21 February 2011

London: Arrived!

This morning's London arrival provided a demonstration in the goodness of perfect strangers.

Readers know that two weeks ago Tracing the Tribe was at RootsTech. I generally keep my small roll-on stocked with essentials (camera battery and cellphone chargers, computer bag, vitamins, etc.). Everything usually works very well, except .....

Arrived at the Albuquerque airport Sunday morning, noticed my cellphone battery was low, opened the bag for the charger, and found one. However, it was the charger for my old Israeli cellphone and had likely been lurking in the case since our November move. My second thought was perhaps the correct charger was in the checked bag,

Just in case, I called my husband to see if it was somewhere in the house. He checked all the usual places it might have been used. Wasn't in the kitchen or the office. That gave me some hope for the checked suitcase, until he said, "Here it is, in the living room!"

A reasonably smooth flight from Houston landed at 6.50am - an ungodly hour. Note to travellers flying into Heathrow for the first time: Be prepared to walk MILES - this airport gets bigger every year - to get to border control and baggage claim. Electric carts never looked so good. Got through the formalities and found the car service driver, Raj.

I mentioned to him that I needed a charger. Mind you, this is at 7.30am. He found a neighborhood market that sells such things on the way into town, saying it would be much less expensive than in Kensington High Street near my hotel. He took the phone in and came back with the charger at a cost of only a few pounds. He also obtained a sim card and topped it without my having to even get out of the car. What a great guy!

Kept trying to imagine a New York City taxi or car service driver providing the same level of customer care. That image escaped me.

Later in the day, I ventured out on the high street, looking for a pay-as-you-go phone to use this week and when I return in May for the Society of Genealogists' Centenary Conference. I also checked the charger price in a shop near the hotel and it was much more expensive than at the little neighborhood store..

Found a nearby branch of one of the major UK mobile phone companies and found another great guy - Kupresh - who explained all the possible options, made some excellent practical suggestions, programmed the phone, made sure everything was working perfectly and, in general, went far out of his way with kindness and good humor to help this very jet lagged traveler. My little bag also contained a broadband USB to avoid a very expensive hotel connection.

Moral of this story: Before each trip, carefully check your roll-on for the correct chargers, cables, connectors and plugs. Today it was simple to make things right; it might have been much more expensive and/or difficult to do the same in another location.

I'm connected to the world tonight via phone and internet, thanks to two very helpful people who went far beyond the call of duty. By the way, both men knew about the "Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE" event this week.

A very good start to my London visit.

Tomorrow - in some spare time - I'll be visiting several Persian markets in the area to bring back some ingredients rare in New Mexico. Tracing the Tribe's readers familiar with Los Angeles' Westwood area with its numerous Persian shops would feel right at home on Kensington High Street with its restaurants, supermarkets and bakeries.


  1. Anonymous3:23 PM

    Glad to hear you are safely in London. Thanks for sharing positive travel experiences. Looking forward to more post from WDYTYA Live! ~ ABQ Chris

  2. Enjoy your blog immensely. Hope to see you on Thursday evening at the JGSGB meeting.
    Tony Benson
    (An English Jewish Family's quest for their roots)