The day started off with last-minute packing and securing the house for our long trip. Both cars are packed into the garage like two sardines, the lights are on timers, and the garbage has been taken out. Our neighbors will watch the house while we are away, our mail is forwarded to a friend, and everyone that needs to know about our trip knows about our trip.
The shuttle to SFO was 40 minutes late due to a mix-up in the reservation. Still, we made it to the airport in plenty of time to check in and make it through security. We had about 40 minutes to relax before boarding – plenty of time for that martini!
We love Virgin Atlantic (Flight #20) the last time we flew them to Europe in 2009 – except this time. We now know how are cars must feel packed in that tiny California garage (assuming that cars can feel, that is). We were packed in two seats in the middle of the economy cabin. Ten hours in the air and it was bumpy most of the time. My vegan meal was good but my DH’s chicken was not. The hot chocolate we waited 6 hours for was a huge, watery disappointment.
However, the selection of entertainment (music and movies) was great! I watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and Series 4 of “Mad Men”. My DH attempted to sleep with the help of a Halcyon but was not too successful.
We landed at Heathrow at 11AM. My DH’s drugs allowed him to sleep through most of the trip. However, once landed, it was my job to take over and get us to the hotel. But my own flight fatigue took over and I messed up filling out the in-coming flight forms. We were delayed at customs. My DH was aware enough to get us our Oyster cards and we located the entrance to the tube to Victoria Station in central London.
Once we climbed out of the London underground with our luggage, the weather was cloudy, windy, and rainy – typical for England this time of year. We had planned for this but when you are tired and blurry-eyed, being cold does not help one bit. We fought our way through the narrow streets filled with hundreds of other fellow travelers with their own luggage in tow.
We found our hotel, Premier Inn Victoria. Petra (a young English man with a friendly attitude and huge smile) was great and was able to move us into a larger room (#101) from our original disappointingly small dinky room (#116).
Being tired and wired, we were not really sure what to do next. Knowing that our internal clocks were off, we decided to go out since the sun was sort of shining, We went to Leicester Square to check theater district and the offering of broadway shows this season. We found ourselves hungry as went about searching for food like two cavemen. As we consulted our Kindle, it started to rain. For all our technology, we jumped into the first restaurant that looked warm, dry, and popular. New China was a small Chinese restaurant – I ordered Fried Noodles with Vegetables, DH ordered Spicy Beef. The food was good, I think.
After dinner, I sat there in New China in the middle of London stuffed and feeling annoyed. Was I not supposed to feel excited and happy about the start of our vacation? I told myself to consider the circumstances: months of planning, quiting my job, the stress of packing, a long international flight over numerous time-zones, a big noisy city with crummy weather –I guess life happens even on vacation.
We found our way back to Victoria Station where we bought fruit (bananas and grapes) and McVittie cookies (our favorite English treat) at Sainbsbury’s.
Back as the hotel, we took a 3 hour nap and awoke at 10:30PM. My DH got the hotel’s internet to work and we felt civilized again. We opted to pay 10 pounds to get unlimited access all week – a rip-off, yes! But, WiFi will be our main mode of communication for the next couple of months and it made us feel better to see spinning icons on loading web-pages.
We checked emails, sent emails, researched things to do in London. We watched a little British TV. We ate some ginger cookies. We fell to sleep.