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Planes, trains, and automobiles

Atlanta to Manchester to Cardiff

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The adventure began around 8 a.m. Tuesday, when we took a shuttle van from Birmingham to the Atlanta Airport. (Groome Transportation highly recommended.)

We got to the airport MUCH too early, and had to cool our heels several hours until the Virgin Atlantic check-in counter opened. Check-in went easily but then we were stopped at security because my husband’s ticket didn’t show TSA pre-check (we had printed the boarding passes earlier). Back to the counter, and got real boarding passes printed that had that essential information.

The pre-check got us in the shorter line, but it wasn’t as well-organized as it should have been in my opinion. There was a sign that you didn’t have to take off your belt or empty your pockets, but it was almost at the metal detector, rather that at the entrance where people would have seen it BEFORE they took off their belts! We spent a couple of hours in the Delta Sky Club relaxing and then boarded at 5 for our 6 p.m. takeoff.

We decided when we started planning this trip that we were going first class, and had upper class tickets on Virgin Atlantic. It was a mixed experience. The seats were not very comfortable - much too hard - although the footrest was nice. They converted to a lie-flat bed that was extraordinarily uncomfortable because it was so hard (they did lay down a thin pad but it was useless). The dinner menu had some interesting selections, but my choice (butternut squash) was meh. It also turned out to be a bad idea to eat and then try to lie down and sleep (my husband wisely had just soup).

So, for the plane portion of the trip, not quite a first-class experience, and no sleep, but probably still better than coach!

We flew into Manchester, which our travel planner had recommended because it was a nonstop flight from Atlanta. We arrived at 7 a.m. local time (which of course felt like the middle of the night to our U.S. Central Time bodies). We took a taxi from the airport to the train station, then got on a train to Cardiff. The train ride was about two hours, and we spent the first half of the I journey talking with our seat mates. The scenery got less urban and more pastoral as we went further south. There were sheep, lots of sheep, and seagulls hanging out with cattle. Cathedrals in the distance, and just-cut hayfields that were the only brown in an otherwise green place. There was a snack cart on the train; I had coffee but sadly there were no chocolate frogs.

Arriving in Cardiff, we easily exited the station and caught a cab to our hotel. Even though we had not really slept, we decided to stay awake and explore Cardiff (on foot, as the last mode of transportation experienced that day!)

Posted by TravelingWriter 05:58 Archived in Wales

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