It’s taken me ages to write this but we made it!
The journey was pretty painful, physically and psychologically. Getting from Detroit to Wooler with 2 pugs was a grind involving plane, trains and automobiles. Here’s the breakdown:
– Plane left Detroit at 9:35pm, we arrived about 3 hours before departure to allow a little extra time for checking in with the pugs. After a tearful goodbye with Mum and Dad we tackled security. With the pugs we took them out of the carriers and harnesses and walked through carrying them, then found our gate and settled in. We used these carriers in large size: http://sturdiproducts.com/collections/sturdibag-flex-height-carrier Zoey quick took to people watching from the hatch of her carrier and Leeloo lay in her carrier with the front door open. We were able to board a little early and get settled in with the pugs. Our flight was with Air France and we had Premium Economy seats. The seats were definitely larger than your standard economy and had more leg room which was very helpful. The pugs carriers fit quite easily beneath the seats, we situated them with the front door and hatch facing us. We were able to use the hatch to reach in and comfort the pugs periodically, especially during takeoff and landing. Once we were in the air the pugs settled in and took a nap, we also gave them one of these each: http://www.vetriproline.com/sellsheets/090023A.060.pdf I don’t know if this actually did the trick or if the girls were just not as stressed as I expected but the plane travel was completely uneventful.
– We arrived in Paris on time at around 11:30am, unfortunately we were at terminal 2 instead of 4 so took a shuttle train to the SNCF station. Handling the luggage wasn’t bad as we were able to snag a cart. We left the pugs in their carriers (partly to make sure there weren’t any accidents while we were distracted by bags or currency exchange or whatever) and breezed through customs and immigration with total ease. The only thing that was not cool was the pet relief area at Charles De Gaulle was not close enough to get to before our train leaving the girls without a bathroom break for another couple of hours. We left Paris around 1:30pm
– Next step was to change trains at Lille, we arrived around 2:30pm. We had a few hours in-between trains which provided a welcome break for us to find a spot for the girls bathroom break and all of us to eat. I don’t know if it was because I was already tired and plane food sucks so much but that sandwich was the best I’ve ever had. We left Lille around 4:50pm.
– We arrived in Calais around 5:30pm and wrangled our bags up the steps to meet our taxi driver. Pets are not allowed to travel on the Euroshuttle (our trip would have been so much easier if they were) only in a car. We could have rented a car, we chose not to because the cost triples as soon as you return a car in a different country and we thought we would be too tired for driving. I found Folkestone Taxis (http://www.folkestonetaxi.com) who will pick you and your dogs up in Calais and drop you off where-ever needed in UK. We loaded our bags into the taxi and relaxed a little while our driver took us to the border. Then the fun began, Bryan and I had no issues with immigration but the pugs were a different story. Zoey has 2 microchips because the first one (that was implanted by the rescue organization was not ISO and only valid in US. Nobody noticed this until 2 weeks before we were leaving. At first our vet was going to lend us her scanner (and we would send it back to her once in UK) but then, based on recommendation from the USDA decided to implant a second chip and give us a letter explaining the second implant to us. The pet reception at the border could not get the original chip to scan, only the second chip was showing up. The problem with this is that the second chip was implanted after Zoey’s last rabies booster. My heart was in my throat, I had no idea how they would handle it, would they take her from us? Require that she stay with them? Eventually the border agent accepted Zoey and let us all proceed. I’m convinced that this was partially because of the letter from our vet and partially because of Zoey’s sheer cuteness. Next stop Folkestone train station.
– Here’s where I lost track of time a little, we took the train from Folkestone to London (St. Pancras). Again struggling with bags to get on the train, otherwise uneventful.
– Once in London we had to make our way from St. Pancras station to Euston station. I was running out of energy at this point. The pugs were now travelling by foot which made life a little easier but the empty carriers were a pain in the arse. To top it off it started to rain. We found the taxi stand outside of St. Pancras station after a little wandering (we were tired, it was raining and dark at this point). After a short queue we managed to stuff ourselves and the pugs and all our bags into a taxi and took the 5 minute taxi ride to Euston station.
– Last train for the day was from Euston to Liverpool. We arrived in Liverpool with bags, pugs and very sore shoulders at about 11:30pm.
It still seems unreal to me that we are here and that the journey described above happened almost a month ago. I’ll go into our adventures in rental house hunting next time.