Just a disclaimer, this post is exceptionally long so get cozy!
Pre-departure started Saturday the 10th with a quick one hour packing session of one large suitcase and one smaller roller one. Amazingly I still feel that I’ve got all I need (but it’s only the end of day one, so that may yet change)!
Tons of scarves, a few pairs of shoes and all my leggings later plus the usual shirts, necessary underclothes and sweaters a few hours later and I was packed. Bedtime the night before departure was about 1AM (shh don’t tell my family, I hope they think I slept at 11). I woke up to my dogs running around sometime about 7ish AM.
Next came the frantic printout of the final email containing the arrival and itinerary information needed for the week. Then final sorting of baggage and any last minute items were sorted out.
Being from the Bay Area I am super lucky to be able to BART directly to SFO (yeah some guy was just shot and killed on bart but it was safe enough when I was there!). With grandpa/ grandma and mom in tow I boarded bart-like any other trip back to school-although this time after MSP I was to head on to LHR airport, crazy right? It still hasn’t hit me quite yet and its already almost 8pm on Monday.
The first real reminder that this wasn’t the usual return to Minnesota; my boarding pass continuing on to London. My flight to MN was the usual three and a half hour flight-normal-not unexpected.
The next difference; I wasn’t in my usual terminal anymore, I was surrounded by people everywhere. Sure wasn’t Terminal 2 now this was already out of my norm for sure.
I had about 20 minutes to get to my gate once we’d landed and deplaned which was plenty of time luckily. We ended up boarding a little late anyway. The next part however was a little nerve wracking at the moment, you see I had a schedule to keep, landing at 9:40AM local London time and pick up by CIEE at 11 AM. I figured I had enough time to clear customs and hopefully pick up my luggage. I was in for some wait time though; mechanical problems on the plane delayed us by about 20 minutes or so before we left.
Once air bound the flight was extremely pleasant, I love flying and this was an exciting adventure I embarked on. I had a great seatmate who was an England (or Ireland?) native and I was able to quiz him on anything and everything that came to mind (what a relief to have some answers and tips I hadn’t thought of!).
We received a snack, drinks, a dinner then more drinks and towards the end of the flight breakfast as well!
We experienced some turbulence but nothing out of the ordinary for a long flight I would think. Having talked for about six hours I took a few short naps and woke up every once in a while to admire the changing sky, stars and almost pitch black to grey-blue then to lighter blue and finally sunny up above the clouds and gloomy down below.
I snapped a quick, well, snap of Ireland once we were just about to pass it. I was able to see some hills, some valleys and lots of green gorgeous pastures. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it here in my travels.
Next in the journey, descent into the London Airport. This took about 40 minutes if I remember correctly, we were told by air traffic control that we were to hold off on landing while we waited our turn-so first we departed late then now we were to circle for a while and land around 10:20? I was a bit nervous I didn’t think I’d make it to meet the 11 O’clock pick up time, and I didn’t know anyone or the city itself. Luckily a classmate found me and we ended up chatting realizing we were classmates we sought out the other on we’d seen on the flight. Then afterwards we’d managed to get from terminal 4 to terminal 2 in order to catch the underground which was a straight shot on the Piccadilly line from LHR which was quite fabulous.
Watching the scenery go by was surreal, it still hadn’t set it, it looked like an unfamiliar area which it was. Yet here I was in a whole new continent, embarking on the adventure I’ve always wanted. Making it to our stop, we figured out (with the help of some locals) how to get to our housing which was a short walk and managed to get there and check in with plenty of time before our next scheduled tour.
Having toured the building we left for dinner/lunch or Linder and I call it since for most of us it was only the second time we’d eaten by the end. We went to a local pub called Marquis Cornwallis where I had Sausages and Mash-delicious- mind you I’m not a huge sausage person but it was great!
Wrapping up dinner we went to a local grocery store to check out what was available and to pick up some small items. Then back to the housing it was. I’m writing this as I try to stay up so that I don’t wake up a 3AM or some awful time.
Tomorrow we’ve got 9:15AM tours and I’d much prefer to be awake and functional for those.
Can’t wait to post more, and share my journey as it unfolds!