Remie and I left for England on Thursday. The flight was less than an hour long. We arrived into Birmingham at about 9:20 am. It was great but also weird to see every sign and posting in English followed by more English.
My friend Reshma met us at the airport with her new bundle of joy, Armaan Ali. Despite driving on the wrong side and the crazy round-abouts we arrived at Solihull (the city she lives) quickly. We stayed at her and her husband Shabar's house. Her sister Ferhana was down visiting from Toronto as well.
Armaan Ali is not yet a month old. Remie and I were quite excited to be part of a family celebration while we there. Lots of family and best of all some great authentic Asian food and sweets.
The next day Remie, Ferhana and I decided to take a 3 hour bus trip to London. We headed out early to the coach station. We arrived in London at about 12:00. So we had the whole day to look around. Ferhana and I took off for the shopping district while Remie went to a business meeting.
Map in hand, Ferhana and I strolled by Hyde Park and made our way to Oxford Street. There were lots of great stores and shopping opportunities. I found the clothing to be very expensive. Items were priced the same as they are back home but in British Pounds.
After Remie finished up he rejoined us and we went for a proper pint at an English Pub. Its a common site to see the Brits gathered outside with beer in hand if there are not enough tables. After our drinks we did some more shopping.
We found a busy restaurant called Garfunkels and decided to eat there. Our last stop of the day was suppose to be Buckingham Palace, but before we knew it we had to race back the coach station. We hopped into one of those old fashioned looking cabs and made our way back to the bus.
Reshma and the family for dinner. We wanted to take them to the Custard Factory (a recommendation Remie received). The Custard Factory is just that. Its an old factory that has been closed down and has been made into restaurants, clubs and art design studios. The restaurant was closed but we were able to take some great shots of the art court.
We headed to downtown Birmingham and decided on a great award winning italian restaurant, San Carlo. While waiting for our reservation we went to a Pub around the corner. The British know how to do it right. It was great scene with lots of people. We headed back to San Carlo's and chilled at the bar. Despite a long wait the food was delicious.
Afterwards, we drove to a courtyard to take some pictures. We didn't think we would run into these guys! It was a great a night out.
We left the next morning to head to the airport with plenty of time. So why did we almost miss our flight you ask? Remie and I travelled with a carry-on bag, my purse and a bag to carry the laptop. As soon as we entered the area to go through security the officer told me I can only have one bag to bring on the flight. I then explained that one bag is my luggage and the other is my PURSE. He rudely advised it doesn't matter and that I need to check one or the other! I was annoyed and explained that I came here with these two bags and have been travelling through more than one airport with both. He told me to check it. Remie and I went around the corner and managed somehow to stuff my purse into our carry on.
Okay, so that's settled we are now on our way through security and have all of our liquids and gels in a clear zip locked bag with the proper amount of no more than 100ml. I went first - no problem. I turn around and Remie is being asked to take out his liquids. The security officer takes out Rem's contact solution which is in a 355ml bottle. The contents were way less than 100ml. She advises Remie she is going to have to confiscate his contact solution unless he checks it. He explains we only have carry-on, and that the bottle is not full. She advises that it doesn't matter its the amount the bottle has written on it. She wants to know if he can empty it into another bottle. Remie patiently explains once again that its contact solution for his EYES and it wouldn't be sterile if he does that. Next item up is a small container of crude clay not gel, clay to style his hair. Nope, can't take that either it exceeds the allotted amount. Remie explains that its CLAY... it doesn't matter. Contact solution and styling clay gone.
Okay, so now we are both fuming and make our way to the boarding area to wait for our flight.We look down at our boarding pass and we are leaving out of gate 11. Why then is gate 11 not posted anywhere? I ask a gentleman who I think works there. He tells me not to worry we are in the right area the gate numbers are on an electronic board and change once your flight is called. Remie and I sit and wait 2 seconds before we here the FINAL boarding call for our flight at a completely different gate. The 11 had been a MISPRINT - on an airline ticket! We both had to run to catch our flight. I guess I can say we did not enjoy our Birmingham airport experience!
35 minutes later we find ourselves back in Amsterdam. Its funny how its starting to feel a bit like home. We grab our carry-on and head towards Customs. Before you can get there you have to go through two automatic gates. Once you enter one, you can not go back and if you try to - the thing lights up and an alarm goes off. Somehow Remie manages to go through both sets of gates but our luggage didn't make it. Our bag was trapped in mid air between the doors. When Rem tried to pull it out, the alarm went off. It was hilarious! A bunch of people were standing around laughing asking how he managed to that. We had to wait for someone to come through on the other side so the gate would open and release our bag.
Once we got our bag back it was easy breezy the rest of the way. We had a great time but I think we are both done with airports for the moment.