Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014 – Dover, UK – Foggy, Cloudy - 55F

Distance from Bergen, Norway to Dover, UK: 588 Nautical Miles

Total Voyage Distance: 3640 Nautical Miles; 4188 Statute Miles

After a totally fantastic cruise, we are back in cloudy, foggy, Dover, England.

20140720_ Back in Dover Fred Olsen ship (Small)

Back in Dover

Since we have a pretty late assembly time (9:30 AM) in the Cabaret Lounge, we did not set an alarm.  All the hustle and bustle in the halls and the subtle vibration of the thrusters did serve as a wake up.

We had a relatively relaxing breakfast in the Panorama Buffet – it was not very crowded since a lot of folks had already left the ship. 

About 9 AM we went to the Cabaret Lounge to wait for our color and number to be called.  We left a bit earlier than 9:30 AM to see if we could get a good seat on the bus. 

The passport control process was very easy and in minutes we were at the bus – they took our vouchers and we took the first two seats (after asking if there were any wheelchair passengers on board).  In a few minutes, the rest of the passengers started arriving and about 9:45 PM, the bus departed for Heathrow.

Travel time from Dover to Heathrow is about two hours (depending on traffic).  Even though we were on the highway, we could still see a lot of the English countryside.  It was quite a while until we saw our first sign for Heathrow Airport.  Our driver drove that bus like a car, changing lanes adroitly, while adhering to the speed limit.

20140720_transfer to Heathrow (Small)

Going in the Right Direction

It might be a two hour ride to Heathrow but getting to your terminal is another journey altogether.  Our flight departs from Terminal 3.  The plan would be to drop passengers at Terminal 5, Terminal 4, and then Terminal 3.  Sounds simple but the whole process took nearly an hour.  Finally at about 1 PM, we arrived at Terminal 3.

Passport Control went pretty quickly and, since were TSA Pre-Checked, we got into a shorter line and went quickly through security.  I didn’t have to take off my shoes but I did have to take out my computer. 

Soon, we were in semi-comfortable seats in Terminal 3.  Our flight, AA91, was scheduled to depart at 5:15 PM but we wouldn’t be able to find out our gate until 3:55 PM.

We did have adapters for the ubiquitous chargers so we were able to read and use our Kindles and laptops.  Sometimes, a Kindle makes an excellent identity hiding device.

20140720_Ellen kindle cloaked at Heathrow (Small)

Who is Behind the Kindle?

We ate our lunch which, as is our tradition, included airport crisps and a diet coke (about 4 pounds total).  This should keep us going until we get our meals on the plane.

One of the drawbacks of waiting hours at Heathrow is that I look at the place as an international gathering place for every exotic microorganism.  Who knows what you can come home with from LHR?

At about 4:00 PM we got out gate assignment (Gate 34).  Getting there would require quite a walk/moving sidewalk journey.  We got there with about 15 minutes to spare before boarding.  Good news – our aircraft, a 767-300, was waiting at the gate.

20140720_AA91 ready at Gate 34 (Small)

AA91 Waiting at Gate 34

Although it was a bit confusing – extra passport checks at the gate – we eventually boarded.  We had some good seats – 20H and J – bulkhead.  Having had these seats before, I am pretty certain that American has reduced the legroom in bulkhead by adding another row of seats somewhere.  Still, better seats than the rest in Economy. 

The plane pushed a few minutes late but soon began its taxi.  I spotted an Emirates Airbus A380 and got a great picture of the monster plane. 

20140720_Emirates A380 (Small)

A Big A380

The captain said it would be bumpy on the climb out (there were some very dark clouds out there).  He was right – pretty choppy as the plane maneuvered around some impressive cumulus clouds. 

20140720_Heathrow climbout (Small)20140720_bumpy ride thru the clouds (Small)

Heathrow Climb Out

Even when we got above the clouds, there was still considerable chop.  Being over the wings is the place to be.

20140720_blue skies and chop-1 (Small)

Blue Skies and Still Choppy

Once we cleared land and got over the open Atlantic, the ride smoothed out and remained that way for most of the flight.  Just some mild chop.  The “Seat Belt” signed only came on a couple of times.

Our lunch was pretty good – a beef dish of some kind with potatoes -   Also had some wine with lunch.

Spent most of the flight working on this blog and re-watching “Thor: The Dark World”.  On this flight, there was only one movie running on the main screen.

Soon we were over Labrador and I could spot land below.

20140720_land below (Small)

Over Land

We got a snack before we landed – I would call it a “Veggie Knish” and it was pretty good.  Also a very tasty cookie. 

The plane came down over Michigan but the cloud cover was too thick to see anything.  Making it worse, the sun was directly in our eyes.

20140721_over Michigan (Small)

Over Michigan

It was hazy over the Lake and the North Shore – our flight path took us just south of Evanston. 

20140721_over the lake (Small)

Over the Lake

20140721_Over Evanston (Small)

South of Evanston

The plane was vectored directly into O’Hare – we didn’t have to fly beyond the airport and make that big 180 turn prior to final approach.

20140721_ORD Final Approach (Small)

Final Approach to O’Hare

20140721_touchdown (Small)

Touchdown – Right on Time

We hustled to get in line for passport control.  Our line took us to the automated passport control kiosks.  We had trouble with these readers last time but this time, even with our new passports, we were able to get them scanned.  Ellen’s receipt came with an X on it so we had to talk to someone from Border Control.  It turns out that Ellen wasn’t on the plane manifest they had so she was flagged.  He quickly processed her and we went to pick up our bags.

Both bags were there and getting through the final check was easy.

Even better, we had a ride home – no dealing with taxis after this 9 hour flight.  And to top it all off, we stopped at Mickey D for ice cream cones (less than a buck).

A terrific cruise and trip to the land of Fire and Ice.

No comments:

Post a Comment