Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Lucky Bear in Route to London

We are in London, ensconced in the Crowne Plaza Docklands, with about 1000m walk to the part of the ExCel Center where Worldcon will be happening. I don't expect to be making casual runs back to the hotel.

Our United flight from SFO to LHR was nearly completely full, and Lisa and I were jammed into the left two seats in a near-the-back row. We were both looking forward to a miserable ten hours to London when our luck turned very good.

As we were taxiing out from SFO (almost an hour late thanks to an APU problem that also made the plane oven-like in the summer sunshine until they got the main engines started), the man next to me asked the flight attendant if he could swap over to a vacant seat elsewhere in the cabin. This was allowed, after we got up to the may-move-about-the-cabin altitude. This meant I could move into the right seat of the three.

Upgrade Bear
travelswithkuma got to have the middle seat, safely buckled in.

Despite the additional comfort, which made the flight quite tolerable, I got no sleep at all. That made the rest of the day much less fun than it could have been.

We let almost everyone else go ahead of us getting off the plane, but we dawdled so much walking to Immigration that they'd cleared almost everyone and there was no wait for us. We told the officer (truthfully) that we were going to attend the World Science Fiction Convention and do tourism around London thereafter, and he stamped us through, claimed our bags (which were ready for us), and headed toward Heathow Express.

United now flies into Terminal 2, and that means that to get to HEx, you have to walk right by the Underground station. I bought Lisa an OysterCard, so now she and I both have cards. HEx was rather crowded, and we ended up riding on the jumpseats in the vestibules, but there was still plenty to see.

Bear Meets Bear
At Paddington, I introduced Kuma Bear to the station's namesake. Then Lia and I got breakfast. We were deliberately killing time because it was 9 AM and we wanted to burn off a bit of the tail of the morning rush before heading over to Docklands on the Tube.

If that was off-peak, I'm sure glad we didn't travel at peak! Also, the step-free access maps on the Tube lie, or at least mislead, about where you can get between the platform and street without lugging bags up or down stairs.

We got to the hotel way too early to check in, which possibly is to our benefit, because if we could have checked in early, we would have been tempted to fall asleep right then. That would be bad, jet-lag-wise. So we walked to the ExCel, where we saw many people we knew already, most of whom were wearing one of a number of colors of high-vis vests that apparently are differentiating different flavors of conrunner at Loncon 3. Registration wasn't going to open until Noon, so we checked back at the hotel. They said they wouldn't have the room until 2 PM; however, they unified my complex reservation (a night on points, four paid nights, and a final night on points) into a single booking so that I won't have to check in/out or move during the stay.

ExCel West Entrance

This is the view walking the 1000m or so from the Crowne Plaza to the ExCel. When we returned to the ExCel, there was now a long queue to register. We joined the queue and eventually got our badges and I checked in with Program Participant registration.

I don't like the single-point lanyards Loncon is using. Sure, they printed them on both sides to deal with the inevitable flopping of badges, but many of us (including all program participants) use the back of our badges for our schedule. Later Lisa worked on the badges so they can be worn single-sided from a clip. Why do people think single-point clips are a good thing.

We're What's On
On a subsequent exploration north of the Excel after checking in to the Crowne Plaza, while crossing over the Docklands Light Railway to find Freemason's Street with shops and restaurants, we saw this poster listing Loncon 3 among those events happening at the ExCel this summer. We confirmed that there is a coin laundry in Freemason's Street as well as a discount store where we could buy D cell batteries for GBP2.99 for two. That's not great, but much better than the price in the Tesco Express next to the Crowne Plaza.

After a late lunch in Freemason's Street, we went back to the hotel room. Lisa took a bath. I confirmed that basic wired and wi-fi access is free with the hotel room. But basic access isn't enough to upload the WSFS Business Meeting videos. High-speed access is GBP 22/day, which means I'll need 66 pounds to pay to upload the video from here at Worldcon. I wonder if Loncon 3 will be willing to spring fo the fees? I'll ask Lisa to ask her area head (Don Eastlake, WSFS Business Meeting) to ask his management. OTOH, it's unclear where Lisa stands anyway; she's been left off the WSFS Business Meeting staff list, and she's miffed at the omission. We'll see tomorrow if the resources will be there for the WSFS uploads.

Meanwhile, it's now 6 PM, and I think I can now allow myself to sleep for the first time since 0500 PDT Tuesday, 29 hours ago, without having too awful jet-lag tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Tags: airports, kuma bear, lisa, trains, travel, worldcon

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