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Published: April 26th 2015
Sunday 26 April
Alarm went off at 4:30am in Dubai and a final pack and check before heading downstairs. When we checked in we were given an enormous plaque thing attached to the key which I immediately took off. Buggered if we could find it anywhere until down in reception when we thought to check Zachary’s backpack – lo and behold someone had put in there (I wonder who?) I had concerns about the hotel before we left as it has poor reviews on TripAdvisor and other sites, but overall we found it quite alright. The staff were very friendly and one of the men on reception gave Zachary a soft toy (a red elephant) as we left which was lovely. It just confirmed to us what generally nice people the locals are. As a destination I would highly recommend Dubai.
We were told it would be 40 to 50 dirhams to get to the airport but it was only 17.50 (about $NZ7) which was a bargain. Got there and it was madness. Hundreds of taxis arriving and people everywhere. However, as with much of Dubai it was organised chaos and they had someone on traffic patrol getting people across the road safely. Inside the terminal we headed to check-in only to be told that as we had a young child we could go to a special area, meaning we didn’t have to queue. Most impressed! Found some breakfast then on the A380 to London which got away on time.
Nice flight and this time Zachary got a child’s meal. It had our seat number on it so I can only assume they checked the children on the flight manifest and organised the meals. So why he didn’t get one on the flights to Brisbane and Dubai is a mystery.
Baggage claim at Heathrow took AGES. I felt like bursting into the Monty Python song “I’m So Worried” in which Terry Jones laments all that is wrong in the world but that the biggest worry he had was “the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow”. That was 40 years ago and it hasn’t changed … On the upside once we got our bags it was straight out and off to the Underground. Easy to get our Oyster tickets and load them up with credit then on to the tube (Piccadilly line). The plan was to go to King’s Cross and then change to the Northern to go to Belsize Park, which is the stop closest to Pax Lodge (one of the Girl Guides World Centres). However, halfway there it started to fill up. Arsenal were playing Chelsea that afternoon and the stadium was on that line, 2 stops after King’s Cross. There were about half a million people on the tube and at each stop several thousand more tried to squeeze on and there was zero chance of us being able to get ourselves, luggage, and (a now sleeping) Zachary through the mass of bodies to the door. Luckily we are quite intelligent, and figured out that we could carry on one stop past the stadium, switch lines to get back to King’s Cross and then switch again to Belsize Park. This was a very successful move on our part. Thanks to the very kind man who carried Heather’s backpack down the long flight of stairs at one station!
After checking in and Heather catching up with some Guides from NZ and overseas who were there that she knew, we went for dinner at a local restaurant, which was just okay. They do dinner cheaply at Pax Lodge so we’ll take advantage of that the next couple of days. At Pax Lodge all the rooms are named after a member country. We happen to be in the room called Australia. I don’t think this was an accident – but it is perhaps appropriate as we have arrived just after Anzac Day (and with all that green and gold blood coursing through Heather’s veins…) The area we are located in seems very nice indeed.
So that’s the main portion of the travelling done in the sense that we have made it to the other side of the world. Now the adventure really begins! Tomorrow we plan to have a day walking round and looking at the main sights. We’ll check out the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and maybe have a cuppa with my old mates Lizzie and Phil if they’re home. We’ll get to Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park, try to go to Westminster Abbey, and maybe the Tower – all the “essential” London things. On Tuesday Heather and Zachary will go to the Natural History Museum and the Diana Memorial Playground. I am going to the MCC Museum and going on a tour of Lords Cricket Ground before heading to Abbey Road and then the Globe to see Romeo and Juliet. After that it will be time to check out some of those great English pubs! Zachary is going through rather an argumentative stage at the moment – we are hoping it passes quickly!
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