Newark, NJ to London, UK – 10th/11th August 2021
Today is Glo’s birthday… I really wish I could have gotten home in time for it, but not to be. I have sent a gift and some flowers, but will get something better when I get home.
This morning is very jam packed as I have a lot to do before dropping the bike for shipping. First of all I must find somewhere to buy a duffle bag, I have looked online at Walmart and other department stores, but they don’t have much and/or are too far away. I do find a Target reasonably close by so I make my way there.. no good, the only bag is $175 for a hard sided spinner. Next door is a dollar shop, nope nothing there either. I look on google for a sports shop and find Dicks, it is in the opposite direction to where I need to get my covid test. It’s now 10.15 and checking the GPS it’s going to take 35 minutes to get to the test site. Ok I’ll have to go there now and get the test done, that is the priority.
I arrive at the test centre bang on time having taken 10 minutes to park and find it on foot. There is no-one else here for a test, but I am told to wait. I am still waiting at 11.07 and starting to worry about getting back to leave my room by noon. The test is to take place inside a tent where I can see someone in PPE sitting looking at their phone… am beginning to simmer.. the man who checked me in comes past so I ask how long it will be, he goes in the tent and speaks with the young woman on her phone. When he comes out he says she is waiting for the machine to reset from the last test… “ok thanks, how long does that take?” “It can take a few minutes…” so now I have been here 10 minutes already, no one has had a test while I’ve been here so I am dubious as to this explanation.. “oh, well I’m really pushed for time, will it be ready soon?” “Yes, she will call you in” and off he wanders. I now notice she has managed to extract herself from her phone and is hovering over one of the machines, yes there is more than one… go figure. Now I’m starting to boil, it’s already gone 11.15 and I’ve got to get back and packed. Just then she calls me in, she asks me to remove my mask from my nose and blow it.. that’s new… then she says she will put the swab in each nostril and twirl it round 10 times in each. Now I have had a few of these tests and this doesn’t seem quite right. She puts the swab just inside my nostril and twirls it around and then the other one… when I’ve had the test before they have literally shoved the swab up my nose and almost into the back of my throat.. in fact so far that I have actually jumped!! Well, at this point I don’t really care, just so long as I get a negative result in writing to be able to get on the plane; which I haven’t even booked yet!
I haven’t had time to look for a Honda motorcycle dealers to get a valuation so I’ll have to do that after I’ve checked out. Back to the room and I just make it in time.. with only 10 minutes to spare. I quickly put everything back in the bag that is staying with the bike and the rest in various carrier bags etc. then strap it all onto the bike; praying none of it falls off.
I put the address of Dicks, the sports store, into my GPS and realise it is actually only a few miles from where I need to drop the bike. I have plenty of time now as I have a deadline to drop by 3.30 so am ok to go and find a bag, but I don’t think I am going to be able to get the valuation done.. mmm what can I do about that. Thinking whilst riding to get the bag I decide I can get an online valuation and that will have to do I guess, will look into it later.
I arrive at Dicks and find I have my Covid test result.. it’s negative, excellent.
Dicks is an enormous sports shop with everything from a huge selection of baseball bats to extensive fishing gear… loads of back packs, small ones, big ones, super big ones for fitting your baseball/american football gear in, but no duffle bags; this is getting rather desperate now. Maybe I’ll have to make do with a super big rucksack at over $100 when just then I see, hidden away at the back of the shop, a backpack on wheels… ahhh maybe that will do. It is on the very top shelf and I don’t know how much it is.. am looking on the lower shelves for another one or a price when I see a pack-away duffle, it is really large, but behind it is a smaller one that is just perfect for what I want.. this size means I can carry it on to a plane so won’t have to pay for hold luggage and it’s only $12… yes TWELVE dollars.. yipppeeeeee!!
Out at the bike I fit all the gear I’m taking home easily into the bag, including my leather jacket, so I am very pleased with it. It is actually pretty good quality, quite sturdy, not paper thin like the one I had when I flew over 6 weeks ago, excellent.
