Sunday, March 9, 2008

Flying to London

We had a surprisingly nice flight. It took a while, but once we were through the lines and the baggage was checked, we were on our way.

Even though we were ...

In actuality, the delay was not so bad, except for the time that we would lose on the London end, because it took foreeeevvver to get through security. Not kidding. The lines were unbelievable. We got in line for the Fast Bag Drop, and that took more than a half an hour and then we scampered over to bag x-ray, and that took about a half an hour or more. Had we not been delayed, we would have been sprinting through the terminal, despite the fact that we had given ourselves almost two hours leeway. Ugh.

We debated what to do, wandered around a little and decided to go have a snack.

Wry had some sushi that was not bad at all, considering that it was at LAX. He had not had In-N-Out, because he was driving.

I had some miso soup ...

I got excited when I first saw our plane.

Somehow, flying on British Airways felt much more exotic than flying on Delta. We got in line again to go through the security check. No one even questioned us about our liquids, neatly packed away in our quart baggies. Wry begins to make jokes about security. Nothing about bombs or anything like that, just amusing comments about the whole process. I edge away from him.

My dear husband is detained in Security and we had to wait a while. A pattern begins that plagues us through all of our travels. At various airports, he is wanded and patted down and pulled out of line. I consider ditching him on more than one occasion, but I am loyal like that.

Another half an hour or so later, we finally made it to the gate. Clearly people had been waiting a long time. They were sprawled around on the floor. Three teen-aged boys were throwing around an American-style football, but they were throwing it wrong – tossing it back and forth, not passing it. We began to hear more British accents. I was happy to hear a Scottish couple behind us in line.

I nipped into the women’s room and it was like going into an old stadium restroom – in terms of cleanliness and upkeep, not size. The doors were rusted away, which worried me a little. How did they end up looking like the underside of a Chevy that was driven through years of Pittsburgh winters? I shook it off, deciding that this was no comment on the state of our plane.

We got on the plane and stowed our baggage. Wry whispered to me that the two flight attendants at the front of the plane had British accents. He looked pleased, but said that he was worried that he was either going to end up having a faux British accent, or was going to end up speaking in exaggeratedly American one. Or that he was going to begin exclaiming at how cute everyone sounded. And get pummeled.

We were happy to get our seats in the famous row 51. The seats are two across, rather than three or four, so you have more privacy. Not having to sit with a stranger was really nice. I have to say that I much prefer British Airways to Delta. We got nice little bags with socks and a toothbrush in them, a blankey and a little pillow. The seat headrests had little wings that came down, like a travel pillow, so you didn’t end up slumped over on your neighbor. The seats all had individual video screens, which was very nice. I really liked the part that allowed you to see where you were. This is over Arizona.

We waved at the family as we went over Colorado and New Mexico. Wryi and I watched "3:10 from Yuma", and amused ourselves by synching our videos so that we were watching the movie together. I watched an interesting series on medieval history by Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, and an episode of Black Adder.

We had a surprisingly good dinner – again, the Brits had it all over Delta, who had food that was almost inedible. WM had the lasagna and I had the chicken. We shared a glass of wine, because we were living the high life indeed. We had some kind of beany-salad, and I thought of Rowan. She would have approved. We had little Crunchie bars as part of dessert.

When I was having coffee, we hit a major patch of turbulence, and coffee spilled everywhere. Luckily, we were not besmirched. There was a lot of turbulence, especially over the Rockies.

We slept a few hours and had breakfast of sandwiches, yogurt, granola and juice. I like egg-salad, so mine was good. Wry had a more difficult time, as he hates mayonnaise and food had to be found for him that was mayonnaise-free. The tea was good. I had packed little travel clean up kits for each of us with a travel toothbrush, comb, deodorant, and those baby washcloths that have soap in them. You can scrub a surprising amount of body surface balancing in the lavatory. We were able to tidy up enough to feel pretty human, considering that we had no sleep.

It was exciting when we went over land. Ireland was lovely and green from the air.

Wry had his first moment of realizing that we weren't in the US when he could see that the cars were all going the wrong way on the roads. It made him happy.

And closer ...

And closer ...

The landing is uneventful, although I white-knuckle it a bit. Ever since the event over Edinburgh, I have had a bit of landing anxiety, but we survived.

