September 27, 2005

Tuesday morning I woke early enough to check my bags and do some last minute primping and prepping for the big trip. Erik came over to pick me up at about noon. We drove back to his place just long enough to transfer my bags to his parents' Volvo, and load his own up. His father, thankfully, drove us down to LAX. As the traffic was light at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, we made it down there with more than enough time to spare.

The ticket and security lines were a breeze, so we stopped by the Burger King for an exhorbitantly-priced late lunch. Then, we waited. And waited. I can't speak for Erik, but my excitement level was brimming over the top, making me, probably, very annoying.

flying away
A long, tiring flight... with some nice views.

We boarded our flight and were off towards another continent well-before the sun went down. The novelty of airplane trips still sticks with me up to the first hour after a flight begins. It's like, "Oooh! Look at the little tv screen in the seat in front of me! Look at all the channels! I'll have a ginger ale, thanks!" But it was a long flight. Long. And virtually sleepless. I'm a big girl, and those economy seats just don't provide any comfort whatsoever.

But there were a few high points. Virgin Atlantic, I've come to realize, has some of the best in-flight food available. I ate a fantastic chicken, broccoli and penne pasta meal, complete with a side of caesar salad, a fibrous dinner roll, cheese and crackers, some (gross) red wine, and, to top it off, a yummy slice of key lime pie. The food tasted fresh and was delicious.

Yummy Airplane Food

I think the highlight of the flight was, while flying over eastern Canada, spotting the aurora borealis (northern lights) outside our window. It was a luminous, stretchy green glow. Erik and I were both spotting them for the first time, and our excitement about it was only hampered by the male flight attendant coming and asking us to pull down our window shade. Psha!

I tossed around most of the flight, desperately craving sleep, but not getting any. By the time we landed at Heathrow, we were both zombies. It was all we could do just to make it off the plane, through customs, and find our van driver. The desire for sleep was overwhelming. The vacation package, thankfully, provided us with fairly-direct transport to our hotel in West London. We were grouped with one other couple from the States, and were treated to an enjoyable, informative brief "tour" of our general area.

We arrived at our hotel, the moderately trendy K West, about an hour before our specified check-in time, and were relegated to waiting in the lobby while our room was being prepared. The lady at the reception desk informed us that, if we were willing to pay for an upgrade (I forget the dailiy amount, I'm thinking an extra 50 quid per day?), a Deluxe Room would be made available straight away, with no wait. Huh.

Anyways, when our room was finally ready, we made our way down the hall. And down. And down. Our room was at the very end of the hotel. It felt like a quarter-mile, after being awake for so long. As we walked in, we were surprised to see two hotel staff (high-level, obviously - I think one of them may have been a general manager-type) checking the room. They apologized for the rank smell of bleach (I shudder to think what went on in that room before!), and offered to change our room should it be too bothersome. At that point, we didn't even care.

We spent the next few hours resting, napping, and trying to figure out the spotty wireless before showering and heading out to obtain our Oyster Cards and some dinner (tex-mex at a place called ANYWAY in Shepherd's Bush). We went to bed early, a little worried about the next day: a day of travel to Oxford and the MINI Plant tour.

posted by Julie at 01:47 PM

Seeing the Aurora Borealis was really amazing. It was a long way off, but I swear that it looked like it was level with us. Gorgeous.

commented Erik at September 28, 2005 08:06 PM

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