I took a second trip to Europe this year, which is cool. This time I went to visit the UK. The photos of the aircraft I took on my phone so they aren't that good, but I didn't feel like dragging my SLR out. I left DTW
on July 16th. There wasn't that much of a crowd at the airport, which was great because the line for checking in took forever. The line was short, but there were a lot of people who had way too much stuff and it took time to get that all squared away. We boarded right on time to a NWA 747-400, N673US. This 1999 Boeing product was just fine by me. It was the first 747 trip I have ever done so that was really great. Some people said I should have taken a A330 because it has a better Y class and I do agree, but I wanted a 744. My seat had a good view of the movie screen, but the movie they were playing was kind of dull, no shootouts, car chases, explosions, etc, so I watched my DVD player. I watched Airport and The Alamo.
After being in the air for an hour or two we were served dinner. The meal was chicken and rice, which was very good. I was fortunate to sit next to a four year old girl. Usually I am seated next to a fat person and since I am no small fry myself I am cramped. The little girl took up no room at all and I wasn't squeezed at all. About an hour before we landed we were served egg and cheese muffins and a fruit cup. The girl saw I wasn't eating my fruit cup and offered to trade me her muffin for it. That was a good deal. The girl's family was traveling in the next row and they were all good people.
We arrived in AMS
an hour ahead of schedule, which was great. What wasn't great was the loud Greek behind me. This knucklehead didn't shut up the entire flight. He kept walking back to the rear of the aircraft hanging out there for a while and then returning to the seat so he and his wife could yell at each other. He was so damn loud that you couldn't have slept if you wanted to. Every time this guy would get up he would pull on my seat to get his 300 pound body out of his seat and I thought he was going to break off the back of the seat. The FAs all knew him and it turns out he owns one of the hotels near DTW
. I will have to figure out which one and go be loud and obnoxious there.
Upon landing a lot of people cheered and clapped, which in all of the flights I have taken I have never heard before. I only thought that would happen if something bad was to happen and we landed safely. The plane didn't have anything wrong with it because I saw it take off again a few hours later.
Since we arrived at AMS
early I had almost four hours before my connection to MAN
. I stowed my carry on in a locker and went outside of the concourse to have a look. It was too early to drink beer (for me) or for the shops to be opened. I would have liked to visit the airplane hobby shop located in AMS
. Maybe it was good it was closed because I would have spent too much money. I did like the DC-9 (maybe an MD
-80) they had at the store.
I found AMS
to be one hell of an airport. There was all kinds of shops and bars. I also saw a great deal of airplane traffic. After a few hours it was time to board the plane to MAN
. It was a KLM 737-800, PH
The flight left 15 minutes late, but in the world of travel that isn't bad at all. The trip was short, less than an hour, but the FAs did have time to get beverages and snacks served. We arrived at Manchester 15 minutes late and I proceeded to head over to pick up my luggage. That was the slowest part of the day. It took about 40 minutes for our bags to come, which I thought was odd because there wasn't that much traffic there. After I got my bag and went through passport control I found the railroad station and took the train to Leeds. The train station at MAN
is only a short walk from the terminal.
The trains leave MAN
every 30 minutes so catching one is no problem. The train was the RDC variety. I stowed my bags and sat down and began my hour journey over to Leeds. The train made a few stops, but arrived at the Leeds station on time. I walked three blocks to the Hotel, which is an extended stay place called "The Chambers".
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The hotel is a real first class place, it was one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. I normally couldn't afford such a first class hotel, but I was staying with my buddy, Zac, who is there on business and his company was paying for him and I was just mooching. Zac and I went to school together and wherever we go we redneck up the place. The hotel had a bedroom, a kitchen, bathroom, and living room. I slept on a folding bed that I set up in the kitchen. Even the folding bed was nice. If you are ever in Leeds and want a classy place to stay I would recommend this place.
After a long trip I was tired so I crashed out and slept until Zac came back from work. He and I then went out drinking. The next day I walked around Leeds and took some photos and ate some local food and drank a lot of local beers. I really like the ales and bitters in the UK. The warm, cask, beer is good and refreshing. I like that it is low in alcohol which means I can enjoy more of it.
As you would expect I did a lot of beer drinking in the UK. I also drank at many sad pubs filled with good ole' boys and rednecks. Those people really liked the idea that I would come all the way to the UK and hang out with them. I found everyone over 30 was friendly and most were happy to meet an American who wasn't a backpacking green hippie. I never had anyone ask me about George Bush or the environment. Most of the people I was with complained about the greens and wanted their guns back.
I took the train up to York and visited the National Railway Museum and the York Minster Cathedral. What a great little town. The railroad museum was the finest I have ever been to. All of their vintage equipment looks like it could go out and run. If you are a train buff you must go to York.
