London, United Kingdom
Considering I didn’t get to sleep until around 2am, this morning’s 4.30am alarm was particularly harsh. It’s hard to know whether the ‘nap’ in between time made me feel better or worse but with a bus picking us up at 5am to take us to the airport, I didn’t have time to contemplate it.
Although we’d booked our flights completely independently of each other, Bec managed to book her flight for the exact same time as Mum’s and mine. The only difference was the airline. In a turn up for the books, Bec – a seasoned business traveller accustomed to a higher standard of travel than most – was flying with budget airline, Wow, whilst I – a seasoned budget traveller accustomed to a lower standard of travel than most – had booked Mum and I onto the premier carrier – Icelandair. We both booked the only flights we could get to match our circumstances: Bec left booking late so Wow was her only option whereas my priority was connecting flights from Italy at the front end and back to Sydney for Mum at this end. Somewhat serendipitously, the best and cheapest return flight I could get for Mum and I just happened to be in ‘Economy Comfort’ class which meant that we could waltz right up to the priority check-in counter while poor Bec joined the snaking queue with first-come-first-served seating. Mum and I were all checked in with our passes to the Saga Lounge (Icelandair’s Business Class lounge) in hand before Bec had even reached the first bend in her queue.
It should be said that whenever possible, Bec has been very generous with sharing her travel lounge privileges so I felt a little guilty leaving her to eat the dust created by Mum and I bolting to the luxury of the lounge with hardly a backwards glance. In fairness, I’ll be seeing Bec in London and she’s got a couple of weeks of business travel ahead of her (with a lot of hard work in between). Mum and I no doubt distinguished ourselves as infrequent visitors to Fancyville as we revelled in all that was on offer including a couple of shots of Baileys simply because we could (the sun hadn’t yet risen, so technically, it was still the night before and if you’ve been reading these blogs, you’ll know I was just topping up).
Time came to board the plane which was being hosed down with ectoplasm to defrost the wings. Once on board, we were directed left rather than right to take up our seats in the Business Class section of the plane – so nice! It’s just a shame that Mum was still unwell and I was starting to feel a little green around the gills too – then again, maybe it was just as well because almost immediately after take off and lovely complimentary porridge breakfast, I was able to fall asleep almost fully reclined amongst blankets and pillows.
By the time I awoke, we were making our descent into Heathrow. We landed and disembarked at lovely, modern Terminal 5 only to collect our bags and make our very long and roundabout way to dirty, dank and dingy Terminal 1 (visitors to Heathrow should regard the terminal number as a star rating). Whilst I had managed to book Mum a connecting flight for the same day, unfortunately, they were at opposite ends of it.
Mum and I whiled away the hours by reliving the best moments of our time together, eating bad airport food and eventually checking her in for her flight back home to Sydney. The emotion of our farewell was no doubt heightened by the sentimentality of our recollections and the flu we were both harbouring. I felt like a terrible daughter walking away without actually seeing Mum on to her flight but I had start my own onward journey and make haste for my next rendezvous.
I didn’t have the heart or health to do the entire journey by Tube so I splurged on the Heathrow Express to Paddington and then braved the underground with full backpack for the final connections to Canada Water. I was happily met there by my beloved friend, Vic who seemed so unchanged since we’d last met almost 18 months ago, that I’m refusing to believe that she’s had a baby in the interim until I see the proof!!! Unfortunately, today was not the day for that but probably just as well considering the state I’m in. Despite the excitement of the moment, I was barely able to remain conscious for the short drive to Vic’s Mum’s place where I’ll be staying for the next week.
As my extraordinary luck would have it, Vic’s equally gorgeous mum, Marylin, has offered me full use of her London apartment for my stay and it is amazing! It’s like a luxury hotel right on the bank of the Thames! No, it’s better than that because it was offered with such generosity and open heartedness that it feels like home away from home with all the assurance and comfort that brings. It has everything I could need or want and I’m humbled by Marylin’s extraordinary gift. Thank you.
Vic orientated me and showed me how everything worked before leaving me to my own devices. I’m not sure how much of what she said made sense to my bleary mind but I was able to drag myself through a bath and into bed and for now, that’s all I need.
Patches McMum: Rise and shine at 4am, you’ve got to be joking! Finished packing and waited for a pickup bus at 5am saying farewell to Room With a View. On arriving at the airport with snow all around, our plane was being de-snowed with special de-snowing goop. We had a lightening fast check in while Bec waited with the common folk. As you might have guessed, we had GOOD tickets and lounge privileges which included lots of yummy food and baileys (caught the drinking habit from Naomi. Never been known to drink at this time of the morning unless I’m just getting home). On entering the plane, we went left instead of right to our beautiful cloudy seats. The food was free – I had a ‘good marriage cake’ – I think that one might end in divorce! I don’t know how Bec faired on WOW but we had a good trip to Heathrow.
Heathrow was a sad place – Naomi stayed with me for 4 hours, we did some blogging and then sopping tears as she went off for the rest of her trip.
Now, be impressed everybody. I checked myself in online – I even put the tag on my own bag! I went through to the other side, did some 10 finger shopping with the expensive moisturizer testers, read for a while, boarded the plane for 14 hour trip to Singapore. I watched a few movies, ate some good food and had a couple of vodka & ginger beers.
After about a 2 hour stop over in Singapore, I was homeward bound. I watched one movie and one more vodka & ginger beer (I am a lush, I blame Naomi). I arrived at Sydney airport to see that beautiful sign “G’day and Welcome Home!”. I was met by my daughter, Sarah, who drove me passed Naomi’s home to Rachies. Rachie then drove me home to Penrith. I was bloody exhausted but pushed on to unpack, repack gifts, wash etc. Richard arrived home at 6pm from Bathurst (golf trip). At 7pm I faded away to dreamland thinking of my wonderful excursion with the best personal tour guide!
PATCHES McMUM’S ICELAND SUMMARY:
I was pleasantly surprised by the food as I had been informed by my guide that the main cuisine was puffins, whale and decayed shark which would have meant I would have to become vegetarian which wouldn’t have been a problem except that I would’ve missed out on the exceptional lamb.
The climate was deceiving in many ways – the sky was always blue but you knew you had to take boots, gloves, scarves, hats and if you had them, hand warmers! I’ve never worn so many hats in my life to keep warm. Each time you went inside anywhere, you had to strip off many layers (not all of them!).
In Reykjavik, they should have a fountain you can toss a coin in (like the Trevi Fountain) to make sure you come back! If I lived closer and it wasn’t so bloody far and involve a 37 hours trip from Australia, I’d make it an annual holiday if only to visit the GaGa sisters and buy more clothes!
A very special thank you to Inga who made my stay there so memorable. Also to the best
the best personal tour guide.
Thank you… until my next trip…