Well the adventure finally begins! After working flat-out for days trying to pack up my flat as well as pack for 6 weeks holiday, I was finally ready to go. Pshew, what a hectic few days. Thanks to all those who helped and gave me moral support.
My mom and I arrived at the airport just before 5pm (thanks to E for the lift) and we checked in. Even though mom was flying SAA an hour earlier than me, there was no queue on her check-in side. I had to queue for about 15 minutes in the British Airways area. I had tried unsuccessfully to check in on-line on Thursday nite (thanks to Van and Karen for being so patient with me while I was multi-tasking during dinner at Subarshi :), so I was forced to stand in line with everyone else.
I asked for an emergency exit or bulk-head seat but apparently these are not reserved for gold member executive club members – you would think they would be flying business class. Oh well, at least I got my aisle seat.
My mom went through and then it was my turn to board BA 058 to London Heathrow. I had a quick body search by the security personnel (obviously trying to look sweet and innocent didn’t cut it this time) and then was one of the first ones on the plane. A man sat on the window side of my aisle and I waited for 10 anxiety-ridden minutes to see if anyone would take the middle seat. You know what it’s like – you eyeball everyone that approaches your aisle – willing them to carry one walking – especially ones which are a little on the heavy side or have looooong legs. Just as they were announcing the security checks, a guy (medium build) plonks himself down in the middle – oh well, so much for stretching out.
He introduced himself – Clyde I think. I am so not into airplane small talk so I became very very interested in my High-Life mag so the poor guy was forced to chat to the window seat man. Overhead that he was returning to Spain after living in SA for 10 years. Curiosity was slightly piqued…but not enough to engage in high-altitude conversation.
BA personnel were top-class overall. They’re quite strict and a bit terse at times (a man in front of me asked two of the stewards at different times for coffee in the morning. Each one told him that the captain had requested they don’t serve anymore drinks. The first steward did however bring him more coffee and promptly told him that it was only necessary to ask one of them!!). But all in all, they were efficient and got the job done. I ordered a veggie meal. It’s always a pleasure ordering a special meal as you get it first and then while everyone else is chowing down, I could use the bathroom – sneaky.
My meal was a pretty tasty veggie pasta bake with a cheese sauce, tex bar and some stodgy bread/butter pudding. There was also a roll and a potato salad thing which I didn’t touch. My mom mentioned that SAA had video-on-call (you can choose what videos you want; when you want), however, we just had video’s playing at one time and you could choose the channel you wanted to watch. There was no movie that jumped out at me so I watched a doccie on ben and Jerry’s, Carnival Cruises and one on E-Bay..all very interesting – especially the B&J’s one.
Tried to get some sleep but woke up every hour or so (it’s really uncomfy sleeping with my legs straight out – but I guess I should be glad that I have short pins though). The fab thing about BA is that they have a snack bar in the galley so at 2am in the morning, I went to stock up on UK choccies and snack bars…love it.
Landed earlier than scheduled (even though we did too large circles which you could see on the electronic map) plus we waited ages to taxi into our parking spot. I then breezed through passport (thank goodness for the German passport – thanks dad :), collected my luggage and no problems with customs. (the innocent look worked this time).
After waiting about 45 mins, my mom came through from terminal 2 where SAA had landed, we caught up and then saw our taxi man arrive (thank to Nolan for organising). He took us straight to Nolan’s flat door in Richmond for a mere 30 quid including tip. What a way to travel.
Richmond seems like a lovely quaint town and after dropping our luggage, we went off to explore and get something to eat. The main road has pretty much all the shops you could want including the ubiquitous Marks and Spencers, Tesco, Top Shop, Accesorise, the Body Shop etc etc. We pretty much realised straight away that SA has everything you could get here…so even though my palm was itching to spend on the sales, I couldn’t find anything to blow my cash on.
Instead I wandered around the food aisles of Tescos (I love looking at foreign food – I know I’m weird), we went to Coffee republic and I had a yummy toasted ciabatta with mozarella and pesto. We then went to the station to find out about times of trains for our trip to Southampton tomorrow. We also got UK sim cards from Orange and were extremely impressed with the level of customer service. Everyone is so friendly and helpful.
I bought some Ginseng flavoured Molten Brown shower gel (my fave at 13 pounds) and then couldn’t resist a half pint of Ben and Jerrys cookie dough ice-cream. Ah me and my ice-cream finally united. Delish, indeed.
Walked back to Nolan’s place, played around with Sky then collapsed for a sleep. Now I’m about to shower, re-pack for the ship and we’re going to have dinner with Nolan and Anna. So far so fabulous to be in London.
Will continue to keep you updated.