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Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

Illinois
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Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

I'm currently in London with my 16 y/o daughter (DD). I usually post an ongoing report with each day as a reply. I don't know how helpful this will be for first time visitors, as DD and I have both been to London multiple times and don't have plans to go back to many of the major attractions. The actual purpose of the trip was the theatre, specifically to see David Tennant in Richard II. DD is a major Dr Who fan, and he played the 10th Doctor (for those who aren't fans, although I am assured by DD that every single person in England watches the show - I suspect that may be a slight exaggeration). So we have something booked for almost every night, but almost nothing in particular planned for the days. Just as well, as there aren't so many daylight hours in London in Dec and Jan.

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71. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

oh no poor dd and het DT pictures! Glad she still has one, hopefully she can make it a bit better with the app?

And thanks for some lovely entries. The V&A theatre bit is on my list for march after realising I missed it(I think Monika mentioned it in her report). And I'm kinda worried about the ghost tour now! :)

southwales
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72. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

Enjoying reading your report. Re: the Family & Friends Railcard, your daughter will now qualify for the 16-25 Railcard which would give her 30% off fares.

16-25railcard.co.uk/eligibility-benefits/…

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73. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

OMG! I'm really sorry for you daughter :o( If something like that happened to me (not with DT but with someone I admire) I would be devastated.

Illinois
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74. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

Monika, I really liked Carmen. To me it was sort of like a concert with something to watch, rather than a musical. The plot did leave something to be desired, I admit, but the music was lovely. I would say that you could get away with the cheap seats up high though. That's what I would do next time.

I've come to the conclusion that my French is not as good as your English, although I was able to mostly follow what was happening and pick up things that they were saying that weren't in the subtitles (which are displayed above the stage). The subtitles only give you a general idea. Someone will sing (or say) a whole paragraph, and you get one line of subtitle. I don't know how it would be in a language I totally didn't know.

I suppose I can forgive you for your bad influencing. ;-) It was a fun trip, after all.

Inge, I promise nothing actually fatal happens during the Ghost Tour. Does that make you feel better?

Janny, I know she will qualify for the 16-25 railcard, but the F&F railcard saves money on my ticket too. Often an off peak return ticket for 2 of us is cheaper than what I would pay for just me to go with no railcard. I'm not sure we travel by train enough to make the 16-25 railcard worth the fee (since we don't live there, after all).

Edited: 18 January 2014, 05:50
Illinois
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75. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

Day 9 - 5 January

So we got up bright and early (at 5AM - well, technically it was dark and early) with full intentions of leaving at 6AM to be at Heathrow by 7AM for our flight at 10AM. However, while I was in the shower, DD got on the computer to find that my mother had emailed her (both of us actually, but she was only looking at her email) to tell us that our flight was cancelled. We were rebooked to leave on Tuesday (this being Sunday) arriving in Chicago, staying overnight in Chicago, and getting home on Wed. Inconveniently, DD was supposed to go back to school on Monday, and I was supposed to work Tuesday night.

I got on good old Skype (I’m so glad I discovered Skype) and called United, where I got a singularly unhelpful gentleman that told me there was nothing he could do. I pointed out that there were American flights still scheduled to depart that day. Nope, they would be cancelled too, he said. American just hasn’t updated their website. Weather doesn’t just affect United, he told me. (Actually, having multiple years of education and even a bit of common sense (although not enough to ignore Monika and not come to London again only 6 months after the last trip...), I knew that already.) Clearly I wasn’t going to get anywhere, so I thanked him politely for his non-existent help and hung up.

Well. If we weren’t going home, we needed to sleep somewhere. I headed down to the front desk and explained our predicament. Fortunately, the hotel had a room for us. Originally, they thought we would have to move rooms, which was fine with me - I was just glad we didn’t have to move hotels! However, I went down to breakfast (DD went back to bed when she found out we weren’t flying anywhere today), and while I was eating, they came down to tell me they had managed to rearrange the room assignments so we could stay in the same room, and we could have it for 3 more nights if we needed it.

After breakfast, I emailed my boss to tell him we wouldn’t be back until Wednesday so he could find someone to work my shift Tues night. Then I woke up DD so we could decide what to do. She decided she wanted to go to Cambridge. We’ve been visiting universities at home, and she wanted to visit one in the UK.

