Long London Update Part 1

I'm going to break this into parts to a) (hopefully) keep from boring people and b) keep from getting in trouble because I really do have a of day-job work to do. So here we go

Thursday
We flew to Boston on Alaska Airlines which is fast becoming a horrific airline. All of their “improvements” less about customer service and more about finding ways to keep their employees from doing any work. They now have self-check in and self-baggage check. And neither of them save us any time as travelers. Also, they've apparently stopped “doing special meals” which means that when I asked for my pre-booked vegetarian breakfast, they gave me a ham and egg sandwich and told me to just take the ham off. I GUESS I can understand them not wanting to cater to “hippies” but what about kosher people? Or people who are lactose intolerant or have allergies? If we're paying hundreds of dollars to fly on their gay little airline, shouldn't we be able to request food within our dietary restrictions? How is eliminating that stuff a step forward? And where did the extra money go?
Apparently it went to these neat little individual screens that show several movies and TV shows that you can choose from. (Though they still cost $10 to rent). So instead of “Miss Congeniality Two” or whatever I was expecting, we watched The Incredibles and part of Alexander (which, despite being hilariously rife with homoeroticism and bad acting by Jared Leto, was still boring as hell. Luckily, we had a fast forward option).
We landed in Boston and were immediately frustrated by the layout of the airport which requires you to go outside to a driveway and get on a bus to get to the next terminal. This wouldn't have been so bad except that it wasn't clear which bus we needed, and once we did figure it out, that bus took half an hour to show up. If we had been familiar with the place, we could have actually walked. But instead we waited around, worried we would miss our flight.
But we didn't and we got on Virgin which is, like, the fairy tale of airlines. I hate flying and all the business that goes along with it but that Richard Branson is a genius. They “do special meals” they feed you LOADS of good food, all the drinks you can drink, they give you little baggies full of goodies like socks and a toothbrush and, best of all, they have this amazing entertainment system which actually shows GOOD movies and TV shows completely uncut. (I watched Spaced and Alan Partridge. I also fast forwarded through The Grudge and watched Bridget Jones 2. I blame lack of sleep for my second film selection. That and an attraction to Collin Firth). Also, their staff has a great sense of humor and they obviously enjoy their jobs. I wish I could fly Virgin all the time. I heart Virgin.

Friday
We arrived in London around 6:30 in the morning, local time, and got the train into the city. Much to our shock, it started SNOWING. It was Seattle-style snow in that it melted pretty quickly. But I certainly never saw snow when I lived there. It was very beautiful.
At our hotel, we were introduced to the Russian Mafia's girls, the nicest of whom looked like Lola from Run Lola Run. They informed us that they couldn't find our reservation. Luckily, I had printed out a receipt that showed I paid for it long ago so they pretty much HAD to give us SOMETHING. Well, they didn't HAVE to. But they did. Which is good cos we would have been out about $800 if they hadn't. Our first clue that something was fishy about this place should have been that while Lola was trying to find our reservation, she kept turning the volume down on a Russian soap that was blaring from the tv behind her. I assume she did this so that she could concentrate on the matter at hand. However, every time she turned the volume down, the other girl who was working would come over and turn it back up. This happened at least 5 times. Neither girl ever spoke to each other.
Dom and I went off to get some food and check email while they got our room ready. We came back a few hours later bleary-eyed and ready for a short nap. We discovered our room which I am now convinced was actually the janitor's closet that they “did up” for us since our originally booked room was taken. It was two single beds which Dom and I pushed together, Ozzie and Harriet-Style. It was also a 12-inch television set up a tiny shelf about 6 feet above the bed. The heater was broken and it was very cold. We laid our weary bones on the bed and were delighted to discover that since there was no bottom sheet, there was only a thin layer of fabric on the mattress between us and many (probably rusty) sharp springs. Still, we were so tired that at that point we didn't care. We nodded off. About an hour later, there was a knock on the door. We were informed that our shower was leaking into the basement and that they needed to caulk it. (they might have meant they needed to “cock” it…). They guy got to work in the bathroom making lots of noise and swearing with a thick Russian accent. He left about half an hour later and we slept for another 2 hours before getting up to go find some curry.
1 delicious Indian meal and several pints (for me) later, we were back at the hotel for our first restless night.

Saturday
The next morning I woke up famished and went out to the common area in the hotel to partake of some of the “complimentary breakfast” that was supposed to be included in the price. I was expecting what I had seen at the hostels in London: A table with some bread, a toaster, some jam, tea and cornflakes on it. A DIY breakfast buffet. But instead I saw the quiet girl from the day before furiously toasting behind a counter and bringing it to people seated in the very packed room. I asked her “so how does breakfast work”? She said “breakfast served from 8-9:30”. I said “Yes, but how does it work? Do I order something from you?”. She angrily said “Yes, but you must sit down first.” I looked around. No one else spoke English and all the seats were full. So I just went back to the room and collected Dom. No free breakfast for us.

We went central London to do some second-hand DVD and CD shopping but came up fairly fruitless since, even second hand, everything is pretty expensive. I got a few gifts though. I also got a kick out of how many of the sex shops Soho that I had remembered going to with Faye.

I used a pay toilet on the street (like the one on Broadway). For 50p you can sit in there 20 minutes. Though I can’t imagine why anyone would want or need to be in there that long.

We went to a HUGE comic book shop called Forbidden Planet. It was very cool in there and I spent too much money. They have some really wicked action figures these days.

Went to some more pubs in the evening included a horror-themed pub which was pretty cool but could have been cooler. Also, their music left much to be desired. Maroon 5 does not belong in the world of horror. Period.

Sunday
We slept in till 1:30. I guess we really needed the sleep. They replaced our original blankets with thinner ones and the heater had still not been fixed.
We went to the National Gallery, but got there about an hour and half before they closed. That’s not NEARLY enough time there. It struck me how many portraits of random people there were. Portraits or page boys and things who weren’t anyone famous, but still, their visage will be gawked at for years to come. I bet in their wildest dreams they wouldn’t have been able to imagine such a scenario. They were probably just thought they were helping out that “odd artistic chap”.
We had a mediocre meal in China Town and returned to our hotel for candy and Sunday night telly. Just like back home only with less comfort!

To be continued…

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