Reykjavik, Iceland to Gatwick Airport to Longfield, UK
A year ago today (July 25, 2014), we left Iceland for the UK.
Very Early Morning
Our flight to Gatwick was leaving at 7:30am and so, in order to get to the airport in time, we needed to decide how early to get up, when (and how) to get a taxi to take us to the bus station to get the Flybus shuttle back to airport (knowing that the shuttle to the airport would take an hour).
So here’s how the decision process unfolded:
- the flight leaves at 7:30am – it’s an international flight – they want us to be there two hours ahead
- that meant arriving at the airport at 5:30am
- the shuttle to the airport takes an hour – that meant getting the shuttle at 4:30am
- we needed to take a taxi to bus station to pick up the shuttle – that meant booking a taxi for 4:00am
- even though we had packed everything the night before, we still needed to get showered, dressed and have a quick breakfast – that meant getting up at 3:00am
- Yep – 3:00am – a very early morning indeed.
We were concerned about booking the taxi. It was once again the problem with not even being able to pronounce the name of the street we were on. Fortunately, the gentleman that we had rented the apartment from said he would call the taxi company and arrange for a 4:00am pick up.
We were waiting outside at about 3:50am, in a slight drizzle, and the taxi showed up five minutes early at 3:55am, so we didn’t even have time for any panic about whether the taxi company would remember.
Once at the bus station – 20 minutes early for the shuttle – we settled in to wait.
We noticed several people going to a kiosk and scanning their etickets and receiving actual tickets, so we decided to check it out.
As luck would have it, the instructions were also in English or we would have been totally lost. However, it became clear to us that we needed to scan the QR code on our eticket and print out an actual ticket. We did that without any problems and then had our tickets in hand when the bus was ready to go.
Flight to Gatwick
Upon arrival at the Reykjavik airport it became apparent that self-checkin was the norm.
We used one of the many available kiosks and typed in our last name and locator code for our reservation. The machine not only printed out our boarding passes but our luggage tags as well.
The only thing we needed to do after that was drop off our luggage at a specific spot and head to our gate to wait for our flight. All very organized and automated.
The flight took off on schedule and we arrived in Gatwick, also on schedule, at 11:30am UK time.
Two Together Rail Pass
Once again, having done our research in Canada prior to our trip, we were prepared to purchase a rail pass called a Two Together Pass. As the name suggests, it is for two people traveling together. It applies a 30% discount to any off-peak rail travel for the two people shown on the pass when they are, obviously, traveling together.
Because of our research we knew we needed two passport-size photos – one of each of us – and a completed application form. We had all of that with us and ready in my handy dandy travel file.
Not only did the British Rail agent help us get our pass, she also issued our tickets to Longfield as well as our return tickets for August 10th, when we would need to return to Victoria Station to catch the Megabus to Paris. And all at the 30% discount thanks to our Two Together Pass.
The Two Together Pass cost us £30, but with all the train travel we had planned for our stay in the UK, it more than paid for itself and then some. Yes, it was worth the investment.
Train to Longfield
Our tickets to Longfield were valid all day as we were already in off-peak time. Peak time is each morning (except for Sundays, which all off-peak all day) until about 9:30am. The rest of each day is considered off-peak.
That meant we didn’t have to rush to get a particular train.
There are many trains leaving from Gatwick and the station has more than one level. We had to ask where we needed to go to catch our train and were directed up a stairway and from there we were able to check the departure boards to find our platform.
Getting to Longfield required changing trains at Victoria Station, but once again, checking the departure boards helped us find the correct platform.
It doesn’t take very long to get from Victoria Station to Longfield – just a couple of stops.
Taxi to Resort
We were happy to find that there were a couple of taxis waiting just outside the Longfield train station. We loaded up our luggage, told the driver where we were going and were at the resort in short order after a taxi fare of less than £10.
Our Base for the Next Sixteen Days
For the next sixteen days this naturist resort was going to be our base while in the UK. It was conveniently located for getting into London and area by rail and we had planned to use the rail system for all of our planned excursions – of which we had many.
We picked this resort for several reasons:
- it was a naturist resort and we are naturists
- it was conveniently located for easy access to London
- it was considerably less expensive than a hotel room in London and had a pool, hot tubs and a small restaurant
Basically a Wooden Tent
We knew we were booking “basic” accommodations but didn’t realize until we got there just how basic the accommodations were.
For all intents and purposes, what we had rented was a wooden tent. It was a small cabin – about the size of a garden shed – with a small, covered terrace that could accommodate two chairs, and nothing more. The inside was a single room, with a queen-size bed and a night table and nothing else. The toilet and shower facilities were in a separate building that was also where the hot tubs were and the restaurant as well.
It was all we really needed. It was the right price. It was a good location. But it was truly basic.
Another Long Day of Travel
It was another long day of travel by the time we got settled in.
We took advantage of the hot tubs and then a decent meal of fish & chips in restaurant, before turning in early.