Thursday, January 31, 2008

Passage to India – Part II

Boarding the 777 to Heathrow was quite pleasant as were seated in row 15 and were able to board early with our infant. The plane was well equipped, but the service left something to be desired. Be that as it may we slept most of the time apart from trying to feed Diya and give her the crushed malaria tablets in flight. The meals were not particularly good which was fine as the airport Panda Express was not sitting well with me.

We arrived in tact in London about 7 hours later (roughly 10:00 AM local time) and after wandering around Heathrow we eventually got our boarding passes for Delhi and were ready to hit the town. Unfortunately we still had 4 carry on bags which we conveniently tucked away in left luggage. As left luggage charged £7 per item we consolidated to three bags and took one into the city. The tube charge was also kind of steep at £4.5 each but we weren’t going to sit at the airport for the next 8 hours.

We were welcomed onto the tube with a warning to “mind the gap” as the platform and train were not flush and the gap varied by station. Fortunately we could go directly to Piccadilly Circus station and tour central London. Emerging above ground we were greeted by statues, double-decker buses and the ubiquitous little red phone booths. Diya was getting hungry so we ducked into a Burger King and found a table in the back for feeding. With the baby fed we got some snacks, picked up a few souvenirs and even stopped by the Golden Nugget casino. As Diya was under 18 years of age we did not stay long. The Empire casino a few blocks away did feature poker, but we had site-seeing to do.

From Piccadilly Circus we switched trains to Oxford Circus to take in Big Ben and Parliament. We considered a trip aboard the London Eye but were more in the mood to stretch our legs. Before heading back we stopped by Starbucks to warm up and have a familiar beverage before finishing our journey to India. I did not get to see Buckingham Palace or the changing of the guard, but that leaves something for next time.

The Heathrow airport is actually very pleasant for dining and window shopping. The prices are naturally inflated, but in terms of offerings there are several clothiers and cosmetics stores in addition to the standard alcohol and tobacco duty free shops. I was particularly impressed by the luxury brands being offered versus the usual airport T-shirts and sweatshirts.

The second leg of the journey felt much longer even though it was only an hour longer. We boarded a 747 and were back in row 40 which was fine except that there were three seats in our section with us in the window and center and another passenger in the aisle. This certainly added an element when feeding/changing/playing with the baby. The food left a little to be desired especially in terms of the lacto-vegetarian meal. If you do choose British Airways I would recommend the Hindu-vegetarian meal. It is still airline food but how much cheese filled pasta do you want to eat at 35,000 feet.

Arriving in Delhi we were greeted by the humidity and smells of India. The airport was much cleaner and easier to negotiate than I remembered and we collected our bags and cleared customs in no time. We were greeted by my cousin Akhil and headed through traffic at 11:00 local time Saturday morning. Stay tuned for Part III which starts off with site-seeing in India and meeting and greeting family in Delhi.

No comments: