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LIFESTYLE TRAVEL

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Tips on taking a teen to Europe [By Roger M. Showley] Taking a toddler to Europe can add extra stress on top of unfamiliar money, new languages and exotic foods - what with strollers, car seats, diapers and sleep schedules to juggle.

But going with teenagers can be even more

and swings, but it did mean finding parks to

exhibit, “London Before London,” covers

challenging, unless you let them set the pace

walk in, lakes and fountains to stop by and

the prehistoric period, illustrated in part

and tone.

changes in schedule when something fun

by a computerized time-lapse film showing

popped up unexpectedly.

how the geology of the region changed over thousands of years. Like many museums in

In 1992, my wife Carol and I took our son, Charlie, then 18 months old, to Europe for

For instance, we might have taken in a West

three weeks. On Travels With Charlie: The

End play when we were wandering around

Toddler Years, we visited the Louvre and

Covent Garden one evening, but instead

Versailles, to be sure, but he was happiest at

we stopped to enjoy a street magician, who

the playgrounds and sandboxes we found in

entertained a growing crowd with tricks and

every town.

banter.

Last summer, he and I went alone on a

To prepare for our trip, I spent untold hours

15-day trip to Great Britain. The question

researching in travel books and on the

Outside London: We took two day-trips

was whether both of us could have a good

Internet for places to go and things to do.

by train from London, one to Henry VIII’s

time together, now that he had a say in what

Charlie’s only demands were two: Go easy on

Hampton Court Palace and the other to

we were going to do. Travels With Charlie:

the art museums and visit the five-year-old

Warwick Castle and Oxford University.

The Teen Years required less equipment - a

National Space Centre in Leicester.

Self-guided tours, costumed figures and

Game Boy. (Charlie: Yeah, that’s pretty much

the city, this one was free to all.

taped commentaries brought each space to

it. You don’t need much else on long plane/

Here’s what rang a bell with Charlie and

life. At Warwick, the highlight was watching

train rides if you’ve got “Advance Wars.”)

what didn’t:

a demonstration of a trebuchet catapult a

This time, at the age of 15 1/2, he carried his

London: The Tower of London with its

own luggage and made few food demands

dungeons and weapons fascinated him, St.

(the occasional ice cream and Starbucks

Paul’s Cathedral didn’t. We spent hours

Stonehenge and Bath: On the way to Wales,

Frappuccino). But there was still that late-

at the underground Cabinet War Rooms

we joined a London Walks tour to Salisbury

to-bed, late-to-rise teenage sleep schedule

and Churchill Museum. The high-tech

and Stonehenge. (See details at

to consider, even after he had adjusted to the

presentation of the World War II prime

www.walks.com.) The crowds were not so

eight-hour time difference.

minister’s public and private life was well

big that we didn’t get a good feel for the

flaming cannon ball several hundred yards to its target.

worth the $22 admission (free for students).

majesty and mystery around us. (Besides, it’s

When we arrived in London late at night,

The Museum of Science and Industry was a

Stonehenge! How could you not like it?) At

we took the tube from Heathrow Airport to

hit, while the British Museum was only so-so.

Bath, the highlight for Charlie was “Bizarre

South Kensington and stayed with friends

We breezed through the Victoria & Albert

Bath,” a hysterical evening walkabout led

from San Diego. But the next morning, it

Museum in 10 minutes, skipped the National

by Noel Britten, who mixed magic tricks

took Charlie until noon to wake up - after 12

Gallery and Tate but spent some quality time

with satirical stories about the city’s history.

hours of sleep. Playtime didn’t require slides

at the Museum of London. A permanent

(Correction: “History” is an overstatement;

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LIFESTYLE TRAVEL

www.lawcrossing.com

1. 800.973.1177

the only “historical” information he told us

where he purchased a pair of samurai sai

Hostels and bed-and-breakfast inns are the

was stuff he read posted on various walls of

blades. (The number of weapons in Scotland

most economical, as little as $20 per person

buildings.) (See www.bizarrebath.co.uk.)

in general was ridiculous. Even drug stores

per night. The Lonely Planet “Great Britain”

had a small collection of claymores and long

guide offered great suggestions, especially

swords behind the counter.)

the lively Castle Rock Hostel around the

Wales: While guests of my wife’s Welsh

corner from the Edinburgh Castle in the

cousins, Charlie bonded with their grandchildren who were his age, but his

Charlie’s return to Europe introduced him

Scottish capital ($26 per person per night,

great discovery was Waterstone’s bookstore

to beer (for all the people that love it, it sure

www.scotlandstophostels.com).

chain and the last volume in the “Darren

tastes pretty lame), World Cup competition

Shan” vampire book series, not yet published

on TV in the pubs (they sure swore a lot when

Charlie quickly took to Cornish pasties,

in the U.S. He stayed up way past midnight

the opposing team did something good),

a filled buttery croissant, and bought

reading it. (Wow, Britain sure is lucky. Book

changing dollars to pounds sterling, and a

sandwiches from groceries. Pub food hit

12 of “Cirque du Freak” doesn’t come out

whole new world of new friends and places

the spot, as did an all-you-can-eat Chinese

here for another few months, but it’s been

to explore.

buffet in Nottingham. Our big splurge was at the 16th-century Witchery restaurant in

out there for more than two years.) The trip represented perhaps our last

Edinburgh. (Charlie surprised me when he

opportunity to bond as father and son before

ordered steak tartare served with fries and

Charlie gets wrapped up in jobs, college,

fried quails, $40, www.thewitchery.com.)

girls and life on his own. Happily, there was

Northern England: We went out of our

no generation gap but a lot of yucking it up

Besides the many free museums available,

and silliness. By remaining flexible, we both

admission to some 500 historic sites are

had a good time - and only lost our way a

included with the Great British Heritage

few times. (All in all, the trip was a success.

Pass. We bought the 15-day pass for $96, but

Having the same interests as my dad - like

it would have been cheaper to buy only one

castles and technology - made the trip less

for me, since Charlie could get the half-price

of an argument and a lot more fun.)

student or child rate. Join guided tours,

way to visit the National Space Centre in

whose leaders often exhibit a great sense of

Leicester but arrived near closing time

humor, and take advantage of wireless audio

and had to race through the exhibits and

tours.

hands-on demonstrations of space travel. (I feel gypped that we spent so little time

Shopping: I gave Charlie $100 for spending

there, but had we been there longer it would

money, which he splurged on books and

have been awesome. As it was, my favorite

swords. Good thing Harrods wasn’t on his

exhibits were on the planets, aliens and the

must-see list.

universe.)

IF YOU GO

Scotland: With only two days available, we

Get a BritRail FlexiPass that lets a person

general tourist information and

spent the first exploring Edinburgh Castle,

under 16 ride free with a paying adult. Our

www.visitbritaindirect.com to buy tickets and

shrouded in fog in the morning, and shopping

eight-day, second-class pass cost $405 (

passes online.

for souvenirs on Princes Street in the

www.britrail.com).

Useful Web sites: www.visitbritain.com for

afternoon. Charlie’s great find: a sword shop

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Tips on taking a teen to Europe  

This Article Describes The Tips For Taking A Teen To Europe, London Trip And Also Tells About Airport Heathrow. Alnwick Garden Of Northern E...

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