tom911 goes to London, Dublin and Galway + AA 777-300

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  1. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hello this Friday night from London. Raining on and off today and I'm seriously jet-lagged. I was up at 3 this morning and had to come back to the hotel to take a nap this afternoon to try and get on UK time.

    WEDNESDAY

    Quick flight down from SFO and 3 hours in the Flagship Lounge at LAX. I enjoyed some chicken corn chowder, cheese, chips, and a small turkey sandwich. Salmon, green beans and a salad were also available.

    Arrived at the gate for the 1845 London flight on AA to find my name at the top of the upgrade list (1 of 12), same place it had been when I left SFO. Didn't think I stood a chance once they started boarding the flight and the display hadn't changed. Walked up to the gate agent for a final check before boarding, and she informed me that two seats in business class had just opened up out of nowhere, and gave me a new boarding pass. I was in the very last row of a 52 seat business class cabin on the new 777-300. First time on this aircraft for me as AA only uses it to Sao Paolo and select London routes.

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    Enjoyed an Argentinian Malbec with my dinner choice, haddock. After dinner, ice cream and Baileys. Had to stop the flight attendant when she came back for my third refill as I did want to sleep. Excellent service the entire flight. The other dinner choices were chicken, garden lasagna, or fillet of beet (gone by my row).

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    This plane has a new entertainment system that rocks. I watched The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. After that I searched the available CDs and found they had some of my favorites (only listened to Boston, but they also had Cosmos Factory and greatest hits from the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac). Wide variety from jazz to classics to current music---you'll not be bored on this flight.

    Had a light breakfast of cut fruit and yogurt. Cereal or scrambled eggs were also available.

    THURSDAY

    Landed at 1230, 45 mins early due to favorable tail winds, bringing our flight time down to 9 hrs 45 mins. By 1310 I was on The Tube on the way into London and Paddington Station. I have a hotel near here. Nap on arrival and went out in the evening for a long walk around Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, and then over to Charing Cross for Tube back to my hotel. Made a sandwich stop at Pret A Manger and that was plenty after all the food on the flight.

    Aircraft photos are on the front page of this gallery:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/American-Airlines/American-Airlines-My-Carrier/i-6KHmH7B

    Christmas lights approaching Covent Garden:

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    FRIDAY

    Did the hotel cold buffet breakfast at 9 pounds ($14.40) plus 12% service. They had an assortment of croissants, cereals, yogurt, fruit, sliced meats and cheese served from the bar. Not a big selection but enough to avoid going out to search for something at 8 in the morning.

    Cloudy skies when I went out at 0930 and walked from Paddington over to Kensington Park and Palace, about a 45 min walk. Met some U.S. tourists from New Jersey at the palace and took a photo for them. Right after that it started to rain and I needed to get out of the park.

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    Walked out to the street and boarded the #10 bus to Kings Cross, which stops at Euston Station, so I could pick up my rail and ferry tickets for Monday. Good hour bus ride over there, passing Marble Arch and Selfridges, going down Oxford Street, passing by Tottenham Court Road where the intersection is still all cordoned off due to railway construction, and then arrival at Euston.

    Realized after I arrived that I had copied down the booking number (10 digits) when the kiosks needed the reference number (8 digits), so could not print my tickets. Back to the hotel for a break.
     
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  2. tom911
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    Out in late afternoon to find the Circle Line was closed due to a major power failure. Worked around that by taking two other Underground lines over to Euston and got my rail/ferry tickets. From there off to Charing Cross and a walk over to some of the outdoors stores near Covent Garden to look at new daypacks. Walked around Covent Garden which has its Christmas decorations up already. Passed a Mexican place that had burritos for just over 6 pounds ($10) and thought I'd go back to it if something else didn't jump out, but then I found myself at a brand new Five Guys and had a burger with the works instead (6.7 pounds, about $11, and 2.5 pounds, about $4, for a soft drink). When I was by there last night the line went out the door and around the corner. Not as bad tonight. I did have to wait for a seat, though, as that seems to be a challenge when they're busy.

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    Christmas Tree at Covent Garden:

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    Back to the hotel on packed trains. Circle Line must still be closed.

    London photos start here
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Europe/London/2013-London-Nov
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
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  3. tom911
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    I forgot to add the pricing for satellite internet on the LAX-LHR flights.

