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I thought the major was a lady suffragette

The priority check-in was fast and the priority security slow (you have to take your laptop and fluids out of your luggage, have these people never flown before?) and the lounge packed and the plane full. But it was a dull and drizzly day and it seemed perfect to be leaving. I forgot to phone mum and dad! That’s because I discarded the chore list. It is after all vac.

SS and I in adjacent aisle seats but the privacy blinds make it inconsequential.

The dinner options were smoked salmon salad with fennel, orange and dill; organic field greens salad; a choice of Alberta beef tenderloin or chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms, Cajun halibut or ricotta ravioli; breads; cheeses; trio of sorbets. I wouldn’t know; SS ate it (chicken) but I spread out on the flatbed, put on earplugs and a mask and fell asleep. Six good hours rest, nothing to turn your nose up about on a plane. Breakfast (wonderful seasonal fresh fruit and croissant but a dismal excuse for an omelette.

It was a mild grey day at Heathrow on arrival (very early, even with 20 minutes in a holding pattern), with a Qantas A380 double-decker super jumbo at another gate, and we were virtually first off, leading the two or three kilometre walk to Customs. We had an “invitation” to a separate queue and bypassed about 200 people, walking straight through. Our “priority” luggage came through first (never does at YVR) and we then used our “invitation” to freshen up at the arrivals lounge. So far it was a gratis delight. Not for long.

When I first arrived in London in 1981 the money slipped from my wallet like rain. The Canadian dollar traded at a ridiculous 2.85 against sterling. I received a CDN $500 cheque and it converted to £175! Ah, but they say some things never change.

(With apologies to Patricia Marx) Fast train direct to Paddington, great, my time is money! (£18/$29CDN); queue up in traffic for a cab from Paddington to hotel (£9/$14CDN, if you’re lucky in the roundabouts and the one way system). Forget that, it reminds me of the first time I made a phone call in London—you just keep adding money, over and over. I’m on vacation, my time is less valuable; spend an hour on the tube from Heathrow to central London (£4.50/$7.25CDN, hope you can find a place to stand and don’t come in over five foot three and, when the football yob opens a Holsten and the chip-eating teen beside you squishes his tomato sauce packet, hope you’re wearing jeans). We’ve arrived. Tip to bellman (£3); yogurt with fruit—should have had the airplane omelette (£3.95); tea (free in room, imagine).

I arranged to see my expat YVR friend Simon for lunch which turned into dinner and involved three cab rides, kaching. SS took several long walks and opted for room service; that made my day out look like a spree at Winners. Twenty six pounds for a club sandwich!

I should add we’re at the Sofitel St. James on the Mall. It sits in a renovated bank, fortress like, and even with our small room the high ceilings and 14 foot windows give it some majesty. Totally swanky, and beyond our means, but we got a special deal on Expedia: Pay for a week and stay three nights. As accommodation goes in central London this was a steal!

Free Internet ($14.95 a night in a YVR hotel) and a spectacular Epeda bed, like sleeping on a S’more: a rock hard base, a firm mattress, a marshmallow feather top and Yves Delorme sheets. A shower system so perplexing we have dubbed it the Escher.  Hermes toiletries; I like trying expensive things for free if only to know I don’t need to buy expensive things…

Wings’ Jet is about a person, not a jet! Who knew? Bad title. Too tired. Night night.

The author of Here Hare has traveled to over 45 countries on six continents, and has lived in Canada, the UK and Australia.

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