While she was getting dressed, I checked the website and discovered that our Economy Plus seats I had booked on our original flight (at $114 each) had vanished when they rebooked us and the website wanted to charge me again. I called United again, and got another supremely unhelpful rep (female this time) who informed me I would have to pay again and request a refund from United for the original E+ seats. She couldn’t do anything about getting us home earlier either (although that didn’t surprise me). I hung up again.

I then checked the American website and discovered that the 10:00 (ish) flight that the United rep had assured me was cancelled had left the gate for takeoff and was scheduled to get into Chicago on schedule. Hmmph. Oddly, American was only selling business class seats (for $6000 each), but I tried the British Airways site, and they were selling economy seats on both American and BA flights (for $1200 each). I called United back and actually got a representative who seemed like she knew what she was doing. She tried to get us on the American flight, but it wouldn’t go through in the computer. She put me on hold and called American, but came back and said that American wouldn’t give her any space on the flight. She said she tried to call BA, but there was a 2 hour hold time. You’d think the reservation agents would have a back line or something. She did, however, get us on an earlier flight home, which eliminated the overnight in Chicago. She also got our Economy Plus seats moved over to our new flight. If I remembered her name, I'd write United to tell them how helpful she was.

I emailed my boss back and told him I could probably work the 2nd half of my Tues shift. Then being a non-trusting sort, I got online and reserved a rental car from Chicago to our home airport. Just in case. I also found out a very kind co-worker had agreed to work my Tues shift. You’d think that 48 hours between arrival home and having to go back to work would be sufficient. Nope.

Well, that was about all I could think of to do to try to get home earlier, so we headed out to Kings Cross for our trip to Cambridge. By now it was about noon, so we grabbed some sandwiches at King’s Cross for the train ride, bought our tickets, discovered the next train was leaving in about 4 min, and made it. It always amazes me how close to departure time you can arrive for a train and still get on. I think it’s because here we either drive or fly, and flying takes way more time than it should with check ins, bag drops, security, moving gates around, etc.

Cambridge is a little over an hour from King’s Cross, so we weren’t going to have a whole lot of time, but the train ticket was only about £14 for both of us round trip, so that wasn’t a big deal. We took the bus from the train station into town and decided to go to Kings College Chapel, since I knew it was open. (I checked before we left London.) I didn’t have time to figure out all of the colleges, and I figured we were leaving so late we’d only have time to visit one anyway, and I think that one is the most impressive. (I’d been to Cambridge before on a solo trip, but DD never had.)

We headed for the Chapel (which is kind of an understatement, IMO - I always think of a chapel as a small place). Fortunately, I remembered that you had to go down a little alleyway (well, it would be an alleyway here - in the UK maybe it’s a major thoroughfare...) to what seems like the back of the college to get in. We only had about 30 min before the chapel closed, but the grounds were open later. (I’m not sure how late, but we didn’t get thrown out.)

That doesn’t seem like much time, but we really had a lot of time to wander around. There wasn’t time to read every word about the history of the chapel in the little museum part, but there was time to get an idea, and I had already read every word on the last trip anyway. We even had some time to just sit there and enjoy it. There were only maybe 4 other people there, so it was actually a really nice time to visit. (Although after 2 trips I have yet to make it there during term time to hear the choir...)

When we finished the chapel, we walked around the grounds and down to the Cam. We went up to the top of the bridge over the Cam to get a look at the Backs, but didn’t actually go that far. It wasn’t actually raining, but it was cold and damp, and since I wasn’t sure when they closed the grounds I wanted to go out the front of the college, not get locked out and have to walk around. In good weather and with plenty of time, walking along the Backs is really nice, but it wasn’t exactly good weather (although I guess not exactly bad either) and it would be getting dark soon. When I walked along there previously, it was sunny (and daytime), so I wasn’t sure how well lit it would be at night.

We walked up back through the grounds of the college. DD was offended by the signs saying that only senior members of the college could walk on the grass (this means faculty, I learned on my prior trip). She says she couldn’t go there and see those signs all the time. She would want to walk on the grass. I pointed out that there was lots of grass along the river she would be able to walk on, but she says the nice grass is the grass with the signs. She says it would be ok if tourists weren’t allowed to walk on it, but students should be allowed.

