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Trip Report So Not ready for Europe-An Ongoing Trip Report

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OK, I've tried doing these sorts of things before and every time I HAVE, something seems to pop up in the middle and interrupt including inability to connect to the web, unexpected illnesses and deaths, or just plain old lack of interest.

So, once more into the breach.

We planned this trip about a year ago and we were fortunate enough to get FF seats on the very first (and last) phone call. I am reminded about that recent post asking for 'secrets to getting seats to...' and my answer remains: don't be too picky and keep trying."

If there is any so-called 'down side' to our seats it is/was the outbound route but we made the most of it.

Left Washington-Dulles yesterday afternoon around 12:30 PM on a short United flight to Toronto. Dulles check-in was fast and easy (we were there obviously well before the more common onslaught of travelers checking in for those flights to Europe which typically begin leaving around 5:30 PM) and Security had very short lines, also. The flight itself was uneventful and the plane wasn't even a fourth full.

Even easier transit through Toronto; bags were checked all the way through so no re-claiming. Border service check-through very fast with an agent equipped with enough armor to withstand an assault from a whole division of soldiers.

Our ongoing seats to Heathrow were in Air Canada's "executive" class ("don't call it First and the finance folks in your office are more likely to spring for it) so we were able to hang out (for four hours or so!) in one of the Maple Leaf lounges which was pleasant. Hot food, real booze, not crowded, and quiet.

Actual flight left on time, arrived early, the flat bed seats afforded some sleep, crew was attentive, food nicely presented, etc. What's not to like?

Heathrow!!!!!!..those long, long, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG walk-ways but the periodic moving segments are a help. We landed right after 6:00 AM. People from our flight rushing along in a was nice not to have to. Luggage on the belt before we got to it. Premium Customs/Immigration line was fast; nobody much worried about whether you had anything to "declare" or not.

On the Underground for the ride into the city. We had ordered Oyster visitor cards on line and they were ready to go. The tube train filled up rather quickly after the first few stops and I was able to stand at one end of a car with our one larger bag and not impede anyone's riding ability which made me feel better.

By the time we reached the Covent Garden stop the car was half empty.

We have rented a THIRD FLOOR WALK UP <G> flat on Neal Street an easy walk from the Underground, and the owner's representative was here waiting for us..this well before 8 AM. This is the neighborhood we usually stay in and have always used the nearby Covent Garden Hotel in the past which is a great place IMO to stay. The flat offers more room, is obviously cheaper, and even has a roof terrace. The place is small but well-designed and includes free internet access and a washer and dryer. We are pleased with this choice and there is a little dog living one floor down...I have yet to meet him/her but am determined to do so!

WEATHER: in a word, wonderful with periods of sunshine and nicely mild although there are some folks already wearing scarves which I assume are "fashion statements' more than anything.

CG has NOT changed since we were here last a couple years ago: ATTENTION FASHIONISTAS: the real question SHOULD BE: "Can I go to Europe and NOT wear denim and every sort of footwear KNOWN to Man?" And what is with these dark, dark, DARK colors???? Lots of folks smoking..outside, of course...a decidedly young crowd in general, on their way to work, hanging out, etc.

Unpacked, learned how to find all the light switches and what they operate including the wall outlets. Went to nearby Marks+Spencer for some food although there are all sorts of smaller grocery-type venues nearby. Used the self check out and a non chip and pin credit problems.

Picked up tickets for two upcoming performances at the Royal Opera House ("Faust" tonight and "La Traviata" this Thursday). We usually do West End shows but have seen most of the major ones and might get last-minute tickets to something of sudden interest.

Will continue reporting...but as to the TITLE of this report. As i said, we planned this trip one year ago and lots of good things have occurred between then and now including the purchase of a condo in Fort Lauderdale for get-away purposes and we will settle on it two days after our return from Europe. Frankly, my mind is more on THAT than this trip but certainly not complaining as we feel fortunate to be here.

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