Finally after weeks of countdown the holiday was finally here! We were flying out of Heathrow and decided to stay in the YOtel! at the airport overnight. For me it starts the holiday early and it is less stressful if there are traffic problems. I love airports too. They have a vibrancy all of their own. They are mostly happy places with people arriving home to loved ones (I love people watching in the arrivals area!) and others going on holiday so the mood has a bit of a party atmosphere to it.
Hubby and I woke up very early, probably about 4am and just couldn’t get back to sleep so I wandered down to Costas at 5am for a hot chocolate. Even at that time of the morning there were still people about. We checked out of the Yotel! about 8am and headed to Carluccio’s for breakfast which was okay. The Carluccio’s at Bluewater is better but I guess the idea with this one is to get the food to you as quickly and efficiently as possible. After breakfast we had a wander through the airport before meeting my in-laws who were coming on holiday with us.
We were all flying First Class for the first time which was a real treat. We’ve flown Business Class before but the difference was absolutely amazing. The service through check in was quick, efficient and easy. We had a choice of lounges but the lady on the desk informed us that the Concorde Lounge was the nicest one to use so we took her advice.
She wasn’t wrong The surroundings can only be described as oppulant with the feel of a top London hotel. Everything was descrete and tasteful with tasteful but expensive decor. It was a world away from the hurdy gurdy of the rest of the airport. I had a full bar, dining service (a restaurant section! and a spa with complimentary treatments! IStaff were frendly and nothing was too much trouble, although I did find the receptionist in the spa a bit snooty. I wanted to have my nails done but the weren’t able to fit me in until 4pm, 2 hours after we were due to fly! So, no nails done but we did have a rather nice lunch of crab tortilleni for me and club sandwich for hubby.
The only downside of the lounge that either myself or hubby could find was he terrible internet speed. It was virtually unusable. I didn’t mind too much though as I had a book to finish (Brick Lane by Monica Ali – see seperate review).
Eventually it was time to go and after a bit of a wait, the flight was called. Everything went very smoothly. There is some benefit to flying first class it seems! Although I had looked online at the First Class section of the plane online nothing prepared me for the actual experience of it! It was amazing! So much leg room and general comfort – each section even had a small wardrobe area for your coat and bag! Fabulous!! I really liked that kind of attention to detail. The 10 hour flight sped by. I spent most of it reading. I finished ‘Brick Lane’ and another one on top of that! One of the many good things about these kind of holidays is that I get plenty of time to read. I’ve packed lots of books to read and have decided that the books that I finish while I’m on holiday will be bookcrossed and relased into the wild. I hope somebody finds them and registers them but even if they don’t it’s going to be good to lighten my case for the journey home!
Dinner/lunch/food was good for airline food too. Duck confit for starters, beef for main and a shared dessert with hubby so we had chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream! Delicious! It is the first time I recall airline food actually having a taste! I felt utterly spoilt! I really could get used to travelling this way! The cabin crew were attentive and friendly, not at all aloof as you sometimes find in these situations and that really worked for me. The flght was 10 hours but it didn’t feel like that long at all. I didn’t finish it feeling like a washed out dishrag as I sometimes do.
We arrived at Houston Airport at about 7pm local time. As we were in first class we were allowed off the plane first which was a kind of surreal experience, it was as if were VIPs!! I can honestly say that Houston Airport is one of the worst that I’ve travelled to. There were hundreds of people queueing at immigration with only a few desks open and some of those desks were reserved for conference goers. Even though there was a member of staff directing people into smaller queues at the desks it wasn’t particularly well organised and it took us 90 mins to get to a desk and clear immigration. The guy at the desk was incredibly grumpy, he’d obviously had a bad day! He did have a delicious accent though and when he said ‘Karen’ I went all gooky and promptly tripped over my bag! Smooth, really smooth!! Well done me!!
We’d booked the first night at the Marriott at the airport which we were glad about because by the time we cleared customs it was about 8:30pm local time and we were all jet lagged to hell. The hotel was in another terminal which we had to get a train to. 4 jetlagged Brits, 6 large and heavy suitcases plus hand luggage. We could only take the trolley down in the lift to the station but no further! Brilliant!! By this point I was starting to get tired, grumpy and incredibly thirsty. Not a good combination!
The transfer train was tiny! 2 small carriages. Hubby decribed it as a Disneyland ride (he later found out that it was based on the same technology). Mum-in-law and hubby had to go first because there wasn’t enough room in the carrage for all of us plus luggage. Father-in-law and I followed on the next train.
The Marriott was lovely. Very easy to check in and nice surroundings. The guy on the desk who checked us in was helpful, friendly and most importantly provided me with a bottle of water! He suggested some nice places to eat, mostly BBQ. I adore BBQ food. I don’t know if we will get time to go to them but it is always good to have a local recommendation.
Got to the room, ordered room service, had a shower (I felt travel skanky) then it was time for bed. I was utterly exhausted. Looking forward to the next day when we’d pick up the car and get started on our road trip properly.