12/12/12 – London Town

Last night we almost got our whole problem sorted and we ran into a road block we could not solve. Airlines need to do a whole lot in the way of helping people out and not begging off the problems and passing them on. When I asked at the British Airways (the creator of the problem) desk if they could get hold of West Jet and have our flight rescheduled as we would not be able to make our original time, the answer was ‘West Jet does not have a presence in Heathrow so you will have to contact them yourselves.’ Then I tried to phone West Jet in Canada with the hotel telephone. The hotel system would not make a connection. The reception lady secured a cell phone from somewhere, I presume a manager, and we were able to connect. I was put on hold and when I finally did get through the lady at West Jet said she could do nothing with the reservation because I had booked it with Air Miles. She did connect me with Air Miles and when I got that connection I was in formed that it would be another 38 minute wait before I could talk to anyone. The old run around worked, I gave up. I did not want to run up another 38 minute call on some other person’s telephone. I then emailed Air Miles and told them to cancel the flight. I will have to fight with them when I get home.

We did book another flight home on West Jet at a cost of $301.00 each. I guess I will have to try and recover the cost of those flights from British Airways, I am not putting a whole lot of faith into see that cash again. The system is poor and I really think the airlines believe they have a guaranteed market and can do as they damn well please. I think they should concentrate on how to make the customer experience better and the business would come.

It is 12/12/12. We walk out of the hotel to catch the shuttle back to the airport so we can get the tube into town and there is snow on the ground. Real live Canada snow. How they got it all the way here and spread it over ground and cars just for us will forever be a mystery.

At the airport we stash our bags at the left luggage counter and we are off to central London. Debbie has the walking route all planned. We have to make slight alterations because the National Art Gallery does not open until 10am and we arrive downtown at 9.

We start out walking by Buckingham Palace, it is a nice building and all and has tons of history but I have seen it a couple of times and in reality it is really quite boring. Nothing happens there except the changing of the guard and I have yet to be there when that is happening. Today is not much different except we see a horse drawn carriage enter the grounds, pick up a passenger and leave. OOOH! (Note from Debbie: I liked going by Buckingham Palace!)

Passing through Piccadilly Square we head towards The National Gallery and on route we encounter some commotion at Leicester Square. They are setting up for tonight’s world premier of ‘The Hobbit.’ This immediately catches Debbie’s attention but alas, we are not able to even think about attending as we have had trouble enough with our airplanes and do not wish to shake an already rickety apple cart.

The National Gallery is FREE. They do have a donation box but we do not have any Pounds so I guess it is free to us. There are several rooms displaying 19th and 20th century painters so that is where we start. The Impressionist paintings and those of that time are our favorites and they are always worth a stop. The paintings that stopped me this time were painted in the 1500s in Venice. The painter is Canaletto. His paintings are about a meter by a meter and a half. Scenes of Venice canals of minute detail. I cannot imagine the amount of time it took to paint them. There were also a couple of painting by Leonardo and Michelangelo most of which I could not get crazy over but there was a sketch by in a room of its own drawn by Leonardo that we both stood for an minute or so and had a good long look.

Harad’s was our last stop. It is just past noon and the store is stupid crowded. We had a look at a few things but did spend too much time there. Even though it is world famous it is really just a department store. (Note from Debbie: I liked walking through Harrods!) Then as we are walking out we walk through the art gallery (store). Mounted on one of the walls not even in a prominent spot is a print of Mao by Andy Warhol. The price tag is 57,500 Pounds. I have never seen an Warhol original on sale before. I ask the girl if she has two because one would not suite our house, she says she only has one so we thanked her for her time and left.

The day runs smooth until we pass through security at Heathrow. Debbie had missed a couple of liquid container in her carry on luggage. In Canada they would have asked to see the items in question and that would have been that. At Heathrow they take apart the entire bag. Every single item is removed and looked at.Some of the items are swabbed and the swab tested for explosive whatevers. They did offer to repack the bag but since Debbie carries her bag as a back pack if it is not pack properly the items all sag to the bottom of the bag so we decline the help and go about the task ourselves. I do not want to be on a plane with a nut but sometimes the methods used by this security agency or that are absolutely ridiculous. If you ever pass through Heathrow make sure your carry on is EXACTLY as it should be or you will suffer the same fate.

Dinner at the Giraffe Restaurant on the non Britain side of the security system and we are headed to Canada. Good bye London.


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