I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

London to Aberdeen

[No photos on this post, I'm not uploading anything to flickr over free-but-slow airport wifi]

Jeez. Not blogging for months on end doesn't half get me out of the habit of decent titles for the posts I do bother to make. How utterly pedestrian, but unfortunately inspiration has deserted me. Had I come up with anything better before finishing the text below then I'd have come back and removed the sentences prior to this one, but in fact I've come back to write this! Ahem. Anyway, as I write I'm sat in the BA lounge at ABZ, otherwise known as Aberdeen airport. I've already spent longer than 2 hours getting here in plenty of time for the somehow-they've-made-it-90 minute flight back to Heathrow, from where I arrived on Saturday afternoon, where this post really starts.

Actually it starts on Friday evening, when a cheeky bottle after work started me off down the slope towards a hangover on Saturday morning, which I had promised myself I'd avoid. Flying with a hangover sucks, and to be fair to myself I didn't do too badly... but nonetheless I was, as Wooj says, in deficit in the am. Not bad enough to make the cab to T5 be awful, though the traffic round Hampton Court made sure of that anyway. Our driver was a strange mixture of cockney and landed gentry, occasionally lapsing into a definite twang one way or the other on specific words or phrases. I mean, the Jairmans have figured out how best to deal with a trifling road accident, why the bally hell can't we English? It's simply ridiculous. Anyway, gawd bless yer and 'ave a lovely flight.

Disappointingly for my English sensibilities, but in accordance with my desires as a traveller, T5 does actually appear to work as well as BA's recent spiel claims. Yes, we chose a particularly slow queue for the fast bag drop but that was entirely the fault of the passengers ahead of us, not the staff. Once our bags were in we zoomed through security and found our slow, winding way to the Galleries First lounge. You can tantalisingly see it the second you're past the x-rays but to reach it you have to go left, downstairs, along, upstairs, upstairs again. Worth it though, that's a fucking proper lounge right there. Of all the lounges I've been lucky enough to visit in this 2-years-and-counting frequent-flyer odyssey I'm tempted to rate it above the previous winner, Qantas's first class lounge in Sydney (experienced back in May). Ruth is slightly less convinced of this but still agreed that it was superb.

Superb, and empty, in fact. There was hardly anyone else around having seconds from the hot food buffet, enjoying way too much custard on their cakes, or necking free champagne and kettle chips. Oof. Copious consumption before the gold card runs out! Got on the flight feeling appropriately bloated and was instantly, after the seatbelt sign went out, thrusted a sandwich and Breakaway chocolate bar. Mmm!

Domestic flights have no business class, which is good because it meant that I had managed to get us in row 1. It's not a great row, possibly worse than row 2 (there are no seats in front under which you can sort-of stretch your legs), but there's still something childishly goose-bumpy, for me at least, about having seats in row 1 on a plane. And there is still the very genuine benefit of being able to get off first (or complain, and receive compensatory BA miles, if for technical reasons they have to kick passengers off from the back and you get off last. Hello, Jersey trip last year!).

Aberdeen, I subsequently learned, has the distinction of being The World's Most Improved Airport. I choose to ignore that presumably you need to be fucking shite in the first place in order to have sufficient room for improvement that you win that award, because it would be rude of me to point it out. But there are some odd things about this airport nonetheless. Upon arrival there seemed to be no distinction between landside and airside, though with hindsight that appears to be mostly because we arrived on a domestic flight. So that's understandable. Less understandable is the Customs Red Channel comprising a sign that says "Customs Red Channel", being very much landside, and in actuality being a pillar next to the car hire desks with a phone on it. Very curious.

The cab ride to Aberdeen city centre was uneventful but informative, as our driver expressed surprise that anyone bothered to visit (t)his city as a tourist and then proceeded to tell us what high-fat foods we should make a point of buying while here. Rowies were the main recommendation, supposedly available any time of day or night at the 24hr bakery opposite our hotel which was, in some Scottish comedian's opinion, the best street in the whole of Britain. His justification was the presence of a strip joint, the aforementioned bakery, and a strip club. And he was right, all such things were there, but the bakery wasn't open at all during our stay. I remain a man that has never eaten a rowie.

Right. I do intend to write up the rest of our trip over the next few days but right now, and especially in the absence of any photos to break up the flow, I can't be bothered to write any more; suffice it to say for now that Aberdeen is grey. Very, very, very grey.

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