Our day started with a wonderful surprise. I walked out of the front door at 7:2o to find John and Sharman had arrived to see us off and wish us well. What a nice thing to do,!!!
Five minutes later Tony arrived arrived with our transport to Heathrow.
- Tony had arrived on time and we were on our way at 7:28
- The journey to the airport was quick and uneventful
- Stress levels rose at Heathrow – don’t they always. The luggage trolleys were never designed to carry bikes and worse once the bike was across the trolley it would not fit through either the doors or the posts set up to prevent a bomb attack. So at each stage we had to lift the bikes off the trolley, take them through the obstacle separately the marry them together again.
- We headed for the baggage drop desk but were intercepted and told to go to the oversize baggage desk at the far end of the building – where we were told we had to go back to the baggage drop and get a luggage sticker first. There was no way we could maneover the trolleys and bikes through the waiting line so we just jumped to the front of the queue and looked pathetic. This worked fine and 2 minutes later the plastic wrapping on the bikes was adorned with multiple bar code stickers pointing to our destination.
- Back to oversize baggage – on our last trip the bikes had not fitted on to the conveyor belt and we eventually missed our plane. This time I had dismantled more of the bikes to make them smaller and they fitted – just.
- Through security – why do they always ‘randomly’ pick me to take off my shoes. But no major problems.
- Then we had a fairly pleasant hour in the Aspire lounge. There did not used to be one in T5 and this is pretty lousy. Very small seats, too many people, a poor selection of nibbles. There was not even a loo, you had to go outside with the hoi poloi (is that spelled correctly?) But the help yourself sausages and bacon rolls were good and the barman was cheerful and heavy handed.
- My next worry point was getting on the plane, we had been pulled out of the line and told about the problem with the bikes last time. But this passed without incident.
- The plane was half an hour late taking off but only 15 minutes late when we landed three and a half hours later.
- I had a really big but very improbable worry as we got off. Would I be arrested going through immigration for smuggling Stephan out all those years ago. No problem in the end.
- The only baggage we had to wait for was the bikes and these took just long enough that we were in total meltdown that our pick up driver would have left before we got out of the baggage hall.
- They did arrive and our driver was waiting, but Bucharest airport has even more narrow points to get through than Heathrow and by the time we had got to the van and rearranged the seating so the bikes would fit I was again sweating and emotional. Or to quote Elaine , I stank.
- A pleasant half hour ride to the hotel. Glad to see several cyclists on the road, obviously not yet been exterminated by the local drivers.
- No problem booking in but a major struggle getting in to the lifts and getting the bikes up to our room. We got there in the end Elaine strongly suggested my first stop should be in the shower.
The hotel was fascinating. We had an apartment. The living room was 30 feet square but the only furniture was huge leather settee and a 40 inch TV. The bathroom looked wonderful and modern but there was no way to release the plug from the wash basin and when I took a shower in the beautiful curved glass shower cubicle, there was 30 gallons of water on the floor outside.
As tomorrow is Sunday, we walked round to a local Carrefour to get provisions for lunch tomorrow. Then we went up to the 11th floor restaurant for dinner. This is a relatively high end hotel so we had to spend 60 lei about £12 for the all you can eat option. What is more the food was very good. Elaine took out the camera to get some of the great views and was immediately sized upon by the lage female maitre d, who very proudly insisted on pointing out the many new high rise buildings.
So back to the room and Elaine re sorted the luggage while I assembled the bikes – then off to bed – as we are 2 hours ahead, morning is going to come very quickly.