Sunday, June 12, 2011

Homeward Bound

(Thursday March 31, 2011)

This is it! Today I go home.

I have had such a great time and don't want to leave.

I also want to go home. I miss my kitties, the kids and my bed. And my daily routine.

Last night I stayed at Yotel Gatwick. Yotels are based on Japanese Pod or Capsule Hotels, but with a European twist. They are a bit bigger than a pod, but not much! They have all the basics and just enough room to turn around in. The best part is that I got to stay in the Terminal. Right there, in the airport. No early morning shuttles, no taxis, no rushing around to get to the airport. I woke up and I was there. Perfection.

Yotel is the best place I stayed in on my whole trip. The best. They may be small, but they sure pay attention to detail. If you ever get a chance to stay at one of these cool little places, take it. You won't be disappointed. The bed was super comfy with down pillows and a great duvet. As well, the whole area is silent. The staff all wear shirts that say 'Shhhhh...' on the back. It was the best. 

It's not often you hear an endorsement of a Hotel where you can stay by the hour... This is one!

6am is very early, especially when you don't get to bed until after 1am... 

When the alarm went off I rolled over and hit snooze. About 2 minutes later I jumped up realizing I couldn't snooze, I only had the room booked until 6:30am and I had to be checked out by then. 

Up, teeth, dressed, packed, and out the door by 6:30am. I think that was a record. 

No shuttle, no taxi, no rushing. I was already there. I walked down the hall and checked in for my flight.

Next stop, the VAT/Customs Office. They were closed until 7:15am. Darn it! they did have a phone direct to Customs there and once I talked to then, they let me know I could go and check my bags and see them after Security. 
Off to check in. My checked bags ended up being 20.5kg. Close enough, no charges. Nice! now to just get through security... 

And as I walked through the scanner, it beeped. Uh Oh. So I got the old pat down, and then had to take my shoes off and they were run through the x-ray machine. Apparently all was good, I got my shoes back and then just had to wait for my bag to come through the x-ray. And as my bag came through, the security guy grabbed it and asked if I minded if he had a look. 'Of course I don't, please feel free.' **Darn it! Darn it! For crying out loud, I don't have anything, please don't strip search me next...** He wanted to have a look because the x-ray wasn't clear. My voltage converter was sitting partially on my netbook and they couldn't clearly see what it was. As soon as he opened my bag he pulled the converter out and laughed. Whew!

Next, the executive lounge, breakfast, and collect some food for the flight.

First, the lounge and breakfast. It was nice, they have a continental breakfast as well as some hot breakfast items at no charge. I had toast, juice and tea. then I sat in a comfy chair and read for and hour and a bit. When I felt like I was going to fall asleep, it was time to go.

Next job, find some food for the flight. Pret a Manger, here I come! The selection was not as good as I expected, I think because it was breakfast time. I did manage to grab a sandwich, 2 granola bars, some Edemamme, a bag of crisps and a lemon cheesecake pudding thing, as well as water and juice.
After trying to serve me chicken on the way over, I am not getting stuck on the way back. It's almost a 10 hour flight and that is just too long to go without food, especially after breakfast was just toast. 

The gate was supposed to open at 9:50am, at 9:55 I went to information as there was no info on the board. Uh oh, sounds like the flight may be delayed. At right around 10am the gate number appeared! Yahoo!

Off to the gate. Like a stampede.

Finally onto the plane and into my teeny weenie seat. For 10 hours. Why did we all rush to the gate again?

Lunch was not surprising. Chicken. Great. I figured something out though, my request for a Vegetarian Meal was not provided to the airline. That's why they have tried to feed me chicken twice. 

They had enough vegetarian meals that they offered me one, but again it had nuts, and they don't know what kind of nut. So no thanks. I am allergic to Walnuts, not badly. Lately it hasn't been bothering me and I have had some items with walnuts in it and been fine. But I am not about to test that out again 11km in the air. So up here, I am allergic to them. End of story. 

The people sitting next to me also had requested vegetarian meals and had the same problem.

Now I am really, really, glad I stopped at Pret a Manger.

I munched away on my stash of food while everyone else had their meals. Crisis averted. So far I have watched the movie 'Red' and am waiting for the next round of movies to start. Maybe I will have a nap, or do some reading. Either way, I have 6 1/2 hours left and my bum is sore from sitting.

After watching 'Red' again (no other movie was working), reading, trying to nap and staring at the ceiling, we landed! Yahoo!

Next stop, Customs. Where I had to tell the Customs Officer all about my trip. He asked me a whole bunch of questions. Finally he let me go so I could collect my bags, which seemed to take forever. By the time I got my bags I decided I was way too tired to drag 50lbs of luggage on the Skytrain and bus so I found the Pacific Coach Lines desk and bought myself a bus ticket. I love that I can get on the bus at the airport and walk off the ferry, and not have to drag my bags around. I put them in the bottom of the bus and picked them up when I got off the ferry. Perfect. 

Made even more perfect because Mom and Dad met me when I got off the ferry and took my bags to the truck for me. 


By the time I walked in the door, I was done. Then the cats came down the stairs to see who was coming in the door and it was all over but the snuggling. I managed to get a load of laundry started and then curled up with the kitties for some long overdue snuggles. And a nap. After my nap, I headed off to bed.

I have never been so happy to see my bed.

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