Friday, October 30, 2009

Fri 30th Oct- London Calling & Sad News

Today we were travelling by train to London leaving from the Chester Rail Station at 11am. We managed to cram all our belongings into our bags, including the bags sent on with Pete & Sophie when we left London for Ireland back at the beginning of the month. We were staying at a Heathrow hotel for the night before flying out late tomorrow night where I'd have to do a major reshuffle and repack to get the weights right before checking in with Emirates. We said our goodbyes to the Sophie & Maddie before Pete drove us to the Chester station. It wasn't so bad as we knew the family would be home for good before the end of our summer.

Have you ever tried travelling with two huge suitcases plus two roll-on cabin bags? It's not so bad on planes because all you have to worry about is getting them from the car park or drop off point to Check-In and usually you can find a trolley to load them on. Try travelling by train with the amount of luggage we had. It wasn't so bad from Chester to Crewe, fairly empty train, short 20 minute ride, pick your own seat. From Crewe to Euston Station it was a whole different kettle of fish!

First no lifts or lifts occupied when you need to get from Platform 1 to Platform 6 in 10 minutes, try dragging bags up and over 2 or 3 pedestrian bridges, getting there just in time but having absolutely no luggage space left to store your bags which happen to be 3 times the size of everyone else's! Then finding your allocated seats are way down the other end of the carriage or in fact in another carriage altogether. Once you have located your seat and managed to store the bags in an empty space by the doors you get angry glares from all and sundry(you also hope like hell the doors aren't going to suddenly open when you're not looking and the bags fall out) Unfortunately our booked "front facing" seats turn out to be "back facing" and not only that our big picture window is a small half window with a bloody great pillar taking up half the view. Groan! I know I'm going to be feeling crook before the first bend.

Then to make matters worse there's a stag party going on in the six plus rows in front of us(which would have been behind us if the seats were correct). They're obviously off to London for riotous weekend and they've decided to start the ball rolling now. For the next two hours the noise level grew steadily, the swearing and laughing got louder and louder, guys were falling all over the aisles and the seats and dozens and dozens of cans were downed. I'm not sure how some of them were going to enjoy London, they could hardly stand when we got to Euston.

I managed to take a few photos along the way ~
A caravan park
And a house boat marina

I had allowed all day to get to the Park Inn at Heathrow and I'm please I did. I had overlooked that it would be mid to late Friday afternoon when we arrived at Euston Station where we then had to change to a tube train to take us through to Heathrow Airport. Friday afternoon in London? You got to be joking! It was a mad house and we still had double the amount of bags as everybody else. It took us awhile to figure out which tube we needed to get to Heathrow, then to get our bearings and find our way from one part of the station to the Underground. Up and down escalators, through underpasses and overpasses we wheeled our luggage along.

I checked our Oyster cards and found that we still had enough money on them to get us to Heathrow so no need to queue for tickets with half of London, only the need to queue on the platform with the other half! In the end we let 3 trains go before we attempted to board. There was just so many people making a rush for the carriages, we waited paitenly until we'd worked out where to stand for the open door with the luggage storage area and for there to be less people on the platform. It only delayed us by 15 minutes or so and we had heaps of time so it wasn't a problem. Once on board we managed to store the luggage and stand near by as the train quickly filled to capacity after each station stop and then slowly return to normal as we got further and further out of the city.

Once we were offloaded at Heathrow we then had to find our way to the shuttle pickup points for the hotels. That wasn't too bad as we knew roughly where to go. Very soon a shuttle bus arrived and we loaded up and headed to the Park Inn. Finally six hours after leaving Chester we were opening the door to the hotel room. It had been a long day!

We had a late check out the next day, as we weren't departing until 11pm, which was great as we were able to have a sleep in, carefully repack the bags, have a late lunch and just generally relax and mentally prepare for the 24hr flight ahead of us.

In the early evening we caught the shuttle back to Terminal 3, checked in with no problems and prepared to wait for the boarding call. It's a bit of a ritual that we use up any spare cash at the Sushi Train, a very expensive place but it does a roaring trade. Ranging from £2 for the pink dishes up to £5(which is about $9) for the grey dishes which house the flashest sushi and/or sashimi, a tally up always gives us a shock. This time was no different and I think it was about £40 in total. Oh well, last of the big spenders.

Terminal 3, people watching. So many people patiently waiting for their turn to board ~

At long last it was our turn to board, we weren't going to be aboard the A380 again until we changed planes in Dubai. We departed on time at 11pm Saturday night and arrived in Dubai at 8:45am. After a short wait in transit we departed for Auckland at 10:15am Sunday morning and arrived in Auckland 2pm Monday afternoon. Unfortunately we had to wait 3.5hrs for our connecting flight to Tauranga which only takes a mere 35 minutes to fly. Mum & Dad were at the airport to meet us and after a quick catch-up we fell into bed for a welcome twelve plus hours of sleep. The older you get the harder those long haul flights are. Next time we may just have a stop-over on the way.

A footnote-
Sadly we had some dreadful news from NZ while we were waiting to fly home from London. My 17year old cousin Robert was killed in a very bad car crash in Napier. Robert was a much loved son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin and a wonderful and outgoing friend to hundreds of people of all ages in Hawkes Bay, as was evident by the 1200 plus people at his funeral. With a huge beaming welcome smile for everyone he will be greatly missed by many, such a waste of a good life.

RIP Robert

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