Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov 09 - UK Pub Crawl Night One.

Firstly, I'll apologize for the pictures. I took all the pictures with my iphone; some are good some..meh. This will just be a recap of the first night...I'll do the rest later.

We began this pub crawl looking for the cheapest flight we could find. For some reason Air Canada is not lowering their prices in slow season, which makes no sense, so the best we could do there is over a G. So, we sucked it up and went with Air Transat. There's a couple things to note when booking with a charter: 1) you're at the mercy of their flight dates 2) the flights are cheap...but there is a very good reason for this.

Normally, we book to leave on a Wednesday and Come back Monday. Due to the fact that we went with Air Transat (price of the flight was 549$ all taxes in) we had to leave on Tuesday Nov 3rd and return the following Tuesday. The extra couple days were ok, since we were saving cash on the flight and for three days we crashed at a friends pad so we didn't have hotel costs (remember...I'm thrifty..and the reason I can do these trips frequently is I don't go crazy with the cheese whiz with cash, I find deals and I have a fantastic and understanding wife).


The flight left on time...and let's get back to the comment I made about "the flights are cheap and there's a reason" .... I refer to these planes as cattle cars. They fit an extra 2 seats in each row, so when I sit in the seat, my hips hit the arm rails in each side..I fit without too much issue and the seats are ok...not great, but not hard as rocks. Leg room is ok (I made sure I had an isle). Now, the issue comes with your shoulders. I'm not a small person so my shoulders kind of exceed my seat area. But, being in a isle I can lean to the side so it's not that big of a deal. Really, it's not that bad.

UNLESS.

You get a flight like ours (going and coming home). Going, there was no in flight entertainment...nothing...it wasn't working. For me, not a big deal, I stayed up late the night before ans was planning to sleep the whole way there (which I did...ish). Also, I got a linebacker of a grandma who sat next to me and just shoved herself in and threw her shoulders back. Again, not so bad cause I could manage (and I slept...and snored...so I didn't really care). Coming home was a different story (I'll save that for later).

The flight was uneventful (mostly cause I slept) and the food is what you would expect from a low budget airline.

We landed at around 11:30 am at Gatwick. This is a first for me; usually I fly into Heathrow. Since we were at Gatwick we decided to stay a night in Crawley (it's a new town pretty much connected to Gatwick). We took a quick taxi ride to our hotel which was conveniently located on the high street near pubs of course. We stayed at the Gatwick George Hotel. This place is well worth a stay. It's clean, quiet, at the center of high street and CHEAP ! We paid 90$ CDN all in for a night. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the place is huge and seems to be well run.




Once we checked in and freshened up (usually consists of a blast of spray to the pits and a splash of cold water to the face) we headed out...not for beer just yet...we needed to line our stomachs. We hit the fish and chippy...right around the corner (perfect location). Once the days meal was down, we headed out for our first pint. First up was the Brewery Shades. Cute little place. I decided this year I was going to get into the traditional ales and not partake of the big names (I did pretty good). My first pint was Greene King Abbot Ale. Nice and refreshing.
After the first pint, we set off to get a UK phone. Believe me, if you're traveling for an extended time, bring your phone for emergencies ONLY. Buy a local phone. You can usually pick one up with minutes, ready to go for about 40-60$ CDN depending on the features. In some cases you can just buy a sim card. This is much better than getting home and getting a 1000$ bill in the mail.


After we got wired up we headed to the next place. The Rat & Parrot. This would not be considered an 'Old Man Pub'. It had a nice looking long bar. The interior was large and very open inside (it had a similar long bar on an upstairs). This pub struck me as possibly a place where the young crowd would gather on a Friday/Saturday night and get boozy. It was probably a frequent stop for the local police...nothing to back that up...just a feeling given the looks of the interior. We had one from here and moved on.

Next was the Old Punch Bowl. This is a bit more of an upscale pub. Very nice interior with comfy couches and chairs. Nice high chairs and tables, and friendly staff behind the bar. We decided to take a bit of a break and stay for more than one. We sipped a few here and watched the sun go down. Most of the pubs weren't very busy since it was a Wednesday night and to this point no one had been too receptive to chatting. So we stuck to ourselves and discussed the plans for the rest of the week.


After downing a couple, we decided to move onto the next place. We did a U turn, wandered by a place that was obviously more of a night club, and headed back toward the hotel. We stopped at the The Jubilee Oak. Again, not an old man pub. This one is part of the Wetherspoons Chain. Even though I want to go to more 'Local-Old Man Pubs' I'm certainly not a Pub Snob and I was thirsty and they had a 'Real Ale' special on. We bellied up to the bar and tucked in to some of the cask ales they had on tap. At this point, we were at 'Chatty' mode. There was enough ale flowing that we weren't content to just chat with each other. It didn't take long until we had a couple new friends. I have no idea what their names were, but they were friendly guys. local builders out 'on the lash'. Along with these two funny guys was a dude at the bar who, as I recall, was farther than we were. His voice sounded like Bill Nighy which made me laugh so I just kept him talking (I snapped his picture). I think at some point he tried to hit me up for cash...not really sure...but all I did was just continue to laugh and tell him to keep talking. This went on for a few pints. Then for some reason, I decided to head to another pub with slow talking Bill Nighy dude while Todd stayed with the 2 builder dudes. (it's funny how after that many pints any semblance of common sense starts to disappear...not saying we put ourselves into precarious situations, it's more...I have no idea who this guy is and maybe he's a crazy serial killer..but, he seemed alright and the other pub was around the corner so WTF, let's go). I'm not sure what the name of that pub was...I only had one and the body told me it was time to go. I made my way back to the George..surprisingly, no problem finding the hotel even though when I walked out of the pub my first reaction was 'WHERE THE F**K AM I?". Also, no problem finding my room through the maze inside the building. I walked into the room to discover one of the most horrifying sites I have ever seen. Todd in his underwear with a bucket of Fried Chicken strewn all over. And damned if I couldn't get a picture (I have no idea what I was doing...I managed to get 3 pictures of my head...well I did have a few pints in me at that point). I believe we shut the night down around midnight.
It was a good start !

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