departing London and returning home to the USA
London Travel Blog› entry 66 of 68 › view all entries
I awoke at 9:30 when the housekeepers began making the bed in which I was still resting. To make her job easier, I got out of the bed and went to breakfast for two bowls of cereal, seven slices of toast, and tea. As I gorged on carbohydrates and reflected on my experiences, I hardly believe it was nearly over. I showered and packed for the last time of my journey and locked up my pack again before heading out for a morning stroll.
I took the Underground to Covent Garden for some cultural enrichment and walked from there to Leicester Square. Past the array of such fine British eateries as KFC, Fridays, Planet Hollywood, Burger King, and McDonalds, my stomach turned.
I continued on foot to Piccadilly Circus and then took the Tube to emerge at Tower Hill. From there, I could see the Tower of London, as a local described it, “the home of the Crown Jewels.” Too bad my remaining time was too brief for a visit. I then stumbled upon the Merchant Navy Day Memorial Service and Reunion, a dignified ceremony with clergy, retired enlisted and officers in uniforms of the periods they served, well dressed spouses, and a kilted band. I could only stay a moment before time ran out and I began my rush back.
Quickly collecting my pack from the locker, I bid cheers to Siggi (still in bed) and began the much longer than expected trek to Heathrow. Unfortunately, my efforts to beat the clock proved futile, as international flights closed to check-ins an hour before departure; my deadline had expired 15 minutes before I found the counter.
My scheduled flight was closed and the ground crew made no exceptions. Mine was the last of the day connecting to Bradley, and the airline would charge me a substantial rescheduling fee for change of date if I were to take the morning flight. My only affordable option was a plane to JFK due to depart at half-six. I used my phone card and rang my brother to arrange a ride from New York instead. I also called home to check my machine and was pleased, in addition to potential career opportunity messages, to hear Clara’s voice welcome me home.
With two and a half hours to kill before my new flight, I walked around the airport and through the doors to see the English sun for one last time. Having breezed through security, I spent my remaining time browsing duty free shops. To my dismay, no bargains were there to be found when considering the GBP to USD conversion rate. The tax-free store, however, was offering complementary samples of whiskey, so I indulged in a tasting. After sipping six or eight small shots, I went to my gate and boarded the 747 bound for New York City.
The exhilaration of take off stretched an eager smirk across my face seconds before 19:00. Possibly the best flight I had ever had, there was plenty of room, the air conditioning worked, my sinus passages did not suffer, the salmon dinner was excellent, the flight attendant gave me a glass of wine to go with it, and I watched Changing Lanes and Sex and the City between naps.