of wandering, I’ll end the afternoon with the Dolce Vita stroll (as coined by travel guru Rick Steves) starting with a glass of wine and snacks at the Piazza del Popolo then a saunter down the Via del Corso and up Via Condotti to the Spanish Steps to surround myself with smooching lovers and that feeling of being painfully alone … for just long enough to make a Skype call home to my family as they settle in to their day.

And, hopefully, this time Rome will leave me aching to return, understanding what those nose-to-tail tour group tourists have been raving about for years.

Fine Dining at a Vegas Buffet

For Mother’s Day, I choose the time-honored tradition of leaving my children at home with Grandma and hitting Las Vegas, which, of course, includes a trip to the omnipresent buffets.

This year’s choice, Bacchanal at Caesar’s Palace. Where for $45 one is given the opportunity to gorge on 500 small plate choices, a carving station, dim sum, sushi, breakfast classics, and of course – prime rib and crab legs.

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But this year, we’re doing it differently.  We’ve challenged each other to make the non-buffet, buffet. The dear husband and I will be taking turns creating a 21 course masterpiece, or beautifully plated and served breakfast (and not so breakfast delicacies).  The challenge, each of us is given a brief description and takes turns plating and bringing back to our den of gluttony (aka table) a lovely serving of the topic assigned.

Our Mother’s Day 21 course tasting menu:

  1. Fresh juices, fruit, honey & cheeses
  2. Antipasto/Charcuterie
  3. Amuse bouche – Black velvet pancakes & bacon
  4. Amuse bouche – Soufflé and breakfast meats
  5. Sushi, Pho, & Miso soup
  6. Salad & Fresh Vegetables
  7. Shellfish & Ceviche
  8. Soup and Breads
  9. Street Tacos & Mexican tastes
  10. Pasta
  11. Intermezzo (Gelato)
  12. Omelet & breakfast staples
  13. Assorted salads of Watermelon, mozzarella, tomato, and roasted beets
  14. The beef course with corn, carrots,  mashed potatoes & gravy
  15. Dim sum
  16. Fried & American Junk food: sliders, fries, tater tots, & mac & cheese
  17. Tapas
  18. Cookies & Cheese
  19. Cakes & Pies
  20. Ice cream, petit four & fresh juices
  21. Candy

I’d say we’re classing it up, except one can’t really call a three-hour champagne and calorie binge classy

Dining Alone

At a slim 5’3″ with long blonde hair I don’t exactly look like someone who “needs” to dine alone on a Saturday night. But, one can only eat so many bland Hilton lobby bar dinners – so eventually during every work trip I venture out for local cuisine.

Anyone who’s travelled alone extensively will tell you, making conversation with yourself over Fava beans and a nice Chianti (forgive the literary reference, one too many glasses of said Chianti) is about as boring as a Hilton Bolognese.

So, I cheat with these tips:

1. Eat at the bar – while others are waiting for their table you can nosh some cauliflower gratin and you might also get chatty with your barstool neighbor. If not, at least you’re surrounded by people to eavesdrop on.

2. Try out the hot spots – when it’s just a table for one most restaurants can accomodate you for the super early or super late shift (they know you won’t camp out for hours). Plus, when it’s just one person dining that chic spot becomes a lot more affordable.

3. Dress to Impress: Nobody can make you feel like a loner unless you let them. Dress up, just like you would for a date, make it clear that your decision to dine alone is your choice.

4. Bring a Magazine – when all else fails, read and ignore the world.