We got another early start. We had to get checked in in London, and return the rental car. When in Paris, I waited a bit too long and almost missed my return window, and I wasn’t about to do that this time. I was still timing my gas consumption at this point, as we pre-bought the tank, and there was no way I was giving these bastards one drop more than I had too.
We flew back to London, the freeways were clear and fast, great weather, the works. Even the Red Bull had just the right amount of fizz. You really couldn’t ask for a better drive.
Then we hit Heathrow.
The rain and traffic hit at the same time. The traffic stopped dead and the freeway was covered in standing water in parts. Apparently, the English have never heard of these new inventions called “Storm Drains”. Pipe the shit right out of your house…
We slowly ground our way into the center of the city, and lucky for us once we were off the freeway things let up and we could get to our apartment without too much trouble. We were just a block or so North of the Lancaster Gate Tube station, in a nice street. Yulia went in to check in, and I started to get the bags. The room wasn’t ready, so we had them store our bags while Yulia and Sasha walked around Hyde Park, and I took the car back.
I set the GPS for Hertz Heathrow Return and started heading back. My gas light came on the dash, and I could see that it said I had 25 miles left. The GPS said I had to go 12. Easy. Halfway there, the gas light started *blinking*, but it still told me 25 miles range. Hmmm. I pulled into Heathrow, and then I started having trouble with the return ramps. Recent construction didn’t match the GPS, and there were no signs of any kind for rental return, like I see at most airports. On my second lap of the terminal, the central dash changed from 25 miles to: !!!REFUEL!!!
I checked my paperwork quickly and it gave the perimeter road as a dropoff point. I checked the GPS and found another Hetrz point on the Perimeter Road. Activating that I got out of the Terminal Loop, Gas light blinking madly, and drove along the perimeter road a bit. I was real gentle with the brakes, not wanting to need to accelerate, or to slosh the tank for that matter. I rolled into the lot, lights blinking, and fuel gauge pegged on empty. The Fine gentleman checked my car, found no dents and signed me out. I figured he could push it from there and I got on the shuttle back to the terminal.
I wasn’t going to pay a taxi back into ton, and our hotel was just two blocks from Paddington Station (note: I loved Paddington Bear as a child. Bugger off.) So I caught the train from the airport back into town. It was too easy. Te terminal has a tunnel to the airport station, and there is an express train that only takes 15 minutes to get to downtown. Once back I met Yulia and Sasha in the room, and Yulia told me that she spent that time fighting the front desk over which room we were going to get.
Apparently the first room was a nasty shoebox, with everything but a chalk outline of the last tenant. She went back and forth with them, and naturally, since Russian beats Englishman (even Indian-Englishman in this case) we got a new room. Still old and funky, but a much better place than the first two. We celebrated being done with the car and being at our final destination by walking along the park and finding a great little Italian place near Notting Hill. After that we went to the Tube station and got our passes for the week setup, then tooled around town for a bit before walking back through the park to the hotel.
It was still hot and muggy.