A Jolly Fine Day in Londontown

Trip Start May 24, 2009
1
5
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Trip End Jul 20, 2009


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, May 25, 2009

So I'll start at the beginning here:

Cory and I left Houston on a British Airways flight bound for London on Sunday evening.  The flight was pretty entertaining, as we made friends with an awesome flight attendent from Dubai by the name of Esmail, drank several glasses of wine, watched some movies, and saw Cory spill enough red wine on his pants to require some pajamas from first class, haha!

We arived a bit early into Heathrow, promptly cleared customs in the new Terminal 5 (much more quickly than the last time I was in Heathrow).  We had decided that instead of wasting 5 or 6 hours at the airport, we would take a quick trip into the city.  We took the tube to Picadilly Circus, and got some lunch at a pub.  I had fish and chips with water, and Cory had some chicken fingers.  After lunch we decided to visit Covent Gardens, and had a terrible time trying to find it, though we eventually did.  It was pretty disappointing, though we did pass through Trafalgar Square on the way, and got some pictures of Big Ben.  So then we decided to take the tube to Green Park where we went and saw Buckingham Palace, which was also a bit disappointing, especially since we didn't see any of the awesome guards in red uniforms. 

So despite our dissapointment to that point, we opted for going to Parliament and Westminster Abbey, both of which were very impressive.  We got some great pictures, checked out part of the church, and walked around for about and hour before getting back on the tube to get back to Heathrow.  We made it in find time, and went to the security line.  I asked if we might get into the "Fast Pass" lane which was for first class passengers and such, and she did let us, which saved us quite a bit of time in line.  What a success!  We then went through security and had a very physical pat down after going through the metal detector.  Eventually we made it to our gate, where the entire world seemed to be going to Cairo, though come to find out, they weren't making it any time soon.  We got on our flight (my first time on a 747), prepared for departure, and were told that bad weather was making it such that all planes that were turning right after takeoff were delayed.  So we waited for about an hour and a half (I slept most of the time) and they decided to file a new flight plan that would have us turn left.  We left about 30 minutes later.  The flight was fine, I watched "Layer Cake" which was quite good, had an enjoyable meal which was rather spicy, and slept some.  We arrived in Cairo at 2:00 am (again Cairo is 8 hours ahead of US Central Time). 

Our first Cairo experience was being scanned by a FLIR infrared machine by doctors looking for swine flu (thank God I didn't set it off). We both passed, and then tried to figure out the passport control thing.  Turns out you buy a visa from the banks, for $15 USD.  You then take it with your passport to passport control and they put it in your passport.  Finally we waited for our bags (and got some money at the same time), then headed out through customs which was a breeze.  We had been advised that a ride downtown on the taxi would cost around 100 pounds, but somebody offered to take us for 70.  It was pretty sketchy, Cory and I were both a bit nervous about the whole thing.  We finally made it to his car, and got on our way.  On the way out of the airport the police motioned for the car to pull over and we had to put our names in a book, made us even more wary.  We told the driver to take us to the hostel that were were staying at, even though we didnt have a reservation until the next day (Tuesday afternoon).  We arrived, and the driver asked us for a tip (we were told that they dont really get tips).  We gave him 10 pounds just to leave us alone, and it had already been cheaper than we expected to pay. 

We walked up 9 flights of stairs with our pack (in hindsight there is an elevator, haha).  The front desk told us that we couldn't stay there until the next day, but recommended we try the hostel Ramses II upstairs.  We did, and they agreed to take us at the same price we are paying at King Tut, 60 pounds per person per night.  It worked out great, and after a little Egyptian snack, we went off to bed! 
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