Welcome to Katie's Travel Blog. This is really Jenny-doesn't-get-to-travel blog where I (mom) keep track of Katie's adventures so I can have some vicarious enjoyment! Here's a look at what one globally-aware kid from little Santa Cruz, California gets to do these days if her mom's willing to keep working!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

P2P Day 18: Turns Out London Was a Thriller! Moonwalking the West End

See Katie? She's auditioning for a zombie movie.
Good acting.
As I write this they are already at Heathrow. People to People has this grueling rule about getting their early (see "I will never again complain about this rule" here).

Anyway, it's 4am and they are there. I suspect it's because the Casper, Wyoming folks need to get an earlier flight to Chicago because the LA gang doesn't leave for like six hours. That's a LONG morning but nearly guarantees sleep on the plane.

They did a ton today - from Parliament to the Tower of London to cruising on the Thames and ending in the West End at Thriller Live! The show gets great reviews and I have to say, it's kind of a brilliant choice because there wasn't much that was going to keep them awake at this point - except maybe some Michael Jackson music.

Of course, Katie doesn't know any of the music.

Well, time to scramble to bed. Big day tomorrow - here's to safe travels for them all! Happy homecoming!

From the People to People Itinerary
One of the privileges of traveling as a Student Ambassador is gaining access to people and places you would otherwise not have the opportunity to on your own. Today you will take part in an exclusive access meeting with a current or former Member of Parliament. This unique opportunity explores the British Constitution and discusses the respective roles of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarch, and England's long standing political relationship with the US - a true honor for Student Ambassadors.

Explore the must-see Tower of London and make sure you visit the Crown Jewels where over 23,000 gems make up the collection. As a prison, it confined such famous prisoners as Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh. You may wish to download the free iPhone and iPod Touch app from the iTunes store called "Escape from the Tower". You can `help four worthy prisoners escape from the Tower by re-enacting their real-life events'. Do you know how many of King Henry VIII's six wives were imprisoned and executed at the Tower of London?

Also during your visit to the Tower of London you may meet the Yeoman Warders, or "Beefeaters'', who guard the tower and are caretakers of the mysterious ravens. Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, the Kingdom will fall!

Cruise the River Thames taking in many of the city's famous sights. It is here on the River Thames that the beautiful Tower Bridge is located. You may remember during the London Olympics, the Olympic rings hung on this bridge making this iconic beauty even more spectacular. Unfortunately for us the rings no longer hang on the bridge, however the beauty of Tower Bridge remains.

Spend an evening experiencing the glitz and glamour of London's world famous theatre scene, attending a performance of one of the capital's most popular shows.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

P2P Day 17: Righty-O Then, They're Off to London - Simply Brilliant!

Inside the London Eye.
They were on the move all day despite the rain, checking out the sights and sounds of London. Once again, the leaders save the day by posting a lot of great photos (see them below).

Actually Katie said today was kind of a dud - I have a feeling, as I read the copy below - that's because they saw things on the move rather than really getting to explore. I know she really wanted time to shop at Harrods. I doubt they had a second.

I sense a return trip coming.

That's Jessie with her.
Well that photo is stunning.
She called me from a Brazilian restaurant where I guess she got in trouble for ordering off-menu (do they not know this kid always orders off-menu? She's a total pain!). It looked like they were having a good time chatting and waiting for their food.

I messed up about the play - that's tomorrow night. They have a really full day tomorrow - it's their last day of the trip, then they stagger to the airport and fly home.

From the People to People Itinerary
This morning you will make your way to Buckingham Palace to view the precisely choreographed Changing of the Guard. Did you know that Buckingham Place is the official residence and principal workplace of the British monarch?

Discover London with a Blue Badge Guide - an expert on England's capital. Pass by sites, attractions and buildings often seen in the movies and which are world famous. See the royal palaces, the lions in Trafalgar Square, the magnificent Palace of Westminster, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the most famous clock in the world, Big Ben.

