Friday the 13th - no disasters so far!

Trip Start Jul 13, 2007
Trip End Jul 22, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Saturday, July 14, 2007

Early mornings don't do anything for me.  I don't know why I subject myself to these early flights that involve me having to get up at 4am.  On this occasion, however, I was treated to a very lovely sunrise on my drive to Heathrow - coupled with the main benefit of this drive, which is that there is hardly any traffic on the roads at all.  Sigh, if only it was like this all the time!

Anyway, I arrived at Heathrow and checked in with one of those self-check-in machines.  If only all airlines did this it would be so much quicker (take note Air New Zealand, whose queues are longer than anyone else's).  My flight was the 6th to leave LHR on this morning so there were no hold ups.  The plane was full of Americans, and the woman in front of me was the epitome of everything I dislike about them - she was loud, selfish and downright rude.  No sooner had the plane taken off she had slammed her chair as far back as it would go, right against my head as at the time I was reaching in to the pocket.  When I asked her to put it up a bit she commented 'don't you English do anything but complain'.  The steward heard her and told her that was an unacceptable comment and then moved me up to a business class seat by way of apology - I had great pleasure in waiting in that seat until the stupid woman left the plane and saw where I was.  That'll teach her.

So we landed in Chicago on time.  I had just over 4 hours to kill at Chicago airport - 30 minutes of that went on going through customs, collecting my baggage and then re-checking it in again, then another 30 minutes were spent in the ticket office of United trying to work out exactly when I was coming home.  Tsk, should really keep a note of all this stuff!  Then I grabbed a bit of lunch, because the plane food had been seriously unappetizing.  Chicago airport is quite nice to walk around - not a lot of shops but enough to keep you busy.

My flight to New Orleans left on time again - another small plane, about 50 seats, so I expected another bumpy ride, particularly as New Orleans was experiencing thunderstorms.  I was not wrong, we had about 250 miles worth of turbulence.  Fortunately my lunch was well digested by that point.  We landed about 20 minutes early in what was the worse landing I've ever had - I thought the plane was going to go right over as it skidded along a bit and tipped right so much the wing almost scraped the ground.  Still, we came to a halt and all was well.  I headed off to collect my bags and then went to the Shuttle Desk to get my bus to the hotel.  There was a 20 minute wait and I was told to go join the queue outside the airport with my ticket.  Nothing could have prepared me for what was waiting outside.  Humidity.  Humidity like nothing I have ever felt before.  Humidity that took my breath right away and made my eyelids sweat.  Nice.  After 20 minutes waiting I thought I was going to pass out and then the Shuttle turned up. 

The Shuttle dropped off me and one other guy about 30 metres from the hotel entrance.  That 30 metres of pulling along my case in that 94 degree heat almost finished me off.  I was so glad when I walked in the hotel that there was air-conditioning.  The staff at the hotel were lovely during check-in and very friendly and helpful.  They gave me cookies and two free bottles of water.  My room was lovely and spacious and almost identical to the one I had in Flagstaff - chain hotels can feel homely sometimes when you are greeted with such familiarity.  I unpacked my stuff and decided I needed a little bite to eat.  As I had a microwave in my room I thought I'd just pop out and get some sort of ready meal as I felt far too ropey to eat out!  I was told there was a little grocers a couple of blocks away, so I set out.  As soon as I walked out of the hotel that oppressive heat hit me again and I was totally zonked by the time I reached the grocers (about 6 minutes walk).  I ended up deciding against the ready meal and opted instead for a large carton of Strawberry Haagen Dazs, which was so much a better choice!  I also got some juice for my fridge.  I headed back to the hotel and just crashed out (after the ice cream of course!).

I was pleased that at no point during the evening was I bitten by any mosquitoes.  Perhaps this Deet stuff will work on me after all.  Shame I hadn't put any on at Heathrow as I managed to get bitten twice on the flight to Chicago (I suspect that evil woman in front of me brought something on...).
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