“It’s a bit shit.”
An employee of the London Underground is summing up the ticket situation for VyVy and I in only the way a Brit can. Little does he know that he easily could have been describing our 30-hour period of travel as we got from Los Angeles to London – multiple flight delays, lounge closures, and a B&B we couldn’t check into on the first night. A bit shit, indeed.
Let’s back up a few months. You may remember that Vy and I were planning on visiting the UK this summer for a few days because I asked y’all for suggestions. Well, the trip has come and gone, and now it’s time to share our experience for those of you that are interested. We begin at LAX, a few hours before our flight to Toronto.
June 17th, 2017 – Los Angeles, California to Toronto, Canada: ~2,500 miles
I can’t stand flying, so I’m hypersensitive to all the stupid aspects of the process. Air Canada annoys me right off the bat as Vy and I spend several minutes with a self-serve kiosk to check in and tag our bags. My assumption is that this would save time and let us go right to bag check. Nope – turns out you still have to go through the 35 minute line with everyone else and talk to a gate agent anyway. So what was the point of doing anything in the self-service kiosk?
This seems stupid from an operational standpoint, but any time I complain about something related to flying I think of one of my favorite Louis CK stand-up bits and then I tell myself to shut up:
The one nice thing about waiting in line is that I met someone who was amused by my “Are You Bike-urious” t-shirt.
On the other hand, Vy and I are stuck alongside someone who thinks it was OK to cut his nails in line.
Turns out our wait in line doesn’t matter because our flight gets delayed by 80 minutes – of course it does. Oh wait, I’m complaining again.
We stop in the Alaska Lounge in Terminal 6 and a couple of beers later I’m in a much better mood.
We hop on the plane and I assume I’ll just sleep until we get to our layover in London. I enjoy the visual of entering and immediately leaving the low layer of clouds:
June 18th, 2017 – Toronto, Canada to London, England: ~3,500 miles
Our flight lands at around 5am with only one problem – I didn’t get any sleep because I was too excited about the upcoming trip. No worries, I’d just get a shower at the lounge, take a nap, and feel refreshed, right? Wrong. The lounge was temporarily closed so there would be no shower in my gross short-term future. On the flipside, this was a rare moment when Vy and I were both awake early enough to catch a sunrise:
We have a few hours to kill, so Vy and I explore what we can in the airport and take dumb photos with Baby Jack whenever possible:
Our arrival in London is uneventful, which is a good adjective to use when it comes to air travel. Every time I visit a major city, it reminds me how bad the public transportation is back home in Los Angeles. In London, it is very convenient for us to take our luggage and Baby Jack into the Underground:
That’s where we meet the helpful attendant from the start of this story who told us that our situation was a “bit shit.” He sorts out our best options and then points us towards the correct subway line. We’re trying to get to our hotel in Kingston upon Thames, where our motorcycle will be ready tomorrow morning. We switch from the subway to the bus, and even though I’ve got a sample size of one at this point, I’m already convinced that London bus drivers are crazy. I can only assume they are paid bonuses based on average speed and that their safety training video is the movie Speed.
Thanks to delays with our incoming flight, Vy and I aren’t able to get to the bed and breakfast we have a reservation for until 11:10pm. Problem is, they closed their check-in desk at 11pm. Calls to the front desk are unanswered, as are knocks on the door. After a few minutes of trying to get the attention of the proprietor, we give up. Luckily, there is a DoubleTree hotel about a mile away, so we take a little walk to a hotel that is kind enough to have a 24 hour check-in period. Their famous cookies have never tasted better.
I am still very excited about tomorrow’s start to the adventure, but I’m finally tired enough to actually fall asleep.
Continue on to Day 3 – June 19th, 2017 – London, England to Christchurch, England: ~120 miles