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Published: October 29th 2011
Trying to smile
Greenwich, London to Heathrow to Home
Our car is to arrive at 9:30 AM which will hopefully get us to Heathrow by 10:30. We have had breakfast: one last helping of beans, eggs, tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, ham, and bacon, but it does not drown out the lingering regret. We are leaving……
Our driver arrives and is puzzled, “All of that is your luggage?” Well, yes, we don’t ordinarily take other people’s luggage with us. Turns out he had been told to expect one suitcase-not five. So, he charges us 5 pounds more and off we go. We wind our way through Greenwich to Kensington and finally to Heathrow and in doing so we have been on a tour from London slums to beautiful neighborhoods in an hour. Interesting thing about these London cabbies and drivers; they are absolutely silent until about 15 minutes before they drop us off- must be a ploy to think them tremendously personable and tip accordingly. Unfortunately, he does not have a portable scale for our baggage as most drivers do, so we do tip accordingly. Americans tip a great deal more than Europeans tip so he almost gives us a smile.
Another hot and hazy day
Since we are flying Premium Economy—at the price I don’t understand the “economy” label-- there are few people in line. This unfortunately gives the nice lady in the bright red Virgin Suit a chance to weigh each and every bit of our luggage. John’s carry on is double the allowed weight and we begin that dreadful packing and re-packing on the floor in front of the check-in desk while other’s give us pitying looks. I don’t mind: it is Karma, as I have been able to give those pitying looks to others repacking in front of the check in desk myself on previous flights. With a good amount of smoke, mirrors, and advice from the Lady in The Virgin Red Suit, (Take out your books and carry your laptop, also carry your coats, your camera, and your umbrella”) Finally we make weight, clear security, and then put our carry on bags back on the floor to repack everything we had taken out to meet the 14 pound requirement. Smoke and mirrors…..
Heathrow has this weird thing about not assigning you a gate until 30 minutes before departure. It is to keep us shopping in the Duty Free Zone and
it works. Loaded down with overweight carry-on luggage and over-weight bags from the Duty Free shops, has caused us to be a bit peckish. We stop for one last bit of smoked salmon and a glass of champagne….our spirits are flagging…to cheer ourselves up. Looking out the corner of my eye, I notice that our flight has not only been assigned a gate but in large red letters it is declaring “BOARDING IS CLOSING.” What? I grab my bag, leave John to deal with settling the bill with a combination of the few pounds we have left and a credit card, and do a ten minute old lady trot to the gate. Luckily the line is backed up, and John soon joins me: we are almost the last to board the plane. Good thing, it turns out, because we have some sort of malfunction and wait for 45 minutes on the tarmac. That aerobic work out getting to our gate did us well, I think.
Flying home from vacation and flying into the sun and back into your own time zone is more laborious than child birth, but not quite as painful. After what seems to have been at
The taxi is waiting
least 8 hours I check the flight map to find out that we have 9 hours of actual fight time to go—we have been in the air for 100 minutes…
We arrive in San Francisco- each of us having napped for under an hour- in late afternoon except it feels like it is 4 AM to us. Our luggage arrives on the carousel and we are all in one piece except for the blue pleather suitcase-full of dirty laundry—that is now hanging onto it’s handle on only one side. My cell phone suddenly comes to life with messages and we give a call to our beautiful volunteer chauffeur, Victoria, who arrives within 10 minutes to collect us. With hugs and thanks to Victoria, we are on our way home. John is Wonder Man and drives us safely home even though we have now been awake for 22 hours with just 40 minutes or so napping on the plane.
Caitlin greets us at home with a chicken roasting in the oven, and the house open, aired and cleaned. We visit over dinner until, after about 25 hours without sleep John and I stop making sense and are in danger of drowning in the salad.
John is in bed and asleep within seconds and I have just snored myself awake while standing in the shower.
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