London 2013

SO; I’ve finally made it home again! Have spent the last week in London doing System Center Operations Manager 2012 studies at QA. Why London? Well no one in Sweden was giving this course when we started looking and booked the course in the beginning of December. Also, it’s always nice to be allowed outside the 25 KM radius from work 🙂

I also made plans with some photography buddies that I haven’t seen for ages, unfortunately I couldn’t get to see all of them. After some mess-ups (before I went) they finally managed to coordinate everything so that we were on track. Left Sweden on Monday the 14th and arrived in London… after a while. Heathrow Express took us from Heathrow to Paddington and then the Circular line from Paddington to Tower Hill. When heading over to our hotel, about 2 minutes walk from Tower Hill station, I found out that two of my friends were in the hotel pub waiting for me. I quickly checked in, dropped my bag in the room and then headed down to meet my friends. It was SO great seeing Gary and Paul again. From the hotel we took a nice walk over Tower Bridge and then along the waterline of the river Thames and ended up at Côte Brasserie where the others were waiting. It was a cheerful meet and we had lots of nice conversations, laughter and good food. I also finally got to meet Andre’s girlfriend, Stephanie. After a few hours we felt the need to start heading back to our normal lives again, and I needed to settle in and get some sleep before the course started the day after.

Tuesday was the start of the course and it was a really nice course, well performed and a nice class room area (International House), located about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. After the class was over for that day I headed off to Tower Hill station and took the tube to Moorgate and changed over to Northern line and finally ended up in Angel. If we complain about the crowded commuter trains in southern part of Sweden, I have to say that they are spacious compared to the one I got on at Moorgate! First I had to skip two trains and work my way from the back of the line and finally end up in a position were i would be able to get to the train. When the train arrived and I had managed to squeeze myself onto it I could feel the door brush along my back as it closed. I stood hunched over just to follow the form of the train walls until we came to the first stop, Aldgate, where some ppl had to get off and I was ushered further into the train. I was now standing stuffed in the middle of the crowd without anywhere to fall if we crashed, I had my hand in another guys hand and I wasn’t able to move it away due to how crowded the train was, and he was freezing cold!! So I bet he found it nice to have my hand in his as my hands were very warm. Squeezing myself past the other commuters as we got to Angel was the best thing I did that day. It was such a relieve to get out of the train 🙂 At the Angel station I met up with two other fellow photographers, Kavey and Pete, and this was also a chipper reunion. Kavey had booked us for the IndianGrill for some Indian cuisine. It was a delicious meal and wonderful to catch up with them both. When heading back home I was horrified with the thought of having to squeeze myself onto a train again, but luckily most ppl had already done their commuting for the day so I was able to step onto a more normally crowded train.

Wednesday was another study day and after the class was over one of my coworkers, that also attended the class, and I went down to Tower Hill station in hope of joining in on the London Tower Twilight tour, unfortunately the tour guide never showed so apparently they don’t do the Twilight tour during winter.

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So instead we called up the third coworker and headed out for some pub-hopping 🙂 We even found a place where they had a dart board and I was able to kick their asses in two out of three games 🙂 felt just like home *haha*

Thursday was another study day and in the evening we jumped on the Circular Line again and headed over to Victoria Station. Our aim was to go and see the musical Billy Elliot. We got some tickets and then went out for food. My friends wanted Indian food and after a little while we found a restaurant called Victoria Tandoori or something. My friends asked me to compare the food there to the one i had at Angel/IndianGrill, and there was no way to do a comparison. The food at IndianGrill was so much better and tastier. What we did find very funny was that my friends ordered in beer, an Indian beer called Fisherking, and when they were reading on the front label I got a good look at the back label. On the back label I could read, in bold and big letters, ”starköl!” ! SO, the indian beer comes with a Swedish warning that it’s strong beer. *hahaha* After finishing the food it was time to head over to the Victoria Palace Theater. We had some real tight ass chairs and when leaving the theater after 3 hours I had deep lines in my knees from the row of chairs in front of us, but it was worth it, this show was phenomenal. SO well executed and such talented performers. The boy who played Billy Elliot was just amazing.

