May 11, 2015: Off to London for SpiceWorld

This is my travel day from Spain to London.  I had to be up very early this morning so that I could get ready and set off in the car to drive out to the airport in Malaga, two hours away.  Not a little drive.

I was out the door early in the morning and drove the two hours down to Malaga and parked the car in the garage.  That is going to be some expensive parking.

Getting into the airport was a pain as all of the airport section near where I parked was closed off.  So I had to do a lot of unnecessary walking with everything that I was going to be using this week on my back.  I should not complain as this is a fraction of what Rachel and Shawn have been carrying for months.

I ran into some issues at the airport.  This is my first time flying RyanAir and we have no printer at home.  I am using their app on my iPhone to check into the flight and online their CEO said that if the app did not work for check in that they would print your boarding passes for free.  But on arrival this was not true – anyone with an American passport was not given this free printing and I had to pay an outrageous printing fee that required me to go find a service desk, pay them, take a receipt to the luggage check desk, etc.  A huge waste of time and money and absolutely terrible customer service.  Clearly the CEO said that just to trick people into trying to use the app, going to the airport and RyanAir making a small fortune on unavoidable scam fees.  Very unhappy about that.

Once I managed to get a boarding pass I got right through security and had some time to relax at the airport.  This was a bit of a mess because they did not announce the gate that I needed to be at until the last second so you had to wait in the middle and run for the gate the moment that it was announced.  Once you got to the gate they did not put up any sign to say that you were at the right place so you just had to stand in a line that ran for several gates and hope for the best.

I got to visit with some people from the UK for a good thirty minutes while waiting to board the plane, at least.  We had a good chat and killed the time well.

Once on the plane things were pretty good.  The flight was comfortable and there was plenty of room for my large back pack and there were no incidents.  That went surprisingly well.

I landed at Stansted, the London airport that I know the least, and made my way to the train station in the airport to grab the Stansted Express which would take me right to the Liverpool Station.  That ended up being pretty handy although I would not realize how handy until later.

The ride in was nice and relaxing.  I had gotten coffee and a croissant at the station so had that while I was on the train.  I got one of the little seats with the table.

Once in London proper I just hopped right on the tube and zipped across the cities many miles to Lancaster Gate Station and from there had a short walk through Westminster to my hotel right around the corner from Paddington Station.

I got into the hotel, the Ascott, and got up to my fifth floor room which required riding an elevator to the fourth floor and then walking up.  The hotel from the outside and from the lobby looked ancient but the room itself was quite nice and modern.  It was odd, though, because the bathroom and most of the room was totally modern and sleek but the closet and the tiny desk looked like they were straight out of a 1970s dorm room completely with forty years of wear and tear on them.  Completely out of place and weird.

Sadly, no Internet access in the hotel room.  I have 3G on my phone so that I can be reached and I can get WiFi in the lobby.

I showered and dressed.  Danielle had arrived but neither of us was going to get to the early event check in.  That will just have to wait until tomorrow.

I had a little bit of time, maybe an hour, to relax.  Then it was into the tube again and over to the St. Paul’s station and a twenty minute or so walk to the pub where the “night before” welcome party for SpiceWorld was being held.  The party was already in full swing when I arrived.  I pretty much, as always seems to happen ever since hanging with Justin Dorfman outside of SpiceWorld 2010 in Austin, never made it into the real party other than to grab a pint but instead stood outside in front of the venue.  This has become a standard for me on opening night.

It was a light party, nothing like we have in Austin, but we had fun.  It was very pretty early and there was no late night stuff like I am used to.  London is one of the sleepiest towns that I have ever known so I was not too surprised.

There was basically nothing vegetarian at the event, which is not a surprise to me anymore – I long ago stopped assuming that I could eat at SpiceWorld events as they are meat crazy as a community meme.  Danielle also found no food to eat.  So, after the opening event was over, she and I walked back towards her hotel looking for a restaurant.

We walked a very, very long way and, as I have come to expect in London, found not a single restaurant open.  Found tons that had closed just minutes to an hour before we came upon them but none that were serving anything at all.  None.  London is a really tough town if you want to get a pint or food after about nine.

We ended up hitting a jackpot.  Danielle’s hotel, of all places, actually had a restaurant in it.  She was staying at the Travelodge which you would never expect to have the one late night restaurant in the area, but that is where we ended up.  We basically managed to make the last order for the night from the kitchen and got fish and chips which turned out to be pretty good, in fact.

I had a long walk after dinner to the tube to get back to my own hotel.  It was probably around one in the morning when I got back and was getting into bed.