Over the last several months, fourteen to be exact I have been saving and dreaming about my trip to the United Kingdom. I say the UK because a part of it included Scotland. My entire stay was going to be 10 days, with three in Scotland and the rest in England. As it turns out I spent one day in Scotland and nine days in England, in no part my doing but the uncoordinated and horrible efforts of United Airlines.
Like all trips it started with excitement mixed with apprehension. I am not a flyer and do not like any of the sensations of flying — from the waiting, take off, or long flights. My trip ended up being a nightmare flying. It was really not the flying but the “wanting” to fly that was horrible. It all started in Grand Rapids when our original flight was canceled to Chicago which led to a domino effect of missing all the flights to Edinburgh. Next I spent two days calling endlessly to get rescheduled with new flights — United is very good at taking your reservations but just horrible at actually providing the service of flight. After two days of endless holds and endless broken promises they got me a flight out of Grand Rapids, but of course that was a lie too and that plane ended up being cancelled. Only by some savvy United employees in GR did I find another long delayed flight that got me to Newark.
At least from there our flights smoothed out and we did eventually get to Edinburgh — two days late. This is where our trip really started. And what an exciting 10 days it was! The trip to the UK was the best and I only met the nicest people on my trip. I cannot say more how often we had to ask directions, and everyone was just so pleasant and helpful.
We started our adventure on the Royal Mile and then went on to the great Edinburgh’s castle. Originally planned for three days and a trip into the Kingdom of Fife, we had to do everything in one short day because we had booked a non-refundable train ticket to London the very next day. Sadly we only had one day in Edinburgh but we absolutely loved it!
The very next day we had to get on a train and travel from Edinburgh to London. My wife and I had never been on a train before, but luckily we booked First Class seats and had a marvelous six hour ride down along the coast. We saw much of the English countryside and so many beautiful little towns.
Our next stop and for the remainder of our stay we were next to the London Eye. Unbeknownst to my wife, our First Class tickets did not drop us off right at Waterloo Station but required a transfer from the train to the Tube and a series of changes. Beyond never having rode a train, we had never used a subway (or in this case the Tube) and that was a riotous adventure — but again we were met only with pleasant people and we found our way to the hotel.
Settling in for the week we did so much on that Sunday and we had perfect weather (something you don’t always get in England according to the locals). We started the day at the Eye, then walked to Big Ben, The Parliament Buildings, West Minster Abbey, and then on to Buckingham Palace. Undaunted we continued our adventure to Trafalgar Square and on towards Piccadilly Circus. We traveled across several foot bridges and just drank in the sites.
The following days we took a day trip to Oxford and then another to Windsor Castle. We also took a day to go through the British Museum and ended up using our last day to go through the British Museum of Nature. But all of these were adventures I will post about later.
I never really thought I had jet lag and was asleep at 11 PM their time and ready to roll around 8 AM the next day. We also ate like horses over there and found a marvelous little restaurant bar called the Slug and Lettuce — yeah the name sounds weird but it was really good, comforting food.
Our trip back was smooth until once again we landed in the US. Just when our last leg of the trip was to leave, an unmuzzled dog in the plane (why and hell would United allow that) bit the flight attendant and the entire plane had to be evacuated. After seven hours of constantly being lied to, going from leaving at 3:30 to leaving at 10:30 we finally wound up home at 2 AM rather than 6:30. But we were home and the greatest adventure was sadly over.