Okay, I think I’ve got it together enough to post. Here’s where I’ll be in Spain, France, and the UK between July 24th and October 8th. If you’re in any of these places and would like to catch up for a beer/coffee/meal/tourist adventure, let me know. If you’ve travelled in any of these areas and have tips, let me know.
(Exceptions to request for tips: yes, I already have a Eurail pass; yes, I know about booking British tickets well in advance via thetrainline.com; yes, I know the Olympics are on at that time and know about getaheadofthegames.com.)
July 24th-August 7th: Spain, including Madrid, A Coruña, Cordoba, Barcelona.
August 7th-21st: France, including Avignon, a friend’s place nearish to Lyon, Strasbourg, Paris.
August 21st-September 30th: England and Scotland, including the south coast from Dover to Portsmouth, London, York, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bristol, and Cornwall, with shorter side-trips along the way to various stuff.
October 1st-8th: Back through France and Spain to Madrid, and fly home.
July 24th: Arrive Madrid by plane. Stay one night, then take a train to A Coruña for GUADEC.
July 25th-August 1st: A Coruña for GUADEC. I’m speaking on the 28th. Hoping to get in a bit of sightseeing, including a side trip to Santiago de Compostela if I can manage it. I gather it’s pretty close by bus.
August 1st: Train back to Madrid (overnight) then on to Cordoba, arriving on August 2nd. Two days there, which isn’t much, but I’m interested in Al Andalus and would like to see some of the historical stuff. Staying with with locals who are part of the flamenco/arts/music scene. Expecting to more or less roast; the climate averages for August are about 5C hotter than the hottest month we have in Melbourne.
August 4th-7th: Barcelona, by train again of course. Expecting it to be full of tourists and I have a feeling I’m not going to think it’s as great as it’s cracked up to be. Most websites suggest that 3 days is barely enough to even get a taste of the city, but at the peak of the tourist season that might be all I want/could handle.
August 7th-9th: Avignon and Provence. Actually booked a place on a bus tour of Provence including a bunch of Roman ruins and medieval villages and wineries and stuff, because unlike most of the cities I’ll be visiting, it seems like an area that’s hard to manage without a car.
August 9th-14th: Staying with a friend in a little village in the general area of Lyon. Expecting to spend a lot of time sitting around knitting and talking and eating. Apparently there are some local ruins and a museum and stuff, but it’ll be pretty low key.
August 14th-17th: on to Strasbourg, or to be exact a smaller village just outside it, where I found a nice-looking AirBNB room. Planning to just wander around and take in the local sights in a general way; I was interested in seeing this part of France because the region seems so different from the other areas I’ll be in.
August 17th-21st: Paris! Hoping to mostly avoid the major tourist death-traps though I gather the Louvre is actually open til quite late on certain nights so I might try to see some of the Arts Décoratifs (which I’m more into than paintings and sculpture) while everyone else is having dinner. Better than queuing up to look at the Mona Lisa, I think, will be the Musée de Cluny (medieval museum). I’m also thinking of a day trip to Chartres, which should be a little less packed than Versailles, though I’m not totally writing off Versailles if the mood strikes me and I wake up early one morning. And of course some wandering around Montmartre, the Latin Quarter, those sorts of places.
August 21st: I’m crossing the channel by ferry because, I don’t know, I’m a traditionalist I guess. Or a history nerd. Or into boats. Or all of the above. Arriving at Dover, in any case, late afternoon.
August 21st-29th: south coast, spending 2 nights each in Dover, Bristol, and Portsmouth. At Dover I hope to look at cliffs and castles, at Brighton I’m aiming for the Pavilion and Georgian stuff and hipsters, and in Portsmouth it’s all about the dockyards and HMS Victory. Then I spend a couple of nights with a friend in Woking, and I’m thinking of taking a day-trip to a couple of National Trust properties near Guildford: Hatchlands Park and Clandon Park.
August 29th-September 10th: London! Staying with friends, trying to avoid the Olympics. I want to do a handful of touristy things but it will depend on how disrupted public transport is and how crowded the tourist things are. I’m going to play it by ear, but some of the things on my list include: the V&A, the Museum of London, side trip to Hampton Court Palace, the Geffrye Museum (a “museum of the home” which sounds so much like my cup of tea it’s not funny), the Phoenician ship currently moored at St Katharine’s Dock, and Camden Markets. I’ve got 12 days so I think I can do all my touristy stuff at a fairly leisurely pace and still have plenty of time to catch up with friends. I know I’ve spoken to a lot of locals about meeting up, and I’m pretty sure there’ll be at least one fannish gathering and one geeky/bofh/perl/etc one while I’m there, so if you’re interested in any of that let me know.
September 10th-12th: York. History nerding and walking round the walls. I’ve heard very mixed reports of the Jorvik viking stuff, so I suppose I’ll have to check it out and form my own opinion. (History nerds: any opinions?)
September 12th-17th: Edinburgh and various side trips, including Glasgow and a bus tour of the highlands. There seem to be dozens of near-indistinguishable bus tours of lochs, castles, and the like, so I’m whittling the list down by excluding anything that mentions the Loch Ness Monster or any reference to Hollywood movies. Would love to catch up with people for drinks/food/whatever in Edinburgh if you’re in the area.
September 17th-21st: Liverpool, with side-trips to the Peaks (where I intend to take a train to Castleton or somewhere and just wander around for a day) and to Manchester to see the People’s History Museum. In Liverpool I’m planning on hitting the maritime and slavery museums in particular, and mostly avoiding anything Beatles-related.
September 21st-25th: Bristol, with side-trip to Bath. History nerding it up as usual. Definitely going to spend a good chunk of time in the costume museum at Bath.
September 25th-29th: Cornwall, staying with a friend in a tiny village on the Lizard. Planning to spend a couple of days just rambling around that village and the nearby countryside and coast, and one day getting a lift to Illogan, where my family are from (they were miners who came to Australia during the gold rush) and wandering around there a bit for the day. On the 29th, hitting the maritime museum in Falmouth, before heading on to Plymouth in Devon.
September 29th-30th: Plymouth, where I’ll meander around and look at things a little bit before getting on a ferry over to France again.
October 1st-8th: This section is the least well planned at present, but the ferry comes in at Roscoff, near Brest, and I’m planning on spending a couple of days in Brittany before heading south, stopping off at Bordeaux for a look around, and then on to somewhere in Basque country (Vitoria-Gasteiz seems likely, since the train goes that way) for a little stop before I get back to Madrid and onto a plane for home.
So, that’s about it as it currently stands. Suggestions? Propositions?