Friday, October 1, 2010

From the beginning, i.e. the first 48 hours

Well, I am glad everyone has a few sore ribs on my account. I'll admit it gets easier and easier to laugh without the embarrassing feeling dominating my account of the story each time I retell/re-enact it.

Don't get me wrong. I am still PLENTY embarrassed, but I am appreciating the humor of it more.

I am a bit worried everyone will be bored with my account of our European vacation after such a dramatic opening. I'll try to keep it entertaining, but it's also for my records so there is bound to be portions that border on boring. But as I think of our trip I realize it started out with a bit of misadventure before we even boarded the plane.

We left Thursday, Sept. 9, in the morning. We were mostly ready by the time Meghan and Alex came over to take us to the airport and watch our children.

I've never been over seas. Hearing all the stories of jet lag and lost luggage found me trying to prepare for any scenario we might find ourselves in. Particularly the lost luggage part, to which I found my answer by taking a carry-on suitcase that held a change of clothes. At the last minute I thought I was pretty brilliant because I threw my toiletries into the carry-on as well.

Fast forward to security check in.

"Please put any liquids you have in the plastic bag."

In goes, my tiny bottle of lotion, hand sanitizer and lip gloss. Alright. Send my carry-on through the x-ray machine. Good. We are on our....wait a second. Why are they calling someone else to come look at what's on the screen?




"Ma'am, as I look through your bag please stand there and don't attempt to touch your bag."


"Is there anything sharp or dangerous I need to be worried about before I open your bag?"


Then comes the unzipping, poking and prodding. Out comes my toiletry bag. In it contains, face wash, toner, eye makeup know, the essentials for any girl. Especially if that girl is preparing against a potential lost bag that may just put a damper on her dream vacation.

Holding up my ridiculously expensive face wash (Don't judge. You can never start too soon fighting wrinkles and it helps clear up any other teenage associated imperfections) and toner, the guard says, "These are over the 3 oz limit. You can either give them up or we can check your bag."

Check my bag? What? So I can then have the potential of TWO lost bags?

But my face wash! Ugh. My "brilliant", last minute, idea failed to account the in between part of the trip.

I turn to Kevin who is looking pretty green in the face because I'd just revealed to him just how much that face wash cost. He shrugs his shoulders and just says we'd probably spend more than the amount of the face wash by checking the bag.

"I'll give it up."

Sigh. Good bye Brilliant Idea.

The rest of the traveling was actually very pleasant. We had a bit of a lay over in Michigan and had lunch at the Chili's in the airport.

The flight from Michigan to London went pretty fast. I was completely lost in Catching Fire , soaking up all the uninterrupted reading I could get. We didn't sleep very well, however, and I knew that meant we would feel it when we reach our final destination. 

Hello Jet lag. 

This, again, was a first for me.


Arriving about 8:00 am London time, we made our was through customs, dropped our bags off at our hotel, Fraser Place, splashed a bit of water on our face and then made our way to the British Museum to witness the spoils of the British Empire. At this point we have been up for more than 26 hours, minus the hour or two nap we got on the plane.

We took the Tube (or Underground) to get the museum.
Underground in London--the highest the ceilings ever got.

I didn't get a picture of the tiny tunnels...I was hurrying through them too fast. Most of these pictures where to show the kids the length of the trains and the size of tunnel on the main platforms. Everything else was probably one tenth the size of the main tunnel.

I must mention, that while I am grateful for this public transportation, I really felt very claustrophobic riding it. I've been on other subways and been fine. The thing about the Tube is it goes, very, very, deep underground and for the most part the corridors are narrow and serpentine with extremely low ceilings. It would take at least 3 - 5 minutes of brisk walking in order to reach any of the train platforms from the street entrance. Most of that time was spent heading down....deeper into the earth...surrounded by old, yellowed, tiles...down...down... down.

I spent a good deal of time dreading the earthquake that was surely going to happen while I was down there.

The other time I spent applauding the British for the user friendliness of the Underground. There were free underground maps at every station, LED signs in each car flashing the next stop as well as a vocal recording to repeat that information and loving tell you to, "Mind the gap" when exciting the train.

I'm not sure if it's because they are too controlling of their people and don't believe they are capable with any less OR if they really do care that much.

The Parisians are the complete opposite. There are barely any signs indicating which train is coming up and once you are on one, you can forget about figuring out which one you are on until you come to the next stop and have to scramble to deduce where in the blink you are headed. Not only that, but they charge for any maps....and that's if you can find a place that sells one. You figure things out pretty quickly because you have to or you will end up on the wrong side of Paris, but they don't make it very easy that first day.

