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Can it all be done? Can you help us with details for 30th anniversary trip to UK

Monday Dallas to JFK (1hr connection) JFK to Amsterdam (1.5 hr connection) Amsterdam to Manchester 1:30 p Tuesday.
TUESDAY: Get rental car, go to AirBnB in Cheadle (15 min away) see the Rolling Stones at 6:45 @ Old Trafford (YAY GROUPON)
1. *Q easy to uber to concert?*
2. *Q: Do we have time to pop over to Liverpool to see a museum?*
WED: Drive to a friend's flat in Chiswick (3.5 hrs) - (stop in Birmingham to see Museum) explore Chiswick,
3. *Q: Stay and explore Chiswick or go to London that evening?*
THURS: Only musts: Tate Britain museum and go see a play (tickets to Pressure) at 6:30pm London
FRIDAY: Only must is Churchill's War Room
4. Q: Any must sees that are not regular tourist things (done that already)

5.* Q: Any discounted tickets to War Room?
*
SATURDAY: Leave and go to Kelmscott: William Morris' house in Letchlade (near Oxfordshire)
6. *Q: Worth it for an hour?* On to Highclere Castle for a tour, already have tickets (30th wedding anniversary-YAY!) Then to another AirBnB in Cheltenham.
SUNDAY
7. *Q: Suggestions for us in Cotswalds?*
MONDAY airport by 11am
8. Q: Any major oversites? Is this too much or doable?
9. Q: This is a lot of driving and we've never driven in UK before, is that OK?.
10. *Q: Bought my tickets with priceline (Enterprise Rental) but didn't secure insurance when they asked. Can't seem to find where to do that now. Call Enterprise? I heard its cheaper online before we go. Anyone recommend how I go about getting it beforehand cheaper?
*
I know this is a lot to ask: Thanks in advance! our dream anniversary trip needs your advice!

Posted by
5011 posts

I don't think this is a wise plan.

Possible? Maybe, if everything goes your way. But I would not chose this. Right from the git go, I see...

  1. A one-hour connection at JFK on an outward flight is cutting it close. Assuming this is all on one airline, I'm sure it's a "legal" minimum connection time, but tighter than I would pick. If you miss the connection, do they have a later flight? How would that impact the next part of your trip? If it's not all on one ticket on the same airline, then this is asking for a debacle.
  2. Assuming all goes well from Dallas to Manchester, you're planning to peel yourself off the plane (two connections, probably, what, about 16-18 hours of elapsed time en route?), then you're gonna rent a car, jump in and drive away? Hope you have very good insurance with zero deductible (and good medical coverage), because you're going to be in no shape to drive (even on the "right" side of the road...and you've never driven in the UK before...). This is really dangerous and you're asking for trouble. I would not recommend this.

Step back from the brink, take a deep breath, look at the bigger picture and think clearly.

You are proposing to go and spend four days in England. That's right, four days. On you're arrival day, you will probably be trippin' pretty hard, just from the jet lag, lack of sleep, pre-trip stress, and what I call "geospatial displacement trauma" - the combined effects of flying half way around the world. For most people, not only are they pretty much avacado toast on their arrival day (by 6 pm, all you're going to want to do is sleep), they're only at partial strength the next day, too. Are you confident you will sleep like a baby on those long flights? I hope so, because if not there's a very good chance you will be snoozing deeply when Mick and the boys take the stage.

So you're planning to do all this - starting off with a rock concert when you're likely to be 3-sheets to the wind before you even get to the UK. Then, after you recover from the blur that will be your first 48 hours after leaving home, you get all of 3.5 days to spend there in the UK, and then you head home. Seems like a waste of money to fly all that way for what's essentially a "lost weekend" but maybe that's just me.

To me, this does not sound like a recipe for fun. It sounds like a bad dream. Now, tastes vary and living on the bleeding edge may be others' idea of adventure, but if I did this to my wife, I'd probably be divorced before we got past Amsterdam.

I think you would have a much better trip if you:

  1. Arrive at least 24 hours before you attend a concert. Your body needs some recovery time.
  2. Arrange things so you can stay longer. Unless you get to fly to Europe all the time (and based on your proposed plans, I'm guessing that's not the case), IMHO it's a waste of airfare $ to go for such a short time.

Not everyone is the same, so my advice could be wrong for you. But I gotta be honest: what you're planning sounds awful to me.

I know that's not what you wanted to hear, sorry.

