A very good day to everyone. I have read many quality trip reports here on A.net and if I can even achieve 10% of that quality with this report, I will consider this trip report as a success. Please note that in the middle of my trip, my Digital SLR starting giving me Error 99 to which I had no solution to. Therefore some pictures are from another point and shoot camera. I am also not a professional photographer; therefore the quality of some images isn%u2019t quite the best. Now that the disclaimer has been given, its time for me to begin this report. So sit back, grab a drink and a snack, and enjoy this trip report
Back in April, my oldest sister got an internship with a fashion designer in London, UK. She had gone to London for a week for interviews; however 4 days into her trip, she informed us that she would be in London for 6 months. So jokingly, I said nice, maybe we can visit her before she comes back and also sneak in a couple cities in Europe while we are there. At that point it really was a joke as tickets were crazy expensive in the summer to Europe and being a student, I just did not have the money to buy a $1k Economy ticket to London. So I pitched the idea; however while some serious ticket hunting, I was able to snag tickets to LHR from NYC on AA for less than $400 a piece, and booking them was a no-brainer...
After we had the London trip finalized, it was time to start hitting the European LCC sites to find cheap airfares to a couple different cities in Europe. The first site visited was Ryanair and that time they were running their infamous sale of flying for free and just paying taxes. We definitely wanted to go to Paris; therefore I looked at possible destinations from Paris%u2019 Beauvais airport. Multiple destinations popped up and a thought of driving up to Brussels also came to our mind, but in the end, I convinced my sisters to go to Milan. The shopping was enticing enough for them and for me, visiting San Siro was a good enough reason. Then again, I really wanted to go up north to visit the Lake Como area. My sisters tried to shoot the idea down saying that we were being too ambitious and we just could not fit all of this in. I didn%u2019t really argue a whole lot because I thought maybe I was being too ambitious.
So the tickets to/from Paris to Milan were booked on Ryanair and now the only part left was to get us to/from London to Paris. I searched airfares and they were just too expensive. So I finally managed to look at the Eurostar%u2019s website and my oldest sister booked the three of us on the Eurostar. While our destinations were decided, we still had to get to NYC. I decided that I would use my miles to get me from CMH to LGA and my sister would fly from ORD to LGA. We both would arrive at a similar time frame in LGA and then head to JFK.
Another side note is that this trip would present many firsts for me. It would be my first time on a B777. My first time in Europe, first time crossing the chunnel on the eurostar, and also my first flight on Ryanair. I think I was more excited about sitting on a B777 than going to Europe. In addition, I'd like to say that since this trip was almost a year ago, I'll try to put in as many aviation related points as I can, but also let the pictures do the talking!!!
1) CMH – LGA on Delta Airlines operated by Chautaqua Airlines
My dad woke me up at 7:30 am asking me if I felt like making my flight this morning. I barely got out of bed and I still had to finish packing. The first thing I did after waking up was take a nice shower to wake me up. My flight was scheduled to depart CMH at 10:20 am; therefore my plan was to get to the airport at by 9:30, giving me enough time to check-in and clear security. This being a Sunday, the airport looked deserted and security was taken care of within minutes. I was at the gate by 9:45 and tried to catch some sleep.
Anyways, seemed like the load was quite light on this flight today and boarding was called at 10:00 am. We all boarded quite rapidly and then the pilot came and announced that we would wait for one passenger who has checked-into the flight. The passenger’s luggage had already been loaded and we would just wait for this person to show up. Upon boarding, the FA also told everyone to feel free to select their own seats as more than half the plane was empty. I remained in my seat, slightly ahead of the wing on the left side of the plane and on a window seat.
The weather today was a bit cloudy in Columbus; however I still had my camera ready to take some pictures, should the opportunity strike. Our plane made way to the runway and we had clearance to take-off right away. As soon as the plane turned onto the runway, it started rolling without any pauses. I prefer when the planes actually stop for a few moments and then apply thrust. It makes me feel like I’m in a roller-coaster going up the hill and waiting for that first drop. The anticipation for me sitting in a plane waiting to take off is quite similar to that of a roller coaster.
I didn’t really know our flight path, but I think we passed over PIT and I could also spot EWR. I was glued to the window trying to get some good views. There was a drink service along with the famous Delta biscoffs. I got a pack of biscoffs along with Club Soda. In fact I politely asked the FA if I could have the entire can of club soda since the effects of the night before were still lingering on. I managed to take a picture of a US Airways flight, which was maybe in a holding pattern to touch down to PHL and also a Continental flight that maybe took off from EWR; however I did not have my big lens ready so the pictures turned out to be a bit blurry. We passed over the Manhattan skyline and then were rapidly descending into LGA. We touched down and a quick 50 minute flight had come to an end. Now my job was to wait for my sister and then head to JFK for our next flight.
