Entry into London

London Travel Blog

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View of the main Earl's Court building from my room

I really don't know where to start...honestly! How about a YIPEEEEEEEE - YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY - FECKIN' HELL - I'm back in London??!!

It all started when I got back from Mexico from my US visa stamping, the next obvious one was of course, the UK's! And my joy knew no bounds when I got a 10 yr multiple Visitor's Visa to the UK. It was really just unbelievable...but then again, when you look at the no. of UK immigration control stamps I've had on my passport, even the British Consulate in L.A perhaps knew this one's a traveller at heart, and just get bloody rid of his regular applications by giving him a decade's right to visit Britain.

OK, step One done. Onto step Two - tickets.

Lounge #1 with the silent couches
Easy as 1-2-3, used my AA miles and in the bargain got myself the day flight from Chicago O'Hare to Heathrow that lands London by 1040pm GMT.

Step Three - the most important - what to do and where to do - again, EAZEE - put all my queries on Tripadvisor and my buddies at KES, and got answers pronto. I had always toyed with the idea of visiting the SW part of England (Devon, Cornwall) but going by their advice, I focussed on just Cornwall. It appeared that there was not only enough to do, but Cornwall seemed more appealing than Devon did, besides it had enough to cover in 5 days allotted. So off I went with my hunt and reservations for train tickets and hostel accomodation. I had designed my trip such that I have a spare day in London.

The lounge facing Bolton Gardens
I wanted to do a day trip nearby, and went with Evan Evans "Blenheim Palace and Cotswolds" trip as it seemed ideal for me. I'd fancied the Cotswolds when I got a taste of it three years ago on a group tour of Stratford Upon Avon, and all travel books said that May (start of spring) or October (peak autumn) was the best time to visit the Cotswolds, not only because of the striking colour of the hills but also because of the fewer crowds.

So nothing was really left except...erm...FLY and work the plan!

I had an exam the previous night (7th May) ending at about 11pm, so that didn't leave me much time to go home and get enough rest. I had thankfully packed the previous weekend itself.

View of my room in the extreme left
The taxi came at 415am and I was on the 6am flight to ORD. Flight took off on time, everything smooth, boarded the plane to Heathrow. I was shocked at how empty it was. The middle rows (5 seats!) were virtually all empty, each one of got a 'bed' to sleep on for the full flight. I made up my lost sleep on the 8 hour flight. The flight was peaceful, surprisingly AA's "Vegetarian meal" was also filling and well done (main course looked like a jumbo size sticky overcooked granola bar, but was tasty enough) and the staff were also, surprisingly very pleasant.

The flight was about 10 minutes early. You must know this was my first arrival into Heathrow in years. Till March'08, flights from DFW would land in Gatwick and I was used to the much smaller less congested airport.

the "new" kitchen, a lot cleaner than before. Fire really does do wonders!
I had seen and heard horror stories of immigration crowds at LHR so I was a bit nervous if I'll get stuck for so long I end up missing the Tube or the HEX to the City. Thankfully, it wasn't so. LHR was so empty (apparently even the busiest airport in the world goes to sleep at night) you would think everyone went to a funeral. It was also dark, esp the baggage claim area. Immigration was a breeze, no problems there as well. The officer just asked me how long I was staying. So believe it or not, I was actually out and about by 11pm itself.

The main aim of this trip was to enjoy without spending where I have a cheaper alternative. So rather than take the HEX to town, I settled for the humble Piccadilly Line. I must admit, I didn't think it would take *that* long. It took me an hour to reach my home away from home - Earl's Court YHA.

Aaah...nothing like early morning London! Bolton Gardens, 6am
And London was so humid! I couldn't believe this was London, IN MAY! And coming from Texas and calling London hot, one can imagine how bad it must've been!

I was looking forward to the stay at the YHA for 2 reasons. For one, it's where I always stay when I'm in London except for my trip 2 years ago when it was closed because of the fire. Next, I was looking forward to the new look YHA after the fire. My admission was fine, and I was given a room in the garden (detached from the main building and on the basement) which was good. What was EVEN better was that it was JUST me! The other 5 beds were empty for that night.

I looked around the hostel - it's been done up quite well. For 1 thing, they now sell pastries and drinks at the reception 24/7 which is good. The lounges are also much better (aka, the sofa no longer creeks) but the internet and the prices are still the same - bloody expensive (1 GBP for 15 mins).

One of my favourite shots - Earl's Court in its all it's morning 6am glory
I quickly checked email - to inform mum/dad that I reached safely and then came the big shock of the trip - Evans Evans had cancelled the day tour to Blenheim/Cotswolds. Sh*t! This was really annoying - they waited for the last minute and also have the cheek to ask me if I'd like to go on another of their trips instead. I mean, the reason I chose this trip was because I didn't find the others appealing enough or I had already seen the others. I emailed them for a full refund instead.

I went to bed around 1am that night. I felt relaxed as I had slept well on the plane... I only kept wondering what to do with my free Friday. It wasn't so much about seeing the sights (heaven knows there's never a dearth of that), it was more of "which is the cheapest on National Rail?".  It really was VERY VERY annoying. But oh well, I'm in LONDON!!

hightide says:
Congrats on your featured blog! Score on the 5 empty seats. Is it one of those 2-5-2 plane configurations?
Posted on: Sep 22, 2016
simsing says:
Congrats on the feature!
Wow....this is an old blog! You look younger in the photos ;)
Posted on: Sep 22, 2016
Paulovic says:
Another year, another trip to the UK and another featured blog! Congrats being featured today Curry! :D
Posted on: Sep 22, 2016
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View of the main Earls Court buil…
View of the main Earl's Court bui…
Lounge #1 with the silent couches
Lounge #1 with the silent couches
The lounge facing Bolton Gardens
The lounge facing Bolton Gardens
View of my room in the extreme left
View of my room in the extreme left
the new kitchen, a lot cleaner t…
the "new" kitchen, a lot cleaner …
Aaah...nothing like early morning …
Aaah...nothing like early morning…
One of my favourite shots - Earls…
One of my favourite shots - Earl'…
photo by: ulysses