Posted by
22 posts

I agree with David. You're trying to fit too much into a short amount of time. Unfamiliar roads, jet lag, and the multiple destinations that you describe would be putting yourselves under a lot of stress. And country roads in the UK are not like driving the U.S. freeway system. We were there earlier this month and I was surprised by the narrow roads which oftentimes have a stone wall or hedge on either side with no shoulder (verge.) Very scenic but challenging to drive on.

Posted by
623 posts

My take on this (and I've traveled to the UK 9 times in the last 20 years):

  1. Do not rent or drive a car when you land at Manchester. Just don't. Read what David said ^^^ above. Read it again. In my opinion he's correct. Take a minicab or car service from the Manchester airport to your B&B. You can arrange it in advance. Maybe arrange it so they wait while you check into the B&B and then run right back out, get in the car, and go to the concert.

  2. As Emma recommended, book a minicab back from the concert to your B&B, in advance.

  3. The morning after the concert, take the train the 200 miles from Manchester to Chiswick. You can snooze on the train for a couple of hours, then make the changes to get to Chiswick from London's Euston Station. See http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ (NOT nationalrail.COM which is a reseller called the Trainline) to figure it out. (Seriously. I grew up in Texas, where hopping in the car to drive 200 miles is no big deal. That distance is a big deal in the UK. I love road trips - here. I'd rather have a root canal than drive 200 miles in the UK if I could make the trip by train. Yes, there are plenty of situations where having a car in the UK is good, desirable, necessary, etc. But Manchester to Chiswick IMO isn't one.)

  4. Having a car is not necessary in London; in fact it's a hindrance. You can take public transport on Thursday and Friday from Chiswick into central London to see the sights and go to the theatre.

  5. Saturday would be your day to rent a car - to see Highclere and get to your lodgings in Cheltenham.

EDITED to add: There's a discussion of "train vs. rental car" going on in this forum right now: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england/train-vs-car-rental-flexibility-economy and here's what someone who's had at least two trips where they drove in the UK has to say:

One thing to remember about driving in England, stay as far away from
London, Manchester and Birmingham as you possibly can. The M25 Orbital
around London is a huge parking lot, unless you drive it in the middle
of the night.

Posted by
25746 posts

is this - dfw to amsterdam to manchester - all on one ticket? with airlines who interline?

I sure hope so, or you have no chance.

which museum in Birmingham?

Posted by
623 posts

Great advice from Emma.

Sorry, last night I mistakenly thought you'd booked a B&B in Cheadle, but now I realize it's an AirBnB. Those can be hit or miss as to how quickly you can get in and dump your bags when you arrive. I've had friends who rented AirBnB lodgings, who found the owner MIA when they arrived, and had to track him down by phone, then wait around for him to show up, let them in, and give them the keys. You don't have a lot of extra time at that point, given your flight schedule, the location of that rental, and the time of the concert.

Q: This is a lot of driving and we've never driven in UK before, is that OK?.

No. It's not OK. I hope you take to heart the good advice you've been given. And if you drive at all in the UK, make sure you are amply covered by insurance, including liability insurance and medical coverage.

Posted by
5666 posts

"Never driven in the U.K. before" -- tonight at dinner, try eating exclusively with your non-dominant hand. See how quickly habit takes over. Driving on the "wrong" side of the road while sitting on the "wrong" side of the car -- takes a LOT of attention. And a passenger who is equally focused on reminding you.

Posted by
12205 posts

If you take the train into London from Chiswick on Wednesday or Thursday, and the train out of London to wherever on Sunday, you can get 2 for 1 admission to the Churchill War Rooms on any day between the two train journeys. We can explain further if this appeals to you. Many other London attractions are included in the 2-4-1 deals from Days Out. Possibly any special exhibition going on at the Tate.

And if you are flying home from Manchester, note that their security screening has a special requirement for liquid containers in your 3-1-1 bag.

http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/guides-to-travelling/security/security-rules/

Posted by
16 posts

OK:
We cannot cancel AirBnB, too late.

You guys really don't think we can fly Delta (one booking) DFW → JFK 4:40 PM (3:45 flight) then JFK → AMS (7h 20m flight) then AMS → MAN – 1 PM (1h 20m flight) (Roughly 15 hours of travel )-with 6-7 hrs of sleep and rent a car and drive 5 miles from the airport to Gatley safely?
We can rent a cab for the concert (or not go if we are beat) then drive to Chiswick the next day?

