When Getting There Really IS Part of the Fun!

We had a fantastic trip and British Isles cruise in late June and the first half of July. I’m only about halfway through my pictures, but there’s no time like the present to start the blog! I hope you enjoy traveling with us!

For the first time in a long time, I was looking forward to a flight. I had booked tickets to and from London using miles, and when Business Class seats to London on Turkish Airlines popped up for minimal miles and only $23 ($11.50 each) I jumped at the opportunity. Yes, it added a second flight and several additional hours to our travel time, but it also meant I would have a bed crossing the Atlantic and might actually get some sleep. I had heard great things about the service on Turkish, so we decided to give it a try.

For a travel day, June 25 started out pretty darn good and stayed that way!🙂 I slept about 6 hours Sunday night, which is a miracle in itself the night before a trip. The day passed quickly…we went to the gym, did laundry, and our timing of wrapping up loose ends was just about right for leaving for the airport at 5:00. We used Executive-Car/Super Shuttle for our airport transportation. — they were early, and we had a good driver with no traffic problems. In Houston, that alone is enough to call it a great day! Check-in was uneventful. We had a very pleasant agent and we were on our way in no time.

Security was the first (and really only) sour note in our day. What is it with security in Terminal D? Do they go out of their way to be nasty because Terminal D is for all the foreign carriers? It was a little better than last year, but really quite unpleasant. TSA Pre-check was a joke. There wasn’t really a separate line, the podium was staffed by an extremely unpleasant agent with a Napoleon complex, and then we still had to do everything except take our shoes off. Still, it was an improvement over last year because the air conditioning was working properly and they had SOME organization.

We ate dinner at Ruby’s Diner in the airport, because we knew it would be too late to eat by the time we were in the air and dinner was served. Dinner was OK by airport standards, and we relaxed in the United Club until it was time to board our flight.

My impressions of Turkish Airline were very favorable. Well, except for their boarding process which basically sucks just as much as Lufthansa’s. Maybe it’s a European thing. One minute they were doing pre-boards, then all of a sudden they called business. By the time we walked over and made our way through the huddled masses yearning to board the airplane they had closed the business line. We managed, but boarding a jumbo jet with no rhyme or reason is still kind of a head scratcher.

On board was a different story…warm greetings, more than ample overhead space, fruit drinks before take-off, and no barking at passengers like I’m used to on United. Service was just at a completely different level than what I’m used to, even in Business.

There are actually two chefs on board. Before departure the chefs came around with the dinner menus and breakfast menus. I almost wish we had left a couple hours earlier, because the menu looked terrific.

We left more or less on time, and it was a very pleasant flight. The flight attendants came around shortly take-off and put a mattress pad on each seat, and at 10:00 p.m. they took dinner orders. We both had something from the appetizer cart and I had some “calming, sleep inducing” tea, and that was it for me! What I really wanted was to get some sleep!

Hors d’oeuvres
Appetizer Cart
Dessert Cart
Tea Service
Table Setting
The cutest individual salt & pepper shakers I’ve ever seen on a plane!

I actually slept about 3 hours on the way to Istanbul. Boy, that sure helps pass the time! Even if I hated everything else, the flight would have been worth it for the sleep alone! As it was, I thought everything about the flight was top-notch…the service was outstanding, the plane was comfortable, and the food exceeded my expectations.

We landed on time, but had to be bussed to the terminal. Once off the bus and inside we were greeted by wall-to-wall people. Istanbul airport is crazy…huge, old, packed, sprawling, and HOT! By the time we navigated through the throngs of people to find the lounge we were both dripping with sweat. The lounge is amazing, with food stations, very nice restrooms and lots of relaxing space. There was a lot we didn’t have time to see, like the cinema and the billiards room. We were just happy to finally find the place and sit for a while with some cold water and air conditioning!

Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul

Our second flight was also uneventful, and we were excited when we landed at Heathrow about 30 minutes early.

Unfortunately we had to wait for a gate, and then the “fun” started.  Immigration…OMG! I thought Vancouver was bad, but I would gladly face that again instead of the hour and 40 minutes we waited to get through immigration at Heathrow. They only had three lines open for non-EU citizens! It was agonizing…we were hot, tired, and just wanted to get to our hotel. We finally got through about midnight, found our luggage after a bit of a search (because it had been so long since we landed) and were in the car (Blackberry Cars) in no time. Unfortunately the delay also cost us £25, because of driver wait time and extra parking fees.

We were at the Hotel Indigo quickly because of the time of day, and were assigned 219, one of two Junior Suites between two floors facing the back gardens. We didn’t have a ton of space, but we found room for everything — luggage in the living room and ourselves in the bedroom and fell asleep pretty easily. From a jet lag perspective, I found basically losing a day and arriving at bedtime worked much better for me than arriving in the morning and staying up as long as we could.

A few words about the hotel…I struggled with whether to book a hotel with breakfast or an apartment for our time in London, and ultimately opted for the Hotel Indigo because of price, availability, amenities, and proximity to a Tube station. It worked well for us, and I got one of the two rooms I wanted, which was a suite that was divided into separate living and bedroom areas. The room was comfortable and quiet, the view was pleasant, we had enough room for our stuff, breakfast was great, and we had great A/C.

*Most of the hotel pictures are from the Internet because I kept forgetting to take some!☺️

Unfortunately, like so many old converted townhouse hotels in London, not all rooms are created equal. Of three other couples we knew staying at the hotel during our stay, only one had working air conditioning.😳 As it was pretty warm in London this was a big issue, and I feel like it was made worse by the hotel not being up front about the problem. As far as I can tell looking at very recent reviews the problem (allegedly caused by a bad storm in late May) is STILL not fixed. For that reason alone I could never recommend the hotel, and even though Jim and I had a good experience I would be hesitant to stay there again because of the A/C problems my friends encountered and the complete non–response from management.

Up next — a phone mystery, a walk down memory lane, a few pubs, and some very unusual weather!☀️

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