Week 1: flight delays, train mishaps, and wardrobe malfunctions

My journey so far has been marked not by horrific delays or awful oversights, but by small incidents that have reminded me that not even the most careful planning can prevent all problems.

My brief odyssey began the morning of Wednesday, June 6, when my shuttle picked me up at 3 am. A few dear friends had come over and stayed up with me, watching Harry Potter and baking pumpkin pasties so that my departure didn’t feel so lonely. I took my beginning to be an auspicious start– HP7p2 ended just as the shuttle pulled up, my bags were ready, and I arrived at the airport hours early, breezing through security. Unfortunately, that was the high point of the journey. My plane leaving Canada left three hours late, making me miss my connection in Frankfurt. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more grim layover– I was hot and exhausted,  having been sandwiched between a Marine and toddler-toting mother (I’d booked an aisle seat, but had given it up when a 10-year old was assigned a seat far from her family), and the Lufthansa counter at the airport was suspiciously empty. The line for re-assignments was horrifically long, and I began to worry that there weren’t any more flights to Gatwick, and that my bag was surely lost.

There were only four or five of us under the age of 50 in the line, and the two women working the counter conspicuously ignored us until we cornered them. In the meantime, I saw one woman sit down in a corner in exhaustion, and simply vomit on the floor; this was, apparently, the low point however, as Lufthansa had already re-assigned me, and I landed at Gatwick at exactly the predicted time. To top it off, the on-flight wine was lovely, and my bag arrived just as expected. My friend, Izzie, picked me up, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner with her family.

We spent most of our first full day relaxing, taking a short drive out to Downe, the town where Darwin lived, and had a proper English afternoon tea, complete with sandwiches, scones, cake, and, of course, tea. We finished the evening with an amazing Indian meal and turned in early.

On Saturday, we trekked out to Oxford Street, visiting TopShop and Selfridge’s, thoroughly exhausting the money that I’d planned for my trip. We visited Burough Market, a fantastic, open-air market, and met up with some of Izzie’s friends from university for dinner.  Sunday was a relaxed affair; we got up late and visited the V&A, a fashion and design museum, and carried on to Harod’s, which was incredible, and thoroughly overwhelming. 

Monday was rather different; although Izzie, her mother, and I had a lovely day at Hampton Court, there was severe rail trouble, and a journey that should have taken an hour lasted the better part of three. None of this would have even crossed my mind, of course, but for the fact that it is in the 50’s and damp here, and I only brought two light sweaters, booties and a leather jacket, and was thus thoroughly unprepared and freezing. I was reminded powerfully of my undergrad days of waiting in the Boston ice for the Wellesley Senate bus to make it’s rounds at 3 in the morning. We finally made it home, however, and were pleased to find out that England tied France in the Euro Cup.

It’s been a lovely, if chilly, start to the week, and I’m very much looking forward to next week, which includes two nights in Edinburg, a visit with my college roommate, Margaret, and Henry V at the Globe Theatre. While it has been cold, it’s been lovely to see London in all her patriotic, post-Diamond Jubilee/pre-Olympics glory.

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