We were in the back of the plane, and had quite a wait to get off. Wrymouth nudged me and raised his eyebrows at one of our fellow passengers. She was wearing a jacket with some writing all over it. I did not get it at first, but I then noted that when she moved her arm, the writing on her back and arm lined up to create an extremely vulgar word. I bit my lip, and my husband started grinning, and then we had a full-fledged case of the snorting, leaning-on-each-other case of the giggles. I will blame this on lack of sleep, not a lack of maturity and sophistication.


I took this picture out the window to compose myself and to make it look like I was not a complete idiot, but that I am a serious photojournalist.

Where is the rain? The fog? Why is it as sunny and crisp as at home? Sigh.

Maybe it will be cold.

We have to get through customs and follow, like a herd of sheep, the maze of the terminal. There are signs apologizing for the state of construction. We are assured that the improvements are for our benefit.

We landed around noon, which is about four in the morning, our time. We have to get through customs, which is done easily and with some dispatch. We were lucky to get there just before a huge group of tourists from China made it to customs or it would have been a longer wait. We fiddle with our passports and check our phones for messages from the kids. We text our eldest that we are fine and have her let everyone else know.

Heathrow is a very bustling place and the baggage claim was a bit of a zoo. We got out enough money to pay for a night at our hotel, as we will pay more if we use a credit card than if we use pounds sterling. We grabbed our bags and went off to find the Underground.

It is kind of neat that there is a Tube station right in Heathrow -- you just follow the signs and there you are. We got a seven-day travel pass on an Oyster card. We asked the girl at the counter about the best way to get around, and she answered our questions in a monotone, clearly having said this a million times. We made her laugh and she thawed a bit and wished us well. So, at this point, we have spent about twenty pounds each for a week's worth of travel, and that seems like a good enough deal. The card allowed us to go on the Tube and buses. The trip from Heathrow to the middle of London takes a bit more than an hour. Well, it should have taken about an hour.

I had not taken into account the fact that there were line closures ...

Things took a little longer than anticipated. I sigh and resign myself to the fact our first day in London will be a bit of a wash -- time-wise.

I think I know where the hotel is ... Sort of.


rowan said...

Enjoyed this entertaining post! There are always quirky unexpected twists, which have me guffawing. The sushi sauce pic is an example of such. Off -the-wall funny.

So...the flight does sound rather exotic, especially to one such as myself, who has not really been terribly far afield. (Okay, that is a bit of British understatement. But I do plan to increase the mileage under my belt before too long.)

I am glad BA do acceptable food. Bean salad ye say? I do indeed approve. Woot hoot!

The underground line closure must have been a downer, but it sounds like you both bore up stoically and with good cheer. Well-done on the Oyster card. I am impressed that you had the keeness of mind to think abnout getting one, after all those delays, and being on the plane for so long. Well...I certainly would not have been so sharp. I'd probably have turned back in a circle without realising, and attepted to get back on the plane, thinking I was heading for Wagamama.

I am hoping you went there, btw. That restaurant is the boogie, or should I say, the 'Highland Fling'. It is only befitting to give the idiomatic nod to one's indigenous dances. The Highland Fling is a dance everyone thinks they can do, after imbibing intoxicating liquors. However, you can break your ankles, if you are not careful. (Here speaks a person who once spent some time in A and E in a Glasgow hospital.)*

Look forward to reading more o yer adventchers aboot London.

*as a nurse, rather than patient...jist sayin.

a mom in the 'burbs said...

Hooray for Crunchie bars! Thanks to Rowan for the lovely supply I am still working through. :)

Sorry about the turbulence over the Rockies--they are some tall, freakin' mountains.

More blog, more blog!

Dr. Bob said...

I found a movie of the turbulence, if you want to go back and look. Phil is holding our splash of wine that we shared. We are such lightweights. :)

rowan said...

Hey Bob, hey Burbmom!

Burbmom: Glad you enjoyed the crunchies, o fellow aficionado! I am impressed with yer abstemiousness. That would have been my normal weekend supply. ;)

Bob - I am also glad that the British Airways tactic of pasting sunny scenes of Heathrow runways on plane windows has been so effective. Otherwise, the incoming passengers might demand for the plane to be turned around,when faced with horizontal sleet and freezing gales.

Well, it looked like the wine was well whirled aboot the glass. That's what wine-tasters do, isn't it, before they savour the bouquet, and imbibe? It is somewhat classy having the plane do that for you.

Dr. Bob said...

Nice reframe, Rowan ...