I turned 50 in February and will be married to my wife for 18 years this June. We love art, food, museums, churches, and each other. As a couple, this was our sixth trip to Europe (including Turkey), fifth that I planned (Turkey was a package deal my parents signed us up for). Our ninth trip lasting a week or longer (Curacao, SonomaX2).
I had some trouble planning this, due to the size, star power, and expense of London. But I got my head around it and built it to our standards. Wife gave my efforts in planning an A+. I rate myself as an A minus to an plain A, with the help of the Rickniks on the England forum.
I'm gonna go by days, because I have a lot to say on a lot of things.
Booked tickets through Iberia who were code sharing a British Airways flight. We departed Chicago on March 2nd at 5:00 PM, set to arrive in London on March 3rd at 6:40 AM. I dock myself some points here. The plan was to take the Tube to Kings Cross for a 9:06 LNER up to York. The flight, on an Airbus A380, operated by BA, seated on the upper deck in seats 71 J & K. 71J, where I sat might be one of the worst seats on the plane due to an entertainment equipment box under 70J. Wife had the window, but the guy in 70K dropped his seat all the way back, then fell asleep with his head on the tray table, pitched forward.
Given the timing of the flight, I should have sprung for "World Traveler Plus." But maybe, we should have flown into Manchester, maybe through Dublin (The advantage with the customs being in Dublin on the return being a plus as well).
Any rate, woulda shoulda didn’t. No sleep on the red eye for either of us, got through passport and customs so clean (UK: The “Nothing to Declare” line: BRILLIANT). Navigated to the Underground (the whole time humming this to myself), figured out where we were going, and an hour later emerged at Kings Cross station. Got coffee and something to eat at Upper Crust (the bacon sandwich I had was sad. I was exhausted, so probably not the best thing to get, and probably not the best rating), found our train, had some time, but low energy, and got on the LNER to York. Assigned seats were unassigned due to some malfunction, so we sat where we sat and enjoyed the ride.
Arrived in York at 11:30, and my instinct to cancel tea at Betty's for 12 was right. We were beat. So beat we missed a turn walking through the station to get to the Rick recommended Bronte Guesthouse. So, instead of the 17-minute walk, took us 25, but got our first views of medieval York, which is an absolute show-stopper. Got to the guesthouse, met by Mick and our first real experience with Britons commenced.
For the trip, the Britons we met (not all in the tourist trade) were generous with their time, information, opinions, and everything else that didn't cost them anything. Mick was no exception, a wealth of knowledge about his city, its sights, its gates, bars, and snickleways. We got to the room and crashed until 17:00 (will be using 24hr time, because I'd like to think I'm a 24 Hour Party Person). We got up, and decided to walk around the town, look for something to eat, something to see. I noted that Rick said the best thing is just walking around York, and he wasn’t kidding.
We wound up at The Cross Keys in York, a Nicholson pub (despite claiming to be a freehouse). Had trouble deciding between their famous pies but settled on the gold medal winning Steak and Ale pie. First experience with British style gravy, and mind expanded. I'm now a huge pie fan. Really, the shortcrust pastry, the hearty beef, the umami of the gravy. It's genius. Had first taste of British cider, on tap, and YES!
More walking, then home for sleep. 5.8 miles, 0 staircases (seems dodgy as our room was not on the ground floor)