May 7-8: Travel and Preparations
In my experience, the first and second days sort of meld together. Those lost six hours from Chicago to London make you feel out of whack for awhile, no matter whether you travel economy or first class. I’ve never done first class, but if I can accumulate enough miles on my British Airways card to go business class, it’s definitely preferable to being squashed together like sardines in economy. In business class you can stretch out your legs (if you’re 5’6″ or under) and enjoy a bit of privacy in your own little cubicle. I don’t really sleep much, though. The arm rest gets in the way, especially if you try to sleep on your side. I end up tossing and turning and hoping I’m not disturbing the passenger on the other side of the divider. STILL beats coach travel out of the water, though. Even better, you get out sooner than everyone else and you fast-track through security and immigration. THAT little perk is worth its weight in platinum—I’ve spent two hours waiting to get through immigration when everyone is tired and cranky, hoping my taxi driver will still be there waiting for me when I get through.
I want to say a few words extolling the Airbus a380. This amazing plane has two boarding levels, which cuts boarding time in half. Those of us on the top level filed in through the top door; the bottom level had its own door. The lavatories are significantly larger than the tiny cubicles on most planes, and even have a little padded bench for changing baby diapers. I wonder how mothers managed to do it before now. Must have been pretty miserable.
Another perk of traveling business class is the airline lounge. You can go there and enjoy snacks, drinks, and a meal while you wait for your flight. Also television and wifi out of the madding crowds of the massive airport. And they’ll announce when your flight is boarding so you don’t risk missing it.
So, getting through immigration was a whiz, and eventually my driver found me. (How it took him so long I’ll never understand. He was supposed to look for the lady with the pink and white hair. I was the ONLY one!) Turned out he’s the same Sri Lankan driver I had last year. Still wants to match me up with a Sri Lankan. He doesn’t quite “get” that some women prefer being single. But I enjoy listening to people’s opinions, and he certainly has a lot of them.
Once I got into my flat on Crawford Street (near Baker Street in Marylebone), I fell into bed for a couple of hours. Turned on the TV and caught Prince Harry and Meghan showing off their sweet baby. Cutie pie! But I was hungry and there was no food in the flat. Also, I needed to replace the SIM card in my UK phone so I’d have a phone to use when necessary. Walked down to Oxford Street to Selfridge’s, but the Carphone Warehouse is no longer there, so I had to walk a few more blocks to find a place who could do it. While I was waiting, some customers walked off with some merchandise from the store. Something small. But it reminded me that there are pickpockets everywhere on Oxford Street. It pays to be aware of what’s going on around you.
The Bond Street Tube Station was nearby, so I took the Tube to Baker Street—after a frappuccino from Starbuck’s. I was feeling weak from hunger, and that really helped. Interestingly enough, after I got onto a train, a young man sitting in a priority seat got up and let me have his seat. Wasn’t that sweet? He said he was getting off at the next stop, but so was I. It reminded me that wherever there are thieves and villains, there are also very nice people who will give you the shirt of their back (or at least their seat on the subway).
Upon leaving Baker Street Station, I crossed the street and had some cannelloni at the Pizza Express, one of my regular places. Then I purchased some food at the Tesco Express and returned to my flat. Where the construction crew was still pounding and sawing outside my window and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Oh well. It’s not the first time I’ve had to deal with that at this flat. Do you believe this is the SIXTH time I’ve stayed here in six years?
At one point during the day I got soaked from rain, a few other times was sprinkled on, but most of the time it was pretty decent. A bit windy and chilly, but hey, it RAINS in England! No big deal.
Turning in early tonight. Sorry I won’t make it today’s tea party. Next week for sure!