Flying over PIT
Blurry picture of a suburb with a lake
Another picture of the suburb
Spot the airplane in this picture (Too bad I didn't have my big lens ready)
Spot the CO 764 in this picture. This was closer to EWR
Manhattan skyline in the distance
EWR in the distance
Some famous NYC landmarks
The Transit to JFK
I had to wait for about two odd hours for my sister’s flight to land; therefore I called up a couple of friends and caught up. I made my way into the food court and while entering the ticketing area of LGA’s AA terminal, I bumped into a girl and she didn’t even apologize. I thought, maybe this is New York. So I apologized and made my way into the terminal. Upon entering I heard some people talking and I overheard them. That girl I ran into was actually Ashanti, the singer. I must say that in person, she is not as tall as she sometimes looks on TV, or nice for that matter, and I definitely did not recognize her at all. She was exiting the terminal with about three other persons. I now played the waiting game for about 30 minutes. I tried to shut my eyes off and take a little nap. So I rested my head on the table and I think I must have dozed off for about 20 odd minutes because when I woke up, I felt refreshed and ready for more travel
We took the LGA-JFK shuttle service provided by a bus. Boy was this a bad idea. We purchased the tickets, only to find out that they were final and valid for one hour only meaning that after one hour, the tickets would be considered expired and we would have to purchase new tickets. I don’t know what was wrong with the coach service today; however we waited for almost an hour before the coach arrived. The lady selling the tickets wanted us to buy new tickets, but the bus driver allowed us to board and asked us to contact the right authorities to lodge a complaint.
Anyways, we made it JFK and there was quite a bit of traffic. So we got out at Terminal 1 and decided to take the Air Tran to Terminal 8, which is used by AA. So in a half day’s time, we had experienced flight, bus, as well as train. The only thing left was a boat We made it to the AA terminal and we headed straight to the first class check-in line. AA has a dedicated first class check-in area which is like a separate room. This was really convenient because the regular lines to check in were quite insanely large. In about 15 minutes, we were checked in. My sister enquired about upgrading and on this particular flight to LHR, there was only one seat available in business class so we pitched the idea. Instead we both got exit row seats which were good and bad for me. It was good because of the leg room; but bad because I would not have a window seat to look down upon London on our holding pattern.
After checking in, we headed for security. The fast track security line was also quite long and the regular security line was almost out to the door. A really busy day for AA. This was the first time I had visited the AA terminal. Is it always this packed during the so called evening rush hour to Europe from JFK? We cleared security in about 20 odd minutes and then we were off to the Admirals Club. We entered and we received two drink passes each. I used the first one to get a shot of Glenmorangie to help me relax a little bit. The food selection in this lounge was dismal. The only stuff offered was carrots with ranch dressing and there were some nuts. The only free drinks were water with lemon and tea/coffee. I’ve seen some pictures of various lounges of different airlines on A.net and I found this unimpressive. The second drink I got was Jameson’s Irish whiskey and by the time I finished this, boarding had been called to our flight. We went down and did some final minute duty free shopping and headed to our gate. I think it was safe to assume that we were one of the last few people to board our plane. We made way to our seats and made it our home for the next 6 hours. Next stop: London’s Heathrow Airport.
AA views from the lounge
Another AA ship
Inside the lounge
KL 747 taxiing
2) New York John F. Kennedy Airport to London Heathrow Airport on American Airlines
After boarding this flight to LHR, I was excited as this was my first flight on the 777. We were in exit row seats, meaning I would have ample leg room; but no view. Being a bit tired from my day's trips; I wanted to catch up on some sleep as the next week was going to be a bit hectic. So i settled down with a blanket, my noise-canceling headphones and waited for the flight to commence. We pushed back on time and then taxied forever to our runway. I remember taking a VS flight to LHR back in 2000 and the time to get to the runway was approx. 40 minutes and today was no exception. Its the infamous JFK evening rush hour. Once on the runway, the 777 engines spooled up and soon we were thundering down the runway. We were airborne in no time and ready for a 6 hour flight to LHR.
Service started with drinks and I again had club soda and witout asking, i was given 2 small cans. Not too shabby. After the drinks, the dinner service started. I believe the options were chicken or beef. I chose chicken and it was basically pasta with some chicken and some marinara sauce. Not the tastiest of meals; but not inedible either. Dessert I think was a brownie. After having dinner, I put on the IFE and tried to sleep while watching a movie. I must have dozed off for a couple odd hours because I woke up to the smell of something baking. Must have been from the business class or the first class as fresh baked rolls in Y is quite rare. Since I was asleep I don't know how many runs the crew made in that time, but before breakfast, I went back and gulped down 3-4 glasses of water. Fearing I would ask for more, the FA just handed me the entire bottle and said, enjoy... Again a rare thing in Y.
