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Old 09-17-2015, 08:38 PM   #16
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signing on!
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Old 09-17-2015, 09:39 PM   #17
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It is so wonderful to have a friendship like that. I sure wish I could get to Boston to join in the PP meet. Oh well, it will just have to be enough to follow along with your TR.
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:53 AM   #18
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Glad you were able to work it out so you'll be able to attend your friend's wedding. Love the pictures from King's College. I recognized it from the Harry Potter films!
Oh I didn't even know that it was used in those - cool!
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:55 AM   #19
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Friendships made like this are so precious and special.
They certainly are!

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So glad you decided to rearrange in order to make this happen. Wonderful photos of Cambridge, and I was surprised to see the River Cam. I didn't even know there was one.
Oh of course - d'oh, I didn't even make the connection! Cambridge is named after the river, as I understand it...
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:56 AM   #20
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It is so wonderful to have a friendship like that. I sure wish I could get to Boston to join in the PP meet. Oh well, it will just have to be enough to follow along with your TR.
Well, it is a bit of a trek from where you are to get over to Boston...
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:57 AM   #21
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Pre-trip report – part two: how are we going to pay for this?

When I left off the last instalment, work had agreed to my plans to head to Boston for the week, but how on earth were we going to pay for it, given this wasn’t planned at all?

I spent a lot of time looking at my options with the loyalty programmes we’re members of. The Virgin Atlantic one wasn’t really an option, given that we’d used just about every point we possessed on the Upper Class flight we’re taking over to San Francisco, which will be the start of our Alaskan cruise/Disneyland trip. I had a look at how many Tesco vouchers I had, as I knew I could trade those up into Virgin Atlantic points, but even if I traded all of them, it would only give us maybe 5,000 miles each. Given that to get a Premium Economy seat (we won’t go Economy if we can avoid it, as it’s just not a nice way to fly long haul ) would cost around 27,500 miles, that wasn’t going to help much.

The position with my Avios points that you can use for British Airways flights was a lot healthier. I had around 30,000 miles, and knew I could do something with them, but every time I calculated it, nothing was available for our return flight from Los Angeles. Given the flight out to San Francisco had been paid for on points, that was the sensible thing to do, as one way flights are usually at least as expensive as return flights, if not more so!

Eventually, after about two weeks of wondering how on earth we were going to do this, inspiration finally struck. I knew I could use my Avios for either the flight out to Boston or coming back from there, but that would leave me with another one way flight to pay for, which wasn’t going to help. But hang on a minute there…. We’re coming back from America on 11 September, and then returning again on 23 September. Perhaps I could do that as a return flight, and use my Avios for the return flight from Boston.

I priced it up, and it was do-able, so just before Christmas, we went ahead and booked the return flight. It was a very odd feeling, I can tell you, to be paying for a flight in dollars and booking ones that didn’t originate or end in the States, but heck, if it works, why not?

That booked, I went ahead and used up my Avios points to make our way back, with an additional charge to pay on top of the points, which thankfully wasn’t too much. I then went to pay for our seats, as on British Airways, they charge you extra, and my credit card was declined. I tried again, same result. Ok…. Not good. I ended up calling our credit card company, and apparently they thought that the activity on the account was suspicious (we had paid for a couple of other things that morning). I quickly explained the position, and the card was made active again, and off I went.

I have to say here I was very pleased that when I booked the flights with Virgin Atlantic, I could finally book the seats at the same time. For any of you who’ve followed my trip reports over the past couple of years, they changed their policy a couple of years ago. You always used to be able to book your seats when you paid for your flight, but then they decided that you could only book your seats at 90 days out. This was an absolute pain, as we found a number of times that we couldn’t get the seats we wanted, and were ending up having to try again at 24 hours out – not what you want to be dealing with on your vacation. Thank goodness they’ve finally listened to their customers, and gone back to the original system.

