To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I have got a dreadful cold.  I wanted to wait until I felt better to start writing about our trip, but that may take a while.  Just have to wear this thing out, I reckon.

F and I decided to spend about a week in London.  We picked out a time, and then I went on Expedia and bought our airline tickets, and paid for the 6 nights in a hotel.  There are a million London hotels on Expedia so I picked an inexpensive one that had good reviews on TripAdvisor.  F paid me back her share.

We already had passports but we spent some time thinking, planning, and making preparations.  Some things worked well, and as expected, some didn't, but you don't know until you go through it all.

I bought two very inexpensive adapters through Amazon because their sockets won't take our plugs.  All of the things F and I had to plug in would handle 240 volts, so we didn't have to have the more expensive voltage converters.  These worked very well.  The hotel had them in the vending machines, for quite a bit more money than we paid.

We ordered Oyster cards so that we could use the public transportation system.  They're cards that you load money onto and then use on the bus, or on the underground; they keep track of where you are and how much to take off, and you can put more money on as needed.  Yes, you can get them after you get there, but the fewer things we had to do, the quicker we could get into our experience.

We let the bank know that we would be using our debit cards in the UK; they lock them, otherwise.  We also each brought 90 pounds with us, that our bank provided before we left.  We didn't know a soul there, and if for some reason the debit cards didn't work right away, there we'd be.  But they did, and it was good to have that cash, too.  Once again, you can exchange American cash when you get there, if you think you'll want to fool with it.

Added some features for the cell phone accounts so that we wouldn't be shocked too badly when we got back.  F only opted for the international calling package, but I added texting and internet features.  I expected to upload pix from my smart phone but that did not work.  We did use the internet to check the weather and a few things of that nature, but I ended up buying more than I was able to use.

We also paid for a couple of tours, in advance.  We were to travel all night Tuesday night, and expected to get to our hotel midday Wednesday.  So the tours we bought were a Thursday afternoon excursion to Stonehenge, and then an all-day tour on Friday called "Total London Experience".  I'll talk more about those when I get to it.  We thought that that would give us a kind of overview so we'd be OK sightseeing on our own afterwards, and that's pretty much what happened.

The weather - well, we expected highs around 60 but it didn't get above about 44 degrees until our last day there.  Also some precipitation - not outright rain, but maybe a very light sprinkle a lot of the time.  We had the sense to pack warm clothes, fortunately, and coats and gloves and umbrellas.  F and I both have a tendency for our hands to get very, very cold if we get just a bit chilled - mine actually turn red or blue - so we were glad for our gloves.  I usually like to carry a fairly small purse, but I bought one big enough to accommodate my umbrella, small things we might purchase, and a folder.  I'd printed out, for each of us, our itineraries, with confirmation numbers for the airline and hotel and all; our boarding passes when I printed them the day before the flight; the e-tickets for the tours we'd bought; and maps of the Tube system and so forth, and put each set in a folder.  So I was able to wag mine around with me in my oversize purse.

You get one free checked bag in an international flight, but one doesn't want to have important things possibly lost, so a set of underwear, all of my meds, and a fresh blouse in case I needed to change when we landed went into my carry-on.  I've flown so many times I kind of know the drill:  all of the liquids go into 3-oz or less bottles, all of the bottles into a 1 qt ziplock bag; laptop has to come out of the bag and go into a bin by itself; shoes will have to come off, so you don't want anything with laces or that you have to fuss with.

So that was the preparation.  I'll go back and add anything that occurs to me later, and next will talk about getting there.

No comments: