My trip officially started on the 14th, when I began what was my most economical option of flying to Pisa – a 36 hour journey with a 21.5 hour stopover in London. I toyed with the idea of getting some cheap hotel for the night but opted instead to do the “vagabond” thing and spend the night hanging out at the airport.
Well, fun fact: they don’t just let you “hang out” at the airport in Heathrow.
Exiting out of Arrivals (instead of going to “Connecting Flights”), I tried to explain to security in Departures that I should be inside by the gates because I just came off a flight. He insisted that “Connecting Flights” wouldn’t have let me in anyway because my flight was the next day, and would’ve sent me back to security – where I was.
[wpcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=”text-align: justify;”]So I caved and got the nice lady at the desk to book me a hotel – their “cheapest”: a Holiday Inn Express for £110 – which I later found on google maps as going for half that price. I declined the breakfast – which I later found out was complimentary anyway. I managed to make my way to the shuttle stop just in time to have my Hotel Hoppa 5 bus pull up. The driver chatted on her cellphone for 5 minutes without opening the doors and then left. Thirty minutes later, I was on my way.[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=”text-align: justify;”]It was the fanciest Holiday Inn I’ve ever been in. Fancy enough that I had to call down to reception immediately because I didn’t know how to turn the lights on (I thought the electricity was out. It wasn’t – all I had to do was slide my keycard into a lightswitch slot). I paid the extra 10 euros for 24hr access to their Wi-Fi, with a free drink and snack at the bar thrown in, but was unfortunately too exhausted to do much with either. [/wpcol_1half_end]
I let myself indulge in a hot shower knowing eventually I’ll be sleeping in hostels which might not have that luxury, stayed up till 4am (local time) and then passed out for my usual 3 hours of sleep.
On the shuttle ride back to the airport the next morning all I could think was that while the hotel itself was lovely (and the complimentary breakfast delicious), I didn’t quite care to come back to London. The small village streets weren’t as quaint as in Italy, the big city buildings weren’t as metropolitan as in New York, and the dreary grayness of the sky wasn’t as comfortable as Vancouver. And while driving on the “wrong” side of the street was fun and kept throwing me off, I don’t know, I don’t think London’s for me.