So I have come to the conclusion that I am in much need of a new post on my site. It’s been far to long but I do have a few excuses. Work is keeping me busy and I have been traveling again. This time, I started my holiday off with a short weekend trip to San Francisco with my friend Jason.
We had a brilliant time for our four day weekend and visited most of the staples for a weekend to San Francisco and also enjoyed the Walt Disney family Museum and a day trip to Napa Valley where we got to enjoy several vineyard tours around wine country. We had such a great weekend away and couldn’t have asked for any better weather to enjoy the city. Having a multi day transportation pass made the trip a breeze and is the only way to go if you are going to a major city with mass transit.
After a short stop at home for a week, it was time for me to hop on my first flight with Virgin Atlantic and on a 747-400 to fly back to London for an almost two week adventure back in the city and to Wales with my friend Sawyer who had never been out of the USA before. It’s always great to get back to London and visit friends but, it is also fun to take someone there for the first time and show them the ropes. We had a pretty active schedule leaving the hotel in the morning and not returning until late in the evening. We did almost all of the museums and even took in a concert with OneRepublic at The Roundhouse which was simply amazing. Another fun adventure involved Comedy Night on the Phil and Alice show with BBC Radio 1 which I was able to win tickets for in a random lottery draw which was a great time and a great way for me to see in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. So our days were very packed full of activities.
Some other highlights were spending a day in Cardiff to see the Doctor Who Experience and then just catching up with good friends and enjoying the atmosphere of just being in London. We both also took advantage of getting some great European fashion to add to our wardrobes. Weather was really nice with only one evening with a slight mist though the temperatures did start to drop towards the end of the trip. but overall it was great and I know Sawyer had a great first visit to London and I am sure that he will be going back soon. I can’t wait to figure out my next trip to the United Kingdom as well.
Some things that I did learn or learned to appreciate more this trip:
- Virgin Atlantic is simply amazing. I don’t know why I haven’t flown them until now but, I can’t see any other airline in my future for going to the United Kingdom ever again. Really great service an amazing product.
- There is such a thing as too much Nando’s. Yes I know I love the place but I’m actually ok with the only three times we did go.
- We need Costa Coffee Pret-A-Manger and Nando’s here in Orlando. Starbucks can’t even come close to Costa. That is all.
- Between the Underground and the DLR, there is no need for taxi or a car. I wish we had more of this here in America.
- VAT Refunds add up quick. If you are going to be making larger purchases beyond say a postcard or small gift, get the VAT refund form. You can claim it back when leaving and it adds up very quickly how much you can get back. This also makes the clothes or things you were going to be actually in some cases way cheaper than if you bought them in the United States.
- Pre-Book museum or tour tickets if possible. I heard there was a new Bond in Motion exhibit opening our last day in London. I hoped online to book tickets in advice for opening day. Upon arrival to the museum, the line to get tickets if you didn’t pre-book went around 3 blocks. We simply walked in. If you can pre-plan and know you are going to do something, just get it out-of-the-way. It also makes it easier to spread the cost of the trip out as you will have already paid for your tickets before the trip depending on when you book.
- Enter to win free tickets. The BBC offers free tickets to many of their shows and concerts. All you have to do is fill out a form to apply. Some of these shows include concerts with the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Rod Stewart. It’s free to apply and whats the worse that will happen, you will either get to see a free concert or you wont. Doesn’t hurt to apply.
- Mobile Phones. T-Mobile is great in that if you are on the Simple Choice plans, you get free international roaming for data in certain countries. This is nice but, it is really slow. Like worse than dial-up. If you have a spare phone that’s unlocked, pickup a local pre-paid SIM card. The one I use is £15 for unlimited data, 3000 texts and 300 minutes. This gives me a local number for friends to reach me and high-speed data for posting photos or sending emails. Well worth it.
I’ll leave it there with my list for now, but I wanted to hit a few of the big ones on my mind. Now, here are the links to the photos from the trips. Until next time.
|San Francisco||London and Cardiff|