Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Bratislava, Slovakia (DoubleTree by Hilton, Bratislava)

I had planned to start to prepare for my trip to London at 5:00 a.m. but fate had other plans for me. I woke at around 4:00 a.m. and saw the message light on my phone blinking. It was from Cousin Craig who said his plane took off without him, so he will not be arriving in London later today. As a result of this news, I didn’t get any more sleep. The good news is that I had more time to get ready to leave by 6:00 a.m., per my plan that I documented in yesterday’s posting.

For me, I’ll just continue on as planned and will look forward to receiving confirmation later in the day from Craig when he has his flight re-scheduled.

I was down at the hotel’s front desk checking out at 6:00 a.m. A taxi was called by the hotel for my ride to the train station. The taxi showed up in five minutes and was at the train station about 10 minutes later. Last night I had purchased a ticket for the trip to Vienna on-line and looked for a ticket machine at the station that would print the ticket for me. Then I noticed that there were no OBB machines, so I then read my confirmation email from OBB which stated that I can print my ticket at any of the OBB machines, located in Austria. And I was in Slovakia. As a result I needed to purchase a new ticket at the station. It was made very clear to me that only paper tickets are accepted.

After I purchased my ticket, I found the train was already waiting at the platform, so I boarded and waited for the journey to Vienna to begin. The train made a number of stops along the way and we arrived on time an hour later at the Vienna Train Station.

The taxi ride was a little more expensive going to the airport than my trip from the airport to the train station in Vienna a few days earlier. This was due to a surcharge added to the fare for the taxi driver to return to the Vienna city center. I tried not to get frustrated with this trip’s additional costs. The purchase of the replacement ticket for the train and the surcharge for the taxi.

As a result of my early start, I had plenty of time at the airport to have a cup of coffee and a small breakfast sandwich at Burger King. (Yes, I looked to see if there was a McDonald’s.)

I decided that I should start the process of going through Passport Control and Security and get those tasks out of the way. The guy at the Passport Control booth was looking through my passport to find out when I last entered the Schengen Area (26 countries that have abolished formal passports for member countries, mainly those who belong to the EU). My passport is now becoming filled with stamps and I’ve noticed that the Passport Control people either give up and stamp my passport or try to find out when I last entered the Schengen Area.

I then looked for the Security checkpoint and didn’t find it until I walked up to the gate. This is the first airport that I’ve been to where the security checkpoint was at each of the gates and not a centrally located area within the airport.

Eventually we all got on the plane and were in the air and on our way to London. I put my carry on bag in the overhead above my seat before I took my seat. After we took off and given the all clear that we can move around, I went to get the water bottle and a snack I put in the bag before we left the terminal. I noticed that the bag was wet and realized that the cabin pressure on take off probably caused the water bottle to leak. Almost everything in the bag was wet. Another lesson learned for me today.

All went well going through the various steps at London’s Gatwick airport and was on the Gatwick Express headed toward London’s Victoria Station. I confirmed that I could easily get to Kings Cross Station on the Victoria line’s northbound train. Once at Kings Cross, I’ll decide whether to take the underground to the Airbnb flat or a taxi. When I arrived at Kings Cross I saw a number of announcements saying that all of the lines going through the station were experiencing significant delays. Guess that means I’ll take a taxi since it was getting close to 2:30, the time when I was to meet the Airbnb host.

I was in luck getting the taxi that I did. The driver was familiar with the area where the Airbnb flat was located and we were at the flat in less than 15 minutes, meaning that my fare was going to be less that I expected.

The Airbnb host was waiting for me when I arrived and he showed me around his flat. He had secured a wifi hotspot that would be a substitute for the lack of wifi in the flat and also no cable TV. He also mentioned that there was a leak in the floor of one of the bathrooms that had gone into the flat below and asked that we not use the shower in that bathroom until he has made the necessary repairs. Everything else checked out okay and I was in good shape when he left.

After looking around in the kitchen I decided I should visit the nearby Waitrose and pick up some food so I will have dinner tonight and breakfast in the morning. The store was about a block away and I found everything I needed. Of course I bought a chicken to roast for dinner. Also bought a sandwich because I was hungry right now.

I figured out the washer and got a load started then took a nap after I ate my tuna with sweet corn sandwich. The oven was a little more complicated than the washer and had to Google the owner’s manual to understand how to set the oven to roast the chicken.

After answering some texts, one was from Cousin Craig who confirmed his arrival tomorrow at 11:45 a.m., and made a call to my friend Csabi who was working outside of London. By the time I made dinner, did the laundry, and started to unpack it was after 9:30. I watched a couple of episodes of The Crown before heading off to bed.

Since Craig isn’t here, I tried out both beds to see if I preferred one over the other. I did.

Tomorrow I’ll make my usual chicken noodle soup and wait for Craig to arrive. I’ll keep the rest of the day open to see what he wants to do, if anything. It is a long trip from Seattle and I’m sure he will be tired.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

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