If you've been reading this blog you know my travels last year were curtailed because of having a knee replacement. I was at home for seven months which hasn't happened since....oh, sometime in the 70's. Let's just say I am making up for it this year.
Speaking of Thelma...."she" still feels stiff most of the time but my flexion has improved greatly and it is wonderful to have no more pain in that knee. I am happy to get back to my Y warm water gentle aquasize class this week - I have been going pretty faithfully three times a week and it has helped me so much. I still dream of the day I go a day without being reminded that I have had a knee replacement. Or am I just being naive?
My trip this past autumn boosted my confidence and convinced me that I could do a long trip and I started finalizing plans, most of which had just been a dream up to that point.
So...here's how it is going to play out for (most of) the first half of the year.
Where....First stop! Toronto: My niece is currently visiting Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and is graciously letting my sister and I use her apartment close to downtown. I will spend the first four nights of my trip there and it will be fun to spend time in Toronto hanging out with my sister. And what a treat to simply take the subway and train out to the airport and not have to worry about connecting flights on my flight to......
London!: well you knew I'd be going to my favourite place in the world right? London will once again be my base and I will be staying at my friend Claudia's airbnb in Streatham on and off during my time away. When I'm not there my carry on (or "holder of all the crap" as it will be known) will be taking up residence under her stairs. Some of the activities I have planned in London for January? Taking in a couple of plays. I purchased tickets through the Get Into London Theatre initiative that offers discounted theatre tickets in January and February. I also have booked to go and see the new Mail Museum which includes a ride on the mail train - that should be fun. I also purchased a discounted rail ticket on the crazy Virgin East Coast website (let's not go there) so the end of January will see me attempting to finally get up to Durham on a day trip - last year I had to cancel due to the weather and being ill. Fingers crossed I can finally get there. I also have tickets for the Destinations travel show again which is always fun. I have lots of ideas for day trips. I can't wait to see the changes London will go through from the (no doubt) rain and cold of winter to the beautiful gardens of late Spring. I will love every bit of it!
Barcelona: While in London this month I will be flitting off to this beautiful city for five nights - someplace new for me. I was able to get a cheap return flight on Easy Jet and an airbnb in a residential area that is very reasonable and has great reviews. I'm excited to explore but will be extra cautious as Barcelona is known for its light fingered pick pockets. My ticket to the Sagra Familia is already booked as well as a five day transit pass!
Dubai: Enroute to Asia I will be stopping off in Dubai for five nights. I am flying Emirates airlines which I am really excited to experience - I've heard it's a wonderful airline. I am splurging and staying in an actual hotel at the marina. Truth be told I couldn't find an airbnb that excites me, worked out for me or was in an area I wanted to be in so I decided to splurge and have a "soft landing" after the 7 hour flight. Although landing at 7:30 a.m. will no doubt see me wandering the Marina until my room is ready! I am planning to get out into the desert as well as exploring the old part of Dubai and learning its history.
Sri Lanka: Then it will be on to Sri Lanka where I pick up a 15 day tour with G Adventures. I had thought about exploring on my own but chickened out and took the safe route of a tour. I have been wanting to visit Sri Lanka for so long and I just can't wait. Elephants, temples, lush tea plantations, the sea! The tour ends at a beach town on the south coast and I will stay on for a couple of days to relax. (and do some blogging hopefully) I have booked a room in a small villa with a garden that has monkeys and peacocks wandering around. Oh yes, and there is also a resident golden labrador!
Kerala: On to South India! It is only an hour flight away from Sri Lanka so I just could not resist. I have been wanting to visit Southern India for such a long time. I couldn't afford another tour nor did I want another one so soon after Sri Lanka. I decided to base myself in one place to make life simple - well as simple as it gets in India.... Kerala sounded more relaxed and interesting than the beach resort area of Goa I was considering. (although part of me wishes I had opted to fly there for another week...ah well, next time!) For just over a week I am booked into a small guest house in Fort Kochi. I am going to India on my own. Those are words I never thought I would say. I have been to India and it's not an easy country - I opted to take a tour last time. However I have heard the south of India is much more laid back than the north. All I can say is HERE'S HOPING!! I hope to take a two night tour to the tea growing area of Munnar (guaranteed between Sri Lanka and India I will be bringing back lots of tea!) as well as a short cruise on the back waters that Kerala is known for. I can't wait! (and if I fall in love with the area I will definitely be going back)
Back to London in early March where hopefully I will start back on the Thames Path. My original goal was Windsor but I realize I am "almost there" so guess I will aim for further along. I know I will never finish it but it's sure fun trying! All I know is I won't be anywhere near Windsor on May 19th! My trusty well worn Thames Path guide has already gone into my carry on. The rest of March will see me being a "London tour guide" to a friend and a couple of her family members for a couple of days, going to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibition in Liverpool (and finally seeing the Beatles statue which was erected after my last visit to the 'Pool in 2015) and from then until late April is an open book. So far nothing is planned but I think it will involve discovering some new places in Europe. I don't want to book too much and miss any opportunities that may come up. One never knows! I have booked a week on the Isle of Wight (I did a day trip back in the 80's but that is a blur so another new place for me) as well as a week in England's Lake District.
Why?Why am I doing this? Because I can. At this stage of my life I am as free as I will ever be. I live in a small apartment in a highrise building (good security) with a fantastic neighbour who is going to watch my place. I am retired. I don't have elderly or ill relatives to worry about. My health is pretty good. I have the financial resources to do this if I don't go too crazy - which is why airbnb works so well for me. I realize it's something not everyone does nor wants to do. It's not for everyone. And I laugh out loud when people say to me "you are doing this on your own. Won't you be lonely"? As far as a travel companion for four and a half months...are you kidding me? Either they would be dead way before the end of the trip or even more likely I would. I can't even imagine. Four and a half days can be too long most of the time! Between meeting up with friends and skype chats I wasn't lonely for those six months in 2015 so I will be very surprised if I am this time.
This blog should be a pretty busy place for the next four and a half months. Hope you will tune in!