Thursday, May 7, 2009

London Calling

Tuesday Night
We're here we're here! We FINALLY made it to London although the same can not be said of our luggage. Yes, in addition to causing us to miss our connection, thus losing a day of our vacation, Continental failed to get our luggage on our plane. I've been living in the same shirt for 2 days now, including using it as my night gown. I'm usually pretty good about packing enough in my carry on to get through a couple of days in just such an emergency but I forgot night clothes this time. :( Too tired to type anymore; that's all for now.

Morning in London
It's now Wednesday and our first morning in the UK. I didn't sleep enough but a couple of hours will have to do; we have all of London to explore so there's no time for sleeping! :) Blog entries first though since it is a little early to do anything quite yet. It's just after 5:30 am London time, 12:30 am at home, and I'm exhausted but wide awake. The Eldest is up too. She jumped up and peeked out the window and said “it's so pretty”! I looked out of the window and it is indeed gorgeous. We are facing a large brick building next door that looks like a church or something, although maybe not since I think where we're staying is tucked into a residential area, and beyond that a vista of the city. A Londoner we spoke to on the plane said that where we are is very upscale, actors and so forth live in the area, and I can see why! Our room is cozy and comfortable; it's like a small dorm room and very clean and tidy. The night staff person who checked us in last night was as sweet as she could be and very helpful. It made us feel so much better after all the difficulties we had in getting here.

Lessons Learned
Every time I travel I take notes so I can do it better the next time. I'm not a super experienced traveler by any means, this is my first trip of any consequence, so I'm learning as I go for sure. I am big on my creature comforts, though, so I will take any steps I can to make whatever circumstances I find myself in as comfortable as possible. I've been kind of worried about handling this trip with the fibromyalgia and I've had some problems so far but nothing too unbearable thanks to a lucky break on the London flight, which I'll get to in a moment.

The cramped quarters on the plane from home to Newark made me absolutely miserable, especially my back, but I survived. I think missing our connection may have been a blessing in disguise as far as that was concerned, even if we missed time in London; the forced break in a hotel was a big help since I was able to lay down and rest my back. The plane to London offered just a wee bit more room and what a difference that made, especially since our lucky break meant there was a spare seat between the two of us. That happened in a funny way! I recently read a book about survival stories and the author said he always checks for his life vest when he flies. I checked for mine and it was there. The Eldest checked for hers and it was there but missing the strap to pull it out. We notified the flight attendant and she verified that indeed, there was no strap and no way for The Eldest to pull out said life vest if there was an emergency of any kind. She said The Eldest would have to move since she had to be in a safe seat, especially for take off and landing. The sweetheart of a guy next to us said he would move; he was traveling alone and it didn't matter to him where he sat. He wound up on the aisle seat across from us and I kind of thought he would move back over after take off but he didn't, so that gave us a lot of extra space. I needed it desperately, as it turns out. The ability to shift positions and move around makes a huge difference to me in terms of reducing muscle soreness and back pain so I got through the flight pretty comfortably.

Carry On Baggage
I over packed, of course. Not that I actually have the suitcase with all of the items I over packed with, but I even over packed the carry on items. We're allowed one carry on and one “personal item” such as a purse, so I figured I would put my purse and the other things I wanted on the plane in a giganto duffel bag, in addition to my Zuca carry on. The duffel contained my purse, a hat, a jacket, a travel pillow, a blanket, a folding mini travel foot rest, two blow up travel pillows, my orthotic Birks, (thank heavens I didn't put them in my checked bag), and another smaller bag with my Kindle, my journal, a couple of very compact guide books, and my important travel documents. It doesn't sound like it would be very heavy but the blooming thing weighs a ton and takes up way too much space. I didn't use the foot rest or the two blow up pillows, I didn't look at the guide books, and I didn't need the hat (but I will and it wouldn't go in my suitcase so I had to carry it in the duffel). I didn't use the Birks on the plane but they were essential afterwards. I can ditch a few items for the return trip but not much. I can check a second suitcase on international flights so for our return DH suggested I buy another suitcase in Barcelona. I think that's sounding like a really good idea and I'll put the items I didn't use on the plane in there. I'll be able to check the hat, blow up pillows, foot rest, and guide books, at least. That doesn't seem like a lot but hopefully it will make a difference.

At the Airport
Arriving in a new country was quite the experience. I made a mistake in not rushing off the plane. With all of our carry on luggage I didn't want to fight the crowds getting off so I decided we would just hang out and go last. Big mistake. Since we took our own sweet time getting off the plane everyone else was LONG gone by the time we got into the terminal. That meant we didn't have any crowds to follow so we had to figure out where to go on our own! At least we were able to read the signs, which helped, unlike what we'll have to deal with when we leave Barcelona. Apparently we were one of the last flights in because everything was shutting down as we got to it. There were only two guys left checking passports, for instance, and baggage claim was mostly over and done with. There were still a few employees at baggage claim so we were able to submit our lost luggage claim at least. When we left baggage claim my understanding was we would have to go through customs but we missed it! We walked by one person who just waved us along and that was that, then we were out of the terminal looking for a way to our hotel.

In upcoming posts:

The cab ride and jetlag plus all of our further adventures!

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