    2 hours $12
    4 hours $17
    whole flight $19

    I only tested it out using the mobile AA site which doesn't have as many features as the desktop site. They also had a minimal amount of news headlines you could read for free. I'd probably buy it for the whole flight with a LHR origin as I'd get a lot of use out of it in that direction on a daytime flight.
     
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  4. tom911
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    I'm on board the Irish Ferry Ulysses, 4 hours out of Holyhead, Wales, with about 30 minutes to go before arrival in Dublin. The ferry offers free satellite wi-fi though it's a little on slow side, but at least usable. I have the netbook and tablet both on line. They've blocked my photo site so can't upload right now. Just wrote the next installment on the 3 hr 30 mins Virgin Rail trip up from London which will include Remembrance Day in London. Hope to get it all posted later tonight.
     
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  5. tom911
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    Hello this Monday night from Dublin, Ireland. The last few days have been packed and just not enough time to work on photos, but I've caught up with everything today while on the 3hr 40 min Virgin Rail train between London Euston and Holyhead, Wales, and the connecting 3 hour 20 min ferry ride to the Dublin ferry port. Was out the hotel door at 0730, picked up some breakfast items at Paddington Station, and was at Euston station an hour before departure at 0910.

    Virgin train at Euston this morning:

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    SATURDAY

    Decided not to do the hotel breakfast another day. Too crowded (to the point I had to squeeze between tables to get in and out for food). Instead, I just did the five minute walk over to Paddington Station to Sainsburys and picked up some croissants, strawberries, yogurt and milk and brought them back to the room. Much nicer and it allowed me to watch the morning news while eating. Brought back a lot of good memories of my backpacking days.

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    Hotel photos (Indigo Hotel Paddington):- stayed here on an award that was 75% off on a one day sale, saving $302 a night

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    I went back to the station shortly after noon and caught a 1230 train to Slough (round trip fare 8.5 pounds/about $14). Prior to departing I was able to use free internet in the station on The Cloud network, one that I've registered for and used on past visits here.

    I was met in Slough by my long time friend Harvey, and his 16 year old daughter Grace, who shuttled me over to their home in Buckinghamshire where Harvey's wife Sue greeted me. From there Harvey and I set out to a pub for a pint, then off to Runnymede where Queen Elizabeth donated a hillside acre of land for a John F Kennedy monument after his death, an appropriate visit as this month marks 50 years since JFK's death. We had to hike through a soggy field until we met a stone path that took us up the hill. There is a sizable monument with words from one of his speeches on the front of it that was dedicated by the Queen and Jacquie Kennedy in 1965. More info on wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runnymede

    Back to Harvey's home for an hour, and then we set out for an Indian dinner in Farnham (lamb madras for me). That was followed by going to the Theatre Royal in Windsor, right below Windsor Castle, for a performance of Dreamboats and Petticoats, a musical set in the 60s. Harvey had surprised me with tickets. The theatre itself is over 100 years old. I knew almost all the songs, and there must have been about 30, except for 2-3 that might have been uniquely British that I was not familiar with at all. Still humming “Palisades Park”, a place I visited a few times before we moved to California. Lots of Neil Sedaka and Paul Anka songs, too. Very enjoyable evening.
    Theater and show info: http://www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk/details.php?id=107

    I caught the 2318 train back to London Paddington, so a real advantage here with the hotel just a few minutes walk from the station and no need to connect to the Tube onward. On arrival the hotel staff had left me two small bottles of wine which are now on the way to Ireland with me.

    --more--
     
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  6. tom911
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    SUNDAY

    This morning I watched the Remembrance Day commemoration on TV at the Cenotaph (war memorial) on Whitehall in London which started at 11a.m.. This is the second time I've been in the city this very weekend, and London treats this holiday very seriously with tens of thousands of veterans, active military and observers scattered about the parade route in the area. After watching the Queen and several members of the Royal Family lay wreaths, as well as the Prime Minister, I set off by Tube to Westminster to see what I could take in.

    Arrived to find veterans of the military services on parade, some in wheelchairs and motorized scooters. It was hard to get a good vantage point for photos so I moved a block or two towards St. James Park where the crowds were a little thinner.

