Thursday, May 27, 2010
Houston to London Day 1 & 2
Thursday, May 27, 2010 5:00pm London
Our travels really began on Tuesday at 5:54pm when I mentioned to Mary Alice (MA) that it was time to get our seat assignments changed online for the flight to London. Continental frees up previously blocked seats 24 hrs before the flight and if you time it right, you can usually get something better than the assigned ones. Anyhow she got us two bulkhead seats, for an extra fee, of course, and printed our boarding passes. That’s a little travel trick we will pass on to you. You can get leg room or bulkhead seats 24 hours prior, only now you pay extra. For my long legs, it’s a worthy expense.
Wednesday we finished packing, turned off all unnecessary lights, and household gadgets and left for the IAH at 2:15pm. Another thing we’ve learned to do is reserve airport parking online in advance. We use Park N Fly because when we do this, the daily rate is lower plus they have a reward program. We parked, boarded their bus and got to Terminal E by 3:15pm. We got our bags checked in at Continental, went through Security and checked in at the Continental Club. Before I knew it, it was time to board the aircraft.
My carryon bag was a Lowe Pro Photo Carry on with two cameras, 3 lenses, flash, binoculars, and tripod. My biggest fear is that when my row is the last to board, I’ll get there and someone else will have used up the overhead storage above my seat. When that happens the crew takes the bag from you and it becomes checked luggage. No way do I want to part company with my camera stuff like that!
So when they first started the boarding process, I approached the Continental rep and explained to him that I was a professional photographer with a camera bag that had to go in the overhead and would he please let me board so that I would have a place above our seats. He agreed and I ended up being one of the first passengers to board. That was a big load off my mind. MA got on later. (She only had a bag full of foreign language books so she waited her turn!)
We settled in for a long flight to London. The plane, a Boeing 767 was full. Takeoff was delayed for about 50 minutes but we finally got airborne about 6:45pm. The flight was uneventful as was the food plus the cabin was cold. At least they didn’t charge for the paper thin blanket!
We arrived in London at 10:04am the next morning, 3:04am Houston time. After clearing immigration and customs we headed for the X-Press Train into London. This is the way to go. If Houston ever gets serious about building rail it should be from the airports to downtown or Galleria. That’s what “grown-up” cities do! The X-Press train takes you to Paddington Station where we lugged our luggage to the taxi stand and got a cab to the, Hyatt Regency Churchill. We are using our Hyatt points for the two nights we are staying.
At the hotel we had an option of taking an interior standard room which is smaller or waiting for a few hours for a room with a view. We chose to wait and while waiting we decided to take the open air bus tour of central London. Let me tell you this place is packed with people and vehicles. There are caution signs reminding pedestrians to look to the right before crossing. (Remember, the cars here all drive in the wrong lane!) I told MA that I could not drive in this crazy place.
Well the tour was nice and we made it back to the hotel, got our room and went for a walk to find something to eat, not having had a real meal since Tuesday. We settled on a famous old pub called Marlborough Head. Two orders of fish and chips later and we were walking back to the hotel, stopping at an Eat-ZI style gourmet market to browse and stay awake! No real sleep in two days does that to you. But I told MA I would have no trouble staying awake until at least 10:00pm so I would be over jet lag by tomorrow. As this is finished (by MA), I am zonked out. The time is 7:00pm. Oh well! More later! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz !!