Tripping over the pond. The day flight. Fun facts to know and tell:

teatime in londonBOSTON/LONDON –This was a real flight of fantasy. We wanted to go to London to visit the Queen Wiley on our way to Umbria. To see her, spend a few days enjoying London and to get almost on Italian time. So that let us take the day trip to London. Love, love day flights to Europe. And really loved this flight as the plane was almost empty. The airlines rarely do that empty plane thing anymore. But this flight, on this day, on this AA flight, was less than a quarter full. In Economy.

My wife has a theory on the joys of Economy Class. She has noted several times that on less than full flights Business Class will be stuffed to the gills and YOOHOO, ANYBODY HOME? in dumb old Economy Class. She thinks the airlines are making nice and upgrading favorite flyers because they can – on a lightly packed flight. But she observes that it is sometimes better to just hang back in steerage and spread out. Case in point: this particular trip. Midge had her own row. I had staked one out as well. Until the dad ahead of me jumped up holding an empty “airline sickness” bag. I usually more delicately refer to them by the street name of barf bag but in the name of chic and decorum thought I would show that I knew it had a real name. Anyway, daddy pops straight up out of the row ahead of me like a Jack in the Box hoping to get out of the line of fire and looks down at Little Billy – totally wide eyed and open mouthed. You can read what he’s thinking “Hey, Billy. I’ve got the bag. Right here.” I could tell which way the wind was blowing so jumped up too and said “Please. Take this row.” And I was gone. I was so checking out of that hotel and quickstepping it to the back, trying not to trip over my armload of blankets and headsets. Seconds later I was taking over yet another empty row of five across.

Huh? Are we in London? Already? Cool.

But you’ve got to wonder: Who’s sitting in little Billy’s row the day after? Ugrrrgh.

DAY TRIPPERS, YEAH.

Here’s the good part of day trips to London (versus the more typical overnight flights to Europe): they get you to London in early evening – London time. What we call dinner and see you, goodnight time. Totally lovely. And you’re not beat from the flight because even if its midnight there in London, its only seven pm on your body clock. How tired can you be at seven pm with all that napping on the flight anyway, right? That’s what I think. This continues to be my favorite flight concept of late. Great excuse for a couple days in London.

So. Day trips rule. And on day trips or any trip, don’t let them upgrade you out of economy if economy is empty. Of course if an airline offers to upgrade you past Business and all the way to the whole sleeper seat First Class, sure, take that! Smile and say “Thank you very much, I will try to be worthy. And I will try to look like First Class material.” British Airways has upgraded me to that twice. No idea why but Oh Stewardess, more hot towels here please! We never turn those sweet seats down.

See you in Italy,

Stew

P.S. The new format on the blog here? Love it? Hate it? We think you can finally leave comments now. Probably should be careful what I wish for! And it has a search function. I don’t know if it has perfect recall but it seems to be able to dredge by subject to some extent. I wish it would highlight the word you put in search but we haven’t trained it to do that as of yet. Meglio di niente as they say.

HOW TO GET TO ITALY

YARMOUTH, MAINE, LONDON, FLORENCE— October is here, October is here! We can count the days till we leave for Italy. 18. Ah, that is a fine looking number. Finally. Whew. But HOW do we get there? Let me count the ways. We’ve flown into Antwerp, London, Frankfurt, Paris and probably other places I’ve forgotten about.

One thing these originating flights all have in common is that they seem to want to herd you up the gangplank late, late afternoon or early evening so that you arrive in one of those capitals completely confused and sleep deprived at five in the morning and then they expect you to scamper off and find that connecting flight you’ve been fretting about. And by the time we’ve hopefully made that connection and found a rentacar or the train, we’re just bushed and useless for the first couple days in the promised land.

Here’s what we’re doing this time. There are a very few U.S. to England day flights and we are taking one. Leave Boston in the morning and arrive in London early evening. Their time. But it is only early afternoon by our bodyclock time and so we can even keep up with the Wiley Traveler who will be there to meet us. Even if she has us out till midnight it is still only 7 pm to us. Bring it on! She’s going to grad school there in London now and so, of course, that was our original excuse/reason to fly into London on the way to Italy. But think about it. OK, that’s long enough. Really folks. How bad can it be? Couple days in London on the way to Italy and you get there fresh as a daisy? Va le la pena in my book. London is almost on the same time zone as Italy and the flight from London to Italy is short and sweet. When you haven’t been up all night. Can’t wait.

BIG NEW NEWS

Speaking of flying, Katia (shown here at left with Midge outside the real estate office in Italy) whispered this news to us: Ryanair is going to start flying into Perugia! Three times a week. Ryanair Stanstead (London) to Perugia. Starting in December. Wiley said they rumored that last year and nothing came of it. But they appear to be booking flights there now. It must be true, it is up on their web site. And we believe everything we read on the web, right? Well, good. Was counting on that.

