(… That was intended in a non Poltergeist-y voice)
Good morning, and a happy Monday to you all on what I hope is a lovely May day wherever you are reading this!
The title kind of says it all, but to concur, we are indeed back from our adventures in Canada/America. Aka, we are currently in England.
In all honesty, we got back this time last week but have been under a cloud of jet lag, washing and work, thus didn’t manage to reach the keyboard to type a big fat hello. Thankfully, the fog has passed and I *think* we are back under the rule of GMT (+1).
We did manage a couple of blog posts while we were away, but as I had very little internet/blogging whilst driving isn’t a great idea, I didn’t manage as many as I’d hoped. Nonetheless, we did manage to keep up with Instagram, and a bit of Facebook / YouTube / Twitter here and there.
Seeing as we did miss so much, it’s a little difficult to know where to begin. Hence, I shall be guided by the age old lyrics of The Sound of Music, and start at the very beginning, because it’s a very good place to start.
For my friends and I, Washington DC – Toronto. For my Mum and I (she flew over two weeks in), Toronto – Vancouver.
On the trip was myself (Abi) and three of my very best friends, Dan, Hamilton and Naomi.
See us here: (spoiler, we made it to DC)
Our first stop was Washington DC, where the group came together (much like Eurovision); Hamilton, Dan and I all flew out together from London Gatwick via Iceland on Wow Air, and Naomi flew British Airways from Heathrow (I think).
Getting from A (London) to B (Washington DC)
We all had different journeys to our meeting point (as illustrated in the little vlog I did of the journey) at London Victoria station to take the train down to the airport. It only takes about 30/40 minutes, and unless you get the Gatwick Express, which is a ticket in itself and not worth it in my opinion, you can use your Oyster card for the entire journey, which costs less than a fiver.
I weirdly replicated my normal journey to work for the first part of it, in that I got a commuter train to London. Strangely though, as I had a huge bag, and I guess more of an excitable look on my face than normal, people actually spoke to me. A business man (whom usually have a reputation for being quite stern and unforgiving whilst getting to their work places), actually asked me where I was going and then carried my bag off the train onto the platform for me. That may seem like a small thing, but it was an oddly lovely way for me to start the trip.
I then jumped in a taxi to Victoria (there was no way I was contending with the tube, in rush hour, with my bag. It’s just not worth it) and I got to Victoria 30 minutes early. I did not make any friends at that point.
My actual friends, Dan and Hamilton arrived right on the agreed time and pleasingly made a train that got us down to Gatwick in plenty of time to check in, get some food and catch our flight.
I’d been stressing for ages about my luggage allowance, because our airline’s documentation implied it was very strict on it, including 5kg hand luggage and 20kg hold luggage. As I was going for a month, and was going to be experiencing every kind of temperature; cold weather in the mountains, hikes in warm and cool weather, cities, National Parks.. Basically you name it, I was probably going to need some clothes for it. So I had to bring a fair amount of stuff. Thus, my bag was very much over 20kg (well, it was 23kg, I think, so it could have been a lot worse).
Thankfully Hamilton had underpacked, and they put our allowance together meaning I could take all of the hiking leggings I pleased. What I’m trying to say with all that is, whilst packing I took at least 6 things out, but I obviously did not take enough. For real, you probably don’t need that thing you don’t even wear at home. Take it out of your bag, put it back in the wardrobe and walk out your front door. You don’t need the stress of paying however much extra that I easily could have been subjected to had I not had a nice lady at the check in desk. I planned for every eventuality, but not the one where I packed lighter, apparently.
I’d been excited about Wow Air from the second we saw the name. And honestly, wow. That really is the only word needed. We had so much fun saying ‘Wow’ at every opportunity, and as it turns out we weren’t the only ones. But it wasn’t just fun to say in a vaguely sarcastic way, because we were genuinely impressed with our experience.
It’s an Icelandic airline (hence our stopover in Reykjavik) and is quite new, but it’s slowly expanding and had great reviews. We’d read up about all of their great ethics and ideas before getting on the plane, and truly could not wait.
The flight itself was about a third of the price of most other airlines, as it seems Washington DC is one of the more expensive places to fly into and we were a tiny bit suspicious as to why. Before booking Wow Air, we even considered flying into New York and then getting the train down, but it seemed like a hell of a lot of effort to bypass flying with an airline that actually had such good reviews.
