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Published: August 6th 2016
Dreamliner aircraft parked-up at Heathtrow.
My wife and I had been to San Francisco before and last time we almost missed the flight due to some horrendous traffic jams on the M25; horrendous even by M25 standards. In fact we would have missed it if it had not been delayed by two hours. Given that that was probably one of the most stressful moments of my life, we left excessively early for the airport.
Even so, there was no need to drag ourselves out of bed at some unsociable hour for a change as our flight was not until 3.20 in the afternoon. That was also helped by the fact that we had booked the short-stay carpark for little more than it would have cost for long-stay, so there was no need to worry about transfer buses or the risk that some valet parking might leave our car in a muddy field for two weeks.
As per usual for Heathrow, we had to wait for ages to take-off. When it was finally our turn, we could see a queue of at least half a dozen planes behind us. Note to Theresa May, just make a decision and get the sodding new runway built.
The plane was one of those new 787s or so called Dreamliner. Very impressive I have to say, despite the rather corny name. It's very sad, but we were particularly impressed with the tinted windows. Rather than the traditional blinds, the windows can be adjusted with an opaque blue tint to block out the light as needed. As I say, very sad, but it was a long flight. There were also USB ports for phone charging (if I had known to bring a cable in hand luggage) and lots of movies to watch.
Apparently it is also pressurised at a lower altitude so the air-pressure is higher meaning that you don't feel so rough when you arrive. After 11 hours and the equivalent of 3.00am, it was a matter of degree however.
We actually flew to San Jose rather than San Francisco, which is a much smaller airport and we were the only international flight. There was the usual wait for US Immegration as there were only three officers dealing with foreign passengers, so it still took ages, although those covering the Americans helped out once that queue had been cleared.
It was then just a matter of the bus to rental-car pickup, the rental-car pick-up itself and the 50 mile or so drive to San Francisco. We were beyond tired.
We had read about the micro-climate in San Francisco. As we were approaching from San Jose, it was a beautiful clear evening, with a post-sunset yellow afterglow, but hanging over San Francisco ahead the was the ominous looking, low, black cloud and the temperature dropped continuously as we got closer.
Thanks to satnav we found our hotel with no problems. There was a minor disaster in that they would not provide a rollaway bed (they're against Californian law apparently), much to the dismay of our daughter, who was now going to have to share a bed with her brother. "Mugged off" was the phase she used as she collapsed with exhaustion, closely followed by the rest of us.
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