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    Eventually walked down towards the parade grounds outside Wellington Barracks, and, as luck would have it, the active duty regiments and bands were coming down the same route right behind me, heading back to the barracks which is just across from Buckingham Palace. Quite a few photos of different units and the first time I think I've ever seen the Household Calvary marching instead of being astride horses. Look for some of the band leaders in gold ceremonial garb as you don't see that very often here except for special occasions like the opening of Parliament (in my first trip here in 1992 I just happened to arrive the day Parliament was opening and saw the Queen pass by in a carriage on the way down Whitehall).

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    --more--
     
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  7. tom911
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    [​IMG]

    This is the regiment that would normally be on horses:
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    Walked over to Victoria Station, a good mile away, for lunch. Found a Subway in an attached mall area and was happy they had seating.

    Next stop was Westminster Cathedral, just up the block from Victoria station, Visited the cathedral and lit a couple candles. As I was coming out there was a Scottish regiment walking back to the barracks with bagpipes playing (seemed like an odd route to take as it's certainly not direct). They had a police motorcycle escort as traffic had to be moved out of the way for them to march by. They were on a very busy road.

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    Went back to the hotel to swap out camera batteries. Can't figure out what I did but my spare battery was dead and I needed a new battery.

    --more--
     
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  8. tom911
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    Back out from the hotel by Tube over to Kensington High Street. Bought a cookie from a vendor in the station and popped into an electronics store and a Whole Foods for a look about. From there a bus over to Selfridges to check out their Christmas windows. This store has an amazing electronics section that would rival any U.S. store, with everything from headsets to televisions.

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    From Selfridges I walked down Oxford Street and turned onto Regent Street which had Christmas decorations up. They always have sponsors and this year the sponsor is the movie Mr Peabody and Sherman (I actually remember watching that cartoon about 50 years ago);. It's due out in the UK in February. Also got some photos of the windows at Hamleys toy store which was already closed for the night.

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  9. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Once in a while you find a piece of advertising that stands out. This was on the window of a cell phone shop on Oxford Street:
    [​IMG]

    Grabbed a sandwich and banana cake off Trafalgar Square and then back to the hotel for the night. Had to be up at 7 Monday morning to get out for the train to Wales.

    New London photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Europe/London/2014-London/i-BGMLNh2
     
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  10. tom911
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    On board Irish Rail from Dublin Heuston station to Galway. Last night I had pizza on O'Connell Street that came with fries. Only in Ireland. :)
     
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  11. tom911
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    Sipping my second Smithwick's ale in my hotel's gorgeous bar. They were renovating it last trip here and did a fantastic job. We're off on s quiet side street and I'm the last patron here at 2340. Can't leave yet as I haven't finished the second pint.
     
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  12. tom911
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    Hello this Thursday morning from Galway. Rained most of the day yesterday, along with winds that were turning umbrellas inside out. Today I'm on the 1105 train back to Dublin.

    MONDAY

    Pretty calm ferry crossing across the Irish Sea. We departed Holyhead at 1410 and arrived at the Dublin ferryport at 1730. My fare for the rail/ferry combination was 38 pounds ($61). As a foot passenger I was one of the last on board, and clearly there were a lot of people coming back from a weekend in the UK as I could not find a good seat. Many were wearing Manchester United shirts. Ended up in their cafe, which does have a water view, though it's not up against the window. Thought I might be kicked out but no one bothered me. Had satellite internet for free throughout the journey though access to my photo site was blocked due to “steaming media” restrictions.

    [​IMG]

    Caught local bus to Busarus, the bus terminal, and from there a 15 min walk to my hotel, Maldron Parnell Square. Rate here was 61 euros ($82) with breakfast. I've stayed here a couple times before. They have free wi-fi.

    Out to dinner at La Pizza on O'Connell Street where I had pizza and fries for 10 euros ($13.40) which was one of their evening specials. Back to the hotel after.

    TUESDAY

    Walked down to the Luas (light rail) train and made my way over to Heuston station for the 1125 train to Galway. Was there an hour early as I had to collect my ticket from an electronic kiosk and needed to allow some time in case there were any problems. One way fare is 15 euros ($20) and travel time is 2 hrs 20 mins (though we were 15 mins late today due to speed restrictions, arriving at 1400). Train had free wi-fi though it reset every few minutes.