I understand not driving the day we land but the train tickets to Chiswick from Manchester are 130 pounds each!

Posted by
3173 posts

Dallas to JFK (1hr connection) JFK to Amsterdam (1.5 hr connection)
Amsterdam to Manchester 1:30 p Tuesday.

1 hour connection cushion at JFK? What is the backup plan if your inbound from DFW is late and you miss your flight to AMS?

Thunderstorms at DFW can delay your departure for JFK. I've sat at DFW too many times during those storms awaiting hours for my flight home.

DL has 2 flights to AMS from JFK; KLM (assuming DL can place you & your party on a KLM flight if you miss yours) has 3 flights per day to AMS. If you miss your connection at JFK, have you counted the # of remaining flights to AMS for the day?

If this is all one itinerary, how many flights to MAN are there from AMS on KLM (DL partner) if you miss your connection to MAN? We always take into account what the backup flights are when we don't fly nonstop to our destination and you've chosen an itinerary with 2 stops.

Posted by
5011 posts

So, here are the biggest issues I see:

  1. Your outbound itinerary is very tight, and there's a modest chance that you could miss the concert. You have two short connections, including a fairly tight one at JFK (fairly tight even assuming your flight arrives on time) which is most risky. Sure, you might make all the connections. However, there are lots of ways this could go sideways with that connection at JFK, and if it does, you stand a good chance of missing that concert. How important is it to you to make the concert? I assume that it's critical (otherwise I find it an odd choice to fly from Texas to Europe for just four days). If you miss the concert, how badly does that wreck your trip? If the concert is a primary reason for going, then you would be wise to change your flight to move it up a day and leave 24 hours earlier, so A) you have a much better chance of getting there in time for the show, and also B) so you feel at least half human when the show starts. It's going to cost you more to move your flight? Yes, probably. How much will you be spending on the trip even without fixing the outbound flight? If it were me, if the concert is a big part of why I wanted to go, then I'd change my flight to give myself a better chance of actually getting there in time for the show and also actually enjoying it after a decent night's sleep. This can be fixed, simply by spending the money needed to change/move up your flight. Easy fix, maybe not cheap.

  2. The intent to drive (your first experience driving in bizarro mirror world, presumably) after the long, exhausting slog around the world. As stated upthread, this is dangerous and not smart. It doesn't matter that it's just a 5 minute drive. Fact is, the first few minutes are by far the most terrifying and dangerous - case in point, I personally witnessed an American couple jump in a rental car in the UK, charge out of the lot, and immediately have a serious head-on crash (and they didn't appear to be sleepy or jetlagged when they were in line ahead of me). You can fix this easily - take a taxi/Uber/something else. Easy and cheap fix.

  3. You are going all the way to England for just 4 days there. It sounds like a very romantic splurge (and it is) but it's also a very loooong way to go for such a short time. In fact, you will be spending about as much time going there and getting back as you will have in England (actually probably more if you include all the waiting and prepping)! Can you extend the length of your trip and stay longer? If there's any way you can, consider it. By staying longer and slowing down you will enjoy the trip a lot more and get more out of it. If you can, I would. If that's just completely impossible, then make the best of it and move on (and make a note for your next trip: flying to Europe is expensive; you will get so much more for the money you spend on airfare by staying longer!).

Spur-of-the-moment or last-minute trips may be exciting (I'm assuming that's how this one came about) but if you do not plan ahead (far ahead) you can be at the mercy of things beyond your control and you may need to work through all sorts of compromises. That doesn't necessarily need to wreck a trip, but you may end up with a different experience than you had hoped for.

Good luck!

Posted by
996 posts

Beginning to regret booking this trip

No. Every trip is both an adventure and a learning experience. As others have said, just have a backup plan if something does not go the way you've anticipated.

There's some great advice in this thread. You have some fabulous suggestions for plan B if something doesn't go as originally planned. No matter what, pack your sense of humor and have a wonderful 30th anniversary!!!

Posted by
5011 posts

Good advice right there above. ^^^^

Look at how much you have already learned - and you haven't even started packing yet - imagine how much smarter you'll be when you get back.