Now, I would fly Wow Air everywhere if I could. Honest to god. I promise I’m not sponsored by them or anything, but they were fab. We did pay an extra £40 or so to upgrade our seats so perhaps had a nicer experience than some people on the flight, but seeing as the flight itself cost us that much less, I wouldn’t complain.
Yes, with Wow Air, you don’t get food or entertainment and it is a fairly long flight. However, in this day and age, most people have access to an iPad or a laptop, as we did, so it didn’t feel like that much of a problem. Plus, there were three of us together and we were all very excited so we didn’t need much entertaining in all honesty. Also, we did the simple thing of eating before we got on the plane, and bringing some snacks we got from the airport that cost us about a fiver.
If you have the option to fly with them, I definitely would. Even if just for all their fun quirks about the plane. For example, instead of having ‘push for assistance’ or the like, by the button to call an air hostess above your seat, they have ‘honk if you’re hungry’ or ‘ring my bell’. It’s the small things.
The flight itself was all good aside from a slight delay apparently caused by a different plane breaking down on the runway (always a great sign). And as our stopover in Iceland was only an hour long we did have a slight stress that we weren’t going to make it. As it turned out, we were the last people that needed to stress because it was the very plane we were sat on that was going to DC.
Unfortunately we only found this out when we got back on the plane after running around a chilly Icelandic airport… But anyway it was all fine in the end so that’s what matters!
Arriving in Washington
Ok, we didn’t arrive into Washington… We arrived at BMI, which is actually in Baltimore, but isn’t that far away really. After having a million quick fire questions thrown at us during the standard entry border control conversation, we made it out the other side (where there isn’t very much).
Originally we’d intended on getting a train in to central DC and then a taxi, but after being up for however many hours, I was so glad that we’d decided to book a shuttle via super shuttle last minute. It was a bit weird finding the actual shuttle (a woman shouted Austin, my last name, at us whilst we were obviously looking confused walking around the part of the terminal we had been told to meet at), but once we realised we were in the right place and weren’t going to be Taken, Liam Neeson style, we were quickly escorted to a shuttle and taken right to our hotel, ‘The Capitol Hill Hotel’.
I’ve already written a mammoth amount of words in this post, so I won’t go into detail about the hotel at this second, I will only say that it’s really nice and the reception staff were very helpful, even if they couldn’t understand the name ‘Naomi’. (As she was arriving later, and needed to get food, we wanted to ensure they’d give her a key so she didn’t think we’d played an elaborate practical joke on her that involved a trip to DC.)
They understood Naomi in the end, by thinking of the model Naomi Campbell. Though we did have to assure them that unfortunately, it was not her turning up, but our equally beautiful friend, who just happened to have the same name. They quickly knew what we were saying when we asked for food though (thank god) and pointed us in the direction of a place called We, The Pizza which was like actual heaven and tres cheap.
Naomi Campbell did not arrive. But shortly after we’d eaten our pizza, our weary friend Naomi did. And so from there, our group adventure began.
Thank you so much for bearing with me. If you’ve made it this far, congrats. You’ve basically made it to Washington DC from London Victoria. Go and get some pizza. And get me a few slices while you’re at it.
If you’re thinking, hmm the written stuff was great, but I want to relive this experience in a visual form… You can! Just click the link below… and why not subscribe while you’re at it 😉
I’ll continue with more from America, and less from an airport soon!
In fact, I did manage to roughly write up the next two days of our trip whilst I was over there, so if you have any power left in your device after reading this one, you can find them here:
- Day One in DC (Snow, Space and Subways in Washington DC)
- Day Two in DC (Sunburnt Faces and Sore Feet in Washington DC)
And of course, the corresponding video to the events that transpired on Day One:
It was genuinely the best trip, and one that I’m oddly not sad I’m still on in that I wouldn’t want to go back and wreck any of it. We had so much fun, and it’s nice being back in England where we can go and see each other, and reminisce, whilst I’m sure planning where we’re going to go next.
I can’t wait to share more on bears, boats, dinosaurs, planes, mountains, music… And much much more.