I am about 5 miles from where I need to drop the bike and it is only 2pm… I make my way there, but just half a mile before it I turn off for something to eat.. Wendy’s is a pretty ubiquitous brand that I don’t think I have tried before. It’s basically McDonalds/KFC rolled into one, but not too bad actually. While I’m there I check out online valuations and get an estimate for the bike value of between $1780 and $2240; that’s with trade in. I have put on the shipping manifest a value of $1500 as that is what I was offered by Honda Billings as a no trade in price so I think it will be alright, but wait and see what HM Customs make of it.
I have booked the shipping via CFR Rinkens, an agent, but I am dropping the bike at Mill Wright Exports although I don’t know this until I arrive at the address and find that it is Mill Wrights warehouse.
The main building is closed due to Covid, so I have to go into the yard office… there is no one around at all. On a white board there is a phone number to call so I try it. A woman answers and I explain that I am here to drop a motorcycle booked via CFR Rinkens, she says to wait there, she will be along in a minute. She arrives and says “do you have the original title?”, “Yes here it is.” “OK, great, we will keep this for US customs… do you want a copy?” “Yes please”. There is a printer/photocopier on a table, it is the only thing here besides the white board and a fold away chair. She makes a copy and hands it to me, she says “OK, that’s it… I’ll print off a receipt for you and one of the guys will come and take the bike from you. The receipt will come out of this printer, two copies, one for you, one for the receiver guy.” “Oh, great, thanks… is that all you need?” “Yep, that’s it.. all done.” “Ok and thank you very much” “You’re welcome and have a nice day”. With that she disappears… I wait about 5 minutes and the printer spews out 2 receipts as expected.
I wait about another 5 minutes and a guy comes along, he is my receiver. We go out to the bike and he asks me to ride it into the warehouse, which I do. There are several guys working in here and a couple of them direct me into a space with a collection of other motorcycles, mostly Harleys.. they look to be insurance right offs.. all damaged and very dusty. I park up and proceed to sort out my luggage making sure everything I want to take home is off the bike.. I remove my GPS, both clocks from their holder, the duffle bag, my water bottle, (which I am dumping as it fell off the bike a couple of times and is pretty beaten up), but I am keeping the bottle carrier so strap it to the top of the luggage along with my helmet. I forgot to get any photos of the bike.. will have to ask Rinkens for some. I receive these within a couple of hours… impressed or what
I hand the keys over to my receiver, I am taking the spare set home. So it is done.. boom.. as easy as that.
All that is left to do now is get myself back to London so I need to sort out a flight. As it is still a very hot day I go back to the yard office to look up flights. I have already been trying to get in touch with British Airways to rearrange my existing flight… after being on hold for over 20 minutes at least twice I have given up trying to get through, my flight is not until the 28th so I can sort this out when I get home.
Now I check out cheap flights for today and I find one with TAP Portugal via Lisbon, which leaves at 7.30pm.. perfect… however when I try to pay for it all my credit cards bounce.. now that isn’t real they should all work. I start again.. now the 7.30pm flight is not available and the next one is at 23.00 arriving in UK at 15.30 local times… ok that works. By the time I have paid for my seats, ($75 for the seat from NJ to Lisbon and $37 from Lisbon to London) the total cost is $729.20, I just hope I can claim this back from my travel insurance.
Next I need to get to the airport.. I am flying from Liberty International, the New Jersey airport which is only a few miles from here. The flight isn’t until 2300, but there’s no point in doing anything else, I can get there and plot up in a Starbucks or whatever until it is time to check in for the flight. The Uber comes and I am at terminal B within half an hour. There isn’t much here actually, but I do find a Starbucks so settle down to wait.
After a time I get an email from eDreams, who I have booked my flights with, confirming everything and saying I should be able to download my boarding passes once check in opens. Oh that means I am already checked in I guess.. hang about, I look at the flight time and now it is saying the flight from here is at 5am tomorrow morning.. WHAT! I double check everything and yes it looks like I have booked a flight at 5am… OMG what a bloody pain in the arse.. however the flight arrival in the UK is now saying 16.35.. how odd, the flight I thought I had booked at 2300 was due to arrive at 15.35.. this is weird. Then I think oh maybe 5am is Europe time… I’m not sure. I guess I’ll just have to wait until 5am then.
