Below, find my trip report for our 23 days in England-Scotland-Ireland-Northern Ireland-England (again). I will post subsequent days as replies:
Prep and Travel Day (Day 1):
Order a specialty meal on the plane for an actual hot meal/delivered first
Add an hour to your pickup time at the airport to reduce stress
I planned to work a full day on our travel day, since we had an evening flight and I could work from home. I started early, so around 3PM I threw another coat of stain on the porch bench (as you do - I can’t be the only person who starts a ridiculous home project right before a trip). And then jumped in the shower. My parents arrived around 3:30 PM and I walked my mother through taking care of our three large, needy cats and then took another spare key over to the neighbors. Eventually we hopped in the car for the most harrowing portion of our trip - my father’s driving.
As mentioned in my packing thread, we were traveling light but not carry-on only. I had a 21 inch rolling duffle plus backpack, and husband (DH) had a larger rolling duffle plus backpack. Mine was 22 pounds, his was 33 pounds.
We were going to stop for dinner on the way, but given how stressed my father was with driving, made the correct decision to go straight to the airport. We hit the sweet spot with arriving. From drop off to our gate was 17 minutes. That included check in, printing boarding passes, dropping luggage, and security. We didn’t have any of the fancy skip-the-line passes as we haven’t traveled out of the country in 3 years.
We settled at our gate and DH took the first lap - stretching his legs and getting dinner while I started my first book (A Fatal Footnote, for those wondering). Then I took my turn of filling up the water bottle, taking a walk, and grabbing a light dinner of rice and a veggie spring roll (DH watched My Cousin Vinny on his laptop).
Boarding for our Delta non-stop Salt Lake City to Heathrow started around 8PM. We were Comfort Plus, so boarded relatively early and got settled. Oof, if that is Comfort Plus I dread to see what Economy/Main Cabin is like! Those seats were hardly comfortable. Dinner service started almost immediately, and as I had a specialty (vegetarian) meal, I was served early. I had an indifferent curry and traded my fruit dessert for DH’s blondie.
I watched Pride and Prejudice, Primal Fear, Mission Impossible, and MI: Ghost Protocol (love the Delta entertainment variety). DH and I both managed to sleep relatively well on the flight. At least to the point where, when my bagel and fruit arrived in the morning, I was, if not well rested, at least not stupid with sleep.
Although we were about 35 minutes late departing, we were only about 15 minutes late arriving. Our gate was at the end of beyond, but eventually we made our way through border control, toilets, and baggage. DH has the new US passport and did have trouble with his passport at the scan-only barrier (my old-school one was fine). The last barrier of customs (just a walk-through) and we were out. DH grabbed a coffee (which he called ‘checking to make sure the credit card is working’) while I connected the Heathrow wifi and was able to get in touch with our driver. Windsor Taxi (I left a review) was on time and resourceful, reaching out to me via WhatsApp. For the record, I had pushed our taxi pickup time + 1 hour past our scheduled arrival, to account for any delays. This allowed us to not rush or stress getting off the plane and worked out really well.
After a relatively quick, if rainy, drive, we arrived at Windsor High Street and the Macdonald Windsor Hotel (I left a review). A warm welcome, and the hotel was clean and among the fanciest we stayed at (I told DH not to get used to it). It was a connecting room, which I generally hate, but incredibly quiet. Nice coffee and tea facilities in -room, and a window which opened for lovely fresh air. Also the bed was an American king.