04 August 2005
When I thought about having to take a ten-hour flight (one of two legs), I very nearly thought about not going to Glasgow at all. I don’t travel well, though I love the experience of travel.
I would have been an idiot not to go, of course.
The ten-hour flight, except for the length, really didn’t seem any worse for my travel weariness than a five-hour flight. British Airways has individual screens for each seat; I had my choice of 18 video channels plus 18 audio channels, not to mention what I’d loaded onto my iPod Shuffle.
When we flew over Greenland, I stood up, went over to the rear window (where one could lean on a ledge and look out) and stared out over the snowfields and frozen lakes.
We arrived at Heathrow without an event more disastrous than my seatmate (since BA had decided to rearrange our seats, Rick and I were not able to sit together) having to use her airsickness bag as we approached Heathrow.
When we arrived, cleared immigration and customs (with our single checked bag checked through to Glasgow, yay), Rick had the brilliant idea to visit Terminal 3 in order to visit the AmEx exchange office. So we schlepped. I whined, but managed to get there without more than feeling overly hot and sweating. I drank a half-litre of water, but couldn’t find a faucet for a refill. And, since we hadn’t changed currency, I couldn’t get more from a shop without putting it on a credit card, which seemed absurd. The water in the bathroom was horrific. Ugh.
Enroute, I admired some of the HSBC local knowledge ads. For those of you in the US, HSBC recently purchased Household Bank. One of my favorites of said ads was the Grasshopper ad:
In the US, grashoppers are considered a pest. In China, a pet. In Northern Thailand, an appetizer. Little did I know that my enjoyment of these ads was to be, umm, enhanced during the convention….
We managed to get back from Terminal 3 just as our flight was boarding. By that time, I was hot and thirsty enough (and dripping wet) that I was suffering from heat exhaustion. I berated myself for not packing potassium tablets in my carryon (though I did bring them with me), as that’s one of the things I typically need when overheated.
Again, Rick and I were seated in different rows, though we both got window seats, so it’s all good. The only problem was that the plane needed to wait for a truck to give it a boost to get the engine started (standard procedure, nothing unusual), so the air conditioning wasn’t running. I started to wonder if I should ask for something, but just as I was about to page a flight attendant, the engines started and cooler air started circulating.
Somewhere during that flight, I realized that I was going to be in a place where I might be able to get bangers and mash. I love bangers and mash.
The trip to Glasgow was uneventful, though I was still feeling a bit thirsty even after having water on the plane. I saw a water fountain, but there was a red stripe in front of it that said Do Not Enter — it was in the security clearance area.
I laughed, because it seemed so stereotypically Scottish: put the free water in a place where someone likely to need it can’t get to it. After tasting the water and verifying that it was significantly better than Heathrow’s, I filled Rick’s water bottle.
Oh… even after the trek to and from Terminal 3, we didn’t get our money changed in Heathrow. Seems the airport charges more if you don’t have a pre-order for your money. So, instead, we went and paid for a T-mobile hotspot session, made a reservation over the web, then picked the £ up in the AmEx office in Glasgow. Had we had any UK change, we could have called a number — or even had our T-mobile phones had any signal (we’d set them up for usage in the UK, but they had zero bars of signal).
We got tickets for the airport to city bus (£10 for two people round-trip, which is an extremely good deal), then walked to the hotel. Did I mention that I was tired?
The doorman, David, was extremely friendly and, once we told him that we didn’t just like Star Trek, but also liked J.K. Rowling and Iain Banks, he began to understand that maybe he liked science fiction too.
By that time, I needed a bath and a nap. Rick relaxed for a bit, then did a couple of hours of recon, during which he walked to the convention centre, picked up his badge, then walked back via a route he felt would provide interesting places to eat. He was successful, so we went off to, King’s Cafe, a small place he found. While it was mostly take-away, it had some diner-like booths. For £13, we had dinner for two. I got my bangers, but alas they’d battered and fried them (!). The potato I’d ordered in addition to the bangers was more than I could eat, alas, though it was good.
Guilt crept up on me: I had a java class final to turn in and I couldn’t even start on it until about 11 p.m. local time. When we returned to our room, I worked on some other stuff for a bit, then got the final started. I finished at 4:51 local time (it took me almost two hours; I just didn’t start right away). Because of this, I slept in until about 10:30, especially since the convention didn’t start until noon.