|DepartureNewark Liberty International Airport(EWR)11 Aug 05:00ArrivalLisbon Portela Airport (LIS)11 Aug 12:20|
|Mrs. Padraigin Ni Raghillig||Check in with airline|
|TAP Portugal Flight TP1368|
|DepartureLisbon Portela Airport (LIS)11 Aug 13:50ArrivalLondon Heathrow Airport (LHR)11 Aug 16:35|
|Mrs. Padraigin Ni Raghillig||Boarding pass attached|
There are 3 terminals here, all within easy reach via a monorail service so I decide to check out the other two to see if they have any other facilities. Terminal A is worse than B, nothing here at all and Terminal C doesn’t have much either, but I do find an Italian fast food outlet and get myself some Chicken Parmigiana and Spaghetti, which is quite good. I make my way back to Terminal B and by this time Starbucks and pretty much everything else is closed. I park up next to a power point to charge up my phone and download my boarding passes. The first one, from here to Lisbon says Check in airline… but the second one is ok. On closer inspection the first one does look like an actual boarding pass, in fact it looks exactly the same as the second one.
Then I happen to glance at the departures board… there’s my flight, it is leaving at 2300 and the boarding gate is now open.. OMFG, I jump up, pack up my stuff and start to make my way to the gate.. then I think, what if I’m not actually checked in?? I turn around and go up a floor to the check in desks. TAP is empty except for one lonely chap so I go up to him and show him my ‘boarding passes’, “I’m flying to London and am a bit confused, I booked a flight for 11pm but this is saying 5am and now I see my flight is at gate B61 and is open… I’m not sure what is happening”. He says, “Yes you are on the 11pm flight, I have you here on my system so I’m not sure why that has happened” “So, are these the boarding passes or do I need to check in?” “No, we like everyone to have printed passes so I will print yours now”, “Great and thank you”.
I get my pass and make my way to gate B61; it is now 10.05 so I should be ok I think. When I arrive at the gate there is a long queue, mmm ok think I’ll go to a nearby duty free shop to pick up some cigarettes for Spin and a small gift for Glo. There is a coffee bar next to it so I get a coffee and sit down with one eye on the gate queue. It has started moving, very slowly.. odd. I finish my coffee and the queue is down to the last 10 or so people. When I get there one of the flight attendants asks for my passport and boarding pass and my Passenger Locator Form… oh no I completely forgot about that. I ask if I can fill it in on the flight, no you must do it now otherwise you cannot get on the flight! Shit, shit shit… how could I be so stupid!!
I get my phone and scan the QR code on a poster that I completely missed, telling everyone you must complete the form before flight… am so pissed off with myself. The form is long and I can hear the flight attendants hurrying people up to get them on the plane. As part of the form I have to also book and pay for a Day 2 Covid test, (the US is currently an ‘Amber’ list country so I don’t need a Day 8 test or to quarantine), so that I can put the reference number into the form.. bugger, bugger. I find a list of providers, get the test booked and then my credit card fails… oh do fucking stop it!!! there is nothing wrong with my credit cards…. grrrrrrrrrrrr! I am starting to sweat.. at last the payment goes through and I finish the form just as a flight attendant comes up and says they are closing the gate. I tell her I have just finished the form to which she says I must now download it and show it at the desk. She is rushing me over to the desk while checking my passport and boarding pass as we hurry along, I get the form downloaded and show it at the desk.. now they want proof of negative covid test so I have to find the link for the result of the test this morning.. done. Thank the goddess they are letting me on the flight, whew!
Six and a half hours later we land in Lisbon.. I spot the Vasco De Gama bridge as we come into land and remember riding across that back in 2012. A quick transfer and I am boarding the flight to London. Just a few hours later and I am in Heathrow ordering an Uber to take me home. I haven’t managed to sleep at all on the flights, as usual, and with the Jet Lag, I just cannot face an hour and a half on the London Underground. After sitting in the M25 car park, (aka permanent traffic jam), I arrive home at 5.05pm, Glo is out having taken the dogs to the vet for their regular check up so I am alone. No time to reflect on the tour as yet, I will need a few days to combat the Jet Lag, sort out insurance claims and my British Airways flights.