Day 1: London
Extremely early start this morning. But if anyone’s used to it, it should be me.
This is my first long haul flight ever and my also my first time flying with Emirates. I read somewhere that you can kind of counteract the effects of jetlag if you set your watch to the time of your destination as soon as you get on the plane, and sleep accordingly from that point onwards. So that’s the method I’ve chosen to go for on the flight over and we’ll see whether that works.
I get a spare seat next to me, which isn’t as great as having no one in the other seats next to you, but at least it lets me put my legs in different positions to keep from getting stiff. There’s some great movies on this plane and I watch about 5 or 6 of them, including some great music history documentaries on heavy metal. I don’t sleep because I’m too busy learning how classical music turned into Black Sabbath, but I don’t feel that tired and think it’s best to try and keep awake as much as possible. The flight lands in Dubai on schedule, but when I look at the transfer sign board, my next flight has a final boarding call!
I get held up at security cause something on me is beeping, which is odd cause I’m only wearing my clothes having been stripped of my watch and shoes. They signal me over to a room for a security search. I’m not sure what this details, cause they don’t actually speak to you at all – just motion to put your arms out to the side, and without any warning, she’s running her hands right down the front of my body – um, bit of warning would have been nice! She also determines that I have nothing left on me and lets me go.
Dashing through the airport, it occurs to me that they couldn’t have made my connecting flight at a further away terminal than they have. Just as I think I’m near my terminal, there’s a transit monorail that I have to take, then up about 40 escalators. The flight is actually just boarding, so I’m not sure what all the final boarding call was about, but I’m so overheated from running and the plane cooling isn’t on yet, so it’s an uncomfortable wait for water while the rest of the plane boards. Hurdle number one – flight transfers – cleared.
Please let me have a fairly empty plane for this one, I think to myself, but as I look up, I can see a small Indian girl with a cheeky grin heading my way, and I just know – she’s sitting next to me. Yep, she’s definitely sitting next to me. Great. Hate kids on plans. She talks, babbles and knocks stuff off the table tray for about 60% of the flight and cries and slaps her Mum for about another 30%. For 10% she sleeps – which you would think is great, but this kid seems to have more arms than the Indian god Ganesha, and her little arms slapping me left right and centre while she sleeps across her mothers lap – oblivious. Not the best flight this one but finally I land in London.
Next issue to deal with is immigration. Wow, feel like a criminal trying to do the wrong thing. The guy at the desk grills me. And I mean grills me – like he even tells me he probably shouldn’t let me in cause I should have had a written itinerary of exactly what I was doing here for the next 4 days. Because apparently just arriving for a holiday doesn’t matter. All my printed stuff is in my suitcase, which I obviously don’t have yet and the rest is on my mobile, but I can’t connect to it because I haven’t been able to get a connection yet. I show him the whole folder on my email about all my bookings. He cannot believe that I wouldn’t have all this information ready to show him. WTF? No one mentions this in the guide books! He finally agrees to let me in, but warns me that when I get to the US, it’ll be just as bad, if not worse. I just can’t believe it – I am the most organised person in the world and I’ve just been ripped to shreds for being not organised enough! Unforseen hurdle – cleared – just.
Flushed with embarrassment, I head to the luggage hall to clear my next hurdle -hoping my luggage has arrived. I have to wait for a little while, and am starting to panic that not only is my luggage not going to show up on the conveyor, but that my transfer will have given up waiting, but I can finally see my suitcase – hurdle cleared.
I finally step out into the arrival hall where my task is to try and locate my private transfer. The number of placards being waved around is amazing, and I begin to think that because of the hold ups my transfer is no longer waiting and I will have to find some other way of getting to my hotel. But just when I’ve almost given up, I do one last run past of the placards, and there finally is my name. Second last hurdle for the day cleared.
It doesn’t take long to get to the hotel, driving through the streets is reminiscent to parts of Melbourne, only everything here is so much older obviously. The hotel is in a lovely spot in South Kensington, and the street itself contains lots of little shops, restaurants and across the road a Waitrose supermarket. Hotel check in is smooth – no more hurdles today.
The room, despite what I’ve read about it being tiny is actually quite a fine size – obviously my travels in Japan have paid off or other travellers expect a bit too much. I have a beautiful old window that opens – yes actually opens – out to a street that is only what I could call totally London – complete with chimneys and cobblestones.
OMG – it has hit me! I have ONE WHOLE MONTH OFF WORK!!!! No alarms, no meetings, no ABB. I have four weeks to see and do as much as possible in countries I never thought I would visit. I’m going to try new things and take it all in my stride. This next month is going to be amazing!