Figure out what you need to figure out, make the best choices you can going forward (but always have a Plan B in your back pocket) and you can have a great trip. You will come home with great stories. :)

Posted by
16 posts

Ok, I am appreciative of all the suggestions:

I think we will:
Get an uber/cab to the airbnb and to the concert and home. (Lord willing we make it, it was an afterthought so its not the end of the world if we don't)
We could get the train to Cheswick (west side) closest Tube is Cheswick Park or Gunnersbury (8 min walk)
Turnham Green is 15 min away, E3 bus maybe.
Then rent our car in Cheswick.
We are staying at another airbnb in Cheltenham.
I wonder where and do you all have a recommendation about insurance? Buy Amex insurance or through the rental car, or online beforehand? Any particular insurance site, if so?
Then come back by late afternoon a day early to Manchester and be there to get the next morning flight.

How does that sound? Anything else I am missing?
Brenda

Posted by
623 posts

I wanted to add my best wishes for a good trip, especially since I came down hard on the negatives above. I love the UK and I hope you enjoy it! And I'm totally jealous that you have tickets to see Pressure! I've read that play, would love to see it, and I hope you will come back and review it for us (okay, for me, lol).

If I were renting a car in the UK, I'd check with my insurance agent concerning my coverage (if any) under my existing auto policy. Here's a USA Today article from last fall with some info: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/car-insurance-cover-driving-europe-110877.html
You'll want to have liability and medical coverage in addition to coverage for damage to the rented vehicle.

As noted, you may want to post a separate question about the rental car insurance.

Happy trails, and happy anniversary!

Posted by
3173 posts

Anything else I am missing? Brenda

Yes. Take an earlier flight from DFW to JFK; give yourself that needed cushion especially during thunderstorm weather as the temps at DFW will be in the 90s & 100s.

You will need more than 1 hour at JFK. The AMS flight could close 30 minutes before departure so that 1 hour cushion is then halved. You have such a wonderfully romantic trip planned. Don't risk having it sidelined in Queens!

Posted by
16 posts

Not any hope of an earlier flight unless I want to pay top dollar now, and I can't (school teacher here)
We got Split tickets (THANKS FOR THE IDEA!) and will go to London that way.
We will rent the car there and go on to Cotswolds. I see that our flight on Monday isn't until 1:30 but you all still think that is cutting it too close? I think 11 is when we need to be at MAN for an international flight.
I found a place for Sunday in Heald Green that would work financially.

Would rather go to Liverpool but is that asking for trouble too?
Thank you all immensely for your help!
Brenda

Posted by
257 posts

The Churchill War Room is on the London Pass web site. Even tho I found he is my 8th cousin when I was doing my family tree, I never considered going to it until I saw the movie The Darkest Hour. :) I do wonder what the top of the building is used for, looks official but can't find much info on it. Here's the link for the London Pass web site:

https://www.londonpass.com/london-attractions/churchill-war-rooms.html

You sound like an experienced traveler, you may know that you do really well sleeping on flights and know that you feel OK after lots of travel. I know that sometimes I feel like crap from turbulence on the JFK-LHR run, other times I'm OK enough, so I tend to make plans that will accommodate me possibly feeling terrible. But you guys know how you usually feel, if you've done this flight before. And most experienced travelers also know that if there's a mistake in the plans, it's easier to lose a bit of money than to lose time & effort by staying attached to it. I've found that my credit card gets used at least once just to solve a travel problem. I tell my daughter we'll either pay for it in stress or in money, some times it's just time to pay for a taxi :) and solve the problem. It's OK, I don't have to put it in my travel blog to tell anyone. Taxi drivers don't tell my secrets either. :)

There's one thing not too far away from the War Rooms that I'll be going to next time I travel, and that is Ben Franklin's house. If you've already done the big sights, maybe something like Ben Franklin's house would interest you both. I've never been to the National Portrait Gallery either, that's near there too. so I'll get there next time. :)

Hope you have a great time, focus on what's really important and fun, for you personally, and you should be OK :)
Have fun at Highclerk :)
-Alison

Posted by
996 posts

Not any hope of an earlier flight unless I want to pay top dollar now, and I can't (school teacher here)

Brenda - You probably already know this, but my own inner teacher is saying to share this anyway for those people who don't know this fact about tight connections at airports.

When you land at JFK, maximize your time to make your connection work. (Fingers are crossed that your first flight lands on time! Even if it does not, still follow this plan unless you land after your connecting flight departs.) When your plane lands and you can legally use your phone again, look at your airline app or whatever travel app you use to find your next gate. Be ready to grab your carryon bags just as soon as you can legally remove your seatbelt and stand.

