Friday, September 04, 2009

London, Day 1: En route

For our first day of our Europe trip, we didn't spend much time in Europe at all - most was spent en route from Chicago O'Hare to London Heathrow. The trip went really well; my diary entry reads: "Uneventful travel; everything was on time, safe, and fine." Guess that's all you can hope for in transcontinental travel!

Diane and Rob came over the night before, and we stayed up late and caught a cab to the airport at 3:30 a.m. Dave got the most sleep, at about three hours, and Diane got the least, at an hour or less.

We were at O'Hare so early that the security guards weren't even at their posts yet. Here I was, thinking that O'Hare was open 24/7. Oh well. At least we didn't have to fight with tons of other travelers.

We sat behind Diane and Rob in economy plus, which means we got an extra few inches of leg room. This is important to big people like me. Look at how excited Rob and Diane are:

I think we were running on adrenaline at this point. We had a connecting flight to Washington Dulles, where we ate some more of the delicious apple tart I made while we waited.

The in-flight movies were good. I watched "Angels and Demons" and others watched "Terminator: Salvation." Cute airline food as always. And after seeing the sun rise in Chicago, we saw it set over the Atlantic Ocean.

My first glimpses of England were at night, over various cities. It was really cool to fly in over London, although sadly none of our pictures came out. The only features I was able to identify from the air were the Thames (obvious) and the London Eye.

Then we arrived at Heathrow, got our Underground Oyster cards, and took the Tube into London. I thought the Tube seemed really clean, and with its bright colors, very happy. (At least, happier than the stainless steel and graffiti of the Chicago "L."

Our stop was Charing Cross, and we exited into Trafalgar Square. It was really lovely and impressive to walk out to see Nelson's Column like that, and I knew right then that England would be grand - like Rome.

Then we found our hotel, the Trafalgar London. This is a Hilton-associated hotel that Diane nabbed with her travel points. As Diane checked us in, we gazed in awe at the apparent disco that was going on in the lobby. We found our rooms and were entirely in awe at the gorgeous, 15-foot ceilings, the new furnishings, and the delicious red wine, brownies, and fruit skewers that were waiting for us.

I had prepared myself for a small room, because even when you are staying in American-owned hotels, European hotels always have small rooms. Not so with the Trafalgar London. Holy crap, I definitely realized we were in for some pampering.

We settled in, watched crazy British television, and fell asleep for many hours to get ready for Day 2!

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