London & The Neverending Queue
This is the first part in a series of blog posts recalling my overseas adventures in the United Kingdom in fall 2015.
An overnight, overseas flight from Dulles to Heathrow via Virgin Atlantic. And to make the trip that much better, I flew Premium Economy class, which I guess is a Business or First class on shorter domestic flights. (Upper Class on this airline would involve cubicle-like walls and fold-out beds; all we got were slightly wider seats.) The security was a breeze, but the airport is huge, nothing like Washington National. The flight itself was fine, as I had enough videos and things to watch to keep me occupied.
Thursday, Sept 17:
Heathrow is just as large as Dulles, and their customs queue area was huge and jam packed with people. We later found out a Rugby World Cup was taking place and partly responsible for the unexpected long lines. A fellow passenger, a New Yorker, met up with us at the queue and had some very challenging things to say, particularly with a Muslim family next to us. We met up with our driver an hour and a half after landing, soaked in sweat and tired and cranky. After a long ride to the flat, we discovered our flat wasn’t ready and we had to go somewhere for a while. We ended up in a plaza in front of St. Paul’s and had lunch. We crashed after that.
Initial impressions: Being near St Paul’s and St Bart’s, we can hear church bells every so often, which is nice. The appliances and plugs take getting used to, but the lack of an ice tray or air conditioning is a little uncomfortable, as is the lumpy bed. But sometimes you just open a window and are too tired to care about the lumps.
Friday, Sept 18:
Bus ride around the city hitting typical tourist sites like Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, etc. Still smarting over how the previous day went, I did not enjoy it as much as I should have. We did get to go up into the London Eye for a bird’s eye view of London, including a spectacular view of Parliament and Big Ben. We also had our first batch of f ish and chips, checked out the Marble Gate, and did some shopping at a mall-sized department store called Selfridges, which is Britain’s oldest department store but also one started by an American.
To be continued…