The Parisians, on the whole, were very nice. But their Metro customer service could have taken a few lessons from the Underground. I'm just sayin'.

When we emerged for the first time from the Underground we saw this


It's that dramatic.

There you are winding your way through the oppressive confines of the Underground and with your first breath of air that isn't full of other people's sweat, you  nearly run right smack into the side of the huge clock....or you would if there weren't a big fence right there.

I was so unprepared for that. It was amazing.

Big Ben is part of the Parliament Buildings which is a beautiful old, ginormous, building that sits on the bank of the Thames. I was continually in awe of how people were able to build things of such scale and grandeur hundreds and hundreds of years ago without the aid of modern machinery.

The British museum was enormous! I could not believe what the British had taken and then transported. HUGE heads off Egyptian statues, The Rosetta Stone, and much more. Around 2pm, London time, the jet lag took over. I felt as if my legs were made of lead and I began to see things in double...if I could even focus on it in the first place. 

I begged Kevin for sleep (we'd been trying SO hard not to give into the jet lag so that we could get acclimated quickly). We found a bench outside the museum, in a little court yard, and I took a 40 minute nap among pigeons and tourists. It was the right choice seeing I was actually able to use my legs afterward.

The next order of business was to visit Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club.
Chelsea has been Kevin's favorite soccer team since before we met. It was really the first English league team I ever became aware of. Kevin felt it was important for me to know such things...or else how could he possibly remain with me. So, I learned. Kind of.

Anyway, there is a huge gift shop at the stadium. We walked in to be surrounded by Chelsea blue,

which is a lot like BYU blue before they hijacked USU's color. Although Kevin will tell you it is NOT, in fact, old BYU blue and the two blues have different names. Just as BYU will tell you they did not use USU's the two blues have different names.


The disappointment came when we walked over to the jerseys, with the intent of adopting one to be a new member of the family, only to discover that the front, bottom half of the jersey was made of a mesh like design and would have shown Kevin's garments. We debated about it for awhile, but decided it would make him feel too uncomfortable to wear such an article of clothing and opted for a Chelsea scarf instead.

Upon leaving the stadium we remembered some friends of ours had mentioned that London was known for having some of the best Indian food in the world. We believed it, at this point, as we had seen more people of Indian orientation than Anglican. We found a cute little restaurant and walked in. We realized we were the only ones in the restaurant.

It worked out to our advantage as we were given star treatment, which included free champagne, on the house, to help in the celebration of our 10 year anniversary. They were quite confused when we gently declined such generosity and offered it a few more times.

The food. was. de. li. cious. I can't even remember what we had, other than I ate too much because I could not help myself. My mouth needed to experience that flavor, over and over and over again.

It was time to call the kids after dinner. We made our way back to the hotel, but not in the hotel. Our hotel did have wi-fi for about 3 pounds per hour. Ouch. Kevin, being the clever boy that he is, discovered that we could sit on the steps outside our hotel and borrow the neighboring hotel's free Internet.

We were very blessed to have our friend's iPad and extra iPhone ( I know. I could not believe he sent it over the pond with us either! We tried to tell him no, but he's a sneaky one. We are still trying to figure out a way to sufficiently thank him for his generosity. It was heaven to have that iPad with us! Not to mention the extra iPhone he also lent us!!!) which allowed us to use Skype to call home. It was tricky coordinating the right time so that we would have Internet when it wasn't the middle of the night for the kids.

The end of the first full day in London came pretty early for us. We had walked miles and could no longer will our bodies or eyes to remain functioning. After we talked to the kids, told them of our adventures, we hit the sack ready to prepare for the long awaited event the following day.  Seriously, it's one of the main reasons we even came to London........

.....until next time.


Skye O. said...

Thanks for sharing. It's fun seeing other places through other people.

Matt said...

That sounds awesome. I love Indian food too. I can't wait for the next installment.

jillian said...

i am a little green. jealous of all the fun. So glad you got to go!

Lawson Family said...

I was not bored one bit. Good job, Storyteller! Those places look amazing and you guys look amazing for only 2 hours of sleep and no expsenvie face cream. I'm ready for the next chapter!

Tobi said...

Love it! Can't wait to hear more!

Janice said...

So glad you had a wonderful time and I will be waiting for the next