Wednesday, 22 December 2010

London, London: So Near Yet So Far -3-day Historic Journey from Beijing to London

Sunday Dec 19:

5am: I rose from bed

5.45am: Headed to Beijing International airport

8.00am: Depart from Beijing for HK with Dragon Air

11.15am: Arrival at HK Airport

12.00pm: Got into Cathay Pacific Lounge to wait for 2.55 pm Cathay Pacific 253 flight to London

2.30pm: Was informed flight would be delayed due to Heathrow airport closure in London and more news to come at 3.30pm.

4.00pm: Got informed CX 253 would be delayed to 6.15pm.

6.00pm: Still no info

7.15pm: Got informed our flight was also cancelled, like several other flights to London

7.30pm: Checked into Airport hotel adjacent to airport courtesy of Cathay Pacific (they provide such excellent service!).

12.00am: No more information to come after my repeated inquiries so I went to sleep watching Nat Geo docos.

Monday Dec 20th:

6am: Checking BB (Blackberry) for Heathrow info. Smsed HK manager to ask help for Cathay flight info.

8.30am: Info said to check with Airlines but airlines said Heathrow still closed.

9.30am: Went to Cathay Pacific Inquiry Desk

10.00am: Was told to re-book flght at Ticket Desk

10.30am: Was informed to go to Check-in Desk since I asked if I could get on Paris flight as Heathrow is still closed.

10:50am: Checked in for Paris Flight

11.15am: Checked out of hotel and met with HK manager

12.30am: Went through airport immigration

2.00pm: Wondered if flight was still on

2.30pm: Glad to hear boarding announcement

2.55pm: Departed for Paris on time!!!

9.15pm: Landed in Charles De Gaulle Airport in paris on time, after over 13 hours.

10.00pm: Distressed to find out there were no Eurostar tickets to london for several days to come. Started working on other options: local trains, ferries, even bus etc.

10: 45pm: Booked on train from Paris- Calais, ferry from Calais to Dover, train from Dover to London for next day.

11.00pm: So Relieved my bags made it to Paris too, as they were checked in Beijing. Another sign of a good airline with excellent service!

12.00pm: Checked into Hotel in Central Paris.

Tuesday Dec 21st:

4.45am: Woke up to plan for bus or taxi journey to Calais just in case trains don't run.

6.00am: Friend Jon replied to sms that the first two trains to Calais seemed cancelled. Checking bus and taxi options.

8.00am: Had a camomile tea for breakfast

9.00am: Checked out of hotel

9.15am: Met with French Tv producer

11.00am: Finished meeting and had quick lunch at hotel

12.30pm: Arrived at Gare du Nord and retrieved train ticket to Calais. Looked promising -the train was not cancelled!

1.15pm: Ordered a decaf expresso and a double cognac to go with at the Station Brasserie

2.28pm: Left with train for Calais

4.20pm: Glad to arrive in Calais train station despite 20-minute delay. Although the station was a nightmare to get my heavy suitcases up and down the staircases, I managed.

5.00pm: Finally got into a taxi (sharing with 3 other nice English people) to head to the Port to take the P&O Ferry across the Channel.

6.00pm: Left with ferry which was actually scheduled to leave at 5.05pm. The three English: a mother and daughter couple, and a young man were helping me with my heavy bags.

6.30pm: Arrived in Dover (Hurray!!!)

7.00pm: Got into taxi with blue Disco lights driven by a good-humoured Iraqi fellow, and got to the Dover Priory train station in Disco mode.

7.15pm: Bought a round of drinks for my helpers and order a vodka for myself at the pub opposite the station.

7.44pm: Left Dover.

8.50pm: Train pullled into London's St Pancreas station.

9.15pm: Said Goodbye to Matt, Ruth and Jeanne.

9.45pm: Arrived home. This would be Beijing time 5.45am Wed Dec 22.

After dealing Volcanic Ash, European snow, I can deal with anything.