Breakfast service started and I took the egg option. It came with scrambled eggs (pretty much resembling the eggs from McDonald's breakfast, only a bit nastier); a chicken sausage and pancakes. I felt like I just ordered the deluxe breakfast and McDonalds. My sister got the other option which was much better. It came with cereal and milk along with fresh fruit. Soon after the breakfast service was finished, it was announced that we would be beginning our descent into LHR. The usual circles then commenced and we finally landed at LHR early in the morning. Immigration was not too bad and we were out of the airport in about 30 minutes after collecting our bags. My other sister had made it to pick us up and we were off to her house.
Some pictures from London
Tower of London
A stone alley inside Tower of London
Jolly ol' chap!!!
Am I a prisoner here??? (the old lady behind had a chuckle while I did this)
The Guard at the Tower of London
Tower of London Panoramic View
Buckingham Palace Panoramic View
A street near Buckingham Palace
The obligatory Tube Escalotor picture!!!
The London Eye
We took a tour to the Stonehenge and Bath, UK. I also had a friend who was studying in Bath, so this would be a good time to meet up with her as well for a little bit. Here are some pictures from Bath & Stonehenge.
One of the Roman Baths
Nice scenery at Bath
Driving to Stonehenge
A visitor to Stonehenge
Stonehenge Panoramic View
After an almost entire day's trip to the stonehenge and bath, we headed back to London. We were dropped off at Earl's Court and then we headed to a pub. We were going to meet up with a couple of friends there so we waited. Later in the night, we took a trip to Windsor, to see the castle of the queen. Here are some pictures from Windsor...
The entrance to the castle. The flag was up today, meaning the queen was actually there?
The crooked house of Windsor (could i make it even more crooked?)
I guess not...
3. London to Paris Gare Du Nord
After visiting most of the sites of London, we were then scheduled to hop on the Eurostar and make way to Paris. We made our way to the train station and cleared security and immigration without any issues. I think we had to wait just about 5 minutes before boarding was called on our train. Our coach was fairly empty and I had the adjacent seat to me empty all the way to Paris. Again I tried to sleep a bit as I was getting a bit weary and tired. I slept until we were out of the chunnel after which the sun was directly in my eyes and I just could not get myself to sleep. Overall I'd say the train ride was quite smooth and we made it to Gare Du Nord in time.
First sign of France after the chunnel
Stopped in Calais before heading to Paris
We had rented an apartment in Paris using homeaway.com and the owner of the apartment had sent us instructions on how to reach the apartment using the subway system. I must say that the instructions were dead accurate, although we did have a mixup due to us not reading the signs correctly and we ended up going in the wrong direction for a stop or two. Once we got to our apartment, I was amazed at the location as well as the generosity of the owner. It was a very nice little apartment and the owner had fresh croissants for us. He had the kitched stocked with food in case we needed anything and also presented us with a bottle of Red Wine. If any of you are looking to go to Paris (no more than 3 i'd say), please PM me and I can send you the owner's contact info. I would highly recommend this apartment to you as you would get a very local feel as well as comfort of you own house. It also had English satellite TV along with free calls to the US. Highly recommended.
The next set of pictures are from Paris and the Monte-Marte area...
Cathedral de Notre Dame
The Stained Glass Windows
Saw this at one of the subway stations... Thought it was funny!!!
The Mona Lisa
Venus de Milo
Arc De Triumph
Going up the Arc
Looking down Champs Elysees
Monte Marte from top of the Arc
Eiffel Tower from the Arc
Eiffel Tower at Night
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
View from the top of the tower at Sacre-Coeur
Eiffel Tower again from the top of the tower
View of a local area outside Sacre-Coeur
The local area with a lot of artists
Another stone street
Monte Marte Panoramic 1
Monte Marte Panoramic 2
One last picture of the Eiffel Tower
4. Paris to Milano, Italy on Ryanair
Our two days in Paris ended in no time and our next stop was Milan. We had to get to the La Defence station to catch the shuttle bus to the airport, which was a 40 min drive. We called up the owner of our apartment to arrange for a cab at the apartment as the subway would not be operational at 4 am. We got to La Defence station and then had to wait for the shuttle service to commence. We were soon on board another bus and I think I slept the moment I was in my seat as my sister was waking me up telling me we had reached the airport. Nice little nap. We were soon in line for the check-in for our flight to Milan. Unfortunately we had to pay the check-in fees and then the bag fees so we had to go stand in another line, pay the costs and then go back and check in to get our boarding passes. It was a pretty cumbersome process and that too at 6 in the morning. We got some cafe au lait at the airport and waited for boarding to commence. Boarding was called and we were walking towards our 737. My first impression when I walked into this Ryanair plane was, TOO MUCH YELLOW... and the really annoying music and advertisements playing in the background. Boarding took a while and my ears wanted to bleed from listening to this stupid music. It was stuck in my head long after I had deplaned in Bergamo's airport. UGH!!! The flight overall went pretty smooth with decent views of the Italian Alps before our touchdown at Bergamo's airport. We soon deplaned, collected our bags and then headed for another shuttle into the Union Station in Milan. Once there, we took the tram all the way to the Linate airport as our hotel was close to that airport. I'll let some pictures do the talking now...
