MANCHESTER > HOUSTON
I left home for the airport at 7am. The flight was at 10am and despite the usual disorganised security at Manchester Airport (how on earth does Manchester Airport continue to win ‘awards’? It’s a dreadful airport), I had plenty of time. Grabbed an All Day Breakfast, by the time I’d eaten it, it was time to board.
Singapore Airlines were excellent. I fly a lot, but this was the first time with Singapore; with the exception of the times I’ve been fortunate enough to fly Business Class, I can honestly say they are the best carrier I’ve experienced.
I’d ordered an Asian Vegetarian meal. This means I’ll get a good curry instead of some hard veg! The other benefit of ordering a special meal is that you get served 10 minutes before everyone else. The chap in the seat next door but one to me fell asleep early on so I used this to my advantage… I got served my ‘special’ meal, ate it, then quietly pushed my food tray onto his seat table. Then, when cabin crew came round with the regular meals, they presumed he’d had the special meal and asked what I’d like. I chose the fish option. Kerching, two meals!
Arriving into Texas was as slow as leaving Manchester. I cannot comprehend how airports cannot plan for flights departing and arriving; unlike supermarkets they know exactly how many people are arriving and when, yet it’s rare an airport copes.
HOUSTON > WACO
After clearing customs, it was a short courtesy bus ride to the rental cars building. Due the the high mileage and possibility of unpaved roads, I asked about an upgrade to a 4×4 and also for a vehicle with hands free phone system as the basic car I’d booked didn’t have this.
At first I was given a fanciful extra cost of US$39.99 per day, nearly triple what I’d paid for the Toyota Corolla! I laughed it was miraculously reduced to US$9.99 per day; I accepted.
While the sales guy was upgrading my booking to the 4×4, he explained the vehicle was new and therefore he had to put a license plate on it. He asked what I’d like it to be, so I jokingly said “my initials CB and the number of the beast, 666”.
Imagine my shock when he printed this out! I’ll have to check my American Express statement to make sure I haven’t been charged for a ‘private plate’!
I loaded the car and hoped to make up for time lost in immigration. I was soon heading North out of Houston towards Waco.
My satnav said I was on the same road for 129 miles so I set the cruise control to 45mph, after seeing regular signage at the edge of the road. I was surprised to see other cars belting past me, but thought better of matching to their speeds. It was only when the ETA on the satnav kept increasing (I’d travelled about 40 miles) that I realised I was on the Highway 45, and the signage was telling me this, NOT enforcing a 45mph speed limit! The speed limit was actually 75mph, so I put my foot down to try and make up for lost time. Maybe I should have grabbed some shut-eye on the flight after all…
Rental Car (inc. CDW Insurance): £156.63
Prepaid First Tank Of Fuel: £30.00
Upgrade To 4×4: £90.00
Hotel (inc. Breakfast): £7.12
The hotel was booked a fortnight ago using hotels.com and rewards nights. This had brought the price down from £46.66 to £7.22 (including breakfast) and I’d even got £0.10 back using the Top Cashback website!
I arrived at the hotel just before 21h00. Checkin was fast and efficient and my room was just a few doors down from reception. I was amused to see that not only were ‘Pets Allowed’ but ‘Wifes’ were too!