After tea and a back bacon sandwich I headed on over to the York Minster. This beautiful cathedral was built over 200 years starting in the 1200s. I am a traditional Episcopalian so this place was very special to me. We were able to walk up 300 stairs to the roof which afforded many great photos of the town.
That night I came back to Leeds and hung out with Zac and his two coworkers, Kirstin and Lisa. We hit a lot of great pubs, but after a while the girls wanted to go to a happening place so we went to this disco, which sucked. They were playing 1960s and 70s hits so that was ok, but the place was too crowded for me. After the girls went left we proceeded to go back to the sad pubs and get hammered.
The next day after sleeping for a long time we took the bus to Pudsey. That was a great little town. We went to the best pub ever, a fine little place called the Bankhouse. It was my speed because it was out in the country and people rode their horses to the bar. There was also many dogs at the bar too. I like a pet friendly place.
We walked back into town and hit a variety of small pubs and everyone was thrilled that two Americans came to Pudsey just to drink beer. We had several people buy us rounds of beer. All of those bars had dogs at them too we sat around and talked about all kinds of good stuff. They especially liked hearing about how we don't have any vehicle inspection in Michigan. The people we talked with felt that was great and was what freedom is all about. Oddly I had people in Germany tell me that same thing.
Zac and I had a great time. Such a good time that Zac barfed out the window of the cab on the way back to Leeds.
The next day I tried to go to church, but I was do disgusted with the Anglican church in Leeds I walked out. I might have well been in some sort of hippy commune. There was nothing in the service I even knew. I guess this is like the Episcopal church in the USA, some are more traditional than others.
The next morning I got up bright and early and took the train up to Edinburgh. That was a nice ride and the trip along the sea was beautiful. I walked around town for a while stopped in a pub for lunch and a bit of whisky. I stopped by a 300 year old Episcopal church and went to mass, it was fairly traditional so I was happy with that. After mass I walked around town for a while and stopped by the Scotch Whisky Experience. That was a fun and I drank five whiskys while I was on the tour. I could have had more, but I didn't need to get buzzed.
The whisky place was next to the castle, which was so packed with tourists, like me, that I didn't go in. I was happy taking photos from outside. I am more interested in the industrial revolution period of history anyway. After eating dinner at another pub I headed back to the railroad station for my trip back to Leeds.
The next morning I had purchased a first class ticket on a mainline steam railroad excursion up to Scarborough. I was once involved with a steam railroad group in St. Louis and worked many trips with them. It was nice to just sit back and enjoy a mainline steam train. The first class coaches were great, as were the standard coaches. The locomotive was built in 1936 and was coal fired. After BSing with some of the train crew I was given a tour of the locomotive and was invited to ride in the crew car on the way back. I did that for a while, but did go back to sit in my seat after about an hour. Scarborough was a great town and it was neat to see the sea. I drank a few beers with some coalminers and we talked about the circumstances of the coal and mines in the UK and Southern Illinois.
That night we went out for more beers and stayed out too late and I had a hangover the next day when I got up to go back to the airport. I took the train back to MAN
. Checking in and going through security was a breeze. I was amazed how fast everything went. I had plenty of time to eat and have a tea. We boarded our KLM 737-800 back to AMS
on time and left on time. It was a short trip, but there was enough time for drinks and snacks. The man and women sitting next to me both had kilts on, that is something I haven't seen on a plane before.
When we arrived at AMS
I had about an hour before I had to board the flight back to DTW
. I went over to the duty free shop and bought some beer to take home to a friend and some do-dads. When I bought the beer the cashier asked if I wanted to take it with me or drink it now. I thought that was funny, but there were a lot of beer drinkers walking around AMS
. The flight back to DTW
boarded on time and left on time. The plane was KLM 777-200, PH
The service on the flight was fantastic for Y class. There was even hot towel service. We had a meal of chicken and potatoes and some great cake. Later they served ice cream and snack. The 777 had the IFE system with the monitors in the seat backs. I watched a lot of TV
: Friends, The Simpsons, Hill Street Blues, Kojak, etc.
The FAs were all very well dressed and male Purser was also very professional looking. I was amazed at how attentive they were even in Y class. I bet the service in World Business was incredible. We landed at DTW
right on time and I proceeded to customs. I had to stop and use the bathroom and by the time I was down I was almost last in line to go through. Even the flight crew got through before me.
My mom was waiting for me at DTW
. She had flown in a few hours earlier on WN
. The next day mom, dad, and I left to go to the U.P. of Michigan for a few days. Dad was driving in from Chicago as he was working there. My mom even commented about how nice the FAs and pilots from KLM looked. Mom thought the ladies were beautiful and the men handsome. She said that is what she remembers from 40 years ago. I must say I was so impressed with KLM that next time I travel to Europe I will try to fly KLM. The trip was great and I really enjoyed my experience. It was a very different than my trip to Germany in March. Trying to compare the two places is impossible as they were both great.