10 May 2009

2006: May 10

Once on the ground at Heathrow, customs was also uneventful, and the gentleman behind the counter was as much fun as any provided by the Home Office I'd ever encountered.

Weather is much warmer than I was led to believe. Temp was approximately 20-22 C, and a bit on the muggy side. Of course, I'm carrying about 25 kilos of things that once I'm finally in the car will not be problematic; at the moment, they are unwieldly at best. This includes a light jacket and heavy sweatshirt, neither of which fits into the luggage (don't ask (grin)). I've been promised the need for both, even during the summer, and so they come along.

National Express, while not the most expeditious of coach companies, gets you there. Three hours, one illegal turn and a red-light run later. Local coach service (Arriva) not much better. Supposedly, it's a 10- to 20-minute drive from Luton to the hotel, so I should not have been surprised it only took 50 minutes (grin). [ 2009: It's always interesting when traveling on local buses during the equivalent of rush hour after getting off an airplane. When was the last time you commuted crammed into a seat next to someone with luggage enough to last months on the road? ]

The Chiltern Hotel is a pleasant surprise. I personally don't believe it's as close to the airport as it claims on its website, and it's definitely not in the most desirable part of town, but the internal ambience and the helpfulness of the support staff more than make up for any of these minor deficiencies. Shower doesn't work right? I am given the key to an empty room down the hall. Lift doesn't work? Obtain prompt help with luggage to the first floor... Need someone to talk to at 3am because I can't get back to sleep? Never fear, Ibrahim is available and quite friendly.

Listed prices locally say single, en-suite rooms run about £ 80 per night, yet the internet rate, which includes a full-English breakfast, was approximately £ 25.

Definitely a pleasant surprise.

Helpful Information:
£ 1 (Pound Sterling) - US $ 1.70 - Euro 1.40 (very approximate and highly-volatile)
1 Kilo - 2.2 pounds
Temperature in Centrigrade ==> 9/5x + 32 in Fahrenheit (double C, subtract 10%, add 32. It gets easier)
Lift - Elevator
En-suite - Bathroom in room (quite desirable)
Home Office - Customs and Immigration Service
Coach - Bus
1st Floor (UK) - 2nd Floor (US)

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