We arrived in London fairly refreshed after being able to stretch out on the plane overnight. We had 5 hours to get to Gatwick from Heathrow – another bit of fallout from the volcanic eruption was that our plans changed and we no longer had a connection out of Heathrow. We decided to check the Virgin first class lounge to see if we could hang there for a bit – score! We were on the list for access to the lounge, where we had Internet access and great showers.
We already had tickets for the Gatwick Express train, so we took the Tube to Kensington South, on the hunt for lunch. Lunch turned out to be cupcakes from a terrific local bakery, Hummingbird Bakery. They were on my list of places to try to hit so I was happy there´s a branch just outside the Tube station. Then we hung out at Starbucks, where we hitched on to a wireless signal for a bit. Larry enjoyed a coffee and we people watched. Larry went down the street for a kebab and then we finally got on our way to Gatwick after waiting for a while for the train to finally leave the station.
The lines at the EasyJet check-in were horrendous. We had paid for speedy boarding and still had to wait a while. When we finally got to the front of the line, the agent surprised us by saying our flight was closed. We were speechless, looked at our watches, and at once realized we had pulled a rookie move and hadn´t paid attention to the time. Our flight was leaving in 15 minutes and the gates had just closed. We were out of luck. The agent then told us that she could get us on a flight on Saturday – but we weren´t willing to wait in London for that long, we were supposed to be in Portugal in 2 hours!
We had a joint freak-out and kept going on about how we missed our flight for no good reason. Unbelievable. We got in line at the EasyJet sales counter and started to use our phones to look up other flights, from London to anywhere in Portugal. We ended up changing to an early morning EasyJet flight into Lisbon, but out of Luton. So we gathered our things and got on yet another train, bound for our third London airport in one day. Before we left the airport, we called the hotel in Lisbon to change our arrival, then booked a cheap hotel next to the Luton airport for the night.
We finally arrived at the Ibis hotel at the Luton airport around 7:30pm, exhausted after traveling for 24 hours. No energy to even go have dinner, we munched on snacks we brought with us, set two alarms to be sure we´d make our morning flight, and went to bed.
One thing I´ll say about making a mistake like this – we´ll never forget it, and it´s not likely we´ll ever make a mistake like that again!