UK and Berlin, Part 1

Stephen had the opportunity to travel to Leeds, England, and Berlin, Germany, for work. I wasn’t about to let him have all the fun, and since Siemens would be paying for Stephen’s airfare and most of the hotel nights, it seemed like a good time to squeeze in a little Europe trip. First step, fly our personal house-and-pet-sitter in from Texas. It was cheaper to fly Meredith here to watch the dogs than to pay to board them for 2 weeks. And I’m sure they were much happier being at home with Auntie Meredith than cooped up in a kennel. Thanks Mere!

We flew from Charlotte to Philadelphia, meeting Stephen’s manager there before boarding our flight to Manchester. We left Philadelphia over an hour late (sick passenger had to be removed from flight, along with her luggage which had already been stowed in cargo) but still made it to Manchester right on time, thanks to a very strong tail wind. The flight was scheduled for 8 hours, we made it in 6. Of course, we left Philly at 9pm, and arrived in Manchester at 8:45am the next day, but we did it in 6 hours! I guess that is as close as we will get to time travel.

Stephen’s manager had rented a car, so we rode with him out to Leeds, about an hour and 15. It snowed as we were crossing over the hills (not sure if they can be called mountains…) By the time we arrived at our hotel, I was feeling a little car sick and glad for the chance to lie down. I think it was a combination of driving on the opposite side of the road, the jerky motion of the stick shift, and riding with someone I haven’t driven with before.

We stayed at Hollins Hall for two nights. The first full day we were in country Stephen had to work (that is why he was there, after all) so I ventured north to York. I took a taxi from the hotel to the Shipley train station, bought a ticket to York via Leeds, and off I went!

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After touring the York Minster, I emerged to not just rain, but a howling wind. I knew it was supposed to storm that afternoon, but had forgotten while immersed in the history of the Minster. I darted across the square into a bistro I had noticed earlier (their sign said, “What you could really use now is some homemade soup and crusty bread.” It worked for me.) I had some of that homemade soup and bread, and then walked back to the train station, the wind pushing at my back the entire way.

Our hotel, Hollins Hall, is part of a country club, which has an indoor pool, spa, steam room, and sauna. Since I had about an hour before Stephen got back from work, I decided to partake of the luxury of a heated indoor pool. And when I say heated, I mean heated. It was like bath water, and amazing. The relaxation factor was ruined a bit by the local kids having their swim lessons, but it is hard to beat sitting in an indoor hot tub while the rain and wind outside lash against the windows.

We had dinner at The White Hart with Stephen’s coworkers and the vendors he was there to meet with. I think they were all impressed I went all the way to York by myself. And made it back. One of the local’s commented that I must be rather adventurous. I suppose I could be called that, but I pointed out to him that it is easy to get around when you speak the language!

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