Enjoy one of the most spectacular views of London from the world's tallest observation wheel, The EDF Energy London Eye. This astonishing 443 ft high ride provides a fantastic panoramic view of the city from 32 enclosed air-conditioned capsules. The height of the London Eye is the equivalent of 64 red telephone boxes piled on top of one another! WOW!

Tomorrow will be a long day so you may want to spend some time prepare for your flight and begin to pack your belongings.

Friday, July 4, 2014

P2P Day 16: JackWills Is Katie's New Boy Friend, A Knight to Remember in Warwick

I hope it's raining because she's all wet!
So I guess my rock star experienced repeller didn't repel so well yesterday! She managed to bruise her neck, spine and arm and is feeling it today!


She called to say the day was great - but it looks a little wet - and they toured Warwick Castle and did some Knight training. The leaders posted some great photos of the kids earning their stripes (see below).

It's JW - duh...
Warwick Castle
But that wasn't the highlight of the day. No, that happened earlier when the kids had a little free time and they got to run about the town of Chester (bytheway, look at the two links below about Chester - the walls are kind of amazing). Apparently this has been the "fashion trip" (no I haven't looked at my credit card transactions yet, now I'm afraid to).

One of the brands she had to get is called JackWills (JW) and it's apparently huge in the UK. She's sporting her new sweatshirt there on the FaceTime photo. Thank god she was able to get this sweatshirt, I'd hate to think she was missing out somehow - I mean being all of 14 and getting to freaking go to the UK to being with! Sheesh.

Tonight ended with a few fireworks. She wasn't sure why they were seeing them (I figure there have to be some Americans around somewhere causing trouble). After four years of missing out on July 4th, she was happy to see them!

Tomorrow they bust a move to London (staying in Wembley) and they will see a play tomorrow night! She said they wouldn't tell her which one. I will crack up if it's Shakespeare.

From the People to People Itinerary
Spend some time exploring the wonderful Roman city of Chester, which was once the capital of Great Britain. Receive a guided orientation from your Delegation Manager of the Amphitheatre and the fortress walls before breaking into groups and exploring this historic city on your own.

On arrival at Warwick, you will have time to explore the magnificent, medieval castle. In 1068, William the Conqueror fortified the site, which overlooks the river Avon. Imagine yourself in the Middle Ages as you explore the dark and gloomy dungeon, gruesome torture chamber and splendid armory.

Calling all Student Ambassadors! Are you brave enough to join the Earl of Warwick's celebrated army? This evening, you will be whisked back in time and invited to train as a soldier in a specially recreated medieval encampment! You will be taught the arts of sword fighting, bill drill training and other pre-battle rituals before being treated to the spectacular sight of the firing of the world's largest trebuchet (catapult) [check out this video - advance to 2:30 and then WATCH!]. With the summer sun softly shining on your back [I think it was raining], this wonderful and unique experience will live long in the memory! You will truly enjoy this People to People exclusive opportunity.

This must be Chester.
Warwick Castle
Jack Bauer - the early years.
It appears my child either has issues with authority or can't follow instructions. Or both.
Discipline is harsh in People to People!
I love this shot - World's Largest Trebuchet and our great kids!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

P2P Day 15: When's the Last Time You Repelled Down a Castle Wall?

They are still in Wales.

And they are repelling down the wall of a castle tower? wall? what's the word? The tall thing. Up they went and down they came. I have no idea if everyone did it but I know everyone was encouraged! Katie lives for this stuff so I'm sure she scampered to the top.

This is Penrhyn Castle and that's a 75 foot drop. Awesome.

It also looks like they did some sort of game (with the checkerboard squares) and they also broke boards with their bare hands!

Didn't hear a word from the kiddo today.

The leaders posted a picture of the hotel or guest house they are staying at (see below). Looks pretty nice (even if there are spiders in the basement). Tomorrow they head for England with a start in Warwick.

