Wednesday, September 15, 2010

London....finally.

Tuesday, 5:15am (LA time):  This was probably the first time...EVER...that I got right through airport security with no wait.  Seriously.  No wait.  Cruised right up to the initial person that gives me the once over, looks at my boarding pass, back at me, at my ID, back at me, squints and then lets me through.  Then I walk right up to the magical conveyor belt that scans everything I own, took off my shoes, smiled sweetly and just walked right through.  I kid you not...this has never happened. 

The downside of course, is that I planned for crazy wait at security, so I got to the airport 2 hours before my flight.  And it only took me 5 minutes to walk through.  So what do I do for an hour and 55 more minutes?  Well, it turns out that I can drink a lot of coffee in an hour and 55 minutes...enough to keep me awake during the entire flight from LA to DC.

So the sleep deprivation continues...sigh...

Tuesday, 2:40pm (DC time):  Landed in DC and am off the plane.  So here I sit, in the airport...waiting for a flight that doesn't leave for four...more...hours...  This may be one of the longer layovers I've ever spent at an airport.  However while boredom sets in after the first half hour or so, the time does lend itself to some interesting people watching.  I've often thought it would be fun to just sit in a terminal and interview people as they come and go...find out their story...who they are, where they're going, why they're traveling.  Of course it's also just as much fun to sit there and make up my own stories for these people too.  For example...

There's a gentleman at the Chipotle sitting by himself eating what looks to be a burrito.  He has a couple of beers in front of him and is casually reading a paperback book.  But wait...he's been on the same page for the last 5 minutes.   And one of those two beers is only half full.  Perhaps he's not the mild mannered businessman he appears to be.  Perhaps he is an international spy, and he sits, monitoring everyone's move, making sure he stays out of the line of danger as he waits to climb aboard a flight to some exotic destination for his next assignment.  On his last assignment he single handed took out 5 counterspies and a lone assassin....with the book he holds in his right hand, right now.

Ahhh, the young couple in love sitting in the terminal, holding hands, whispering into each others ears and making out.  Seems like they've been involved for quite some time to know each other so intimately, no?  But noooo....turns out they just hooked up at 18th Street Lounge last night.  Turns out, after hittin' it hard on the dance floor, they talked into the wee hours of the morning at a nearby coffee shop and found out they were both flying out of Dulles today and headed back to their boring hum-drum lives somewhere in Colorado (she in Colorado Springs, he in Denver).  Both had never ventured out to a nightclub alone in their lives...but since business had brought them individually to DC (she's an accountant, he's a pharmaceutical rep), and it was their last night in town, they figured they'd live it up and see what happened.  So with glitter in her hair from last night's festivities, and he still smelling of a brewery, a love connection has been made and they've already sworn to visit each other on the weekends.

And yes...there she is....the lovely blond bombshell in the too tight mini...trying to casually look like she knows what she's doing--when in reality her entire life is crumbling down around her.  She's about to be kicked out of her Santa Monica condo, and the repo man is currently hauling off her Mercedes as she winds her way to the terminal to catch a flight home.  Her credit cards are maxed to the limit, Mommy and Daddy have cut her off financially, her boyfriend has left her for another man and her boss sent her a text message telling her she's been fired.  But fear not, for our lovely damsel in distress.  Turns out, in a fit of panic and a need for cigarettes, she bought a lottery ticket last night...and little does she know that she currently holds the key to 2.5 million dollars (after taxes) in her lovely knock-off Gucci bag right now.  Now...if she just remembers to check the website to find out that she won....

Whoops!  That's apparently all the creativeness I have time for now.  Time to board an airplane...



And make my way across the pond. 

Tuesday, 9:06pm (somewhere over the Atlantic):  

I have discovered airline hell.


Never mind that I’m crammed into a seat that’s the width and depth of something reminiscent of a junior high school desk. Never mind that I’m also crammed in this metal tube with 256 of my closest friends and 16 crew members (…seriously…they gave us the exact count). I’m also stuck in front of the two loudest, most talkative, obnoxious women in the ENTIRE WESTERN HEMISPHERE!!! We’re two and half hours into a 7 hour flight and I swear to you, they have not stopped talking since they sat down behind me. They even talked through dinner service. Is that even possible? Don’t you have to stop and take a breath at some point in time, or chew, or something? This is an overnight flight…at some time I’m hoping they will shut up and go to sleep….and yet, I already know that with my luck they’ll either snore horribly or talk in their sleep. You laugh…but I’m telling you…it’s gonna happen.

Wednesday, 8:57 pm (Local London time): Well, despite the hens sitting in back of me clucking through the entire flight (minus maybe one hour), and the fact that I still hadn’t slept by the time the flight landed…I finally arrived in London this morning around 6:30am none the worse for wear. After successfully clearing customs (they let me into this country…can you believe it??), and dropping off everything at the hotel, I decided to walk off the flight, cruise about the city and let my adventurous nature take over.

So the first thing I realize is that my internal clock is askew. I know that, as I start exploring the country in the late morning that it feels like it should be later…but I think it’s earlier. Can anyone tell me the correct time??



Not exactly the Big Ben I’m used to (Go Steelers!)…but it’s definitely an alternative to wearing a watch.

Now, flip around from Big Ben and you’ll get a lovely view of the river Thames and the London Eye.



How can you not love this?  It’s such a beautiful day here today! Sun is shining…it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a beautiful day to wander around the streets and just get lost.



Trafalgar Square
 However, realizing that everyone’s driving around on the wrong side of the road, walking can be a bit hazardous to one’s health. They actually remind you of which direction you need to look to verify there’s no ongoing traffic before you step off the curb so you don’t get flattened.



Maybe I should grab one of those famous London Black Cabs. Hey…here’s one just my speed…



Hmm. Maybe not. Guess I could always grab a ride on The Tube instead.



Or hitch a ride on a double decker bus!



So many choices!!

Well…since I should probably check in with someone back home…let them know I arrived safely. But no cell phone coverage! Dang! Well, I guess I could always use one of the “local” phones….



C’mon….how can you not love these things??

I did, of course, in my wanderings, manage to find a store right up my alley….



Shoes and purses in a store named after me….wonder if I get a namesake discount???

Well, by now the sun is starting to set and the lights of the city are starting to kick up…



Piccadilly Circus
 And I realize that I’m slowly starting to run out of energy, and my feet are just KILLING me!! So it’s time to head back to the hotel for a pint and a little “footy on the telly”



Hey! Look at me all speaking British! Ha! This international travel stuff isn’t too bad. I should be able to survive the next week without causing an international incident…right?

Yeah…all that overconfidence finally caught up  with me when I went to plug in the cord for my net book....


Bloody hell!