I've arrived in London after an enjoyable flight and a remarkably speedy trip through baggage and customs. I've also had a shower and a kip, and I'm about to leave the hotel and actually enjoy the city for a bit.
Even though in the Land of Uk "one mustn't grumble," one can certainly make ill-tempered observations:
- Carrying a heavy bag down stairs is a much different proposition than carrying it up. And the Tube stop at Tower Hill has about 50 steps up and no escalators. As the difference between taking the Tube (£3.80) and a taxi (£75.00) is enormous, I will merely grin and enjoy the exercise.
- My T-Mobile G1 is not allowing me to connect to any UK mobile providers, including, it must be pointed out, T-Mobile. The phone has three bands and certainly can connect, it just doesn't want to. T-Mobile Online Chat Mechanical Turk "Paison" is "researching the issue," but it means that I'm doing an online chat with T-Mobile rather than wandering London.
- Once outside the hotel, I have to go to Piccadilly Circus to set up my Oyster Card (a stored-value card that works on the Tube and other parts of London transit) for auto top-up. I could do this online, except their online form doesn't accept international addresses, even though my account is an international account. It's stupid programming. Fortunately I have enough on my Oyster Card to get to Piccadilly Circus, and if Paison can research the issue faster, I can get there before the travel cent
erre closes in four hours.
- Should I manage to get my Oyster card working, which requires leaving the hotel, which requires Paison to tell me how T-Mobile will let me give them more money, I have to buy two neckties. Why? Because all of my neckties are in my closet. In Chicago. Because my checklist for things to pack included many things, but even when packing my suit, my Oxford shirts, and even my cufflinks, I neglected to pack ties. Yeah. I'm in the Advanced Program.
OK, while typing this Paison figured out what setting in T-Mobile's computers was wrong, so my phone is working, having mysteriously connected itself to T-Mobile's UK network. I will now sally forth into this alien world and practice speaking the local language...
Quick update: I blamed Oyster's Website for the difficulty I had setting up my card. No, actually, the problem came from my bank's fraud detection department. They saw two charges from the U.K. and just blocked the card, knowing that I'd call them eventually. Keep in mind, my bank processed the charge for the airplane tickets (that included the itinerary, don't ask me why), and processed a charge last night at O'Hare, and could not draw a straight line between these things and a charge this morning for my hotel in London. But, hey, better safe than sorry, especially when you (i.e., the bank) have unlimited liability for fraudulent charges and I (i.e., me) have none. My inconvenience is your loss prevention.
Right. I really am leaving this hotel now.
Quick update redux: Nope, it was Oyster after all. They can't verify my postcode. Off to Piccadilly.