    I stayed at the Forster Court hotel which is just a 5 min walk from the train station. Had a quiet room on the the third/top floor. Rate was 75 euros with breakfast ($101).

    Explored the city on foot in clear weather. Walked over to the backside of town and caught Captain Phillips at 1715, something I've been wanting to do and just kept putting off. I was there 25 mins early so just got a burger across the plaza. Back into the city afterward for a walk about, and then ended up in the bar of my hotel the rest of the evening which has comfortable seating and good beer (I had Smithwick's Irish ale).

    WEDNESDAY

    Went down for breakfast and selected the full Irish hot breakfast along with cereal and rolls from a serving table. Left full. Bathroom had no hot water this morning so couldn't shower.

    [​IMG]

    Was out at 11 and by 1130 it was raining. It stayed that way most of the day. I walked around town and popped into a couple shops. Back to the hotel around 1330 to find I still didn't have hot water. Was advised a number of wings of the hotel were also impacted. I was given a key to a room on the first floor and took a shower there.

    [​IMG]
    Back out from 1400-1700 and tried to stay out of the rain as much as I could. Visited the Galway Cathedral and lit some candles, and did an early dinner stop at McDonagh's for seafood chowder and chips. I had planned a long afternoon hike over to Salthill but really can't do that in the rain and the only wet weather gear I have along is a waterproof parka.

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    Stopped in Eyre Square to visit the John F Kennedy memorial (he visited here).

    Hit two different pubs later on for live music. The first one didn't have a single seat, but the second one was just getting ready to start up and got a seat at the bar (Quay Bar, might be the biggest pub here with two floors, one that looks upwards at the musicians above them).

    Galway photos are here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Ireland/2013-Galway/i-825MWDL

    Handful of Dublin photos are here (ferry and rail):
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Ireland/2013-Dublin-November/i-69c2dTz
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
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  13. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Your smugmug photos are wonderful. Brings me memories of my Galway trip.
     
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  14. tom911
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    Homeward bound Last night I was at Jurys Inn on Parnell Square in Dublin on a room-only rate of 53 euros (about $71). I've stayed at Jurys Inn Custom House before but this was my first time at Parnell Square. The downside with this chain is they do not offer free wifi and want 10 euros ($13.50) for 24 hours. Plenty of free wifi around the city, including my dinner stop for a burrito a block off the Grafton Street shopping area, and Grafton Street itself had free wifi.

    My normal hotel in this area, Maldron Parnell Square, wanted over 80 euros. Might be an event this weekend pushing rates higher.

    Was in bed at 10 as I needed to be up at 0530. Caught the 0615 747 bus off O'Connell Street and was at the airport about 20 minutes later. Stocked up on some gifts for Christmas in duty free and then got in line for U.S. preclearance which only took about 15 mins.

    Dublin Airport was offering free wifi though don't think this is always the case. Boarded at 0815 and we had a pretty bumpy ride part of the way. Passenger next to me had a glass fall off her tray and scatter ginger ale all over the floor and the bottom of my tray (think she missed me), and I also heard a second item hit the floor when I was sleeping. Did sleep 5 hours of the 8 hour flight.

    Lunch selections were beef, chicken, gnocchi or shrimp. I had the chicken which came with green beans and mashed potatoes. Ice cream sundaes for dessert (I just had plain ice cream). Was asleep during the second meal which was pizza or chicken breast. Didn't see one movie I wanted to watch so went to my own tablet for video.

    I'm in the JFK Flagship Lounge right now waiting for my SFO flight. Not very hungry so just had some cheese and New England style clam chowder soup along with a Sam Adams.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
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  15. tom911
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    Home now after 6 hour flight on AA JFK-SFO. Preselected beef for dinner and watched one movie on the AA Samsung tablet (2 Guys). Paid $85 to park off airport for 10 days which wasn't bad and saved me a hotel night.

    My room at Jurys Inn Parnell Square in Dublin:

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    Grafton Street:
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    Stephens Green shopping mall:

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    Temple Bar:
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    Rest of the Dublin photos are here: http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Ireland/2013-Dublin-November/i-xzHj8DJ
     
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