Our ride to Milano
FR safety instructions
View of some mountains on our way to Milan
At Bergamo's Airport with the Italian Alps in the background
Statue of DaVinci
The main shopping area next to the Duomo
The Ferrari Store
The Main Town Square, Milan
The next morning, we went to the Lenate Airport and rented us a car. I really wanted to go up to the Lako Como area to visit Lecco, and Bellagio. I had heard quite a bit about those places. So here are some pictures from that area...
Had some amazing gellato here...
Next to the lake
Lecco Panoramic 1
Lecco Panoramic 2
Driving to Bellagio
Nice view while driving to Bellagio
More nice views
Bellagio, Italy next to Lake Como
Really beautiful view
Almost at Como, Italy
Bellagio Panoramic 1
Bellagio Panoramic 2
5. Milano to Paris
My next flight again was early in the morning back to Paris. Since I was extremely tired, I dozed off in this flight, but still tried to capture the sunrise and the Alps. One thing I do remember is that during this flight, we were told that it was not possible to land at the Paris Beauvais airport due to a lot of fog. Therefore, our flight was diverted to Lille instead. Once disembarking at Lille, we would be provided with a bus service back to La Defence station from Lille which would take just over an hour. I sat next to an elderly gentleman and again I dozed off and remember waking up when we were close to Paris.
Trying to capture the sunrise
Flying over the Alps (sorry about the reflection)
Our ride at the Lille Airport (notice the fog)
We had about 12 hours to kill in Paris, so we immediately went to Gare Du Nord and rented a couple of lockers to store our stuff in. We made it back to Champs Elysees to finish up last round of shopping and making sure we didn't have any Euros left We also hadn't had a decent meal in a while, so we ended up grabbing lunch at a McDonalds. This was a day which turned out to be quite momentus for us... Breakfast in Milan, Lunch in Paris and our dinner would be in London.
6. Gare Du Nord back to London
After finishing up on our shopping, we headed back to Gare Du Nord to retrieve our luggage and check-in for our Eurostar train ride back to London. The ride itself was ok; however we were delayed about an hour because the train was extremely slow inside the chunnel. This was our last night in London and we met up with our friends again to grab dinner. Our flight back to the USA would be next morning on AA.
Gare Du Nord Train Station
Departure Board (Sorry about the quality)
7. LHR to JFK on AA
I didn't sleep much of the night because I was busy packing and we had to get to the airport quite early. On of my sister's friends in London volunteered to take us to the airport. We got to T3 at LHR and proceeded towards the First Class check-in. Again, this time no seats available for upgrade so the idea was pitched. We proceeded towards security and I did some last minute duty free shopping while my sister was in line to collect the VAT refund. We proceeded to the lounge to have a quick breakfast before boarding. Once our flight's boarding was called, we proceeded to our gate and boarded. I don't remember much of the flight as I was asleep before take-off. I think I woke up for breakfast, which again was pancakes with egg and chicked sausage. I then fell asleep again and woke up once we had landed in JFK. I don't know what the lunch service was because I slept through it. Immigration was a breeze and we were out and about to head separate ways again. This time, we took the cab to LGA.
8. LGA to CMH on DL
Upon reaching LGA, I found out that I had to wait until 7 pm to board my flight, which meant I had to kill about 5 hours at the airport. Therefore, after checking in my luggage, I proceeded to the most desserted gate and tried to sleep for a couple of hours. When I woke up, I still had a couple of hours to kill so I proceeded to a grille to get some food. A UEFA Champions League game was on TV so I watched that until it was time for boarding. The flight itself was uneventful. I was again so tired that I slept most of the flight. Once we landed, I called up home and by the time I got my bags and headed out, my parents were outside waiting for me.
Overall it was a very nice trip, although it turned out to be a bit hectic. I think we tried to do too much in too less time. I really enjoyed London, and the local feel of Paris, and Milan was worth visiting at at least once. I would not hesitate going back to these cities again...
Thank you for reading this report... Hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading some of your comments / feedback
My current trip report in progress: Spring Break Trip to Spain!!! so stay tuned for that...