Unlike the last autumn in Paris, this trip was quite an ambitious one due to the trip members’ bucket list. But, I had set the brain and heart from the beginning, (once again) unlike the previous autumn in Paris, this trip was not absolutely about me. I was here to ‘help’.
From the tickets purchasing (plane, train), accomodation arrangement, itinerary, until the least important like what and where to eat for those seven days. It felt more or less like a travel agent as well as tour leader.
It was actually 9-10 days trip if we counted the flights trip. Departed on 23rd April and arrived here on 2nd May. We went through three flights, two transits for depart and return. For the departure, we spent approximately 30 hours journey. Those were including the time we left home until we landed in our first destination.
The baby was doing very much better on this second trip. She enjoyed her own seat, slept pretty nicely, and very much less crankier than the previous long haul flights trip. I think 7-8 hours trapped in the plane is quite bearable for above 2 years old kid.
I had reviewed two airlines that we flew with in the previous post. Let’s just proceed to the city trips.
Day 1 : London
Arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 around 9.05 and directly proceeded to the long queue of immigration. Thankfully, an officer spotted us and told us to move from the line and directly stepped forwars to immigration counter. Four of us altogether. Thanks to the toddler girl.
We were greeted by ‘Assalamualaikum’ and a wide smile from the officer. Such an unexpected warm welcome from the scary immigration. Alhamdulillah. The process took quite some time, but I felt at ease. We had light conversation with the officer. Done checking all of our passports, he bid farewell with another ‘Assalamualaikum’.
This was one example of my answered ultimate prays each time I travel : for us to meet the kind ones.
When we exited all the checkings, the car I reserved from a service called Unicorn Transfer had arrived there with their driver. We planned to check in our Air bnb at 12, but it turned out we arrived earlier than expected. The doctor sent whatsapp message to the host and he said it was no problem. His brother had waited for us at home.
It took about an hour to drive from Heathrow to our Air Bnb. Quite far and unexpectedly we met traffic jam here also. After a little elevator drama during the check-in, we could finally smell the comfort of home. About this airbnb, maybe another separate post will do. Maybe.
As usual, whenever I arrive in one destination, the first thing I do is always unpacking. While the others were doing whatever they wanted to do, I was busy putting all clothes to the cupboard, the food to the refrigerator, and made sure all the luggages were empty.
Done with that, time to rest? Nope. It was lunch time preparation. I didn’t mind a big luggage full of food until it was a bit overweight, as long as I didn’t have to go outside to find what should be eaten after a very long and tiring journey. We had a home-made chicken gulai with warm rice as our first lunch. Too yummy.
Full tummy, clean body, and done prayed, we went to the famous London Bridge. Well, this was actually not what I had in mind. I intended to visit Tower Bridge actually. But, I didn’t know why, it was London Bridge that kept flowing from my mouth. Sigh.
Another surprise we had during our stay : a very cold and windy spring. In our first day, we were having a lethal combination of cold, windy, and rainy weather. No warm spring for us yet. We couldn’t enjoy London Bridge view too long in such weather. After snapped some pictures, we ended up in Pret à Manger for coffee, hot chocolate and croissant. Done with that, we went home. Too cold for my preference.
Arrived at our home, we had dinner, and I told my father to pack for the next trip tonight. At the first day, almost all of us still enjoyed having jetlag.
Day 2 : London
I set as early as 7.30 to go outside for the second day since we had to catch the train to the next city at 13.00. I wanted to spend the morning time to see more of London. But you know, it was pretty hard to be on time with this kind of travel squad. I’d like to finish all the stuff before we left home. No mess should be left.
In fact, we could just leave around 8.10. We prepared more to face the cold weather. It was still too cold for spring this second morning. My hands were freezing. The baby chose to sleep a lot during outside on the stroller.
Ah, the stroller. This was one of my luckiest things I had on this trip other than the plane and train tickets. During the planning, I insisted to reduce the luggage as many as we could. The less, the smaller, the better, without leaving any important things behind. Then, the idea came up. Instead of bringing our baby elle wave stroller, I had in mind for renting in London. So, I did the searching here and there and found that the rental cost was quite agreeable. It was only around £14 for seven days. But, the major turn off was the deliver cost : £25.
Bah! Forget about renting, let’s just bring more stuff.
But, of course, giving up easily was never my middle name. I found another genius idea.
Knowing my brother studied there, knowing he might know one or two families with a baby or toddler, and knowing that they should have a stroller with them, I asked my brother to find if there was one that I could rent for a week. The answer came not very long after he asked.
One of the Phd students sent him a private message after reading his question in their group chat. Told him that he had one, unsused, but just an ordinary one. Told him he could borrow it, no need to rent. I could picture myself smiling ear to ear that time. Another Alhamdulillah.
Back to the trip. We visited London Eye and Big Ben for the half of the second day. I couldn’t help screwing for the weather. It was too damn cold. Not only me, the others also kept whining too. Until we had an idea to cut the itinerary and found a department store to buy warmer clothes and gloves.
But it was quite a tight schedule. After eyeing the giant wheel and giant o’clock tower, we decided to return home so we wouldn’t be late for the 1 pm train. On the way home, we stopped at Subway to buy some take-home lunch.
Arrived home, done with the last light pack, off we went to Euston station for the second half day trip to Manchester.
Day 2 : Manchester
Virgin Train that took us to this nostalgic city after 23 long years arrived on time as scheduled at 15.05. Seeing Manchester Piccadilly station after a long time was too excited beyond words. My father, the primary reason this trip made, couldn’t hide his happy face.
We stayed for one night in Manchester and even for a night stay, Air bnb was still out best choice. We took a taxi to our Air bnb and it was just about fifteen minutes from the station. Unlike the crowded London, Manchester was quiter and calmer, as well as colder.
Arrived and settling down, we had our prayer then it was the time to revisit those memorable places. The first stop was University of Manchester, the place where the old man spent one of the best times of his life. UoM could be reached by walk from our Air Bnb and it costed less than the least expensive budget hotel for one night, five persons. Another lucky offer I got for this trip😉.
Manchester was raining hard and very windy that afternoon. Really, this cold, rainy, and windy weather was truly the enemy of our trip😑.
After having some journeys back to the past by visiting UoM, Precint Centre, and Arthur Livingstone student housing, we moved to places of my precious memory collections : Granby Row, Vimto Park, and Orient House.
They were all still there. Although they had some alterations, but everything was still really there. The Giant bottle we used to climb at Vimto Park now painted in more colorful colours. Orient House was under reconstruction, the small shop across the street was almost closed since it was almost 6 pm.
I spent only two months there. The memories lasted for a very long time, and it was such a great luck having a chance to revisit those places 23 years later.
I couldn’t stand the cold any longer and asked the other to go back home first. The toddler girl had had enough, I guessed. Time to give her the warmth she had been craving for after a very long day.
Arrived home, I prepared dinner and my father and brother went outside again to go to Piccadilly city centre. Three bears who couldn’t stand the cold prefered to stay at home, lazing around.
That was a wrap for the first and the second day!