London Trip

Swan Pub, London, UK

As some of you already know, I’ve spent most of this week in London, UK.  My first and only time in London was back in 2009, when I went there for a PHP conference (see this post, and this post).

This trip was very different.  I stayed longer than the last time.  I was mostly for business.  I had much less time to explore the city as a tourist.  So I thought I’d write it up, in case I case I need to remember some of it later.

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Winning The War On Terror

Cyprus Mail recently covered the security measures that are being taken in London for the preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  Here are a few quotes:

SNIPERS in helicopters will patrol the skies over London
based on HMS Ocean, the largest ship in the Navy, anchored in the Thames
Fast jets will also be located just outside London
Rapier air-defence missiles will be located in London
1,000-strong quick reaction force will also be on stand-by
About 7,500 armed forces members will work as security guards
Royal Marines will be based on HMS Ocean
They will also patrol along the Thames.
HMS Bulwark and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay will patrol off Weymouth
Special forces will also be placed on high alert, as well as military explosive disposal teams and units with dogs to search vehicles and buildings.
The venue security allocation has also been dramatically increased by £271 million to £553 million after the number of security guards was revised up to 23,700, more than double the original estimate of 10,000.

Winning The War On Terror, aren’t we?  I understand the need for security and all, but aren’t that going a bit too far?  Ships, jets, helicopters, snipers, special forces, dogs, patrols, tens of thousands in personnel, over half a billion in funds… When and how will we come to our senses again?

In London

So here I am, in London, UK.

The journey took a bit more time than planned.  There were some heavy thunderstorm over Larnaca airport, so we had to stay on the ground.  Overall we spent a bit more than one hour in the airplane before the skies finally cleared enough for us to fly through.

The flight itself was pretty good.  Cyprus airways flight attendants were very nice and kept bringing us beers just when we needed them.  Plus the food was quite good – some sort of marinated chicken with rice, salad, and the usual stuff.  The only thing that could have been better – the movies.  I’ve watched “My Mom’s New Boyfriend” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and both of them were crap.  Better than nothing though.

Once in London, we took the tube from the airport to the center of the city and then walked a bit.  Risking to sound too grumpy, the tube navigation could have been better.  Colors and branch names are all fine, but they shouldn’t be used when splits occur – that makes it quite confusing.  Plus, anything except a straight line and a circle should be forbidden from the map.  Otherwise people have to rotate the map uncontrollably, trying to find some sense in it.  Anyway, that’s not a big issue.   The trains themselves are nice – clean, comfy (soft seats and elbow support), and technologically equipped (voice, displays, and such).

The check-in to the Hilton Olympia Hotel was fast and usual.  Surprisingly, they have a choice of smoking and non-smoking rooms.  The hotel itself is a bit dated, with oldish smells and a few details that reveal that it didn’t have a rennovation for quite a while.  Rooms are the smallest from all the hotels that I’ve seen.  But somewhat cozy.  Overall feels like a good 3 star hotel in Limassol.  But in fact it’s 4 stars.  Or so I believe.

Internet connection at the hotel is charged at extra – 15 GBP / day.  Once purchased, Ethernet connection is available in the room and credentials for wireless connection in the lobby are given.  So far I haven’t tried the wireless yet, but the Ethernte at the room passes the speed test with 3.5 Mbps up and 3.5 Mbps down.  And feels pretty fast too.  But that might be due to lower latency here in London than what I am used to in Limassol.

That’s about it for today.  I am off to bed to catch a few hours of sleep before tomorrow’s main event.