[Tuesday 14 February 2012]
Our schedule for today was:
10:49:47 View from our balcony
Mixed feelings about returning home. David had agreed with reception yesterday that we could check out at 1.30pm instead of the usual 12 noon, but when the cleaner appeared ca.1pm we decided to vacate the room and sit in the lobby. We had till 3.15pm to wait, but seeing the “balloon” family from yesterday and conversation with the woman helped pass the time till their transportation arrived. David appeared a bit early, and escorted us on the minibus back to Luxor Airport, stayed with us in the seemingly interminable queuing for luggage check-in, and for security-checking and exit card form-completion — and left us with a hug from Janet as we waited to have the exit stamp on the visa-sticker in our passports.
We’d ordered a baguette from a counter when a man came around announcing that our flight was boarding, so we abandoned that transaction — without regret because it was expensive. We found a cheaper stall in the waiting area which had a couple of sandwiches left. I was still eating mine when actual boarding started. It was still very hot outside as we boarded the shuttle bus, then the cramped Thomson plane. (We were spoiled by the roomy EgyptAir planes.) Thomson are a bunch of penny-pinching money-grubbers! Pack ’em in like sardines and give them nothing to mitigate the ordeal unless they pay extra! There were screens over the aisles, but no in-flight entertainment; the screens remained blank. The limited number of commercial airlines I’ve flown with provide a free snack and/or a drink: not so Thomson! Many passengers DID opt to pay for this. I’d have got mad if I’d paid, then seen the tiny parcel of so-called “food” I saw them receive. The plane took off a little early, but there was a head wind so the flight home would take a little longer than the outward one. The captain — who sounded like he smoked at least 180 a day! — announced that, and also informed us when the lights of Athens were visible below to the left. The customer satisfaction questionnaire pissed me off so I ripped it up. When the young woman to Janet’s right went to the loo, I got Janet to pass my bag down, got my computer out, and listened to music much of the rest of the way. The captain made an announcement when we passed over London that there were hazy lights, but I could see nothing. On the landing approach the city lights were impressive, though. Even Janet looked out! There was a bit of a queue for passport control. A turbaned Indian guy was organising who went to the next available counter, so it was almost not like being back in the UK! I saw an ATM on the way to the luggage carousel, so got some money out — lucky because the bureau de change was shut and we didn’t see any further ATMs. And going to the ATM did not delay our getting our bags, because there was quite a long wait before the luggage started to appear on the carousel. “Customs” comprised of some automated scanner in the form of glass doors. Why did I give the taciturn and unhelpful taxi driver a tip? Check-in at the hotel was quickly completed. We dumped our bags in the room, then went down to the bar and ordered a pepperoni pizza for me. The girl serving tried to charge me more than the menu said — the prices had been updated but the menu not — but I went into “broken record” mode (“It says £[whatever] here— it says £[whatever] here…”) — and her manager hit some keys on the till and I got it for the menu-price. Slight hitch because we couldn’t remember the room number — so Janet waited up there while I went back to reception to wait in a queue there to find out. The pizza was huge, but I ate it all in preference to having leftovers lingering in the waste-bin.
Thursday 16 February 2012
Still felt full from last night’s pizza, but I nevertheless included plenty of the bacon I’d felt deprived of just over two weeks ago — and for the whole two-week period in Egypt. When we got the 09:00 shuttle-bus to Manchester Airport railway station the driver gave us prior warning that it would cost us £6 — unlike two weeks ago, when it came as a surprise. On the train we got talking to a girl who asked whether the train would stop at Manchester Piccadilly, for she needed to change for a train to Hull. We thought she was from North America by the twang in her voice, but she was Finnish. She was visiting a friend of hers who was a student at Hull University. She thought the weather here was warm! — because it had been –21C in Helsinki. The journey proceeded without incident. The previously snow-covered hills were green again, apart from little threads of snow in the higher valleys. Green hills, not reddish-grey sandy ones! Even areas of bare rock were ROCK-coloured not sand-coloured. We got off at Grimsby Town station (scheduled time 12:39) because of the availability of taxis from there. The was a big pile of mail behind the front door. The house felt really cold, and took ages for the central heating to touch it. Began to post “2012” (15:35) and “Tuesday 14 February 2012” (15:49) on Blogger…
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