OR: How to survive the longest ten days of the year, perhaps your life. Part 1.
Pick them up at the airport at butt o'clock in the morning (not as early as twat o'clock, which is really unbearably early). They have their first ever bacon rolls with "tatti scones" and also learn how awful the coffee is here. Have your plans for them to check in and take a nap be blown apart by the facts that the Travelodge will not let them check in early without a £10 fee and your guests don't want to take a nap anyway. Thus, you need to move up your plan for Day 9 and give them a tour of Guildford. Check out Guildford castle, which is nicer than you expected, but really no more than you would expect for £2.50. Walk to the river and feed some ducks and some swans. Get pecked by an aggressive swan. Take them for a traditional British meal: Indian cuisine. Order way way way too much food but enjoy what you can before throwing your hands up in surrender. Drop off your guests and wonder why you're the one exhausted when they were the ones who had a 10 hour flight.
Take the train to Hampton Court Palace. Note: Go to a ticket booth and order the group saver discount at the train station, which is not available from the ticket machines. It is applicable for 3 or more adults as long as you travel after 9:30am. Also, if going during the summer months (before end of Sept) see if there are any vouchers available for London sights. We couldn't find one at the train station but Craig charmed one from the agent at Hampton Palace, which was "one adult and one half off" sort of deal. Get tickets for both the palace and the gardens, I think it's worth it. Also, the audio tour guides are free! And in Korean!! I highly recommend the Tudor Kitchens tour. The palace room tours get a bit repetitive, but still see at least one.
Get up at butt o'clock in the morning to accompany them to church. Mumble excuses why you don't go despite the fact that the church is literally across the street from where you live. Mumble horrified comments when they try to put American dollars in the offering basket and insist that although their intentions are good, the church would much rather receive £5 than $5 and to let you donate instead. After a breakfast of bagels and coffee, again with murmurings of disgust, catch a train to London. Take a ride on the London Eye, which you pre-ordered tickets for so you could get a discount. Pay £10 for a souvenir picture, keychain and magnet. Give the parents the picture and the magnet. Trade your keychain for their magnet after a passing suggestion from wise boyfriend. Have wise boyfriend lead you to Covent Garden by foot. Count your blessings that you're just in time for a (pretty good) silent street act so your guests can enjoy the show with no explanation. Hop on the tube to the Natural History Museum, which is FREE. Note for future: Do NOT enter via the handicapped entrance. You'll enter it backwards and be unable to escape the unbelievably boring Red Area (ie Earth Sciences) for ages. It will definitely be worth walking around the corner or whatever we were supposed to do, to the main entrance in order to get the full effect of the grand entry. Seeing the skeleton of a brontosaurus from the tail is just not as magnificent as seeing it from the front, especially when it's after already wandering around techtonic plate displays.
Try and convince them that they are exhausted and could use a day off. It's really you that's tired but they're older, surely they can agree to this plan! Fail miserably at this plan and realize they only have a week here, your aunt's never been here, and stop being a brat. Trek to the train station, you're going to take them to the Tower of London today. Feel free to just point in random directions when they ask you where your work, your house, their hotel, the ocean, America, and Korea is in relation to where your train currently is. They will probably argue against where you point but it's ok, they like puzzling it out. At the Tower of London, have your umbrella break on you so now you have to huddle under one with your aunt while your mom insists on wearing a see-through raincoat and dad wears an NFL beach hat. Get audio guides for everyone. Despite what the signs say, they DO have them in Korean and although they are not free, trust me they're worth it. For dinner, take them to Rumwong. Write down "pad thai" on a piece of paper using eyeliner so your mom can order it at home.
You're flying to Ireland for a 3 day stay in Dublin!
It looks like your original train has been cancelled. Make quick mental calculations and it looks like you can take the next one... if you can buy the tickets fast enough, the line looks huge! After waiting for a while, decide to try and buy the tickets from the machine, screw the discount. Buy the wrong type of tickets using the wrong type of route. Take ages getting a refund for these from the most meticulous ticket agent in the whole wide world. Apologize to the 10 people who are lined up behind you for being One of Those People.
Get on the train that you thought was cancelled, the display says is cancelled, and yet there it is pulling up to the station in front of you. Don't question it, run and get on board!
When you arrive at the airport, panic for about 2 minutes because you can't find your flight number on the displays. It turns out Ryanair is so cheap and small they don't register on that board but yeah the airline does exist. Take a deep breath as you check in and think this is about the time you could use a smoke but you're in an airport and more importantly, your parents are right behind you.
Check into the Camden Court Hotel, wander along to Temple Bar for a late dinner. As you wearily trudge back to the hotel, wonder why on earth an hour and a half flight from London to Dublin can take all day! How are you going to get through the next 5 days?
Actually, you get through pretty ok. Stay tuned to see how.
Next time: Ireland is very old.