It’s 64 degrees and raining on 3 July. That can only mean I’m back in London!
Things went relatively smoothly on my trip. My suitcase was a half a pound overweight but the kind people at the United counter said they’d let it slide. I had to connect in Newark and since I was paying for my flight with reward miles, I was given the worst possible seat on my short flight. (At least that’s what I believe.)
It was the very last seat on a very small plane. I had the deafening sound of the engine to my left, and the constant traffic and smell of the toilet on my right.
Nice view of NYC coming in to Newark.
I usually connect in Chicago for nostalgic reasons, but finally realized it’s much smarter to actually connect in the direction of travel. I believe Newark was a Continental hub, so now it’s United. I have to say the 777 was pretty awesome. I say this just because it had on-demand movies and TV shows instead of just eight continuously playing movies like United has. I watched programs the entire flight because I have trouble sleeping on planes. For me, sleeping on a plane is similar to a dog sleeping on a couch — you can never fully relax because someone is always walking by and there’s always the prospect of food coming, and you don’t want to miss food, no matter how crappy it is.
Our flight was delayed 90 minutes because the plane was late getting in. When I arrived at the gate there was a huge line (I’m sorry, must get back into “queue” mode) of people. For awhile I fought the peer pressure — they’re not boarding soon, why should I queue? — but eventually succumbed and got in line. Several people approached me and asked what the line was for. “I have no idea,” I said. “I just succumbed to the peer pressure and got in line because everyone else was.” No one seemed to find that answer satisfactory so the British guy in front of me chimed in with “passport check before boarding.” I was relieved to know my waiting had a purpose.
It was nice to see Heathrow fully decked out for the Olympics, with registration tables set up and even a separate passport check line for athletes. But since my flight was delayed, we arrived a little late, which is the worst possible thing when coming into London. Several (OK, it seemed like 10) other giant planes must have gotten there around the same time. I always decide to use the bathroom after I clear immigration so I don’t lose my space in line. Once I saw the passport check queue — the mother of all queues — I started to regret that decision. The entire area was full of people and the queue stretched back along the wall. I kept marching on, thinking I would find the end of it soon, but it kept going. Eventually an employee stopped a group of us as we reached a hallway and let people cut across. “What is going on?” I wondered. “Why aren’t they letting us join the queue?!” Then she finally flagged us down the hallway, and I realized maybe there was a second passport control with no line. That could happen, right? No. It was another line. A queue to join the queue. Why did I not go to the bathroom earlier? Luckily they had a lot of immigration officers working so I made it through in an hour. It was a really long hour though. Most lines are bearable because you think about how much fun you’ll have on the roller coaster at the end of the line. There was no roller coaster, though, just permission to enter the country and grab your bag. It felt like the Line Ride on South Park.
My building’s porter greeted me on the street corner and helped me carry my bags in from the rain. “Kentucky?” he said. “They have good chicken, right?” We then talked about the weather, as is required in Britain. “Wow, it must have been hot there, like 80 degrees?” I was impressed with his Fahrenheit usage. “More like 100!” I told him. He then welcomed me back to English weather — slightly chilly and rain, rain, rain.
Once I got upstairs I had the classic jet lag battle of basic needs, in which eat, sleep and shower duked it out. Sleep won and I took a three-hour nap. I then drank some Pepsi Max. Who would have thought that very magical drink that helped me not pass out at 6 p.m. would keep me from sleeping at a normal time? Rookie jet lag move. I feel slightly more together today, though still a little hazy.
And I think I will stop there before my blog becomes about grocery shopping again. (I wore my Chicago snow boots because I don’t have rain boots and my feet were really hot and uncomfortable and the walk seemed longer than usual because I was spoiled driving to Kroger, and…. OK, I’ll stop.)