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United Kingdom

20090423/4 First Day in Europe - London (Part 1)

Let's get this party started... right?

sunny 65 °F
View Western Europe - Spring 2009 on icufoundme's travel map.

It turns out the only place near my hotel with WiFi is McDonald's. So, as I update my blog entry... my first meal in London is a Big Mac from good ol' Mickey D's. Heh.

It's a warm sunny busy bustling afternoon here (about 3:45 PM here, and 7:45 AM at home). I feel like I'm moving in slow motion... either that, or everything else is on fast-forward.

I arrived in London Heathrow airport about 10AM local time. I didn't get much sleep on the plane, so my body is aching to lay down. Alas, no rest for the wicked. I want to get adjusted to the time difference, so I'm trying to stay awake as long as I can.

Here is the play-by-play up to now...
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Thursday I was running around taking care of last minute stuff before heading to the airport.

I decided to go back to Long's Drugs to grab the last 3 boxes of StoveTop stuffing mix for Adam and Karen. Unfortunately, someone had bought all the rest of the boxes. Doh! Now There is a gap in my suitcase. I'll have to transfer my sweaters from my backpack so things don't shift too much. I don't want the glass A1 bottles to break.
I had better luck finding the Prisma white pencils at Lenz Art on River Street. They had many boxes of them, so I picked up 4. Hopefully 2 boxes of stuffing, 3 tins of Citrus Altoids, 2 bottles of A1 steak sauce, and 4 boxes of pencils will hold them over until August when they will have more visitors from "The States".
I thought about stopping at a store in San Jose on my way to the airport to get more stuffing, but I was running behind (me? no!) and didn't want to chance it.

On the way to the park-and-ride in Burlingame (Anza), I randomly popped in a CD. It was "Lindsey's super duper ultra mix" from Pat. It was a great way to start the journey. I'll post the songs later for those who are interested. (Thanks, Pat!)

I usually fly out San Jose. San Francisco Airport is really impressive! Its a work of art (and contains many works of art). I'll get pictures on my way back through. I was getting used to my new camera and had it on manual focus so they were not coming out. BTW - The food was really amazing for an airport! [see picture]

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An odd thing happened. My flight said it was "Continental Airlines" but the drop-off driver told me that they don't do international. Hm. Turns out it was Virgin Atlantic. On top of that - my flight was supposed to go to London Standsted airport, but actually went to Heathrow. My return flight to London from Marseille is to Standsted for that reason, so I'll have to look into that further.

I didn't realize (more like forgot) that you can't lock your bags unless you have a special lock. It turns out my bag was inspected anyway. There was a lovely note inside when I arrived.

Aboard the plane, it was mostly Europeans - especially Brits. They ushered us past the first class bar to get to our coach seats. Jerks ;)
Virgin Air is a really "Hip" airline. You can definitely see the Branson personality shining through.
While we were taxiing, it was so warm that I dozed off with my elbow in the window to support my head. As I dozed, my arm slipped and I had one of those jerked-awake moments and felt silly ;).
I took pictures of the treats and food they served for anyone interested. [pics]
The take off over San Francisco was beautiful. I wish I had set the camera for the full 9Mp instead of 5. [pics]
During the flight I was wishing I hadn't put my backpack in the overhead compartment. I was writing all this stuff by hand on a scrap of paper.

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During the flight, I watched "Vicky Christina Barcelona" and loved it! I'm not usually a Woody Allen fan, but this one really moved me.

I also read a few chapters of "Eat, Pray, Love" which is also hitting very close to home right now.

I'm regretting that i did not pack the telephoto and wide angle lenses that came with my camera. They were bulky so I thought I would not use them. Which may be true. But I have room in my bag. I'll just see that as room to bring more goodies home.

There was a very nice man sitting next to me that ended up being a real travel Angel. I think I made him feel a bit awkward with my clumsy attempt at breaking the ice. He and the other woman in the 3-seat row were already sitting and had to get up to let me to the window seat. I said something along the lines of "I bet you're relieved that I'm not much bigger". He said he wasn't really sure how to respond to that. Luckily over the course of the flight things went much better, heehee. (My mom said she would send her guardian angel to look after me, so I guess that can manifest in many ways). I guess its no coincidence then that his name is Chris. (Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers for those of you non-Catholic types.) He lives in London and makes furniture. He goes back and forth to San Francisco because his partner Paula lives there. He actually drew me a London map by hand and gave me some great tips on what to see [see picture]. After the flight, it turned out that we were heading the same direction, so he traveled with me on public transport ("the tube") until my exit which was immensely helpful.

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I took the blue Picadilly tube from the airport and switched to the green District tube at South Kensington. Then jumped off at Victoria and hauled my bags to my hotel - The Wellington - at 72 Vincent Square.

At the airport, I exchanged currency [see picture], bought maps, bought a day pass for public transport [see pic], and made a hotel reservation [more pics]. Upon making the hotel reservation, I was told that this weekend is the London Marathon. What timing - doh! So most hotels are booked and overpriced. Most of the accommodations are designed for shared occupancy, so if you want a room to yourself, you pay for however many people it could sleep. I have a double room for 70 Euros - that's over $100! And - get this - the bathroom is shared with everyone else on that floor! Yeesh. The one nice thing is that it is centrally located. I can walk to most of the London city sites
I'll try to find a woman to share with if I decide to stay in that hotel.

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Hm... my laptop is about to die. McD's has wireless but no shared power. No Dr. Pepper or Mr. Pibb either! I guess they don;t like prune soda in London. *sigh*

I'll try to upload my photos in the minutes remaining.

Cheers! Tally Ho! All that rot...

Posted by icufoundme 07:34 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged air_travel Comments (3)

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