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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Spotlight: Linda Swift

The next weekend we had booked another tour with Wallace Arnold to Bath and Bristol. This time I made sure it wasn't to be on a public bus. We were picked up by a small van at Debenham's Department Store quite early and taken to the main W-A terminal in Leeds where we boarded our coach. Our seats were front row, passenger side and we discovered there was no foot room due to steps into the bus. At our first stop, we requested a change of seating since there were only thirteen passengers, and went to the middle of the bus. When the driver announced the second toilet break, he added forty-five minutes. We thought this strange, as breaks are usually fifteen minutes or so but ours not to question. Since it was near noon, we went into the snack shop and ordered potato-onion soup and rolls to eat with our tea. After a leisurely meal, we took a toilet break and when I came out, my husband was waving frantically. "They're all waiting for us! Hurry.!" I checked my watch. We'd only taken thirty-five minutes. As we jogged toward the coach, the lady who'd found us explained that they'd been waiting for twenty minutes. It seemed the driver was answering a passenger's question about how far we were from Bath when he'd said forty-five minutes. When we got to the bus, the driver was missing, gone in another direction in search of the rude Americans. Needless to say, we were greeted with glares from our fellow passengers; then the driver returned grumbling and mumbling and we got underway.

When we arrived in Bath the driver announced our departure time and cautioned us not to be late. It was obvious he was talking to us. Bath was a disappointment. I had seen the Crescent on the telly and was fascinated by its beauty and assumed the Roman baths were located there. Imagine my disappointment when we had walked to the top of the long hill where it was located and learned it contained three floors of townhomes. We finally found the Baths in the opposite direction but they were located out of sight until one paid an eight pound admission and we didn't have enough time left to view them.

So it was on to Bristol and a night at a lovely Holiday Inn. Our assigned room had an overflowing toilet and sopping wet carpet that required a room change. The following morning we located a huge shopping mall but it didn't open till noon and we were leaving at half past and didn't dare be late. We learned enroute home there had been a tour of the city and harbor which our driver had not mentioned and I ticked Wallace Arnold Tours off my preferred list.

But our unpopular behavior was not yet over. Back in Leeds, we were told departure time on the van for Hull was 7:45 and meanwhile the passenger lounge served complimentary biscuits and tea. We had over an hour to kill so we went inside and relaxed. We sat by a window and could see the empty (we thought) van waiting outside the terminal but chose to stay in the cozy lounge rather than the van. When we sauntered out to board about 7:30, we were met by another hostile driver who informed us everyone else had been waiting since 7:00 and he could have been halfway to Hull by now if we'd been there. Well, how were we to know? Did I mention that Wallace Arnold drivers weren't the only people ticked off?

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the coach killer. And no, it wasn't me.


Danielle Thorne said...

You're making me very afraid to take tours! Perhaps a rented car would be be best since us Americans are so easily confused! Do you still recommend Bath and did you get to see the ballrooms?

chey said...

I admire that you kept up the sight seeing trips. I think I would have given up by now!

M J Watson said...

Linda - I can just picture you "sorting" out all the snafus! I agree with Chey that I would have given up on the weekend travel. I hope you include a story about the shortbread cookies on the plane. Joyce

Linda Swift said...

Danielle, we had a car at our disposal the entire time we were in Hull. But remember, after a couple of weekends, my husband swore off driving on weekends. (yes, this would have been the best way to see all the little interesting places) Bath was one of my biggest disappointments but I think it was because I missed the baths. Did see the ballrooms.

chey, it would have been easier to take "American tours" but then we would have missed the "British experience" and I loved that, even when we ran into all those snafus.

Joyce, I'm afraid the cookies story won't be included as that happened on a trans-Atlantic flight and I'm not doing anything but in-country blogs this time. But that is sure to appear somewhere later on!ressig

Kathleen said...

I guess I have been lucky on most tours that I have been on by bus. But I have had a couple of experiences where I or someone has made the bus wait and the other riders have got a bit ticked. But hey I just smile and go to my seat. Not my falt I got int he wrong line up at the checkout or something like that. That's why I always like to hire a car and to things at my own leisure.

Janet said...

Hi Linda

Have really been along on your weekend trips even thought I am mostly a non-traveler. I have enjoyed each day and look forward to more.


Linda Swift said...

Kathleen and Janet: Thanks to you both for stopping by. I hope you both will join me Friday for one more tour, no, actually two. Good luck in the drawing for my books.