Now I also went ahead and booked our accommodation for the weekend we’d be in Boston. I’d already identified a place I wanted to stay in – Whitman House. It’s in Cambridge, and close to the university, which was perfect, and it was well priced, and included breakfast, and free parking, both big bonuses, given we’d have a rental car with us. I knew it was the perfect place, when I discovered it’s run by David and Robert – now how about that for coincidence? It was obviously meant to be.

So that was us set for Boston itself. The next thing I looked at was where to stay when we land. Originally, our flight was due to land in the evening, and we figured we’d be working a half day before heading up to the airport. I also figured that we’d stay close to the airport, as we’d be arriving late at night, and we wouldn’t want to go far that night after a long day.

Well, that plan went out of the window when Virgin let us know that our flight times had changed. Usually it’s only by 15 or 30 minutes, but this was a big change. Our flight would be leaving four hours earlier. Ok… Well, we both took the whole day off work, as now we’d be flying out at lunchtime, and it meant that we’d be arriving mid-afternoon. That certainly opened up more opportunities for where we might stay on our first night.

I had a browse around, and eventually I found what looks like an amazing place in Marblehead called Harbor Light Inn. It seems to have some great reviews on TripAdvisor, and the rooms look absolutely wonderful. I had a look at all of them that had spa tubs, as I figured that would be the perfect start to our vacation after a long flight. In the end, I opted for room 22, which I just fell in love with. Isn’t it just the best?

So now what? We’d be flying in on Wednesday afternoon, and the wedding wasn’t until Saturday. I have to confess that I kept pestering David about exactly what would be happening, as heck I’m a planner and I wanted to know! I’m sure I drove him up the wall, but pretty soon I was able to elicit some details. As well as the wedding on the Saturday, there would also be a wedding reception on the Friday night, while they’d be holding an open house all day on the Sunday, so we’d have plenty of opportunities to see them.

Ok, so that meant we had until the Friday evening to enjoy. I already had some plans half in my mind, as one day I’d been planning to visit New England in the fall, as that was on my must-do list. Ok, so late September was perhaps a little bit early for the most impressive fall colour, but heck, I’ll take the opportunity. We can always go back hopefully, if there’s not much colour to see on this trip.

Anyway, the fact that I’d already half thought about a trip to this part of the world meant that I’d already half got a plan in my mind. I’m sure that won’t surprise you at all, given how much I love my planning… Now the only problem with this was that, in my mind, I’d been looking at a full two week trip to New England, and now we only had a week. Of course, that meant a lot had to bite the dust. In all honesty, it wasn’t that hard, as a lot of the stuff that was further afield from Boston just wouldn’t be practical for a week long trip.

There was no way I could easily fit in Vermont, so places like the Shelburne Museum and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (tough loss ) were out. I had originally planned to explore Mount Washington and the White Mountains, but that wouldn’t fit in, and that would’ve been on the way over to Acadia National Park, which was definitely too far out to even consider. Unfortunately, there were a few things closer to Boston that still wouldn’t fit in. The Plymouth Plantation is one, while taking the boat over to Martha’s Vineyard is another. However, thank goodness for those initial plans, as I could then use those as a base. So what have we got planned?

Well on the Tuesday before we fly out, we’ll be going up to Heathrow, and spending the night up there, given our flight time on the day we depart has been brought forward significantly. We’re staying at a hotel that’s very well rated on TripAdvisor and is just down the road from the Hilton by Terminal 5. Now, when I say “by terminal 5”, I mean this in the loosest sense of the word, as it’s actually quite some distance from the terminal. We stayed there in spring 2013 (I think that’s right… ) when Laurie had her long layover at Heathrow, and we went to spend the day with her. We stayed at the Hilton and absolutely loved our dinner at the restaurant there, Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen, so we’ve booked dinner there again.