Then be prepared to power walk to your next gate. If you see a sign that shows departure gates, pause for ten seconds to confirm that the info on your phone is correct. (I've had mine be wrong twice, which is why I offer this suggestion.) Then continue power walking to your departure gate. Do not stop for the bathroom, water, coffee, etc.

With any luck, you'll arrive at your departure gate just as boarding commences. That should give you a couple of minutes to run into the restroom if necessary. Otherwise, you can wait for your boarding group to be called. (Or head onto the plane if they've already done so.)

After your trip, I hope you'll come back here and let us know how it all went. Seriously, I'm rooting for you guys to have a fabulous time!!!

Posted by
5011 posts

Be ready to grab your carryon bags just as soon as you can legally remove your seatbelt and stand...

Better yet, here are some strategies for making that tight connection. You may or may not be able to do all of these things, but try hard - every second you save gives you a better shot and making that connection!

  1. Do your homework before you leave home. Using internet sources and asking around, find out where (what terminal, wing, gate) your inbound flight will likely arrive. Find out where your connecting flight will likely depart from. Look at airport diagrams, ask around, figure out exactly how to navigate from your arrival gate to your departure gate. You won't be able to know exactly which gates you will use, but you can get a general idea - flights follow patterns. Do this. It will save you critical minutes once you hit the ground.
  2. Pick seats in a row as far forward as possible for any flight with a tight connection. The people seated up front get off the plane first. Those in the last row can be 10-20 minutes behind them. This can make all the difference! Get the row closest to the door that you can.
  3. When you are seated on the first flight, inform the flight attendants that you have a tight connection to an international flight. Remind them of this fact when the descent into JFK starts. Ask them if they can make an announcement asking other passengers to remain seated until you bolt from the plane. They may or may not be willing to make the announcement. And even if they do, some passengers will probably ignore it or just won't understand. Still, even if you only get partial compliance, this can at least reduce the number of slow pokes that hold you up.
  4. Be ready - be VERY ready - before the flight lands. It's imperative that as soon as the "fasten seatbelt sign goes off and you hear than "ding" you are ready to spring to your feet, grab all your belongings, immediately step into the aisle, and plow towards the door. You don't need to knock people over, but be assertive, keep repeating, "Tight connection! Coming through! Thanks!" as needed. Don't be afraid to throw an elbow, step forward with confidence, and get the frack off that plane post haste. No time to be a shrinking violet - you have Stones tickets!!!
  5. Power walk all the way, and don't let up your pace except to stop at any junction/decision point, to confirm you're on the right path. Upon exiting the jetway, stop for a moment, get oriented, confirm your direction. You should already know which way to go because you did your homework and you virtually went through your route many times. Move around and pass any slow walkers, don't let anyone or anything slow you down. Onward! Go go go!!
  6. Get to the departure gate as fast as you can, and don't let up your pace, don't be distracted from your relentless, single-minded drive to get there. No stops yet for a drink, a bathroom, a magazine, nada. Get to that gate! When you do get there, double check the important stuff: confirm it's the right gate, the right flight, and make sure you made it in time. Then, and only then, can you relax.
  7. Note how many minutes you have before the boarding starts (or closes). Hit the bathroom if you have time. But get on that flight. Then settle in to your seat, sit back, take a deep breath, wipe the sweat from your brow, and relax and unwind - all your hard work has paid off, you made it. Good job. Once you reach 10,000 feet, order a drink and toast to your good fortune. You're off to see the frigging Stones in frigging Manchester. Cheers!
Posted by
3173 posts

When you land at JFK, maximize your time to make your connection work.
(Fingers are crossed that your first flight lands on time! Even if it
does not, still follow this plan unless you land after your connecting
flight departs.) When your plane lands and you can legally use your
phone again, look at your airline app or whatever travel app you use
to find your next gate. Be ready to grab your carryon bags just as
soon as you can legally remove your seatbelt and stand.

Then be prepared to power walk to your next gate. If you see a sign
that shows departure gates, pause for ten seconds to confirm that the
info on your phone is correct. (I've had mine be wrong twice, which is
why I offer this suggestion.) Then continue power walking to your
departure gate. Do not stop for the bathroom, water, coffee, etc.

With any luck, you'll arrive at your departure gate just as boarding
commences. That should give you a couple of minutes to run into the
restroom if necessary. Otherwise, you can wait for your boarding group
to be called. (Or head onto the plane if they've already done so.)

