Reflections and images from my travels

All was going so well. My overnight flight from Calgary to London, Heathrow was smooth and on time. I even “slept” 6 hours on the flight which is unheard of for me.

I had booked a private hire saloon car (I love speaking in the mother’s English tongue) from Heathrow Terminal 5 to London City airport on the Internet. The price was great relative to a black cab and I did not want to lug my bags on the tube although this would have been the most economical option.

I was concerned about where the driver was going to meet me as this had not been specified in the receipt email. “Pick up Terminal 5 London, Heathrow”- can you be a little more specific?).  Arrivals seemed the logical location but I had arrived two hours prior to my scheduled pick up time so I knew he would only come within 15 minutes of the agreed upon arrival time.

I thought I was being smart and went to the black cab arrivals queue where a “helpful” fellow looked at my booking notice and stated “oh, you have to go up to departures, that is where they pick up from”.

I proceeded up. As my pick up time approached I started to worry a bit as there were no signs indicating that this was a pick up area and no one appeared to be being picked up, just dropped off.

I asked one of the staff who seemed to think I was asking him to explain a complicated math theorem so I turned on my phone and within one minute I had a phone call from my private hire driver. “Where are you”? I stated I was up in departures as directed. He laughed and said come down to arrivals and he would be there. We finally connected.  I was very relieved.

As we were walking to the car he told me there was bad blood between the black cabs and the private hires (and now Uber) over territory and pricing. My driver explained that I had been deliberately misdirected up to departures with the intent of me missing my private hire pick up (they only hang around for 15 minutes past the scheduled pick up time and keep the entire booking fee because you know…..they were there on time and at the right place) so I would then come back down to the black cabs in desperation and hire them at over inflated prices as they took the slowest routes into town!

On my……..so improper! I was more than a little miffed but contained my anger because I am now on holidays and things did work out in the end.

As we exited the parking area and drove down endless parking circles we got to a locked gate which surprised both of us. My driver stated “I always come down this way”! We then proceeded to back the car up in reverse through those tight turns but eventually got back up at which point I pointed out the do not enter signs at the entrance. I thought “is this how my trip is going to go”?

I eventually got to my hotel which was located just 10 minutes from my departure airport for the next day to France- London City Airport. I was exhausted but relieved. My private hire driver (ha….from Cape Town, South Africa no less), in the end was excellent and kept me entertained along the entire way and provided door to door service.

After a quick bite at the hotel I suited up and went for an exploratory 12 km run along the Docklands. What a great way to end the day with little to no sleep! A 6 hour airplane sleep is not real sleep!! Look it up!

I got to bed at 1030 PM thinking I would sleep the sleep of the dead but, alas, this was not meant to be. Wide awake at 2 AM I proceeded to do my stretches and read about my upcoming Stevenson trek.

The next morning I was first in line at 6 AM for breakfast (being awake for 4 hours overnight whets your appetite) and then walked back to the Docklands to take some photos which I will post separately.

After a lay over in Paris, I flew down to Toulon where I was met by my gracious friends Maysan and Glenn. We went out to a beautiful cave restaurant in Bormes-Lou Porteau- and had a brilliant meal and engaging conversation.

I got to bed by 12:30 AM Tuesday and this time I did sleep the sleep of the dead for a full 9 hours! My god….it’s like a shot of adrenaline!

Bormes is as beautiful as I remember it and Maysan and Glenn’s villa inspires relaxation.

This is going to be good.

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