My Trip To The UK: Part 2 – Arriving In The UK

So I am in the UK, but the flight was anything but uneventful. I booked on Air Canada, and as is typical for Air Canada, they were late by an hour taking off due to the fact that the plane that they were using was late getting into Pearson. That didn’t leave me in a good mood and it didn’t help that the seat that I was sitting in was being kicked by an old lady who for some reason felt the need to do that despite the fact I asked her not to. That made me a not so happy person by the time the flight landed at 7 AM BST (30 minutes behind schedule by the way). One thing that was good about the flight was the fact that Air Canada provided a USB port at every seat to keep your devices fully charged. What wasn’t good is that those USB ports are connected to some sort of computer as my iPhone 5s asked me if I should trust this computer. I felt it prudent not to and simply use the USB port to charge my iPhone 5s. I may be paranoid, but with threats like Wirelurker about, you can’t be too careful.

But you don’t care about any of that. You care about the technology aspect of my trip.

I had a train to the West Midlands, specifically Birmingham International Station booked. Here’s a hint. Train travel in the UK is very civilized and it’s cheap if you know where to look. I booked my return tickets on a website called TheTrainline.com. It enabled me to book coach seats to and from Euston Rail Station in London to Birmingham International for 58 pounds instead of the normal 200 pounds. That’s a significant savings! All I had to do is to pick up the tickets from Euston Rail Station in London. It’s a good thing that London has the famous Underground as I was able to take that to get to Euston. Here’s another tip: If you visit London, invest in an Oyster card. This is a card that you can pre load with funds and then use it to “tap and pay” on buses, the Underground, or some rail services. It’s very handy to have and you should never travel around London without one. You can pick one up at most Underground stations or you can pre-order one in advance of your trip to London. Once I arrived at Euston Rail Station, picking up the tickets was easy. I was booked on Virgin Rail so I simply walked up to their automated machines, inserted my credit card and entered my booking reference. Within a minute, my tickets were printed out. How civilized. A couple of tips:

  • With Virgin, you get two tickets. One is a confirmation and the other is your seat assignment. You need both to board the train.
  • Pay attention to the time your train is scheduled to depart because you will be using that time to determine what platform you’ll be leaving from.
  • Virgin Trains close their doors two minutes before departure and trains in the UK generally leave on time. Don’t be late!

One hour and 15 minutes after boarding the train, I was at Birmingham International and being picked up by my “chauffeur” for the week. He was one of the employees of the company that I am working for this week who volunteered to take me to and from my hotel and pick me up at the train station. Now I didn’t go into their office right away as I had to make a stop at an EE to pick up a T-Mobile Pay As You Go SIM. Here’s why I am using a pay as you go SIM:

  • My phone is unlocked which gives me the freedom to choose the carrier of my choice.
  • Using a local SIM is ALMOST ALWAYS cheaper than using the roaming plan of your carrier.

Thus I got the following deal. One pound gets me a T-Mobile SIM. An extra ten pounds gets me the following:

  • 100 minutes of talk time.
  • 400 texts
  • 1GB of data

This is more than I need for the four days that I am here at such a low price. There is not a big three Canadian carrier who can offer me a deal this cheap when I travel overseas. And I get 4G access as part of the deal. Take it from me, you never want to roam abroad with the big three carriers ever as there are better deals out there. This way I can stay in touch and not run up a huge phone bill. Now I will admit that I don’t get my Canadian phone number, but very few people phone me on it that it doesn’t make a difference.

As for my day, I only had 1/2 a day today and it was extremely productive. Tomorrow and Thursday should be really busy days. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s report.

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