22 January 2011

Trains, Planes and Taxis. Also 34 hours of travel.

I’m writing this from my home-for-five-months in England, so that all of you know that I a) am not dead or kidnapped by pirates, and b) haven’t forgotten about my blog. Again.

Anyway, to begin at departure (Thursday): Dad woke me up at 5am to tell me that it was time to go to the train station…and that there were 14 inches of snow on the ground outside. And it was still snowing. Of course, I thought, The one day we get more than six inches, and it’s the day I want to leave the country.

Mom and Dad worked on shoveling the car out while I scurried around getting myself together, waking up my siblings to say goodbye (they didn’t have to go anywhere that day; I didn’t feel sorry for them. Maybe I should have, given that I wasn’t going to have to shovel the driveway…), and eating breakfast. For those of you who aren’t already painfully aware, God did not mean for people to be up and eating before seven in the morning. Everything tastes basically the same when it’s still dark outside.

Anyway, Dad and I set off, very slowly and carefully, for the station forty minutes later. We arrived more or less without incident, and met Josh and Mr. Kehe, who were already there waiting for the train. It arrived pretty close to on time, and (several pictures later) Josh and I were en route!

We got to Chicago without incident, fought our way out of Union Station, and stopped for lunch in possibly the nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever visited in my life. Too bad there was no valet to park my suitcase (which, by the way, must have weighed about 1000 pounds by the time we were done walking around. More Dad-advice: "Take a taxi from the train station." Dad-advice not taken. Consequences suffered.). After that, we had to stop at FedEx to pick up our immigration letters.

[Story Time: These letters were from Kingston University, for the passport control officers that we would encounter before entering the UK, informing them that we were, in fact, who we said we were, and we were supposed to be there. According to Kingston, we could not enter the country without these documents. Sounds important, right? You’d think they’d have gotten them to us ASAP, right? HAH. You would be WRONG. When I called our sponsoring institution the day before we left, they still had them sitting in the office. In Montana. Fortunately, once I explained our situation, they were FedExed to our stopover point in Chicago.]

But then we were randomly in the theatre district! And there was a cool building! And a funky statue! And I was really cold!

…Moving on…

It was part of the original (tentative) plan to stop at Abi’s while we were in the city, but by the time we got to the El station, it would have been a bit of a tight turnaround to get to her house, have time to sit down for more than maybe an hour, then turn around and take the El back down and over to O’Hare, so that had to not happen, which was sad. Maybe on the way back!
We probably spent a good hour navigating through that enormous airport, getting our tickets and checking our bags (thank God). And then there were a few hours to kill until it was anything like time for boarding.

I took a nap. It seemed like the sensible thing to do.

We started boarding around 930, and once we found our seats (which were fantastic, by the way), we were bound for Copenhagen!

[Let me emphasize: if you ever have the chance to fly Scandinavian cheaply, do it. They have perfectly respectable coach seating space, games and good music besides the in-flight movie, cuddly blankets for when you want to sleep, friendly staffpeople and GOOD FOOD. No, I have not been hacked. That’s just how great this flight was.]

SAS (our airline) served us both dinner and breakfast, which was kind of odd…especially since, as we were crossing time zones, these meals were pretty close together. I had a tiny freebie bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream with my dinner, which was quite tasty and probably part of the reason why I fell asleep so quickly afterwards.

Eight disorienting hours later, we landed in Copenhagen airport. They funneled us right off the plane and into security (again?) for our connecting flight to London. There was a bit of a holdup as the polite security lady went through my toiletries bag (I like how they say, “Oh, I need to look through this?” with a nice questioning face, as if you’ve got a choice).  But after that, we found our gate for the next flight:

…and waited for it to get there…

And then we were away again, this time to London for real.

Heathrow Airport is enormous. And shaped like a freaking rat’s maze. And enormous. I didn’t particularly enjoy our time there, but I was exhausted, so I suppose that might have something to do with it.
At any rate, we made it out alive, caught a bus to Woking so we could take a train to Surbiton and a taxi to Tolworth Road and Angie’s doorstep.

Angie is our landlady, and she’s lovely – not the Angie I thought I found on the internet (fun fact!), but lovely nonetheless. Among other things, she showed us our rooms 

and gave us dinner. I was grateful. There was small talk, there were meatballs, and then there were copious amounts of sleep. The end.

…Well, not really. That was just yesterday. Day one of the England adventure will be a story for another post.

1 comment:

  1. Also, Scandinavian airliners apparently have pirates. Or maybe that is Copenhagen. I was fuzzy on the details.

    If you keep this up you may actually make me jealous of you in the land without sun.

    Love, Brad


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