The prepping and planning has really moved along in the last three days and I have lots of “new thotz” to share, but alas, work vs. daylight hours vs. body need for some sleep means I only have time to dash out a quick update tonight with the most solid bit of planning that has happened since the day I bought the plane tickets to London.
Speaking of sleep…
I decided to work on finalizing the last solid travel detail for the camino — how to get from London to Saint Jean Pied de Port. In my mind, I imagined it would be as easy as skipping over to Paris. I’ll just grab an Easy Jet or Jet Blue or Basic Virgin or Econobuckets or whatever the budget airlines du jour are these days.
Imagine my surprise to learn that all of those low cost airlines were running flights to the region either very early in the morning or late evening. There were no cheapo noon flights to Bordeaux or Toulouse or Madrid or Biarritz from Gatwick.
Now, why is this a big deal? Can’t I just hang out at the airport for 10-12 hours and wait for the next flight? What about moseying on over to Heathrow or Stansted? Not going to work, and let me tell you why:
Never, ever, in my entire life have I EVER been able to sleep more than a few minutes of nodding off on a plane. Never. No matter how hard I tried, how tired I was, or how much of the free booze I drank. My brain will not allow my body to do it. End of story. That means invariably, every single time I fly to Europe, I have been awake for at least 24 hours… and every single flight I’ve ever taken, starting with my very first British Air flight in 1995, lands at the European destination early in the morning. This time it will be 7:00 am GMT. That’s too dang early.
So because my flight would be landing at the same time as the departures of the budget flights for the continent, I would be the ever-dreadful Zombie Jen hanging out at the airport until 6 or 7 pm (or later) with my big backpack. Then Zombie Jen would be landing in a French or Spanish town for the first time, very late at night. This scenario would take almost two days for my body to catch up on sleep… which would delay the start of the pilgrimage. Not good!
I found a great solution, though. I am going to sleep at Gatwick to catch up on the zzzzzzzs. I just learned that there is a “pod”-type hotel INSIDE one of the terminals, and you can check in during the day for an additional fee. The room looks modern and hightech but no windows — perfect for me to roll into a ball and un-Zombify myself. I will then catch an early morning flight to Bordeaux the next day (after 24 hours of sleep), and be bright eyed and bushy tailed! I’m happy to scuttle my original plan of getting to the continent as soon as possible if it means I can sleep off the jet lag in my own personal little windowless, purple apodpartment. Perfect!
I ran into another interesting problem tying up the loose end of getting back to Bordeaux from Santiago for the return flight back to London. Holy smokes, the durations were between 13 and 23 hours by train, and we don’t even want to discuss the bus option. The flights were… wow.
But then I discovered it — a direct flight from Santiago back to Gatwick, and it was under 40 GBP! So I’m going to burn (not use) the return leg of the Bordeaux ticket and instead fly directly back to London from Santiago.
Plans for the beginning and the end of the trip are now solid. We’re good to go!