Oct 23, 2006


I've been to Heathrow a few times, but I've never left the airport. Today was no different. Had a four hour layover, which actually went by reasonably quickly, since some of it passed via having to clear customs and check-in again, and the rest due to the loaner Blackberry device I got from work.

First the Blackberry, which I'm actually reasonably enamoured with for the purposes of travel. It works reasonably well for checking work email; I was able to go through about 200 or so unread emails while waiting for flights in SFO and LHR, After that I tried using the limited web browser over the slow GPRS connection.

Gmail worked quite well, but I wasn't able to use Blogger. I need to set up Blogger for email blogging, then I should be able to send updates via the Blackberry.

Whatever phone plan the company is on seems pretty good. I was online pretty much as soon as the plane landed, and was receiving work mail in no time. Contrasting that is my personal T-mobile cell phone service, which rejected all the available carriers, so I can't even pay for roaming even if I wanted to.

I had considered getting a Sony mylo before leaving, but the device is very pricey for what it does. I would have been able to use it for blogging at the airport, since it comes with 1 year of T-mobile access, but that still wasn't quite compelling for spending $350.

As for the hassle at the airport, it's due to the fact that I'm going for a wedding and I want to travel light, and the synergy just doesn't work. Last week I got a 50L internal frame backpack, which isn't the best item to check in since it doesn't have much protection for the contents like real luggage would. It also doesn't offer much space, so I brought my suit along on a hanger in a suit bag, which isn't an ideal check-in vehicle either.

At SFO I carried both on the plane quite easily. I was originally worried that the backpack was big, but I had absolutely no problem fitting it into an overhead compartment on a 747, The suit I hung in the closet. Then in the early hours of Friday morning, the plane came into the UK, with masses of light underneath, like neurons and their dendrite connections snaking along the geography of the land. Soon after that, the lights disappeared under clouds as the sun rose, orange and pink on the cloud tops. It was light as we began descending, and the cheery sunrise deteriorated into gloomy fog as we passed below the cloud cover. The green fields were visible below, a muted and dreary green. When we landed, I found out, as I had feared, that flights originating from London only allow one carry-on, which required me to go to the Departures section to check in my bag. This involved going through immigration/customs first.

Anyways, all that's over with now. I'm just hoping that the lenses in my backpack survive their baggage handling trip. I'm carrying my camera by hand so I'm sure that'll survive. Since it was 8am GMT, and there wasn't much of a dinner served on the previous flight, my search for food brought me to Pret-a-Manger, which had the biggest line by far compared to any other place. I went for an iced tea with a croissant, but since I wasn't carrying British pounds, I had to get two croissants to meet the minimum required for a credit card payment. Incidentally, my Mastercard was rejected, probably for my protection. Nonetheless, it's annoying. Especially since I anticipated it and already talked to the credit card company about it.

The almond and chocolate croissants were surprisingly good for something purchased at an airport. They were buttery, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, and just slightly warm. I think I'm going to get a heart attack from the two of them though. The bottled iced green tea, however, was horrid. It was sweetened with some type of fruit juice, which gave it a bit of sweetness and tartness, which just doesn't go well with green tea. Yuck.
Anyways, it's 3am in California, I'm pretty sure I'll be struggling to the hotel. I don't think I'll be up for much touristy stuff today.

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