Good advice! As soon as the wheels of your flight touch the tarmac at JFK, get on your smartphone to find the gate! Also use the Delta app to locate your arrival gate at JFK to plan your route to AMS gate.

If you are in the back of the plane (and trust me on this one), ask a FA if there is a way for you to get off the flight first. You might find that the FA will see to it that an announcement is made asking people to stay in their seats while YOU are given the opportunity to depart the plane first (along with the first class pax). Delta FAs have done this. It can't hurt to ask!

If you land at Terminal 2 and your AMS flight is at Terminal 4, there is an airside shuttle. Open up Delta Sky Magazine to make yourself familiar with gate of your DFW arrival, the shuttle location, and your departure gate to AMS. Having that knowledge in advance will only make you get to your gate at JFK that much quicker. You can do this!!

Posted by
1128 posts

This is one of the most aggressive itineraries I've ever seen. A lot of the concerns have been addressed above. I'll add a few.

  1. How close do you live to DFW and when is the outbound flight? I'd really hate for you to start this marathon with a long drive to DFW and yet I know the Metroplex sprawls in all directions with heavy traffic. Unless it's a late afternoon flight, I'd consider staying at a nearby hotel to DFW the night before and get a very good night's sleep.

  2. Take a cab from MAN to the Air BNB. Unless something has changed, Uber pick up at the airport is kind of a mess, where you have to meet them somewhere, don't give yourself one more second of stress. I'd still encourage throwing the money for the Air BNB away and get a hotel in Manchester city centre where you can easily get a train from the airport or a cab and not have to deal wiith any potential hassles from trying to meet an Air Bnb host after a marathon trip.

  3. Keep in mind it won't be easy getting a cab after the concert, thousands of other people will have the same idea.

  4. There's no harm in asking the FA, but I'm not optimistic they'll make an announcement about tight connections unless the flight is itself delayed. At least half the plane will be connecting and they'll all think they have tight connections, even those with 3 hours for a domestic flight.

  5. Finally, is there anything at all on this trip that can be sacrificed to reduce the stress level? You're bouncing around many locations in a very short time after an awful flight. A radical plan would be to throw away everything that's not Manchester and just stay in Manchester, that would allow time for the day trip to Liverpool and would avoid all the moving around without really the time to see anything.

Posted by
16 posts

Well folks, we are back! We so appreciate all of the advice!

We made our connection at JFK with 50 minutes they gave us (only a fast walk), but we won't ever do that again!

We caught an uber to stop at the AirBnB and just like someone predicted, owner was hard to contact (I couldn't get internet and didn't have a gophone yet) so our driver called the owner and we got in.

We made the stones concert only missing 2 songs! They played 2 1/2 hrs we were 4 rows back! It was stunning! I wish I could share photos.

Enjoyed the train ride to Chiswick (not car rental as advised) with the split ticketing (even the Starbucks barista didn't know about split ticketing and she worked at the train station!) that saved us 30 dollars.

The directions to Chiswick were spot on and the tube was easy once we got acclimated.

The next day in London we did a hop on bus tour which included the Churchill war room ticket and we didn't have to wait in line.

We enjoyed the War Room-spent 2 hours there -was so much info, Tate Modern (which has the best 360 view of the city anywhere if you ride the elevator to the 10th floor-and it's free), Tate Britain (Pre-Raphaelites), and the Portrait Museum (my favorite, John Singer Sargent and modern artists as well).

Then went to John Wesley's home and church, great find that wasn't on our list! Highly recommend.

We saw a play: "Pressure" in the theater district on the anniversary of DDAY and it was worth every penny. The actor was actually the writer as well, fyi.

We went to the Globe Theater and saw Two Noble Kinsmen which was arguably the best night of the trip, such a fun show.

By the time we left Chiswick we were apprehensive but braved the rental car. Our next place to stay was in Cheltenham (which we loved by the way).

The first few minutes getting out of Chiswick and onto the highway were scary. My advice is that if you have a panic mode, follow the guy in front of you, pull over somewhere safe and regroup, then try again. This only happened once at the beginning. We watched the Youtube videos and my husband said having someone constantly say "Stay Left" helped. Only twice did he or I lapse on thinking we should be right, so that was good.

The only driving we were not prepared for was when we got to a stoplight and a sign saying "weak bridge". We found out that meant narrow bridge and we had to wait for our turn.