Their two newest landing sites are Perugia (in our very own backyard) and exotic Malta. The price of the Pisa/Malta flight I typed in as a test at the end of January was 10 British pounds. Yike. You can’t stay home for that price. And that includes the taxes and airport charges it says. Oh, we’ll be trying that one. I’ve flown into Perugia before but not since they extended their runway. We’ll see how they are at handling 150 Ryanair passengers at a time. I liked the airport. Small but likeable. So, I’m cautiously optimistic. And I’ll be watching for good low specials London/Perugia for our next trip. If we can pair that with a special from Boston or New York to London we’ll really be getting away with something.

Stay tuned to this spot on your dial and see how this Ryanair connection pans out. In the meantime, we’ve done those day flights to London, they work like a charm and we are Ready To Go!

See you in Italy,

Stew

Taking flight

UMBRIA, Italy. — Omg. Where did the time go? Oh well, that’s alright because we are heading back to Italy and have tickets in hand that will get us to Umbria in October. But we’re not even caught up on stories from the last trip! Don’t ask. It has been wild. Ok, since you asked yes we did buy an old house here in the states and the brain scans show we may be quite totally insane. Stuff happens. It was getting waaay to easy around here, living in the same finished home for the last multi, multi years. That is another story entirely but that’s our excuse and we’re sticking with it.

But here’s the thing to remember about taking trips and taking trip notes. Keep the note book in your hand or in your carryon. Violently resist the siren call of the back of the seat pocket ahead of you. See, here’s the deal: that seat pocket generally stays with the plane. Lost a note book two trips ago and royally put me off my feed being mad at myself.

FREE. LEG ROOM.
But on the other hand. That seat pocket can conceivably be your friend. Now this may not be a big break through for you. But it was for me so I pass it on to you. In fact, it may be blindingly obvious to you, but it took me many millions of miles to tumble to it. The villain here is not the seat pocket but the in flight “magazine”. Toss it. Toss it now. There. Isn’t that better? Put it in the overhead, under your neighbor’s seat, on the drink cart when the sky waitresses aren’ looking, anywhere. Just not right there at knee level.

On my last flight, an Air France flight, the magazine, cleverly named “Magazine” was over 3/8 of an inch thick. No big thing you say? Well, they say God is in the details and here is a detail: The seat ahead of you has some flex. But not the magazine. When its lumber hard 8×10 inch mass was stuffed in the pocket of the seat ahead of me and the big guy in the seat was in full laydown position, my knees were killing me. And that was five minutes into a 6 hour flight. As soon as I had dumped Le Magazine I felt like I had been upgraded. And don’t forget the Duty Free magazines. They are not a magazines, just bad news for your knees. Get them all the heck out of there and stretch out a bit.

This next trip we are going to Italy via London because our daughter and travel correspondent is going to grad school at Central Saint Martins. So, we’ll visit the Wiley Traveler there for a couple days on the way over. Very wiley of her to be so relatively close to Italy. Good choice, Wiley.

Next up, having solved the air travel issues we take on the Italian rail system.

See you in Italy,

Stew

Leaving on a jet plane . . .

Bus to Boston, Delta to Paris, something to Rome, (where DID i put that ticket?) train to Chiusi, taxi to Panicale. Leaving in a couple hours.

OK, See you in Italy!

Stew

Yes, The Wiley Traveler has Landed

PANICALE, Umbria, Italy— Finally! A Vreeland is in residence there in Italy. In our Home Sweet Home away from Home. Wiley Vreeland aka: The Wiley Travel flew into Rome Thursday after a couple fun filled weeks in London. And drove straight to Panicale. All business now! She found our house “almost” ready for company. Said it went something like this: Buckets, mops, cleaning products everywhere. Beds stripped. Rugs airing over balconies. Oh there you are, Anna. I thought you knew I was coming? Well, I only ask because . . . you know how we said we had company coming? When? RRRRRRRRRing. That would be the doorbell.

So, that worked out.

And a friend from California, who has a place down the block, just got off the train from Venice. She and Wiley have catching up to do immediately. So, The Wiley Traveler will be A Busy Traveler, immediately. She has her car organized, cell phone powered up and working. Now she is scurrying around getting email and computer hooked up, and up and down the streets of Panicale she is reconnecting with all our many Italian friends in town, too.

She has many, many new places to see on her list and is looking forward to all of the adventures that entails. She and Paulette are hoping to see a new property in San Casciano dei Bagni right away. Paulette says the town is totally A List, with her. We just reviewed the book A Thousand Days in Tuscany set in that very town. Feel like I have been there already. More news on that as it becomes available.

STILL COUNTING THE DAYS: 33

Our trip to Italy is shaping up well too. Midge and I would be there now, but we need to wait for our other daughter to get back from the jungles of Costa Rica. When she does get back, sea turtles and rain forest canopy both sufficiently protected, we are off like a shot. We are happy just knowing our friends, our Wiley and our home await us there in Italy.

We will let you know how it goes routing a trip to Italy through Holland. Several people we know have made connections to Italy via KLM lately, but we had not done that yet, so this is all new for us.

Wait a minute! Wiley! How DOES our garden grow?