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On Friday we had the biggest challenge of all. First it was to finish the class. Me and one of me coworkers had to leave early as our flight was leaving at 18.30/6.30 PM. So we were told by the teacher that we should not come back to class after lunch as he felt it unnecessary for us to take the last module as well as it was disrupting the rest of the class if we had to get up and leave in the middle of it. And that’s true. So we planned to escape at lunch time. Then just after we had started class, it started to SNOW! And I never in my life thought that a city like London would be so chaotic when it snows! We could see people that attended other classes in the same building as us, running out of the building and off to the trainstation, even students in our own class picked their things up and left. We started to worry!! We logged on to the internet and checked our flights and all but two flights with British Airways had been cancelled. Ours were still going but changed to 21.30/9.30 PM. We sighed but still planned on leaving just after lunch and heading to a pub instead 🙂 We did so and I think that after lunch break the only one left in the class room was our teacher. We also heard on the news that some 3000 schools in England had been closed due to the snowfall. We walked up to the city and found us a nice pub, threw some darts and had some beer/orange juice. Then just for the hell of it we went back to our hotel, on the way from the pub to the train station anyway, and checked the flight schedule again. They had now changed our flight back to 18.30 again. We hurried off to the train station and bought our tickets and left for Heathrow. When changing trains at Paddington, from the underground to Heathrow express, we found out that most of the trains were unable to operate because it was too cold for the trains (it was +2C !!).When we arrived at Heathrow the airport was in a chaos. ALL flights had been cancelled and there were a queue at the BA check in that must have taken well over 4 hours to clear. We later found out that THOSE people queuing there had done so since 6.30 AM just to get their tickets re-booked! We were told to contact BA and re-book our flights as well. When we asked where the BA re-booking counter was they told us ”oh, they have closed up and gone home, this weather is so bad that we couldn’t stay here”. Hmmmmm! that’s a good sign, isn’t it!! so instead we should use either the web or call the BA hotline. Turned out that NO ONE was answering the phones and to re-book through the web page you had to be some sort of card member. *GAH!* so we had to contact our travel agency at work and have them helping us. They were kind enough to book us on a SAS flight on Saturday morning at 6.30 AM. IF we wanted to re-book and fly with BA, we had to wait for a flight sometime after 14.00/2 PM on Saturday. The guy at our travel agency also helped out with booking a hotel room for us. When he checked with BA, none of their suggested hotels had anything available. So we had to go back to Paddington and check in at Novotel. Not too bad, the hotel was a 5 minute walk from the trainstation, so we could easily catch the train at 5.10 in the morning. SO, while walking up to the hotel I just had to take a picture of the infamous London snow chaos:

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So, Saturday at 4 AM it was time to get up and get ready for chasing the train. Hopefully the flight would operate today! Came to Heathrow in good time before departure and the flight was still operational *woohoo* We did a quick dash into the taxfree shop and then over to WHSmith to get some brekkie, as we didn’t have any at the hotel, and when we got out from WHSmith it turned out that they had opened up our gate so we dashed off to it and this really felt like ”this is it!” and we were very bemused when they opened up the doors so we could board the flight. We were finally going HOME!! 🙂

Flight went fine and the landing at Kastrup smooth, then run of to the ticket machine and get train tickets so we could get home. I had my photo shoot to think about and was happy to see that there was a train that would take me home in time! At 10.59 AM I stepped out of the train in Eslöv and got on my way to my flat, had enough time to just put down the travel case and grab my camera bag and head off to the opening of the new arena in town. I would now be able to do the photoshoot I had looked forward to for so long. At the arena I found out that I was on the ”press list” *haha* ME, working for the press 🙂 But didn’t care much about that, as long as I was able to get into the arena and do my coverage of the handball games, then I was a happy camper.

(NOTE: ALL photos shown here were shot with my iPhone, I so wish I had brought my real camera with me instead!!)

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