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Trip Report Roundabout the UK: P & P, The Professor, and Some P O’B, May 2007

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a couple who have been married 25 years must be in want of a special anniversary celebration.

Since neither of us have visited Europe, we decided to spend two weeks in England and north Wales. We spent the better part of a year planning and narrowing down our itinerary, with lots of help from the good people of Fodor's and Travelers to Go. Our thanks to you all!

Packing ' Mr. Pickle found a very large, hard sided suitcase at a thrift store, and decided it would be perfect for the trip. I promptly named it Godzilla. We also brought a 19' soft sided carryon, which we packed with books, our road atlas, and things we would need on the plane.
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May 1st ' 2nd The Road Goes Ever On and On (At Least, It Feels That Way): ABQ to LAX to LHR

We got to the Sunport in plenty of time to catch our Southwest flight, hugged and kissed the kids goodbye, and checked in.

Godzilla was overweight (we weighed it when we got home; it's 12 lbs. all by itself), resulting in our moving some stuff to the carryon bag, and putting a couple of books in Mr. Pickle's daypack.

Mr. Pickle forgot to put his Leatherman tool in Godzilla and lost it at security. Good thing Father's Day is Sunday. Then we were called back because Godzilla was chosen for further inspection and they didn't see two of its four clasps.

Eventually we got to the gate, scored some caffeine, and settled in. I forgot to print our boarding passes the day before, but we didn't have any trouble finding seats together for an uneventful flight to Los Angeles.

We stood in line for about 30 minutes at Air New Zealand's check-in counter until they opened. Our carryon weighed too much to take on the plane with us, and we checked it, trusting Air NZ to get it to Heathrow instead of Auckland.

Air New Zealand doesn't exactly reserve seats, but you can call and request certain seats before your trip. After consulting http://www.seatguru.com, I chose seats across the aisle from each other, figuring we could take advantage of the combination of Air NZ's excellent amount of legroom and the aisle. I hoped we might get lucky and not have anyone sitting next to us as well, but the flight was fairly full.

We walked over to City Deli (downstairs from the Encounter restaurant) and had some pretty good roast beef sandwiches for lunch before going through security and up to our gate. We found a pay phone, called the kids, and read the paper before boarding.

Air NZ's 777s have individual seatback screens and a wide variety of movies, TV shows, games, and music choices. Combined with wonderful NZ wines and pretty good food, the 10 ' hour flight was comfortable and uneventful.

Neither of us slept more than about 30 minutes, so we really appreciated all our entertainment options. I watched Music and Lyrics, listened to Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House while trying to get some sleep (a futile attempt, but I discovered I knew and loved a number of their songs), plus all of Fellowship of the Ring and half of The Two Towers (this was Air New Zealand, after all).

Our flight arrived at 11:00 in the morning. It didn't take long to get through immigration and customs. We bought half-price Heathrow Express tickets online, picked them up at one of the convenient machines, and were in London a few minutes later. It's not the most scenic trip, but it's convenient if you need to go to Paddington.

We wandered through the station until we found an ATM, got some cash, bought pay-as-you-go Oyster cards, and took the Tube to Bayswater, where our hostel was located.

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