Sometimes we get lucky

International business travel generally sucks, unless you’re unfortunate enough to have to do it all the time and can reap the rewards of perks from airline and auto rental memberships.   Even then the amount of effort you have to put into it simply doesn’t make it attractive to me.

On my recent trip to the United Kingdom, I rented a car from Hertz

Why do you need a car in London you might ask.  Generally when I travel to our London office I’m taking equipment over or bringing something back or in 50% of the trips helping them move offices.  Our offices are also on the outside of London, just outside of the reach of most of the tube.   That’s why I need a car. What about taxi’s?  Taxi’s suck.   So there.

I’ve rented a car there 4 times now.   That process itself is usually pretty hateful.   In fact the last time through “National”, we were basically scammed.   I had initially booked the reservation through Kayak and, but the agent at the airport capitalized on my over-night red-eye fog to bait and switch me.    So needless to say, National will never get any of my business again, ever.  But that’s not what this article is about.  

This article is about the awesome service I received from Hertz.   A magnificent upgrade to a brand new Mercedes CLS350 AMG Estate wagon.  When I say brand new, it had 9 miles on it.

I price shopped via Kayak again, but actually booked the car through  Then hooked up my (new to me) Hertz Gold membership to the reservation.  This means other than having pre-done the Hertz Gold membership, they knew nothing about me.  I had not previously rented 10 vehicles from them.  They just treated me like gold.   I hopped on the shuttle, they dropped me off and told me where my parking lot stall was.  I got there, and found the car.  Checked the bill, and was ready to set sail.  The only thing that was missing was the need to add the insurance to the reservation as our corporate insurance doesn’t extend overseas.  So we hopped into the reservation counter, handed them the invoice and they just took care of it.    Easy peasy.

Basically what I got to tool around in was this:


So how awesome was it?

It was awesome.  Of course the steering wheel was on the wrong side, but it was super comfortable.   Had plenty of power, and got decent mileage on top of it all.

It was a turbo diesel, with ‘eco’ features.    This ‘eco’ feature is a new thing over there where the car shuts off when you’re stopped.   You pick your foot up off the brake and the car just starts back up.  Every time you stop.  At lights, at parking stalls, at roundabouts, when you’re about to pull out.   Yeah, all of those times.  I hate it.  

Thankfully you can turn it off.   I couldn’t however figure out a way to have it turned off by default.   I would change that if I owned one.

I didn’t take photos of the interior, but there was plenty of room in the trunk for two large checked bags. 

It simply drove and handled like a dream and I put 500 miles on it over the course of 7 days on a trip to Dover and a trip to Brighton beach and some tooling around in the country.

So would I drive this car again?  You bet.  Would I buy one?  You bet, if money wasn’t an issue.  Would I rent from Hertz again?   Absolutely.

Fun times.

Actual car driven on real roads to real destinations, not on a closed course:


Europe 2014 (Part 3 of 6) | The UK – London

As mentioned previously, Seapine Software has an office in Kew, near Kew Gardens:



Given our office’s location, and Claudine’s desire to see the Cotswolds’ (aka Merry Old England) our sight seeing would be focused on this the highlighted area.

Our flight to the UK was mostly uneventful.  We left Dayton Ohio around 2pm headed for Washington DC.  In DC we had a short layover and boarded the flight to London on time, then were held on the runway for about an hour due to weather.

We got into London, picked up our Rental car, and headed to the office.  The first few miles driving on the wrong side of the road, after 10 hours of flying and little sleep is always tricky.

I talked with the guys in the office, and prepped the hardware that I was going to replace that evening, while Claudine visited Kew Gardens.

She returned to Kew and we had a late lunch at Pizza Express next to the office:IMG_2882

Then she went out shopping and touring Richmond area while I worked that evening.  We ate a late dinner at the hotel/restaurant.   Dinner was good.

On Thursday I returned to the Office, for the first half of the day.  Claudine returned to Kew Gardens, apparently it’s an amazing place.

That afternoon we took the tube to Covent Gardens for a little shopping, and entertainment.  It was about the only time it rained on us and it didn’t rain much.

The street performers were out:


The market was nice, very busy, and if you know me you know just how much I love a good crowd of people.

We had dinner with Ashley and his family at a pub in Richmond that evening.   The obligatory food shot:


On Friday our first real FREE tourist day we got up early and headed downtown London to the Tower.   We were told to get there early, get tickets, get in and head straight for the crown jewels so that’s exactly what we did.   It was raining when we got off the train so we bought tickets and umbrellas.


They are in the midst of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1 and have planted 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each casualty in the war on the grounds of The Tower.


It was quite amazing.

Sorry, no photos of the crown jewels but you can read about them at the link.  They are rather impressive.  That 500+ carat diamond, well I didn’t think it was real, but it is.

Inside the main tower armory they have a really impressive display of armor.IMG_2916IMG_2917

After the Tower tour we walked across the Tower Bridge to another market.


That’s right, another CROWDED market, full of goodness but the lines were incredible, unless you wanted bread Winking smile


We had planned to eat there and I decided to grab a burger at one of the stands.  Claudine headed off to another vendor.  I stood there for 30+ minutes and never moved in the queue and I was only like 5th in line.  When the guy in front of me ordered basically what I was going to order and it was 20 quid, I lost it.  No way, no how am I going to spend essentially $35US on a burger and fries, it just can’t be that good.   After being ignored for about 35 minutes and bumped into about 45 times cause this particular vendor was on the main drag, that was it.  I was out.   No more crowded markets for me, just don’t see the attraction.

We walked back across the river to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.


Then up through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace



Then back on the train back to Kew to grab the car and go to one of my favorite places over there.  Pincho.   It’s like tradition for me to eat there when I visit.



This would be our last day in London, tomorrow we head out for the Cotswolds’ and Bath.