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2023 - April - Travel Day

What was going to be a long day of travelling was not helped by not getting a good night’s sleep beforehand. I had a bit of an upset stomach which I was not sure was from a bug or my usual pre travel jitters. Irrespective of which I was up and getting ready by 6.30am.

My travel jitters I think seem to be more about going places either on our own or where we haven’t been before. I think it might be the logistics or something. All I know is that everything at home suddenly seems so much nicer just before I go and I think all the things I will be missing whilst away.

Up until 24 hours before we were due to leave, I was quite excited about this trip. Then the anxiety started to kick in. Not enough to stop us going especially as I know I will enjoy it once I get going. I just battle through and try to ignore it.

We were on the road just after 8am. Our first stop was Barry’s to drop off a few things including items from our fridge that would have gone off before our return.

Then with the sun shining we headed to catch our flight from Heathrow by driving to Gatwick. With no warning BA had moved our booked return flight from Orlando to Gatwick instead of Heathrow. They kindly gave us the option of cancelling our outbound flight from Heathrow to New Orleans if we weren’t happy with the change but after much research and debate, we decided this was the only way to do the trip (and use our companion voucher and air miles). So, we had arranged to park at Gatwick in a friend of Sunny’s (from Heathrow) then get a lift from them to Heathrow. It would be an hour’s extra journey time and another £50 in cost.

The drive to Gatwick was straightforward and we made good enough time to have a stop at Clackets Lane for a late breakfast. We met Darren our new Gatwick parking friend at his house and he then took up in his taxi van to T5 at Heathrow. Darren turned out to be a nice enough chap. He doesn’t host anywhere near as many cars as Sunny at Heathrow as he concentrates more on airport runs but we would happily use him again.

We were at T5 ahead of schedule and I finally managed to check in as for some reason I had been getting an error each time trying at home. Of course, leaving check in this late meant we had been allocated seats apart from each other which Karen was very unhappy about as it was a long flight. The BA staff were not helpful and tried to tell Karen she could have a break from me which did not placate her one little bit. We were told to tell the gate staff when we got there to see if they sort.

The security queue was almost empty and we were quickly through and headed for the Plaza Premium lounge. Premium by name but not by nature. It was crowded and the food choices were poor. But at least what was there was free as were the drinks. We passed the time until our gate was called.

At the gate we asked about moving seats but were told that as the flight was full, we would have to ask someone to move ourselves once on board. As the seat I had been allocated was a window bulkhead one I correctly guessed that whoever was seated next to Karen would jump at the chance to move to it which they did.

So, we settled in for the flight. We both watched the latest Tom Hanks film about a man called Otto. It was terrific and moving. The acting was superb (almost as good as the latest episode of Succession we had watched at home before leaving where the acting from the ‘adult kids’ had blown me away). I followed this up with a bit of fluff film ‘Ticket to Paradise’ which was a typical plane film and then listened to Adele on Desert Island Discs.

The food was bang average as was the service, especially as they missed me out on the sandwich meal (not that I would have eaten it but that’s not the point).

For a reason that was unclear we had to collect our luggage before immigration again. Well, we should have, but as we were waiting for the carousel to start, we were directed to the Global Entry machines and were given the all clear. Our bags came off quickly and with our global entry already sorted were given priority over the crew who were waiting to be cleared into the USA.

We made our way to the taxi rank and within seconds were being driven by a man from Hon-duras as he kept pronouncing it. He was very proud to now be living in New Orleans and gave us a guided tour as we travelled the 20 minutes to downtown and our hotel. The cost was a reasonable $36. We had decided not to pick up the car until Friday as we would not be needing one until then and the car parking fee at the hotel was $50 per day and we all know how much I enjoy paying parking fees.

The Holiday Inn Express at St Charles was not to the standard we have come to expect. Admittedly it is undergoing some renovations, and boy it does need them. It felt old and scruffy. Our room was small but probably what you would expect in a large old American City. It was though clean, quiet and felt safe.

We unpacked and with the 6-hour time difference were tucked up in bed by 9.45pm New Orleans time

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