I’m really looking forward to the flight, which may sound like an odd thing to say, but we watched a documentary on Virgin Atlantic recently, and they took delivery of a brand new set of planes. The first route they were put on to was Boston, so hopefully we’ll be on one of the new planes.

Well, you already know our plans when we get to America – head for Marblehead and that wonderful Jacuzzi room. After, hopefully, a good night’s sleep, we’ll then head over to Salem, as I’ve always wanted to say that I’ve been there, as the place just intrigues me. The highlights for me are the Salem Witch Museum and the Salem Witch Trial Memorial. My faithful Dorling Kindersley guidebook of New England has a walking tour of the town (is it a town or city? I’m not entirely sure… ), which we’ll probably take to ensure that we see the main sights. There is a Segway tour around Salem, which normally we’d do, but the timings weren’t exactly great for us.

Next: reunions with friends we’ve seen recently… and not so recently…
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Old 09-18-2015, 05:04 AM   #22
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This or should I say these trips look like they were really meant to be.

I feel your loss of the Ben and Jerry's factory. That has just made my wish list.
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Old 09-18-2015, 07:21 AM   #23
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Great plans so far! Glad you figured out the flights! And Salem is a city! I grew up the next town over!
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Old 09-18-2015, 07:40 AM   #24
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That was a great idea to book the round trip using the return flight from California as the first leg.
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:02 PM   #25
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Love the look of both the inns you're staying at! How funny to find after you booked that David runs the one!
You will have to come back to visit Ben & Jerry's some day. We did that when we toured the University of Vermont with our son. YUM! Free samples, that's all I'm saying! Of a flavor you can't even buy in stores yet!
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:30 PM   #26
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This or should I say these trips look like they were really meant to be.

I feel your loss of the Ben and Jerry's factory. That has just made my wish list.
I promise, one day we will make it there!
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:34 PM   #27
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Great plans so far! Glad you figured out the flights! And Salem is a city! I grew up the next town over!
Good to know! Over here, it's relatively simple - if a place has a cathedral, it's a city, although in recent years, places could also apply for city status, which did complicate things a little.
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:38 PM   #28
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Love the look of both the inns you're staying at! How funny to find after you booked that David runs the one!
You will have to come back to visit Ben & Jerry's some day. We did that when we toured the University of Vermont with our son. YUM! Free samples, that's all I'm saying! Of a flavor you can't even buy in stores yet!
Ok, I'm seriously sold!
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Old 09-18-2015, 04:05 PM   #29
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So excited for you to visit Boston as it has so many sights to take in while visiting!!! You and Mark should walk around the North End of Boston which is known as Little Italy! They have the most delicious pizza shops and Italian Bakeries!!! Also, you should walk the Freedom Trail which is a 2.5 mile red line which takes you through the historic sites in Boston. The Bed and Breakfast homes that you chose look so adorable and cozy! How nice that you're able to get back to the U.S. for your friend's wedding.
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Old 09-18-2015, 04:14 PM   #30
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So excited for you to visit Boston as it has so many sights to take in while visiting!!! You and Mark should walk around the North End of Boston which is known as Little Italy! They have the most delicious pizza shops and Italian Bakeries!!! Also, you should walk the Freedom Trail which is a 2.5 mile red line which takes you through the historic sites in Boston.
We saw bits and pieces of the Freedom Trail the last time we were in Boston and you're right - there is so much to see in the city.

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The Bed and Breakfast homes that you chose look so adorable and cozy! How nice that you're able to get back to the U.S. for your friend's wedding.
I'm really excited by all the places we're staying at this trip - they all look and sound wonderful.
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Relaxing on board the Magic. The trip report for our back-to-back cruises on the Disney Magic has started!
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My Previous Trips21 trips to WDW, 6 to Disneyland in California, 9 to Disneyland Paris, 1 to Hong Kong Disneyland, 1 to Tokyo Disney, 1 to Aulani, 1 to Hilton Head, 2 to Vero Beach and 13 Disney cruises on the Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy
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