Sep 29

Back from England and Scotland

I came back Monday night from my Contiki tour of England and Scotland.  The trip was a lot of fun.  I wouldn’t say that England and Scotland were my favorite places, but they were both very wonderful in different ways.  My tour group was good, and my Tour Manager and Driver was great too.

I did get an opportunity to fly Business Class on British Airways out to London, which was great since I got some good sleep in!  I’ll write about that later.  I saw everything on my list in London.  I saw Stonehenge, Bath, a Pencil Musuem, Hairy Cows in the Highlands and lots of sheep.  The trip was an obvious success!

The downside to the trip was that when I was in Edinburgh after my tour I was so lonely and sad without my tourmates.  It was much easier to be alone before tour in London.  So even though I think Edinburgh is a great city, it will always be the city I was sad in 🙁

You’ll hear much much more about all of this, once I start to wrap my brain around it all, and go through the 1900 pictures I took.

Sep 15

Trip Preparation, what to do in London and beyond

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few weeks preparing for my trip to England and Scotland.  Since It’s a Contiki trip I have spent most of my time preparing for London.  Though I should probably be spending a bit more time preparing for my 2 days in Edinburgh at the end of the trip.  So what have I done?

As I write this I’m watching Braveheart, for some historical perspective on the trip.  I might have to do a bit of research on the real William Wallace, at least check out what wikipedia says, you know how Hollywood can be.

I’ve mapped out London.  I figured out how to make custom maps in Google Maps – I have maps with specific icons for the different place I want to go to.
Giraffe (restaurant), hoping to meet Giddy
Churchill’s War Room
Westminster Abby
St. Paul’s Cathedral
British Museum

There area  few other things I would like to do, but they’ll be secondary.  I would rather make a light schedule and not feel like I’m rushing around and maybe get a chance to get a feel for the city.  The secondary things are:  Harrods, a nighttime walking tour (Jack the Ripper?), and a cruise of the Thames.

Mar 22

British Airways, Air France, Delta, American, Continenetal, Virgin Airways

ACKKK! So I’m very seriously considering doing a Contiki tour of England and Scotland in September. The biggest thing I need to know is when my next surgery will be and if I’ll be good to travel by then. I picked the date of the tour, but haven’t booked or anything.

Here’s my problem, picking an airline. I had originally thought I would just do the Scotland tour, but it’s so short and I would miss the first couple days with tourmates, making it harder to get to know people, I know this because I’ve done the “join a tour late” thing already. With my original plan I thought I would try an economy plus ticket for flying, probably with British Airways. Obviously depending on the price, but it really didn’t seem like that much more money and I would hopefully be better rested when I got to Scotland. But, to add on the England part of the tour is more then the cost of the upgrade of the plane ticket, so now I’m not sure if I’ll just do economy or if I’ll go with the economy plus.

So I started my search, and I’ll admit that even the economy tickets are a little more then I expected for September, though it is early for plane tickets. But I noticed to take Delta/Air France was about $200 cheaper. So I looked, Air France does offer economy plus (but with a different name) and the prices were still reasonable if I decided to fork up the money. Problem – I have to fly through Paris.

The tour starts in London but ends in Glasgow but I was thinking of going back to Edinburgh for a day, maybe two to meet up with some other friends (though I’m not sure that will work out, it was a better idea when i was just doing Scotland).

Here are my route options –
with British Airways (American is the same except part American flight and part BA flights and not economy plus)
JFK to LHR (Heathrow)
EDI to LHR to JFK

With Delta
JFK to LHR (no economy plus service)
EDI to Paris to JFK (Air France)
EDI to Amsterdam to JFK (with KLM)

Air France
JFK to Paris to LHR
EDI to Paris to EDI

Continental
EWR to LHR
EDI to EWR

Unless someone from outside of NY is coming with me, then I’m not going to Newark Airport, it’s just too much of a pain to get to and to make someone take me to and pick me up from.

Lufthansa is also an option, but then I’m connecting through Frankfurt, and they are a bit more expensive then British Airways and Air France, but they are in a better alliance then Air France, one that I would like to earn some FF miles on.

With Delta, American/BA I get a non-stop flight to Heathrow, with Air France I have a connection both ways. All flights force me to connect coming home.

So questions I have to ask myself –
How important is economy plus?
Do I want to fly an American based airline?
Do I want to fly with Delta, an airline that’s getting beaten over the head for poor redemption of miles and I’m not sure their alliance will help me much in the future.
Is $200 worth an extra stop over in Paris going to London?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I think I’m getting a headache thinking about it. I hate to make my flight choice based on frequent flyer miles, but I do like the idea of knowing that my miles are going to a good alliance to build up miles so I can hopefully fly free one of these days, maybe even in first class.

I should say that I originally wrote this on a Thursday and went to do some editing after and when I looked at the flights, the prices were all a lot closer (within $100) between BA, Air France and Lufthansa.