1.070 Arrival in London

Monday, 2/10/2020

I’d paid for “premium” seating on Virgin, and it was more spacious than the usual, although, to my surprise, my bag did not slide all the way under the seat ahead, which it had done on the flights to Greece. That complicated my foot positions. Oh well. On the return flight I’ll put it overhead; since premium boards first, there’ll be room.

After an OK supper they dimmed the lights for about 6 hours of the 9.5-hour flight. During that time I estimate I actually slept 4, with frequent wakings. Felt fine on arrival. Apparently LHR Terminal 3 was busy, as our big 787 parked out on bare tarmac, and we all exited via stairs to waiting coaches, which meandered through the industrial underbelly of Heathrow to a ground level door, from which of course we had to go up a couple of escalators in order to come down to the arrivals hall. The E-gate (automatic passport check with facial recognition) worked fine and I was loose in the UK. I found my way to the Heathrow Express train, today only running once every 30 minutes instead of 15, due to track maintenance from the weekend storm.

Once at Paddington, I wanted just to exit to the street, and darned if I couldn’t find how to do that. I remembered that British for “Exit” is “Way Out” and I followed those signs quite a while and wasn’t out. Rather than ask, I changed plans and followed the clearer signs to the underground.

Here I did something I’d planned to do later in the day, buy an Oyster card, a refillable transit pass. To buy that, I stuck my SFCU bank card in the slot, and it charged the 50 pounds to it, and didn’t ask me for my PIN. Hmmm. Anyway with that and about five minutes pondering the Tube map, I worked out that I could go just one stop to Bayswater and walk. Which I did, through a sprinkle of rain.

Bayswater is a busy commercial neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops. Along the edge of Kensington Gardens there are lots of hotels, so a noticeable number of people walking along toting roller bags. My hotel is modest but adequate, as is my room. Once checked in I discovered that the British plug adapter I’d bought for cheap on Amazon was rubbish and wouldn’t give good contact to the laptop power supply. And also that I’d not packed a comb. So back out for a walk around the local shopping. I bought the comb at Boots and a better plug adapter at a funny little market hall, like a Turkish bazaar with lots of little booths (staffed by actual Turks, it looked like) selling computer accessories.

Later I spotted what should be a good breakfast coffee cafe (but I’ve paid for the hotel breakfast for tomorrow, so the cafe will have to wait until Wednesday). Nearby are a veritable UN of restaurants; I can choose between Italian, Persian, Malaysian, Turkish cuisines.

I plotted out my travel for tomorrow’s first attraction, then at 5pm, went out to find supper. I carried my umbrella but there was no rain then. I passed a pub, several hotels with restaurants, and went to the “Taste of Maylasia” just around the corner on Craven Terrace. Turned out to be a good choice. I ordered an entree of beef cooked in coconut milk, a side of pickled veg, and rice cooked with I forget what spices, but it had a floral aroma and taste.

1002_meal

It was all tasty and nicely presented. Beer would have been the perfect pairing, but alas the restaurant is not “licensed” so I had Coke.

While I was waiting for the check I glanced out the window and, oh my gosh it just pissing down out there! Glad for my umbrella, and that I was only a long block from the hotel.

1002_rain
Zebra (pron. zeh-bruh please) crossings and little taxis and bikes. And rain! England!

Now my task is to stay the heck awake until at least 9pm so I can wake up at a reasonable hour in the morning. I’ll try the telly.

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