Meeting Dookes

Dookes neighborhood!

So where has AGMA been of late?

Not sitting at her favorite coffee shop typing blog posts on her laptop, that’s for sure. 

Where have days (weeks, months, years…) gone?

So while AGMA was goofing off, not posting blog posts, Hubs and I decided to beat the European travel rush that is supposed to happen this summer, and we headed over the Pond in March.

Because Hubs has a mobility disability, we travel with a mobility scooter, most tour companies don’t want to deal with us.  And the ones that cater to folks with mobility issues are out of our price range.

So I have become Hubs’ private travel agent/tour organizer.

Lucky guy.

In March, AGMA Travel and Leisure, LLC. planned a trip to Europe with 4 very distinct parts.

Ever since AGMA saw Poldark on Masterpiece Theater in the 1970’s, I’ve wanted to see this incredibly beautiful part of England.  My desire to visit Cornwall was heightened the past few years by the new Poldark on PBS, and my blogging friend, Hogrider Dookes, who lives in Cornwall.

Lucky guy.

St Michaels Mount. Does it remind you of anyplace in France??
The Minack Theater in Cornwall
The old tin mines ala Poldark

As a matter of fact, Dookes took a YUGE leap of faith and decided to actually meet up with me when we were in his neck of the woods.  Risky business on his part.  But he knows AGMA is a bit….AGMA.

Still, I was hoping that I wouldn’t freak the bejesus out of him…  

Turns out that he and his wife were as charming, welcoming and gracious as I am weird, strange and cray, cray.  We all got along famously.

Harls & Hettie, Dookes’ beloved rides!

Thanks Dookes for a fantabulous time!

Oh…and did I mention that on the way to Cornwall, we stopped for tea at HIghclere Castle (otherwise known as Downton freaking Abbey????)  Being a huge fan of the Downton Abbey series and movies, AGMA was pretty psyched that we were able to take a tour of Highclere.  Unfortunately, the weather that day was pretty much the worst weather we had on our entire trip – this is the best picture I was able to take.

Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey

By the time the tour and tea was done, It was pouring cats, dogs, and hedgehogs outside.  And no pictures are allowed inside. Damn. 

First world problem.

Part 2 was in jolly old London Town.

Light crowd for the changing of the guard

I hadn’t been to London in over 20 years so a visit there was long overdue.  It was a bit of a whirlwind visit – only 3 nights – but we hit the ground running (and scooting.)   Dinner with a friend who lives there, a visit to the British Museum, an evening walking tour of gaslight London, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London kept us busy. 

St James Park was popping with Spring!
The Parthanon Marbles that Great Britain won’t give back to Greece. Naughty…
The venerable Westminster Abbey
The Tower of London & Tower Bridge.

I was wracking up the steps on my smart watch.

AGMA finally got to ride the London Eye, something I wanted to do when I was there 20 years ago.  And it was pretty dang impressive…. It helped that the weather was uncharacteristically beautiful with blue skies and lots of sunshine.

Holy crap on a cracker… The view from the London Eye is CRAZY!!

We also went to a revival of Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theater.  It was a stunning show with incredibly innovative staging and choreography, and a stellar cast.  It was also expensive… On top of the price of the tickets, everybody had to show a negative COVID test to get into the theater which set us back an additional $95.  Ouch.  

But totally worth it!

Part 3 was Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate that was on No Man’s Land during the Cold War.

I was in Berlin in 1976 as part of a college-aged student two month tour (translation = drunken boondoggle) of Europe.  If you were in college in the 1970’s, AGMA bets you saw the flyers for this ISE (International Student Exchange) tour.   

Berlin in 2022 is vastly different from the Berlin of 1976.  

For starters, no wall, no Checkpoint Charlie, no East Berlin.  90 percent of our time was spent in the old East Berlin which I didn’t have access to in 1976.  Stalin truly did take the “best bits” of Berlin when they carved it up after WWII.  Our small, lovely, boutique hotel, the Montbijou Hotel, in the Hackescher Market area, is in former East Berlin area as is Museum Island, the old Jewish Quarter, and the TV Tower.

The Hackescher Market area.
What’s left of The Wall
Oh myyyyy…

Hubs & I got together with a lovely young German woman  (she was the au pair for my niece for 18 months in DC until last year) and her sister for a wonderful breakfast at the restaurant on top of the Reichstag. AGMA highly recommends it! 

The Reichstag was da bomb!

As it turns out, our 5 days in Berlin wasn’t nearly long enough to explore this fascinating, complex city.  We’re ready to go back!

Part 4 was Lisbon.

The famed pastel de nata of Portugal

We flew across the Atlantic on TAP Airlines, which is a low cost, Portuguese airline.  No matter where your final destination is, you will connect through Lisbon.  TAP offers free stop-overs in either Lisbon or Porto, so AGMA said, why not?  

This was our second visit to Lisbon.  The first was part of a tour and was a whirlwind 48 hour visit that included Sintra.  This time, we stayed in Lisbon for the full 3 days and had a chance to explore this absolutely beautiful city.  Our hotel, The 7 Hotel, was modern and delightful, and in a fantastic location in the Baxia neighborhood..  Aside from the incredible food, the beautiful weather, and our evening at a Fado restaurant, the highlight of our trip was the TukTuk tour we took (get it – TukTuk took??)  It wasn’t inexpensive, but the one on one interaction with our driver who knew the city and its history inside and out was worth every penny. 

Our tiktuk chariot awaits!
Beautiful Lisbon!
São Jorge Castle under Lisbon’s blue skies!
One of the 4 Fado singers for the evening.
Gotta love those Lisbon trolley cars!

So 6 plane rides, 4 COVID tests, 2 passenger locator forms, innumerable times showing our CDC vaccination card, and 17 masks later, we got home at the end of March.  Let’s just say, to travel internationally during COVID, you REALLY need to want to travel internationally during COVID.

And you’d think AGMA would have learned her lesson.

But nah baby nah.

50 years ago, when I was a mere girl of 18, I took my first international trip.  I went to Greece for a week over spring break when I was a freshman in college on a student/alumni trip.  

A very young AGMA in 1972 in her hot pants! (No snide comments Dookes ;-)! )

To celebrate that momentous trip that sparked a lifetime love of travel, AGMA is returning to the scene of the crime.  Tomorrow.

Opa!!

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