Being a jaded New Yorker whose never left home before, and alone no less, was rather challenging. Some of the challenges were none whatsoever. Yes that sounds like a(n) oxymoron comment, but in reality travelling is much easier than one who has never traveled thinks.
Procuring a(n) airplane ticket is very easy, mainly because there are many airline websites one can visit such as virgin-atlantic.com, britishairways.com, aa.com, and the list can grow to just about any airline open in your state (nothing a Google search won’t help with). Just a few simple clicks or taps on a gadget and bam you have a flight scheduled. In my case, I did my airline booking through a 3rd party app; CheapOair.com or the app available via Android because I got to save money too. If you so chose to get certain seating, you can choose a window seat or aisle seat through the confirmation of having your ticket online only, for an extra fee (which varies from airline to airline).
The Security that the news boasts about being all tedious and annoying isn’t anything to pay much attention to. I decided to wear basic clothing and some slip on shoes, a jacket, and brought only 1 bag of clothes with me. Basically we just go through a metal detector and they scan our stuff, same thing we do when we enter a courthouse. We put our things back on, then board the plane. It’s good to note to be at your flight at least an hour and a half early because there are lines to go through, and they are not short at all, and trust me the time passes fairly quick. Plus it’s very easy to get to and from, mainly because there are signs everywhere. Signs to the toilet, the flight you’re boarding, signs to the nearest ATM, signs to the board that shows your flight, signs to the bus station. Signs are everywhere, and thankfully don’t confuse first time travelers like me.
The airplane ride itself wasn’t bad at all. It felt like being in a bus going on a 7 hr ride, some turbulence involved, but nothing negative. The captain would greet us immediately and make us feel welcome aboard via the sound system, and would frequently update us on how much longer we have on flight, and to fasten seat belts when turbulence hit. The flight attendants were very courteous and attentive, and the entire flight itself was very smooth. From getting on, to flying off, to getting off the plane was very simple quick and smooth actions. The food that is given isn’t bad at all, is well portioned, has a variety of a salad three entree’s and a desert, and drinks are given every couple of times an hour. Compared to one thinks of flying in an airplane. Virgin Atlantic has television screens right in front of you and play music, movies, and TV shows, so boredom isn’t a factor. You can also use your devices (we so love to bring everywhere with us) as long as they are in airplane mode and WiFi is turned off. Also you can buy items (tax-free) from the shopping catalog available on board the plane in mid-flight; jewelry, international phones, candy, alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes/cologne, and etc. Generally, if you haven’t brought kids with you, the flight is smooth and relaxing.
Luckily I was able to get a window seat, so awe usually ensues when you look down. The scenery is beautiful, especially above the clouds. Sunsets and Dawns are extra fantastic to look at. When the airplane lowers in altitude, it is simply to good a view to see the scenery of the country being visited. The UK is full of rural areas, and tons of farming areas, I saw a lot of windmills, sheep, horses, cows, ducks, geese, and many other farm animals. A complete difference from my departure from New York, where all you saw was city lights, and very little rural areas. As the plane rode over the country, it was interesting to see city areas sprinkled around different areas.
Upon arrival the captain had told us that there was a delay in the runway, so we literally circled around the area for about 10 minutes in air. My friend told me upon meeting that he saw an airplane just doing doughnuts in the air. I thought it was interesting that the plane could do that.
The UK is full of hospitable people. I was surprised, as some movies like “Duece Bigalo European Gigalo” gave me the connotation that people from the Eastern part of the world hated Americans or Westerners in general. Everyone seemed to be excited upon meeting an American visiting the “Motherland”. I liked the UK very much. The streets were very clean, even the toilets were different, yes the toilets. They were larger, and didn’t do the clockwise motion, and public toilets don’t show the feet and give 100% privacy, something I cherished. Although the currency is Stronger in the UK by $1.62, the prices there aren’t bad at all. The prices are basically the same here at home. So I had confidence in my spending power.
As your typical tourist, we spend money, and spend it on just about anything different or shiny. I visited a range of stores and tried to give an equivalency of what that store would be at home; ie. Boots is an equivalency of Duane & Reade back in New York. Certain restaurants like Pizza Hut are actual fine dining restaurants in the UK. They also have similar franchises such as McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC. Each restaurant serving foods a bit different than here at home. Like McDonalds sells Onion rings and a variety of Sweet Chilli sandwiches and wraps, and holds a special sandwich every week. Burger King has a small variety of different desserts such as Strawberry Cheesecake and an Orange Chocolate ice cream. And the plus sizing of items just give you a bigger cup for soft drinks. But these foods aren’t the staple there. There are a large variety of shops that sell “Pasty’s” which are filled with savory or sweet puff pastries. They are really tasty especially the onion and cheese ones.
Even the flavor of the candy there is different. I actually enjoyed a snickers bar and twix far more than here at home. It was explained to me that they cut back on sugar and other fat preservatives than here in the US. And walks in the UK are far far different than walks here in the US. When I traveled the area with friends, it was walks of 30-45 minutes or longer, and that’s just to the train station. As opposed to here we walk to the nearest train station is about 8-10 minutes and then we sit and walk another 8-10 minutes to said destination. My two weeks there I lost about 6 lbs.
I went to Harvester which felt like eating in an Applebees, was really good. You get up and get as much salad as you want, you go back to your seat and you order the rest of your food. It was a very different experience, I never got up to get salad before I ate. The ambiance was very homey and comfortable. The lighting was soft, and the restaurant attracts more the family and friend crowd.
The food there is amazing, everything was well seasoned and large portions.
I took notice on how ice cream is served in the UK. They place a cookie or wafer cookie (they call cookies in the UK Biscuits) in the ice cream.
This will conclude my first two day experience in the UK, I will continue to do my review on the UK. I’ll write soon.