Sunday, July 4, 2010

Arrival in London

I’m in London!  Everything is written in English and everyone is speaking English.  I never thought I would be so happy to see and hear this!

I started out early in the morning to wake up and catch my flight which departed from Amsterdam at 8:30.  Upon arrival at the airport, I got to bypass a line full of British youth football payers because PPG bought me a first class ticket here!  (I am economy on the way back but at least I got first class here.)  I walked right up to first class and checked in no problem, then the lady gave me directions to the British Airways lounge…cool, I never been in an airline lounge before. 

Next was passport control.  The guy asked me if I was returning to the US and I told him no I’m going to the UK.  He asked me if I lived in the US and I told him no, I live here.  He then asked for my residence card…I was like o shit.  The IND in all of it’s Dutch efficiency has still neglected to issue me my residence card!  I told the guy this and of course he had to call to check.  Another customs guy came up and took me to the “back room” and was tool to wait there until they checked things out.  I was starting to think, o great, no London for me.  He came back and told me I was in the system and that I could continue on my journey.  I was relieved and glad to see that at least I am partially in the Dutch system.  Of course he had no information on when I could expect to receive my residence card.

After that, it took a little while for me to find the British Airways lounge, but when I got there, it was nice.  Free WiFi, computers to use, free food, coffee, and alcohol.  They just had bottles of liquor sitting around for you to pour yourself a drink!

I made my way to the gate and boarded.  We then had to wait on the plane for about an hour and a half because there was some kind of engine issue.  And the air conditioning was broke.  I guess the A/C was not all that big of a deal, I’m really used to there being no A/C anywhere at this point.  The other day on the bus is was pretty unbearable, when I got off; my jeans were totally stuck to me.

The flight to London was short and breakfast in first class was decent.  Flying over London was amazing.  I could see so many things that I’ve only seen in pictures from the time I was little like Tower Bridge (not called London Bridge as some might think.)

Getting into Central London was pretty easy, there was a London Underground station right in the terminal.  I decided not to go directly to the hotel since I was not able to check in until 15:00.  I got off pretty much right in the center and decided to walk around.  I don’t know why I always insist on doing this with luggage…it is not fun.  I got all turned around walking to the hotel since I did not have Google Maps to rely on (International roaming rates.)  At least I downloaded a free London map with GPS before coming here, it worked OK but integrated really terribly with the compass so it pointed me in the wrong direction a couple of times.  When I finally made it to the hotel, I just wanted to check in, change clothes, and put my bags down.  Of course I was not allowed to check in early unless I wanted to pay £10.  I decided not to, that is stupid so here I am at Starbucks in Liverpool Street Station having an ICED Americana (pretty exciting) writing this post.  Unfortunately, they do not have free WiFi here like I hear Starbucks in the US now have; they don’t even have WiFi at all as a matter of fact.  But it’s okay, I’ll just post this later at the hotel.  It is now 14:34 and that is about it for my day so far, I am going to shut down and get ready to go back to the hotel and this time hopefully check in.

I made it and am in my room.  One question.  Are there no garbage cans in London?  There are none that I saw anywhere on the streets in the train stations or even in the restaurants, WTF?

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