I woke with a jolt this morning to the cacophony of several different alarms (phone, travel alarm, iPod) all going off at 04:00. What an ungodly hour…
It was raining this morning as I showered and packed my last few items; I was ready to go by 04:35. I noticed that the cab (from Plaza Cabs) was already waiting downstairs so, having checked out of the Euro the night before, I went down to meet the driver.
We left the Euro Hotel at 04:50 for Victoria Station to catch the Gatwick Express train to Gatwick Airport where my flight home would be waiting. It was an interesting – almost dreamy – drive through Central London at 05:00. The city is so much quieter and subdued at this hour; you rarely see it that way. We drove down Charing Cross Road past The Strand, with a deserted Trafalgar Square on the right, through the Admiralty Arch and down The Mall, passing St. James’s Park on our way past Buckingham Palace, down Buckingham Gate to Victoria station… how different the city is at this hour of the day… how peaceful…
The spell was broken, however, as we arrived at Victoria (the cab was £18.00 + tip). I boarded the Gatwick Express train at 05:13 and arrived at Gatwick Airport at 06:00. I checked my bag only to discover that my luggage was 5 kgs over the allowed weight, so I had to pay £9 for each kg – £45!! Air Transat sucks! I then passed through security at about 06:45 without a hitch.
I was in the South Terminal of Gatwick, which appeared to be a nice place; there were lots of shops and places to eat. I browsed through a lot of the shops (and yes, they’re open at this ungodly hour, and VERY busy!), then had brekkie at Mickey D’s at about 07:00. I had to get rid of the pocketful of British Sterling I was carrying, so I dumped my change into a bin for kids’ charity (it may as will go to a good cause).
Our boarding gate was finally announced so I proceeded through the gate at 08:20 and we started to board: O… M… G… what a seat assignment… Terrible – I was right behind the Club Class bulkhead, smooshed up against the wall with a screaming child beside me…. ALL. THE. WAY. TO. TORONTO… Oh Lord, Please Give Me Strength [note to self: never fly charter coach again…ever!] .
Packed on to this ridiculously crowded chartered flight like sardines, the flight home was the same situation I encountered coming over – Air Transat had co-shared (or whatever it’s called) that flight to Thomas Cook Airlines, so I was essentially flying on a Thomas Cook charter, but not by my own choosing.
We departed on time (09:35) in the London rain. Despite the general misery of the seating arrangements, screaming child and lousy food, the flight itself was surprisingly smooth (i.e. little turbulence) over the Atlantic.
Seven hours of hell later we finally touched down in Toronto and I’ve never been so happy to be home. To be off that flying 3-ring circus was such a relief I felt like dropping down and kissing some Ontario soil.
Thank you London – you were awesome!!!