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I Head Home....

Thursday, November 18, 2004 Holland

Well it was a early morning rise this morning for a 7.25am flight, up at 4.45am and Hank left to take me to the airport at 5.20, found check in, to be told that my ticket had been cancelled because I was booked to fly on 15th, at 10.20am.

Now I did not change it, the printout from the travel agent showed today's flight, my ticket showed today's flight, with this happening so soon after my run in with my travel agent….. I wonder! The next bit of good news was that my connecting flight had been cancelled, not the booking, the flight, and the best they could do was a flight at 8pm, now considering I arrived in Austria at 9am that was is a 11 hour wait, just as well I fly business class there is somewhere reasonable to sit!

Next problem…… yes there is more…. Is the best flight I can get from Madrid to London is on the 20th which gives me about 40 hours in Madrid, all this was to get home in time for my Granddaughters wedding which was due to take place early December, today at the Lounge when I cleared my email I found a message that she was now getting married in February…… Oh well … least it is summer at home instead of nearly winter in Europe.

Just checked my flight home to see if it had been messed with and so far OK.

High shoe report, The Dutch have some of the tallest people you will see walking the streets, both the men and the women, however while there are tall women who would have no problems wearing high heels, you see very few, most are in flat shoes even when they are stylishly dressed. There are probably two reasons for this 1. they are a very "Down to earth" race and as I recall from my shoes days some had very large feet, which of course matched their height, one can not image Italian high heeled shoes being made in a 46 to 50 metric size.

It is interesting sitting in the business lounge all day as I have, one sees that the tobacco industry is in good shape in Europe and Europe lags behind many countries in restricting the passive smoking for non smokers.

Cell phones are alive & well and it is interesting to hear business conversations being conducted for all to hear with the obviously thought that there is any one in the room that matters.

Well eventually the flight took off for Austria then I had the 11 hour wait, just as well English books were available so I sat down to have a good read, eventually it was time to fly to Madrid, once in Madrid that was to find a hotel, I decide to take one close to the airport because I was not going to be here for long, so eventually I was picked up by the hotel transport, it was a reasonable hotel, and the one good interesting thing about it that made it good as far as I was concerned that I could plug my computer into their broadband connection at no charge and work on all day, if I wished, for no charge.

The following morning I got the hotel transport to the airport, then walked to the metro that was on the airport, and took the metro into the centre of the city. Madrid, to me, was just like any other large city, but the one thing that I had seen advertised earlier on my trip was a portrait exhibition of paintings at the Prado Art Gallery, so I walked out to that, went in and had a good look around, usually I can find in most Art Galleries several paintings that really impressed me. Now I am no Art student, nor Art critic, but I like what I like!

There are no paintings at the Prado that I would return to see yet most other Art Galleries, as I say, there is something that appeals to me. Of course at least one third of the paintings, had a religious theme, which is to be expected in a country like Spain, with its background, but I must admit having a considerable disappointment.

to top right....

From bottom left

I then went on a bus tour around the city, which was a mistake, at the time I did it, if you do a bus tour in any big-city it should be very early in the morning when hopefully the traffic is less. As I said before Madrid is just another big-city, and I was quite happy to get off the bus a third the way through when I reached a spot I knew.

Eventually it was time to fly on to London, arrived at Heathrow and eventually got through all of the security etc, I got quite a grilling at passport control, I had to look in a mirror afterwards to make sure I didn't look Arabic.

The to the hotel booking service, and they informed me that being the weekend most other hotels in London were full, but they would try to find the one, yes the taxi to the city would cost £55, I could go on the metro (tube) but my recollection of that is lots of stairs without escalators at certain parts. I then priced the Hilton hotel and it was £130 a night, which was a special weekend rate, and when I deducted the cost of the taxi it was quite a reasonable rate, well reasonable for London.

So I checked into the hotel, there was a walked away from terminal two, quite a nice room, however the Internet connection was £15 per day, or I could use the computer in the bar for £3 for 15 minutes.

Well the weather was lousy, it was forecast to be lousy, lousy, lousy, which of course was normal for London this time of the year, so I decided to fly out to LA the following day and spend more time in that city.

Sunday my friend from Singapore flew in on his way to Ireland, his London friend collected him from the airport, came past the Hilton and collected me and we went out to Windsor for a walk around the town. Of course the weather was wet and miserable and cold, no heating in the shops, welcome to London.

We went all this way to Windsor and the Queen was not at home!

Eventually I was dropped off back at the hotel, one had a quick shower, change, picked the suitcase, and walked back to terminal two with my luggage.

One my upgrade had come through so the flight from London to LA was done in the comfort of the first-class cabin. I'm glad it was complimentary because there was nothing about it that would warrant the extra cost, Shar Twain and her entourage were also flying to LA from London, every time I looked she was up walking around getting drinks or something!

Landed in LA at 7 p.m., I was photographed and fingerprinted, collected my luggage, collected a car and drove to a hotel. Once at the hotel, when I was watching TV, I discovered it was Thanksgiving weekend, and I heard stories about the traffic on this weekend in America, so I had to start and rethink what I was doing in LA. Originally I was going to drive to Santa Barbara, visit some friends there, come back to LA and see more friends and fly out to New Zealand a week later.

The following day I telephoned Air New Zealand and yes I could get a flight out the following night, so then it was a matter of doing all my shopping, visiting my friends in LA, spend another night at the hotel, finished my shopping, and out to the airport for the pleasure of going through the tightest security in the world.

The flight was as it should be, uneventful, and my friend Peter collected me from the airport and I was home, early, ready to unpacked and put everything away until the next trip.

Well that is it for 2004....... see you in 2005


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