From the People to People Itinerary

Today is all about challenge, excitement and energy! Get ready for a day full of adventure and personal growth through interactive and challenging workshops led by the Full On team.

You will have the opportunity to learn leadership skills, set personal goals and step outside your comfort zone. Conquer FEAR by abseiling 75 feet off a tower wall at Penrhyn Castle!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

P2P Day 14: They Arrive in Wales After a Simply Splendid Four-Hour Ferry Ride. Cheers!

They are in Wales!

Katie said the ferry ride was fabulous. Apparently she's reading some book of poetry (who is she?!) and she and her friends were discussing the poetry and drinking coffee on the ferry ride - "Mom, I'm drinking so much coffee now, I just love it!" - and they were being all smart and discussy.

"Katie, you're in England, you're supposed to drink tea," I told her.

"Geez mom, we haven't even gotten to England yet. What's wrong with you, they drink coffee in Ireland and Scotland."

And there you have it. I guess I might have to get a coffee pot. Lord knows I don't drink the stuff and I'm not ready to buy stock in Starbucks. But, I do like the smell and if it helps her get up in the morning....

The ferry ride was about four hours long. Then the got to Wales and spent time learning history and doing some touring. She and her roommate were the only girls on the boys floor ("in the dungeon with spiders everywhere") but the part of the hotel I could see looked nice.

Once again the leaders to the rescue with great shots of the day's events. Tomorrow they have a Full-On experience - she got to do one in New Zealand (repelling) and in Canada they did something similar called Tree-Go. Basically they are team building, personal challenge experiences that are fun but push you to try new things. Can't wait to find out what they will be doing!

Noswaith dda - which is to say, good evening, in Welsh. [OMG I love this video!]

From the People to People Itinerary
This morning you will say goodbye to the "Emerald Isle" and make your way to the ferry port where your ferry will take you over to Wales.

Be welcomed by the Welsh Country Manager, and receive an introduction to Wales, local sights and activities. Crossing over GeorgeStephenson's magnificent iron bridge with the beautiful Menai Straits below, you will then arrive onto the Welsh mainland.

Encounter the village that boasts one of the world's longest station names: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch! [Why?]

During your time in Wales, you may notice the distinct Welshlanguage. In some areas, it is still the primary language and today you will learn some basic phrases in this Celtic language.

Diane "Golden" Miller - this is all I know!
The bridge they talk about above.

Larry called this: Zap Game in Wales.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

P2P Day 13: The Lakes of Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe (It Sounds So Musical)

I'm driving to my client's office when the phone rings.

It's a FaceTime call. Katie is in a candy shop in Ireland dying to show me all the cool candies. Only I'm on one of the busiest freeways of the commute. Needless to say, I didn't get to see the candy. I told her to take pictures.

I talked to her a little later in the day (sometime during the US Soccer game, I could hear the cheering in the cafeteria) and she was in the tub drinking something that looked eerily like wine - but I think I was projecting. She said they really enjoyed the hike in the Gap of Dunloe and it was about seven miles. I'm not sure if that's round trip or not but she said it wasn't that bad because they took a boat ride back so it went fast.

Larry, one of the leaders, had photos posted by the time I woke up this morning (which was about 3pm their time) and it looks like an incredible place. I have links and photos below. Tonight they are in Dublin and then tomorrow then head by ferry to Wales.

From the People to People Itinerary
Today you will experience the natural beauty of Ireland as you travel the Gap of Dunloe in a horse-drawn jaunty cart. The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass carved by glaciers millions of years ago.

At Lord Brandon's Cottage, which was formerly a hunting lodge, you will stop for lunch and to admire the views at the bottom of the gorge, before embarking on a breath-taking cruise across one of the tranquil lakes.

During your time at the Gap you will travel across the Lakes of Killarney by boat which during this hour long trip you will enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. This will be a day to remember.

Following this wonderful day experiencing Ireland, you will welcome a small journey to Dublin.