In December 2013, my boyfriend’s brother gave us the opportunity to use his rewards points to book a free flight for a trip to Europe. We planned a 10 day trip to the UK and Ireland. This is our story.
3:14 pm, 15:14, Eastern Time
Skylor and I are waiting to board flight number one from Richmond, VA, USA to Washington, DC, USA. It’s been delayed by about 45 minutes. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a flight that departed on time – but I refuse to stress. All I’ve been doing since almost day one of planning this trip has been to stress – so it stops today. I’ve tried to cover as many details as possible, but part of the adventure is the unknown. Time to get out of our comfort zones and think on our feet.
Through this process I’ve come to realize how old I’m getting…I’m now one of those people who wants her next vacation to be as little work as possible, LOL. Cruise please. :)
But I am very excited and also very grateful. This is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I didn’t think it would ever happen, but it is! Yay!
- Flight delayed from Richmond
- Made great time on flight from RIC to Dulles, but now have a 3 hour lay over in Dulles
- Exchanged money in Dulles. $800 became 450 Pounds
- I got 120 Euros
- Lisa was much more comfortable afterward
- We were only charged one service fee (Thanks random dude behind the counter in Dulles).
- Budgeted the money per location and are feeling pretty good. Just hope that the money goes far enough on our travels. Otherwise there may be some lean nights.
- During the layover, I learned the “joys” of Instagram. Apparently if Facebook and Twitter had a one night stand, the result nine months later would be Instagram.
- Wow, those are some terrible thunderstorms. I hope we are not delayed. :(
- Met three people while waiting. One “grown ass woman”, Male singular traveler and a female college student. Male singular traveler was a veteran of overseas travel. Especially at Heathrow.
- Interesting charger experience at Dulles… 3 out of 4 chargers worked on the charging station. We were polite and told people that one outlet was not charging. While we waited we told so many people about the broken outlet that Lisa made a sign to save time… it did not work. Interesting observation: Most elders and most males didn’t believe either the sign nor our verbal warnings about the outlet. Most had to try the outlet for themselves and see it was non functioning.
6:08 pm, 18:08, Eastern Time
Converted $800 to get $450 pounds. Ugh. I just died a little inside.
- Red eye flight. I now understand what the term means. 6 hour 30 minute flight at 10 pm to 10 am. The seats were more comfortable than the California trip. But after a while it didn’t matter and I became uncomfortable. The food was great. Dinner was Chipotle chicken over rice and a corn salad with a garden salad. Dessert was a yummy brownie. Breakfast was a cantaloupe and honey dew with a crescent and jam.
- Movie and TV selections on the flight were wonderful. I watched Anchorman 2 and three episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine. Attempted, unsuccessfully, to sleep the other three hours.
? Probably around 8:30 am, London Time
We’re on the plane from DC to London.* Going to be going over Ireland soon. Map says another 1.24 hours before we arrive at LDN. Just as we suspected, sleeping on the plane has been pretty much impossible, so we feel zombie-like. But, I am getting very excited, and I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.
- Arrived at Heathrow around 10 am. So very tired. Lisa said I was being a grump due to sleep deprivation. Need to do a better job staying positive.
- Went through customs. Our agent was a firm, but friendly Irishman. He stated that “there’s nothing in Shannon but an airport and a river.”
- Our first host will not be available until after 2 pm. We killed time (2 hours) waiting in Heathrow because we did not want to drag all our luggage through the streets of London.
- London Underground = Subway. Many stops. We navigated the underground routes very well. Arrived at our host’s, Tope, within 30 minutes.
- Observations while on the Underground… the Piccadilly Line was very cosmopolitan. Many Indians, blacks and Asians. The Waterloo line was almost exclusively white.
- Dropped our stuff off and walked around downtown London. Saw Big Ben and Parliament. Big Ben is bigger than you think. Also very ornate.
- Apparently you have to pay to use bathrooms in London… 50 pence.
- Bought Cornettos (strawberry) in St. James Park. Laid down and looked at the clouds.
- Walked to Buckingham Palace; it’s a cool place.
- Walked to Trafalgar Square. I don’t know the historical significance of Trafalgar. I should probably look that up.
- Ate a bite at Look Mum No Hands, a food truck near the London Eye. We split the Ploughmans Platter. It was real British food. Pickled onions, ham, sweet relish, tangy relish, cheese, bread, apples and celery.
- Today was a rough day. I took Lisa on a death march throughout London. She was a trooper and hung in there even though she wanted to stab me on more than one occasion.
- Highlight of the day was eating dinner at the Pineapple Pub. The place straight up looked like the Winchester from Shaun of the Dead. Right down to the dim lighting, worn grandma colored furniture and the stagnant air inside…I love this place!
- Went to bed at 8:30 pm and slept about 12 hours. Wow we were tired.
We were so tired last night after sightseeing that I didn’t write again yesterday. After we arrived at Tope’s place (we’re staying in the real London for sure*), we proceeded to walk around London for several miles. So many fancy buildings. After trying the disappointing Ploughman’s Platter, we found more substantial food and drink at The Pineapple Pub and ate pub food and I drank a Guinness. Skylor hates Guinness- he thinks it tastes like a loaf of bread. We also stopped at a food shop for crisps and wafers and such. I also bought a really gross Fanta that Skylor liked – because Skylor likes everything that I don’t like. ;)
I was getting overwhelmed yesterday, which embarrassed me. I want to have the “stiff upper lip” and don’t want to be perceived as an ignorant American. Turns out I hate feeling stupid (duh), which, every time I tried to buy things I felt stupid because money = huh? I think I’m getting the hang of it though. Well- Skylor’s almost ready for Day 2 of exploring London. Here we go!
P.S. We can hear Big Ben from our bed!** :)
*We used AirBnB to book all of our accommodation abroad. It was a great decision, because it gave us the opportunity to stay with “the locals” and meet new people. We had a great experience with all of our locations, and would recommend AirBnB to anyone. Try it out!
**Tope’s place was nice, but noisier than I am used to, because I don’t live in a big city. Ear plugs ensured I had a good night’s sleep though. :)