Sunday, January 1, 2012

London Is Far Far Away

ready to go with new scarves
My mom knitted us
 scarves for our trip!
My husband, Frankie, and I had the opportunity to travel to London England for Christmas this year.  We are hoping to be able to make traveling a Christmas tradition for us.  This is the fifth year in a row we have gone somewhere.  First year we drove from Texas to Connecticut to see family.  Second year we drove to Alpine, Texas, a place we both love. Third year we went to Rome Italy, fulfilling a dream of mine. And last year we went to Dublin Ireland with a dear friend, to help fulfill one of her dreams and because, let's face it, we will go just about anywhere.  As long as we can afford to and have our health we want to keep traveling.  There is so much to see in this beautiful world that God created!  (Believe me, we don't loose sight of who is blessing us with our being able to travel!)

People always ask us if we have family or at least know people in the places we are going.  They seem to have a hard time understanding that there are so many more reasons to go somewhere besides to see family and friends.  Maybe Frankie and I are just freaks like that, but we can't do much about it at this point! Why did we choice London? I honestly couldn't give just a few reasons.  We just talk about with each other and both agree on a place.  That is all there is to it.  Then we start researching to see what there is in that location beyond what we might already know and go from there. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Internet?  If not, the let me tell you.  I LOVE THE INTERNET!)

So London was our choice this year.  London is NOT close to Texas, at all!  (Like you didn't know that, but really, it is FAR FAR away!)  

We left our house around 8:30 AM CST on Saturday, December the 17th.

When we went to Rome and Dublin it was about $300 cheaper to drive 4 hours to Houston and leave from the airport there.  This year we were happy to pay about $100 extra to have to only drive the one hour to leave from the San Antonio airport. Of course, it has never been a direct flight to our destination.  That would just be unthinkable.  So we were starting with a 3 hour flight to Detroit.

Upon checking in at San Antonio, Frankie realized he didn't have his phone and he couldn't remember if he had left it ON TOP of the car or IN the car.  I offered to go back and get it but they said they were going to start boarding the plane in 15 minutes.  What to do!? What to do!?  We rationalized that if he had grabbed it from the car that he would have immediately put it in his pocket.  And we further tried to quell our fears by saying that he DID have insurance on it if it was going to be stolen, stolened, stole, stealed (stinking English language!)....gone when we got back.  Later I used an app on my phone to trace it and the app showed his phone was still at the airport in San Antonio. (Fingers crossed that it stayed there!)

When we arrived in in Detroit it was snowing lightly.  Now, the last time I saw snow was we went to Dublin last Christmas. So I was a little overexcited, to say the least. In fact, I think I might have embarrassed Frankie ever so slightly.  But you have to understand the snow flakes that were sticking to the window looked just like the snowflakes that you can cut out of paper! I have never seen that before in my entire life!  I don't know if the snow flakes of my past were just too big, or too small, or too dry, or too wet or what.  But it was amazing!  I tried to get a picture but my camera would not focus on those little bitty perfectly formed snowflakes.

It was a good thing that we had a stop and a 2 hour layover in Detroit because they have an awesome airport! My husband had been worried over somethings beyond his phone and then we passed through this hall in the airport. It was so calming and peaceful that by the time the moving sidewalk came to an end we were both relaxed and ready for the next, longest leg of our journey.  I took two videos of this hallway because photos alone couldn't do it justice.

Inside the airport there was even a automatic train that ran back and forth, almost silently, between terminals. And when I say inside, I mean, BOOM, right there next to you, inside!

Detroit airport train

Loved it!  Before boarding Frankie asked if there were any upgrades and guess what, there were! We were upgraded FOR FREE to Economy Comfort which has a whooping 4 extra inches of space. You might snicker, but with an 8 hour flight to London it was 4 extra inches of heaven! The flight over was pretty much a blur with only a little nap thrown in there.

We arrived in London around 1 AM CST Sunday on December 18th.  London time around 7 AM, Sunday on December 18th. (A mere 17 hour journey.)

You know you are in a foreign country when signs and objects look different from what you are use to.  Take for example these three photos.  (I would like to state here that I am not normally fascinated with public restrooms, but I did seem to take a lot of photos of things revolving around a bathroom theme this trip.  Please don't hold it against me.  I cannot explain, except to say, that I am an American. That seems to explain away many weird things when you are in a foreign country.)

London wide hips
Why are her hips soooo big??

London airport toilets
The toilets in the London airport always catch me off guard the first time I see them.  They are so tiny!
(And they expect those big hipped gals to sit on them??)

100 percent british potatoes
We aren't in Idaho anymore! (Or where ever American potato chips come from...)

As we got in line to go through customs....which took an hour!....right behind us was a couple from none other than San Antonio, Texas!  They were not even on the same flight as us! What are the odds of that happening??  (Wait, I am a math teacher, shouldn't I be able to figure that out?)  Anyhow, after proving to the authorities that we were indeed sweet Texas people and getting our passports stamped we were free to roam the city of London!

Passport with 3 Stamps
My favorite pages of my passport.  It has all three places we have been in one place.
(Except Mexico's, where they didn't stamp anything or even really
ask us any questions. And we wonder why there are border issues!
We explored London and then we went home.

(I really will come back and fill in more here. It will be in new blog posts though and it will be AFTER I finish organizing the over 1,000 photos I took!)

Going home was an even longer process than getting there. Here is what I wrote in my notes so that I could remember it for the blog.  It was a boring as it sounds:

"Monday December 26th - Boxing Day in London (and other parts of the world), meaningless to us two Americans.

Left hotel at 7 AM London time which is 1 AM Texas time. Had to take a taxi for 50 pounds ($75) because of the tube strike. If we had taken the tube it would have been only 8 pounds ($12)! We got a whole middle section to ourselves on the plane, which is three seats together.  It was nice to spread out on that very long flight. I actually watched 3 movies! We got to Boston around 1 PM Texas time. Left Boston around 3 PM Texas time. Got the exit seats which have a little more leg room  Arrived in Memphis at 7 PM, they run on Texas time already. Left for San Antonio by 8 PM.  Slept most of the way. Arrived there around 10 PM. Drove the 1 hour home. Total hours from start to end 22. Shew!  Frankie's phone was in car (thank goodness!) with 5% battery left. Not sure where the battery level started way back on the 17th though."

The highlights of coming home were hearing the Boston accents and getting pizza and ice cream on the plane. Sad I know, but hey, it's the little things in life.  Right?

Again, I will fill in the "we explored London" part with more details very soon.  I just wanted to get started on these post.  After all, the real world hits back tomorrow with work and deadlines and students.

So until then, as Rick Steves says,"Happy Traveling!".  Wait, does he really say that or am I just making things up???

Ah well.....c'est la vie!  (I am already practicing for our next trip!)  (hint hint wink wink)