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Archive for the ‘Various and Sundry’ Category

London Heathrow to London Gatwick

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Many international flights arrive to London Heathrow Terminal 5, but if London isn’t your final destination, your connecting flight may leave from London Gatwick. This was the case for us Tuesday, and the transfer between the two wasn’t nearly as bad as some websites make it sound.

First up after arrival is the immigration process. TripAdivsor says that this has recently (March and April 2012) taken up to 2-2.5 hours, but for us on a Tuesday morning in May 2012, it took 20 minutes. Some friends on a recent Saturday morning took 30 minutes, so not too bad at all. The key is to walk fast through the terminals to get as far ahead in line as possible. After 15 minutes of standing in the immigration line, the line had grown quite long, with people just arriving probably having to wait upwards of an hour.

After collecting the bags, we proceeded to follow the signs to “Coaches” where we got in line at National Express to purchase one way tickets to Gatwick North Terminal for 25£ each. Note that you can purchase from the machines with a regular (non-chip) credit card, but you need to leave it in long enough for the machine to read it.

The Gatwick National Express bus picked us up 5 minutes later right outside the terminal at stop 16. After showing the tickets to the driver, we loaded our bags on the bus and boarded for the 53 minute, ~40 mile ride to Gatwick – 2 minutes faster than the scheduled arrival time.

The airlines recommend 3 hours minimum for this transfer and we had 3 hours and 50 minutes from touch down at Heathrow to take off at Gatwick. Today it took us 2 hours and 10 minutes from wheels down at Heathrow to the gate area past security at Gatwick. Lady luck has smiled on us once again. 😉

Words of Wisdom from Expert Travelers

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

During our stay in Mendoza, it was clear to me that Teri and Oscar (our gracious hosts) are expert travelers. One night during dinner, I jotted down some quotes from Teri:

Traveling in your country and other countries opens your mind.

The money spent traveling is not an expense but an investment.

They [Big Oil] will make you think that you cannot live without it [oil].

The quote on Big Oil was in response to our surprise of how few people in South America have (or even need) cars. With plentiful inexpensive taxis, impressive intercity bus networks, and an efficient metro in Santiago, traveling around Chile and Argentina was a breath of fresh air (literally) when it comes to inexpensive, reliable, and sustainable transportation.

Finally, Teri introduced us to the concept of a traveler’s “honeypot” when Tiff, Greg, and I were talking about tracking shared expenses (i.e., who paid for lunch, the taxi ride, bus tickets, etc.). When paying for most things by cash as we were, consider having everyone who shares expenses to chip in the same amount to a honeypot, and pay for shared expenses from that bucket of cash. When the honeypot is dry, simply have everyone add the same amount more. We began using this tactic after Mendoza, and it worked great.

Trappist Westvleteren 12

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I’m not going to pretend that I know the intricacies of beer brewing and tasting, but I can say that I concur with RateBeer and BeerAdvocate in that the best beer in the world is Trappist Westvleteren 12, which is brewed by the monks of the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgium. The beer itself is very hard to come by (only available for pickup by appointment), and that fact alone probably accounts for much of well-deserved the hype.

The three Trappist Westvleterens: the 8, the Blonde, and the 12.

Sightseeing as Citizens of the World

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Go Rick Steves:

Travel broadens our perspective, enabling us to rise above the 6 p.m. news — and see things as citizens of the world. By plugging directly into the present and getting the world’s take on things, a traveler goes beyond traditional sightseeing.

When we travel today we have the opportunity to see history as it’s unfolding. With knowledge of the past, we can better appreciate the significance of what’s happening today. And that’s something a lot of travelers don’t give themselves an opportunity to do.

My Fiets: the Batavus Entrada Spirit

Monday, February 9th, 2009

The Dutch love their fietsen, or bicycles. It’s been said that there are more bikes than people in the Netherlands (around 16 million), and with nearly 85% of the population owning bikes, it’s certainly a biking culture… No wonder that I became infatuated with Dutch bikes during my study abroad in Delft. 😉

When I moved to California, I decided that it was time to get a decent bike that I could use to commute to work during the week and for rides along the beach on the weekends. After my experience in Holland, I knew that a Dutch bike would fit the bill perfectly… You sit high on a them, which allows you to see over traffic. The splash and chain guards keep you clean in your work clothes, and the front and rear lights help keep you safe when riding in the dark. I ultimately went with the 7-speed Delft Blue Batavus Entrada Spirit – it has all of the above “Dutch features,” in addition to internal gears and rollerbrakes, a dynamo that powers the front light, a built-in rear wheel lock, a rack to carry groceries (and sometimes friends who need a lift), and of course a bell. Also, for Christmas I got a nifty little Cateye Micro Wireless bike computer and have since logged 238.4 miles.

Yes, I’m quite fond of my fiets, and since it’s my main means of transportation now, I figured it was worth a post on the ol’ blog. Now I just need a Breakfast Machine like Pee Wee, and I’ll be all set…

My Fiets: a Delft Blue Batavus Entrada Spirit.And again...No Dutch bike would be complete without a bell (that I've been known to ring liberally on occasion).