Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Impressions of London (#4)

Welcome to Heathrow
The plane landed B”H safely at Heathrow. The first site out the window was the black, green and red colors of the Arab countries – a line of United Arab Emirates planes.
We caught a cab to the hotel. The cabbie’s name was Ahmed. We arrived at the hotel and the bell boy jumped right over. Ismaii greeted us warmly, “Welcome to London.”
Hm, any Brits around?
Genteel Gentiles
Everyone in our hotel is so helpful and polite. At first, I thought it was a hotel thing. But now that I’ve spent two full days in London, I know it’s everyone! Everyone we’ve come across is just so kind and attentive. They can’t do enough for you.
We went down to breakfast in the dining room, and Mahmul, the dining room manager, brought us Hermolis kosher food. (It was terrific!! www.hermolis.com) We got the rolls and spreads as we arrived, but the hot food was scheduled for 8:30 AM, and it was already 8:45. My sister mentioned gently that when food is ordered for 8:30, she’d like it on time.
Oh my gosh. They were beside themselves. Just about everyone in the dining room and kitchen came to our table to apologize that our meal wasn’t ready. They even gave my sister and brother-in-law a free dinner on another evening as their apology.
My B-I-L joked that they’re going to the back to fall on their swords because they were disgraced. Well, I certainly hope not. But I was happy when they came right back to us and said that they’d like to give us a free fridge in our room.
When you eat kosher and have to keep special food, a fridge is a great thing. Thanks, Mahmul.
A word about my sister (director of Journeys Unlimited). My sister, who has traveled the world, has a natural gift for speaking to people. She knows exactly how to speak in the most appropriate way to every single person from the dining room manager to the waiter, to the maid and the bellhop.
I was surprised on our first morning here that Ahmed, our taxi driver from the night before, hadn’t joined us for breakfast, because after my sister spoke with him the entire drive from the airport, he was positive he was our long last cousin. And since his name was Ahmed, he probably was.
One last first-impression of London. The driver sits on the right of the car, and the traffic flows in the opposite direction than ours does. All over the streets, it is stenciled, “Look right,” or “Look left”, because everyone in the world is used to doing the opposite. When we started piling into our cab, my daughter almost asked where the driver was, because there was a guy sitting and smoking in the passenger side of the front seat, but no one on the other. He was the driver, and we’ll just have to get used to it over the next few days.

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