We set out for London on September 6, which meant we didn’t arrive there until the morning of September 7. We were able to fly out of Baton Rouge to Houston, but then had to hang around Houston for four hours before catching a ten hour flight to Heathrow. Neal, my son, had very generously offered to arrange transportation for us. We had to be at the airport early, but I found it difficult to sleep the night before. I think it was around midnight when I finally fell asleep.
It was around 2 AM when my cell phone went off. I stumbled to my purse, where the phone lives, usually to be ignored by me, and noticed a UK phone prefix. Uh-oh. On the other end was a somewhat irate limo driver wondering where we were.
I explained that we weren’t leaving on our flight for another few hours and that while we were leaving on the sixth we were arriving on the seventh - in about 24 hours. I apologized profusely, explained that my son, who had made the arrangements, was on vacation and probably didn’t have my flight details in front of him, and found out who to contact to arrange for pickup the next day. As I was sitting at my computer sending an email to the limo company, the phone rang again. It was Neal wanting to know where I was. He was chagrined to find out about his mistake.
That was the end of sleep for the night. So with about two hours under my belt, I set off on an 18 hour trip. That’s okay, I thought, I’ll sleep on the plane.
No such luck.
We arrived at Heathrow on time to find a driver waiting for us. We asked, but he was not the same one who had been there the day before, so we couldn’t make it up to that poor soul with a lavish tip. It took about an hour to get to our hotel, a modest yet pricey spot with a room slightly larger than a ship’s stateroom and an international clientele. (We got to play Neal’s favorite game, guess the language.) It was clean, the bed was comfortable, and it was around the corner from a tube stop and a five block walk from Neal’s apartment. After cleanup and a change of clothes we called him and he was shortly at our door, full of plans for the day, plans that involved a lot of walking. Did I mention I had had two hours sleep?
For some reason, London was unseasonably hot the first few days we were there, and quite pleasant the rest of the time. I had packed fall clothes, but had included a few T-shirts just in case. I also have about five or so short sleeved cotton sweaters which I had planned to layer with a blazer or jeans jacket, but most days the sweaters themselves were okay until nightfall.
Neal lives near the Tower of London, so we walked across Tower Bridge to a pub for lunch, then past London Bridge to see the Golden Hinde, the replica of the ship Sir Francis Drake used to sail around the world. We had actually all seen the Hinde a few decades ago in Baton Rouge when it had been taken on tour, but we enjoyed seeing it again. We were going to go look at the reconstructed Globe Theater but by then I was flagging fast, so we walked around Borough Market and wended our way back to Neal’s in time to order a take away curry dinner and watch a movie on TV. At least, we tried to watch a movie, but mama fell asleep about fifteen minutes into it so John took me back to the hotel while I could still walk.
|Tower of London Bridge
|Paralympics Logo, which had hung from the Tower Bridge during the Paralympics
|The Golden Hinde
The upside of all this was that I promptly fell asleep and didn’t wake up until 8 the next morning, ready for breakfast and beginning to acclimate to a new time zone and to being on my feet six or so hours a day. Did I mention that we always refer to our family vacations as forced marches? People think I’m joking when I say that. But we hiked over to Neal’s apartment to eat breakfast and wait for Anett and J to arrive on the train from the airport, for more sightseeing adventures.