Monday, November 22, 2010

uk trip-- day 8-- return to the states

do you know how lucky leff and i are? we are incredibly lucky people. want to know why? we were able to share a private car with kev to heathrow!

aside from lucking out on the ground transportation, it was still a miserable morning as we bid goodbye to groc (we miss you, grockles!(and kev and shed and jens and pip!)) and headed to l'aeroport. sigh... it was all so very depressing.

still, our driver was fantastic! i don't know how he copes with the traffic in and around heathrow every day though. it would drive me mad even if i was adept at driving on the left hand side of the road!

he was also very kind. when he heard that we'd not seen windsor castle before, he took a very minor detour so we could get a glimpse! i was on the opposite side of the car so i only have this photo of leff taking a picture of windsor castle. how meta.

he managed to get some nice shots, however.

(leff's photo)

(leff's photo)
(leff's photo)

we arrived at heathrow four hours before departure. everything went smoothly even though i set off the metal detector (i'd left my camera in my pocket like a dumbass.) and had to submit to wanding and the new style of thorough pat down.

regarding the new style: the lady was very kind and quick. we talked about how she couldn't believe that some people still try to get full sized liquids through on their carry ons. aside from the invasiveness, it wasn't terrible but remember, this was in the u.k. your mileage may vary in the u.s. (*eyeroll at tsa*)

we were in terminal one so we had some breakfast? lunch? (i'd completely lost track of what time it was by this point in the trip.) at caffe nerd, picked up a few items at boots (ploughman's sandwich for the plane, ftw!) and spotted a seagull.

we arrived in iceland with no complications but, unfortunately, the closer you get to the states, the more annoying everything gets.

we heard the queue for the plane to seattle before we even saw it. as i said to leff after we bought some more skyr and icelandic candy, "welcome to the states".

leff and i filled out our customs form while waiting for boarding to start.( we only had to fill out one form as a family. domestic partnership didn't cause a problem!)

what was a problem, however, was loading americans onto a jet.

(leff's photo)

god, can you just take my word for it? it took for fucking ever. and then on the flight back the guy in front of us didn't shut up for seven fucking hours! i ask you, who has enough to say to talk for seven fucking hours?!

welcome back to the states, indeed.

i'll skip the moaning about my fellow citizens (although i'll tell you this: i've had very minimal contact with them since returning. i'm afraid that i'll punch someone.) and recap a few more things about the uk/resettling in the us.

leff and i were able to bring our trip, including round trip airfare for two, in at under $2400. not bad for a ninth anniversary trip, eh? (ha! none of you knew about that, did you? yeah, we're rather private about a lot of our lives.)

anyway, how was it possible for us to spend so little? well, the main thing was having wonderful, wonderful friends who let us stay with them! (thanks again, groc and kev!) we also watched icelanair's site like hawks looking for the lowest price possible. (we were very lucky and got two round trip tickets for less than the price of one!) these tickets are usually in the off or shoulder seasons. but if you have an open mind and a thick jumper, november in the uk can be awesome!

other tips? eat food from groceries instead of restaurants. (take advantage of the 2 pound deal (a sandwich, crisps and drink for 2 pounds!) that most offer.) order train tickets in advance. get the day pass on the tube or, if you're in london for longer than four days, spring for the oyster card.

speaking of rail tickets, this is the stack that we generated using first great western.

keep in mind that it's for two people going to and from four locations in four days. still, some of the tickets were kept by the turnstyles. basically, what i'm saying is this: it's a lot of ticketage.

we've started incorporating our tourist items. it's not hard really as we bought mainly food and postcards. i've managed to find a nice place for my armistice poppies and icelandic licorice box.

we'll probably end up framing some maps (tube, cardiff city, cardiff castle) as 1) they were very useful. 2) they're attractive. 3) it doesn't look overtly touristy at a glance. (we don't want to be those "pier one" people. you know, "look at my tat from *enter country*. i travel!" 'cause it's barfy.)

we received more stamps in our passports from changing terminals in keflavik than we did from being in the uk for six days.

jet lag was much worse on this end than it was in the uk. (we also had to contend with the end of daylight savings time. joy.) i'm still stuck on eastern standard time but it's ok since i'm getting a lot of work done.

i *am* glad to be back with the cats and my paints (how freakin' beatrix potter of me!).

however, one very weird thing happened: leff and i became homesick for the uk the minute we got to heathrow. this has never happened to either one of us. usually, at some point in even the most enjoyable trip, we both realize that we'd rather be at home working. not this time. i think that we could be moderately happy (which is really all we strive to be) living in the uk.

that being said, while i would love to live in london, i might actually be happier living in cardiff.

yes, we've started saving for another trip overseas. hopefully it will soon be a permanent one. i wonder if the cats need passports...

next monday i'll return to my regularly scheduled program. although, if things go according to plan, i'll have plenty to write about. please check back soon!