We wandered down past St Catharine’s College (which is where I stayed on my previous trip) but it was closed. That was the only one whose specific location I could remember off the top of my head, and I figured they would all be closed by then anyway, so we just wandered around the town. We went into a few dress shops (DD is looking for a prom dress - which is a long formal gown for those of you who don’t know about American proms), but didn’t see anything she liked. Well, that’s not entirely true. We saw several she would have liked if they had been long, but they were short. Apparently prom dresses are supposed to be long. Short ones seem to be the thing in the UK. She wore a short dress to the Homecoming dance, but doesn’t want that for prom.

We had dinner at the Cambridge Chop House, where I had eaten on my previous trips. They have some pretty good steaks there. Dinner was good, and we even contemplated getting dessert, but decided not to in the end. We did have tea, though. After all, if we were going to spend 2 extra days in the UK, we’d better get some tea. I don’t even bother getting tea at restaurants at home anymore, since they don’t know how to make it. They mostly have Lipton too, which isn’t that good. (Although before I discovered what tea was supposed to taste like, I thought it was fine.)

We couldn’t remember when the trains left, but that didn’t really matter as we had to take a bus back to the station anyway. We stopped at a random bus stop, and conveniently there was a bus headed for the station in a few minutes. (I think there are buses heading to the station from most of the bus stops in Cambridge as long as you end up on the correct side of the street.) You can just pay on the bus almost everywhere outside of London, which is what we did. Just get on and ask the driver how much it is for wherever you want to go. The train back to London was uneventful, and we actually just went back to the hotel as of course we didn’t have theatre booked for this night as we were supposed to be at home. If we had stayed in London, we could have tried the tkts booth, but I think we had really both had had enough theatre for the moment anyway.

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76. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

I am very confused, so the flight wasnt cancelled but your tickets were? Did you get refunded for the extra money you had to spend on hotels & foid etc? Glad you managed to speak to a helpful person in the end.

And 'thank you' for the explenation re the ghost tour. Don't you mean nothing fatal has happened... yet?(my tour is the last of the season so it would mean going out with a bang....

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77. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

The polar vortex caused a big mess with air travel. Many college students missed class as their flights were premptively canceled and the only found seats one week larer.

Interesting American's flight wasn't canceled. Often it is because the plane is already on the ground and they roll the dice snd not pre-emtively cancel the flight. I liked the description of how AA decides at executivetravelmagazine.com/articles/weather…

Sorry you could not find seats at the nice V&A dining rooms. I scored one by just lurking and waiting for someone to finish up their lunch while my DW got the food.

Edited: 18 January 2014, 11:19
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78. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

You have written such an interesting report!

I had to smile a bit when I got to the tour part at the V&A. Not only am I short but I like to be close enough to see what the guide is referring to and to hear the back story. For that reason I try to worm my way to the front too. :) For my 6"4 Mr it's not as crucial.

I'm sorry about the delays but it sounds like you enjoyed your *BONUS* days in London!

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79. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

as always, btgm, a really interesting read packed full of useful detail

I had to smile about the tea ... I was brought up on bog standard English tea and it wasn't until I was older I discovered all the different flavours and tastes

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80. Re: Ongoing trip report with 16 y/o daughter

Inge, our flight on United was cancelled. There were (I think) 3 American flights that I tried to get the 1st guy to put me on, and at least the first one (which took off at 10ish AM) took off from London (according to American's website). The first guy said there was no point in trying to put us on the American flight because it would be cancelled. I didn't track the other 2 American flights because we couldn't get on them, so I don't know if they ended up being cancelled or not. I suppose I could look now, but I don't care that much. ;-)

Cazinatutu, bog standard (now where did bog come from? In American a bog is like a swamp.) English tea is way better than anything I get in the US. Here I try to remember to bring my own teabags, and ask for the hot water in the mug (no such thing as teacups and teapots in US restaurants). Otherwise they reuse the pitchers they serve coffee in for the tea water and then the tea tastes like coffee grounds. Yuck.

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