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Published: September 21st 2008
She is on her way
Nancy at the BWI British Air Counter checking in.
Nothing is so daunting for me as traveling from the USA to Europe. All the alarms in my head go off. "I'll be so tired. I can't sleep on the airplane!" I'm not upset about a possible boring seatmate or a crash. I just think about what seems always to be an endless night. I remember wiggling and moaning and feeling I will go wild from trying to sit quietly. I especially dread this experience when flying alone. My Bill understands my situation and either sooths me or ignores my trashing about and goes to sleep ignoring the disturbance beside him. He often says ' I pity whoever rides beside you if I am not with you. ' So here I was boarding the plane for Heathrow ALONE.
First we had to wrestle with my carryon bag which should have fit easily but BA had used their smallest plane with substandard sized overhead bins. WE you might ask if I was flying alone. The other half of WE was the lone male seated within 5 rows of me. Bill had told me, "Absolutely as heavy as your bag is, you must ask some man to help you put it up.
IBTS new plants
New rose bushes have been put into planters to beautify the fountain area.
Don't hurt your back." When I got on I looked around me and for row after row all I could see were women. We seemed to be a plane of females going somewhere. Then I spotted this poor man who was in a row rather close by. He tried and failed. Then the male purser tried. Finally the first class purser had me carry the bag forward and she stowed it next to the cockpit.
When I returned to my seat, the lovely Kenyan who had been sentenced to ride beside me had stowed my large down coat and my cloth bag for me. She previously had noticed my passport had fallen to the floor in the original failed attempt to stow the carryon. Wow! I seemed to have a saint-in-person for a seatmate. She and I rode in companionable silence much of the way. She read and studied her Bible. She ate. She SLEPT. She never asked to crawl over me to go to the toilet! When we were awakened for breakfast, we finally had a chance to talk. She is a nurse living and working in London. Most of her family live in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The door to our wonderful library.
She had gone to a nephew's graduation in Ohio, had shopped in NY City, etc. She had the softest, most beautiful leather jacket I have ever touched and/or looked at. That was one of her treasures from her NY trip. She thought things in the USA were cheap and had really enjoyed getting good things at good prices. She is a very active church member in a Baptist church in London and works all night as a nurse and then part of the day in a child care ministry of her church. It was a pity to have to say goodbye to this amazing lady who was so helpful and kind to me on this trip. Another great part of this trip was I slept the final 30 minutes or so before the morning breakfast. That few minutes made a wonderful change in how alert and awake I was when we arrived in London.
The transfer from Terminal 4 to the new Terminal 5 was flawless and fast. Nothing was the same as our rather dreadful day in January when we arrived to a tarmack crowded with planes, had to wait for a half hour for transport to
Lounge and classroom building
the terminal and were on the tarmack in the bus for an equal amount of time in what amounted to a transfer bus traffic jam. Oh yes, also that January day was the day of the airplane wreck on the runway at Heathrow which meant our 7 hour layover became a 31 hour layover. So, it really was easier this time. The new system was really a blessing since I was so tired.
Terminal 5, which we had passed through for only minutes on our trip home from Prague in June, is very well organized and easy to find your way around. Plus that they have people whose job it is to help you if you are there for the first time. I had already planned to hunt for the prayer room in hopes it was set up like the one in Terminal 4 which has prayer couches upon which most people seem to sleep not pray. I asked for a quiet place to rest and the two information folks, one male one female, roaming the halls gave me several suggestions for comfort. Then I asked about the prayer room. The lady told me it was all the way
Close up of roses
to the end of the terminal and downstairs. I followed her directions and found it within a minute or two. The terminal is large but not LONG and awful like most international terminals I have been lost in in the past. The room is much smaller than Terminal 4 and has no couches. It is prepared for prayer by Jews, Christians and Muslims. There are stacking chairs for those who sit and pray and a comfortable carpeted floor with a mark for proper orientation for those who pray toward Mecca. I found one Muslim man with his suitcases against the wall and his body protectively in front of them while he was sleeping. I took the next wall, followed his good example, put my thick down coat under me and had a good long rest/sleep. I didn't sleep all the time but I made myself lay quietly and relax until I did sleep. I also took time to fold myself yoga style and pray thanks for a safe and easy trip.
After this good rest, I found the sandwich shop which makes fresh, organic sandwiches and bought a good, big sandwich. I went to the area mentioned earlier as
Our favorite spot at 10:30 each day. Coffee, tea, cookies, grapes in the lounge
quite restful and ate half the sandwich and stowed the rest for a supper when I got to my room at IBTS. The people at the information desk had told me they thought my plane would leave from A20 so I went on to the A section and used the toilet facilities, freshened up as much as possible and when I came out they had just called for our Prague flight.
We had a good meal on the flight and I sat next to a Canadian couple and was able to give them some information about transportation in Prague and ways to see good things.
My suitcase arrived WITH me this time. The last time I came in September and came alone my suitcase stayed in the USA for several days. It is always great to see your own suitcase come off the plane! Customs was as prompt and as casual as usual here and I immediately went out. Dejan was standing in a crowd and I didn't see him at once. I stood waiting next to the entrance thinking I would see him come in since I had told him not to bother coming early. Then I
Our fanciest building with a formal lounge, headquarters for the European Baptist Federation and other meeting rooms.
heard him behind me. He had already been there and was right where I came out but each of us had missed seeing the other. He, always the thoughtful gentleman, stopped at the grocery store and let me buy what I needed for the first week. He even offered to pay for it but I had money left from June. We then drove to his apartment so I could see the brandnew most wonderful baby in the world, Peter Andreas. He is very lovely to see! So small and so delicate and with an angel's face. His mom Daily already has her figure back to pre-pregnancy shape. Amazing! Only 3 weeks and she is great and dad is out of his mind happy and Peter Andreas has no idea how wanted he was and how much he will be loved all the days of his life.
What a good day. What a happy return to a place I love.
All my boxes were in my room. I unpacked my suitcases, fixed my bed, opened and unpacked some of the boxes and went to sleep.
Just as I thought, I had to teach right away on Monday morning. I think I was coherent but with my lack of sleep, change of time, etc. you will have to ask my students. Since Vanessa had sent me the names and pictures of all the students, I knew their names as soon as I saw their faces. That was magical for me since I usually struggle for weeks learning all the names of the CATS. The first week of teaching has been busy and hectic. So today I am trying to get everything ready for this coming week and hope to have more time to just think as well as work. The students are very very nice and smart too. So, I think we will have a good time and they will have good results from their studies.
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