Irregular Shed said...

If you were to visit the UK again (as opposed to settle upon your next trip) I'll try and wangle some accommodation in Wales for you. (You might have to pretend to be visiting lecturers!) There's much that you'd love in and around the area that you'd never get a chance to do in just one day...

If you were to move here, your kitties would have to be placed in quarantine for a while =(

London's a great place to visit but given the choice (and it's a choice I've made) Cardiff won. Big without being enormous and daunting (as you discovered!)

r4kk4 said...

oh my god, you are the sweetest of sweethearts for even THINKING of that idea!! (maybe i could find someplace to do an actual quick lecture so it wouldn't be a lie. (i do have to do public speaking stuff for my job on occasion.))

i feel like we didn't even get started in cardiff. i mean, i feel like that about the entire uk but, you know, i was expecting to not see all of london. i was really, really, REALLY pleasantly surprised by cardiff and need to go back.

i keep hearing conflicting things about the quarantine. like, i heard that the six months deal wasn't in place anymore if you came from canada, the states or an eu country and provided proper documentation of immunization. i'm probably wrong though.

if the quarantine is still in place, we can't move (as silly as that sounds) because fuji, clouseau and peel get bent waaaay out of shape if they don't even see me for a week. maybe we'll have to live between two countries for a while. (sigh... why couldn't we have been born landed gentry or have hit it big during the first tech boom? hahaha!)

Anonymous said...

aha! This is mah field of ex-purr-tize darlinks. No quarantine required but they must be chipped and vaccinated (if never been rabies vaccinated before you need to vaccinate, get a blood test 1 month later then wait 6 months post vaccination before you can move them). So if you're seriously considering it and they're don't have either or both of those things then get it done now - the vaccinations are good for ages and as long as they get booster shots within proper time frame then blood test/6 month wait only needs to be done the one time and stays valid.
(btw, posting as anon cos my blogger password isn't autoset on this browser and I can't remember the damn thing!)
Nyx/Nat etc xo

r4kk4 said...

nat! (i understand about not having the password unless it's saved. heh.)

ooh! thanks for the info! :D!

we should really get on the rabies vaccine! i think (?) that they're all immune to rabies as part of the adoption process but i'll have to go through their records.

we're terrible in that we haven't had them chipped yet.

we are serious about the move but it's going to take us a while. we're still in the planning/saving stage. two? three? maybe four years from now?

Anonymous said...

hmmm, not 100% sure on this but if they don't have a chip at time of vaccination it may not count and you may need to do the dratted thing again (the vaccination and chip need to tally up on same paperwork at the time of the jab I think) but double check that with your vets - and lemme know if you need any pointers later on down the line!!

Megan said...

I have that same black and white box of licorice sitting on my office shelf from our trip through the Iceland airport last year. We did the same thing, traveled in the off season, found a good price on plane tickets. I've really loved reading about your trip and you've made me wish we'd spent time in London!

r4kk4 said...

i'm sure they could do with a new rabies booster anyway, nat. the kittens are 7 (?!?) next year and peel and ava are, what, 14 and 12 then? they're probably all overdue. i'm a bad parent. :(

you're really the greatest! thanks so much!! (and i WILL see you the next time we're in the uk!)

that licorice box is *awesome* innit, megan? i couldn't not buy it!

i think that a large group of us will be in the uk (i'm serious, at least two other people at this point) at some point next year. we're going on the cheap again so, if i can find any deals (or if we manage to get a group rate on lodging somewhere) i'll let you know, if you'd like!

well, i loved your paris recaps! ha! we were thinking about heading over the channel for the murakami exhibit at versailles, but foot issues and time didn't allow. oh well.