Last September, West Jet had a seat sale in preparation for the beginning of their non-stop service to Gatwick England from five Canadian cities. The seat sale lasted a short time but Nelly and I were able to take advantage of the opportunity.
We booked three weeks in May of 2016. We made the economy class choice thinking that the money we would have spent on first class we would rather spend elsewhere on the trip.
For two of us, round trip from Edmonton to Gatwick cost $1428.00 including taxes, surcharges and all those little extras you wind up paying for. One thing we didn’t count on was by booking economy, we had to buy an on board hot meal or buy on board sandwiches.
Round trip hot meals ( 4 ) cost us an additional $14.99 each for a total of $59.96. That brought us a lot closer to the $1500.00 mark and any on board drink purchases cost as much as they would at a bar so a person could easily pass the $1500.00 range during the flight, which was still quite reasonable.
We left Edmonton on Monday May 9 at 7:30 pm and arrived in Gatwick on Tuesday May 10 at 10:30 am. The air temperature was 16C and the sky was grey. We went through customs and then tried to get oriented.
The Gatwick airport has two terminals, the North Terminal where we landed and the South Terminal where we needed to go to board a train to travel to London where our hotel was. There is a free tram that travels between the two terminals and takes two minutes.
There are a number of trains to take from the South Terminal but the one we wanted was called the Gatwick Express. In January I had purchased visitor Brit Rail tickets and now we used them on the Gatwick Express which was non stop to an underground station called Victoria Station.
It was at that station where we could have purchased the London underground rail pass called the Oyster Pass. The pass card itself costs 5 GBP(Great British Pounds) then it is loaded up with cash. At the end of the card’s use, you can get all the remaining cash back plus your original cost of the card. It is a very good deal and so easy to use once you understand how it works.
We had a rather large suitcase and smaller carry on bags and and I feared the underground escalators so we chose to take a London taxi. They are the black ones that have no trunk but there is a 5 or 6 foot gap between the front seat and the back seat so there is a lot of room for your luggage.
It had been raining in London before we arrived. Our cab driver said that when it rains everyone drives so the streets were plugged with cars. We sat at one intersection for 10 minutes. When we finally moved our driver took to the side streets and we quickly arrived at our hotel. To travel 5 km cost us 30 GBP including the tip.
To travel the same trip with the Oyster Pass would have cost us each 4.90 GBP. However, we pumped the cab driver for information and used the cab ride to see some of the London sights such as the Canadian Embassy which is across from Trafalgar Square, Trafalgar Square, and the Queens gardens which were behind a high wall topped with barbed wire.
We stayed at a hotel chain called the Tune Hotel, Malaysian ownership. It was priced from 25 GBP to 125 GBP. The more money you pay, the better service you get. For example, if you pay the lowest rate of 25 GBP, you have to pay extra to rent a TV, towels, WiFi, hairdryer, toilet paper, soap, all the things that most other hotels give you to use. We paid 72 GBP so all those things were in the price we paid.
One other thing I didn’t mention is the suite size. They go from about 110 square feet and up. Ours was an upgrade and it was about 150 square feet. If you don’t spend a lot of time in your room you won’t notice the size so much. There are no drawers so you do need to have space for your suitcases to live out of them.
The elevators were the smallest I’ve ever seen in my life. The main was a two person elevator. The freight elevator was a three person plus luggage lift.
There also was no place in the hotel to eat and no fridge in the room to store anything, so it was restaurant food all the way. Two doors away was a place caller the Water Rat. The food wasn’t all that good and the dining room staff were terribly disorganized. Apparently there was a place in the back where thespians hung out.
We found a place two blocks away, off the beaten path called Harrison’s which had good food at a reasonable price, so we ate there when we were in the area.
The weather was good except for one day when it drizzled on and off. We were five days in London. We toured the British Museum which was free, we did the hop on/ hop off bus tour and we went on an organized tour to Windsor Castle, Stone Henge and Oxford.
The three stops should be done over three days because there is so much to see and do, you are really wasting your money and time to try to do it all in one day as we did.
At Stone Henge our bus operator left several people behind because they didn’t make it to the bus on time. We had all been lectured about being on time.
Stone Henge was an interesting place to visit and worthy of spending a day at.
Windsor Castle took us an hour of waiting before we could get inside. We had 30 minutes to look and the same to find a place to eat before we left for the next stop.
We didn’t spend much time in Oxford either. It was 4:30 by the time we got there and at 5 most of the stores closed for the day. We spent a lot of time traveling just to get to the sights.
Next column will be about our trip to Scotland.