London on Tube Strike

Stanst­ed is as far away from Lon­don as Lübeck is from Ham­burg. It’s a shame that it’s called Lon­don-Stanst­ed as you might think it’s just anoth­er air­port near Lon­don. Instead you have to take a bus or the Stanst­ed Express to Lon­don. That’ll add anoth­er £24 for an open return tick­et (valid for one month to Lon­don and back to Stanst­ed, can also be bought dur­ing the flight for £22) or £13.90 for a cheap day return tick­et (valid only one day) for the Stanst­ed Express to your fare. The guy sell­ing me the tick­ets was nice enough to sell me the open return tick­et instead of the cheap day return tick­et, thus dou­bling the price on my cred­it-card bill. So watch out what they’re doing when you buy your tick­ets.

London Liverpool StationWe arrived at Liv­er­pool Street Sta­tion at 12 o’clock. I reserved a table for lunch at the Fif­teen for 2 o’clock. The Fif­teen is locat­ed near Old Street Sta­tion, just two sta­tions away from Liv­er­pool Street Sta­tion, so we had plen­ty of time and decid­ed to head right south to the Riv­er Thames and the Lon­don Tow­er. Just then, we heard the bad news: No tube today. The whole tube staff was on strike the one day we where in Lon­don. Thanks a lot guys!

Tower Bridge Nev­er­the­less we head­ed south by feet and had a very nice walk through the city to the Lon­don Tow­er and the Tow­er Bridge. I real­ly like the bridge’s archi­tec­ture and it’s impres­sive bas­cule mech­a­nism. If you ever spend some time in Lon­don, you should take the guid­ed tour and view it.

Have lunch at the Fif­teen…

Summer Tour 2004

This year’s sum­mer tour was of to Jerez de la Fron­tera in Andalu­cia, Spain. Where we were from July, 1st until July 7th.

White Villages Andalucia SpainMy friend Clau­dio had invit­ed us to his love­ly home in the city cen­tre of Jerez. So we had a great place to stay and the best local guide you could imag­ine!

Actu­al flight plans and prices led us to tak­ing a rather unusu­al route from Ham­burg to Jerez and back using RyanAir:

  • Start­ing on June, 30th from Lübeck (LBC — 60km north­east of Ham­burg) to Stanst­ed (STY — 60km north of Lon­don)
  • Doing some sight­see­ing in Lon­don and hav­ing lunch at Jamie Oliver’s famous restau­rant Fif­teen.
  • On July, 1st tak­ing the next plane from Stanst­ed (STY) to Jerez de la Fron­tera (XRY).
  • Going back from Jerez to Lübeck via Stanst­ed.

The whole adven­ture was cheap­er than tak­ing a direct flight from Ham­burg to Jerez, but beware that RyanAir has some back­draws you have to arrange with:

  • There are no seat reser­va­tions. The first 65 peo­ple who checked in are the first to run into the plane and grab them­selves a nice place, all oth­ers fol­low there­after tak­ing what’s left. So if you want to sit togeth­er with two or more peo­ple, bet­ter check in ear­ly and be fast to rush into the plane — it’s like it was back in school when you tried to get the best places inside that bus that took the whole class to wher­ev­er…
  • There is no con­nec­tion guar­an­tee and your lug­gage isn’t trans­fered to your con­nect­ing flights! That is real­ly nasty! You’ll have to plan at least three hours between two RyanAir flights for pos­si­ble delays, get­ting out of the plane, run­ning down end­less halls (that’s a Stanst­ed spe­cial), tak­ing back your lug­gage, get­ting out into the hall, check­ing-in again (usu­al­ly with large ques in front of the desks) and get­ting your­self searched for weapons and stuff again. And don’t for­get your long way back from the shop­ping-area to the gates (in Stanst­ed that’s an esti­mat­ed 12 min­utes!).

On the oth­er hand I must say, it all worked per­fect­ly well. A direct flight (HAM-XRY) was about €650 per per­son, that RyanAir jug­gle includ­ing a dou­ble-room at Stanst­ed cost about €400 for both of us — with a bit more of a has­sle.

To be con­tin­ued…