Dover UK 2009 BellaOnline Gathering
Monday morning I woke up and headed downstairs to the Umi main lounge area. Every table was full, but luckily a pair of women were just leaving so I could sit down at their table. I was pretty much encouraged to have items of the checkbox-based continental breakfast, which had items such as juice, coffee, tea, a cereal box and so on on it. I did so and the items were brought over quickly.
Monday - Leaving Heathrow
I had my cereal and juice and put the meal on my room charge. Then I went upstairs to pack.
Packing was fairly quick, and then I had to lug all my bags one by one up my personal steep stairs to get back to the main hallway level. Then over to the elevator. Somehow the elevator went up instead of down and I didn't realize it when I got out! So I had to wait for the elevator to come back for me again, and go down to the lobby. I checked out fairly easily and asked them about option to get the Heathrow. They said it was too late to try to arrange one of the spot-to-spot shuttle services so I should take a taxi to Paddington and then the express from there. I asked them to please call me a cab and they had me sit in the lounge.
I checked out about 10:45 (actual required check-out time was 11am) and waited until 10 after 11 before someone came to say the cab was here. I went out to the cab, and the guy asked where I was going. When he heard I was taking the Heathrow express he asked how much it was going to cost, and I told him. He offered to take me directly to Heathrow for $35 which really was just a little more, all things included. Also the Heathrow Express website was talking about stairs and height differences of trains and such and I liked the idea of just being dropped off right at my terminal. So off we went.
The ride through London was smooth and I got to see a number of interesting sights. In a fairly short amount of time we were pulling into the airport area and he dropped me off right in front of my terminal. So far so good!
I went in to the American Airlines area which really was just two kiosks with a fence around them. I started using one and a woman came over and said she had to help me with it. ummm, OK. But then she got distracted by some other customers and she told me to push the buttons myself. Then as I was doing so she came over again and said "oh look you're stuck in a center aisle seat, let's fix that for you." I wished her luck trying and she realized that it was the only seat left. So I really was stuck with that.
I gave them my big bag and took my little rolly bag up the escalator to the main security area. The security line wasn't too bad, and soon I was out in the big "shopping mall."
I really don't like this aspect of Heathrow. In the US you can go to your gate, it's quiet, you rest or rest and wait for your plane. In Heathrow they make you sit in the giant shopping mall and don't even tell you the gate you'll be at until before departure. So you've got this giant crowded area with lots of noise and people crammed together and you have to keep watching to see if your gate has been announced.
I called in to Bob so he'd know I was this far. My flight had been delayed too, so now I was stuck here for longer. I got a book at the bookstore, and then found a Japanese restaurant that had a conveyer belt which brought sushi around to you in little bowls. I found a very back corner in the restaurant where it was fairly quiet, tucked myself in with my book and sat there for 2 hours watching the sushi go around, nibbling on things, and getting a small break. The shop owner talked with me a while and said I should have gotten a free ticket or something out of everything that happened, especially given the awful seat I'd been stuck with.
I at least had a long, leisurely, relaxed, tasty meal here and had fun with the little bowls. They have you pay based on which colors of bowls you have by you at the end of the meal.
So finally it was about an hour before flight time and I went out to check on my gate. It had been assigned. I headed on out. Other gates I passed had people sitting in waiting areas - but at our gate there was a HUGE line of people waiting to get into the gate area. We all stood around for 20 minutes before they started letting us in one by one, checking each one of us out at the desk before we could go in.
By the time I got into the gate area there were no seats left. I called Bob again. Then we were getting on the plane.
With my seat I didn't even try to stuff my bag beneath my feet. I just took out my Bose headphones, iPod and that was it. I put the rest up. I was wedged in between two guys and really I only got out of my seat once during the whole trip, when one of the other guys got up to use the rest room. The rest of the time I tried to sleep, read the flight magazines, watched the game shows, and wished I could get to my laptop. I don't think I could have used it even if I got to it, with the way I was squished in there. It was just not a fun flight at all.
Also, to add to the situation, a pair of parents who maybe hadn't flown a lot had brought on two young kids and not had them use the restroom before they got on the plane. So the boy had to pee as we were heading down the runway. The mom tried to take him to the bathroom while the stewardess is saying "Maam, we're about to take off ..." So the mom had him pee into a bottle. The entire cabin got to hear the discussion, motivation and other commentary. The little girl saying "I want to watch!"
So finally we land, go through customs which was fairly quick. Then we got our bags. I was prepared to pay for my extra bottles of Champagne and had the form filled out and everything, but the customs guy glanced over my form and told me to go through. I imagine it's just not worth the hassle for them to deal with one extra bottle. So I was out and Bob was picking me up!
Dover UK / Champagne FR Trip
Lisa's 2009 Travelogues Main Page
Lisa's Travelogues Main Page