Monday, March 19, 2012

Day One - Las Vegas to London

This entry should probably be titled day one/two since they sort of run together with the long flight to London.

The day started out with Penny and I arriving at the international terminal at McCarran airport only to be immediately greeted by a Virgin Atlantic representative telling me my carry-on bag would have to be checked. The size was not an issue but the weight was considerably more then would be allowed. Only 6kg or roughly 13lbs are allowed on board the international flights. I pleaded my case and explained that the bag contained expensive cameras and lenses and was allowed to pass after several more minutes of begging. One leg of the trip down, only 5 more to go....

Overall the flight was ok but I really was expected a little bit more from Virgin Airlines. Our plane, a magnificent Boeing 747 that was built in 1984 is starting to show its age. The TV screens in the seat backs were for the most part broken with only two channels working during our long flight. And the foam in the seat cushions feels like the original 1984 foam. The food was ok though and there was plenty of food to go around. Overall I'd give the flight an above average rating but far from what I expected.

The flight was a little bumpy till we cleared the Rockies then it was smooth sailing across the pond. I was surprised to see our flight path take such a high arch over Canada and was a bit excited at the possibility of getting to see the northern lights (aurora)  at the higher latitudes. I got up from my seat and went over to an open window on the side of the jet facing north around 3am to see if anything was visible but saw nothing but dark skies and the blinding wingtip light of the jet.  Oh well, one of these days I'm gonna see those lights!
Finally, daybreak somewhere over the North Atlantic between Greenland and Northern Ireland and we are awake and eating breakfast before landing at Gatwick airport.
Once on the ground it's a quick trip through customs and the most polite agent I've ever dealt with in an airport then on to collect our bags (Man have I got a load!) and into the train station for a quick ride to Victoria Station. From there it's just a ten minute taxi ride to our hotel.

I must admit, Penny did a great job picking our hotel. The Premier Inn is right at the base of the London Eye (The giant Ferris wheel.) and just across the River Thames from the Palace of Westminster (Parliament & Big Ben) and tons of museums and other tourist attractions.

Once we were settled into our hotel it's off to walk along the river and have our first traditional English lunch, Fish & Chips of course!

After lunch we walked some more along the river and must admit it felt a bit like walking through the French Quarter in New Orleans with all the street performers.

For dinner we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant and was not disappointed. Then across the street to the local "Quicky Mart" and then I had to grab my tripod for some nighttime photography at the London Eye and Parliament.

Now we are back to our room and it's near 10pm. Penny is getting ready to watch her favorite BBC show, Being Human, and I can barely stay awake. It's hard to believe I've been awake for going on 31 hours minus about 3 hours of off and on sleep on the plane.
Time to get to sleep as we have another long day planned with a trip to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and maybe a tour of London Bridge and a ride on the London Eye.

Stay tuned for Day 2 in London.

Oh yeah - one of my favorite statues along the river walk....can't imagine why I like this one so much.....