The streets were incredibly tight (they gave us a larger car than we asked for, I asked for their smallest) and we hit curbs twice. The tires were a little shaved but they didn't ding us for it. I bought their insurance which was quite a bit more but I think worth it. A friend of ours had a fender bender in Dublin and recommended it highly: saved him $2500.

The Cotswolds were breathtaking. We made our appt. at Downton Abbey and it was worth every penny! We saw Bampton village and tried to go to William Morris but it was closed but we enjoyed seeing the town and nearby pub.

We make it to the Chavenage house (where they film Poldark and many films) the next day. We were late to the tour so the fantastic owners gave us a private tour. They signed our book and let us hold 16 century helmets and lances, really unforgettable experience we highly recommend!

Our unexpected find was the town of Cirencester which a local from the Stones concert recommended. It was the epitome of what we were looking for in the Cotswolds: quiet, old, quaint. There was a church that rivaled Notre Dame in my opinion. It was much smaller but had the flying buttresses and so much history and beauty we couldn't believe it.

Then it was an easy drive back to the airport. 3 hours early for the international flight. They found out it was our anniversary and kept refilling our drinks!

So the best vacation ever imagined, we spent around $3300 flight included.

Thanks again for all the help on this forum!
Brenda

Posted by
623 posts

Brenda -

Wow! I've been wondering how your trip went. Thanks for coming back and telling us. I'm so glad things went well, and you got to see the concert. Four rows back. Awesome!!

I'm green with envy that you got to see the play Pressure, on the anniversary of D-Day no less. I've read that play and would love to see it performed.

You really packed a lot into that week, and I'm glad the air crew helped you celebrate your anniversary!

What a memorable trip - and what a bargain. Sweet!!

Posted by
16 posts

The 4 rows back was totally a surprise! Standing of course but hey!
I will always choose Virgin if I can, they made everyone on that flight feel like they were in first class.
B

Posted by
16 posts

I know 7 days was short but that was the 2 for 1 flight price which made it possible for us. Any more time there and we would have just spent more money, lol.
Thanks again for all of the expert help for a newbie, I wish we could move to England, I love it there so much. If anyone knows of Executive Recruiting Research and A level Art teaching positions....let us know! :) we'd relocate in a heartbeat.
Blessings,
Brenda

Posted by
1128 posts

I'm really glad things ended up working out. I know that many of us sounded like Debbie Downer when reviewing your itinerary. We all learn something new from each time we travel, and I'm glad that the ultra tight connections ended up working and that you've learned how tricky they can be. I agree that Virgin Atlantic is excellent, I only wish they hadn't pulled out of Chicago.

I'd suggest popping into these forums every now and then just to browse the topics. It's a good way to pick up travel advice even if you're not planning a trip immediately.

Posted by
623 posts

I know that many of us sounded like Debbie Downer when reviewing your
itinerary. We all learn something new from each time we travel

I was thinking about this last night - both of these things, actually. First, how we didn't hesitate to pound on the issue of the original idea to hop off the plane and into a rental car. And how you were receptive to the comments. What you ended up doing made more sense, and you got to enjoy your first few days minus a rental car and all its risks and responsibilities. And got the car when you did really need it.

I've hung out at online forums, including travel forums, a lot over the years. All too often someone shows up with a plan and asks for questions, then spends the rest of the bandwidth stubbornly ignoring or arguing with every. darn. thing that is said in response. You weren't like that. You've kind of restored my willingness to offer suggestions and opinions when asked - a willingness which was getting a little beat-up, not so much from anything on this forum but from other situations.

About learning things. I started to write about one of my more major blunders in trip planning/preparation but it's a long story and not even very funny. It did teach me to pay more attention to departure vs. landing dates for transatlantic flights, lol.

Posted by
996 posts

OMG, you're back! I'm SOOO glad you had a wonderful time! And thank you so very much for coming back to let us know how it all worked out, pros and cons.

Posted by
3173 posts

We made our connection at JFK with 50 minutes they gave us (only a
fast walk), but we won't ever do that again!

I'm thrilled for you! Congrats!! For anybody else considering doing a connection like Brenda's at JFK, DON'T!

Posted by
623 posts

For anybody else considering doing a connection like Brenda's at JFK,
DON'T!

I've been running some searches for international trips on Google Flights. Every time thatsystem coughs up an itinerary with 1.5 hours connection time for an international flight at JFK, I roll my eyes, say "no thanks!" and remember this discussion. :-)