First off, I’m here! I’m down, I’m safe. I’m in the United States of America!
With that out of the way – a bit of a recap. 🙂
Flight (Virgin VS43) was as pleasant as these things can be. I had the Premium Economy seat, so it was pretty comfortable, certainly a lot less cramped looking than the economy seats in the other part of the plane.
I boarded the “Barbarella” (all Virgin’s planes are named after ladies of various distinction) and it wasn’t long before we pushed back and started taxi-ing. The Virgin safety video (you can find it online) was very clever at injecting a bit of enthusiasm back into the boring mechanics of this process.
Ticked off another ‘bucket’ list item in the process. Riding in the top deck of the 747. This was quite cozy and does have the ambience of a small private jet. The Captain and First Officer are just in front of you and you occasionally see them come out of the cockpit. There were only 20 PE (premium economy) seats in this section and a bunch of economy ones at the back. It did feel as if you were in a bit of an exclusive club, though I don’t think it’s much different from downstairs otherwise. Talking of stairs…
Without much fuss we were airborne. I love flying and there’s still a rush as the airplane barrels down the runway, ‘rotates’ and then majestically lifts itself into the sky. The Boeing 747 weighs somewhere near 400 tonnes, it’s amazing to think something that big and heavy can fly through the air. I understand the physics, but it’s still an impressive feat.
The in flight meal was pretty good – better than I’d expected. Not sure if this was PE or just a general improvement in airplane food over the years. I had a glass of orange as a welcome to the seat, a chicken dinner, with bread, salad/vinigrette and a desert. Later on came an ice-lolly! Then there was a pasty and to finish off a set of sandwiches, a scone and a nice cup of tea. All very civilised. I certainly didn’t go hungry.
My favourite thing was the salt and pepper shakers. They are modelled on little aircraft. One a jet and the other a prop. Feeling a bit naughty I swiped mine. Only later did I discover that under the feet of each one are printed the words “Pinched from Virgin Atlantic.” Nice one, Virgin. I felt guilty and impressed all at once.
The ten hours didn’t seem too long. The JVC noise cancelling headphones I’d bought with me worked a treat – very impressive. They’ll be essential for any future travel. I watched a few movies, listened to some music. Looked out of the window at Greenland, which isn’t by the way.
Then we were descending into Las Vegas. Couldn’t see much of it from my window (and I’ll do that in a later blog) but it did seem a very long taxi from the runway to the terminal. Getting off the plane was surprisingly quick, getting through security was surprisingly long and tedious (over an hour) but eventually I escaped into the outside world.
First impressions? It was hot! Even in the shade – apparently it was a cool day for Vegas too. Not sure I’ll like this heat much! Picked up the shuttle to the car rental facility. Enterprise had decided to upgrade my car for reasons that weren’t entirely clear to me, but I ended up with a black BMW 430i convertible, so I wasn’t going to complain much. Bags in, phone set up as a sat nav and I was, ahem, ‘East bound and down’.
I’d planned a quick stop at the Hoover dam which was on my route. That was an amazing sight. I didn’t have time for much more than a cursory look about as I wanted to keep moving, but it was quite a construction, particularly set against the backdrop of the desolate desert that lies south east of Las Vegas. Then it was onwards down the interstate. The land about me was pretty desolate, with a hot desert wind blowing across the vista. I would not want to be stuck out here.
After a long drive I reached Sedona. By the time I was unloaded and into my room it was dark, photos will have to follow. 🙂 Today I’m off to the Meteor crater and Winslow. So there’ll be a part 2 of this entry later on.