October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

London, Day 7: Spending the Last Pence and Heathrow

(Day 6 can be found here.)

Day 7: Saturday, October 8

My 28th birthday. I started off by finally ordering the full English breakfast at the hotel. (I’d previously been getting bits and pieces of it, or just opting for the continental offerings.)

No pancakes, alas.

The train to Heathrow was surprisingly crowded. I suppose this is why the Tube runs so frequently. No matter when or where I rode that week, I had company.

Airport security at Heathrow seemed no worse or better than in the US, though removing shoes appeared to be optional. I’m so used to being scanned and groped that I took them off anyway.

Once at the gate, I had about £4 to burn. I bought a sandwich, a Diet Coke, and some Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Final tally: took £300 to London and came back with 31p.

The flight home was about 7 hours. I watched Bridesmaids, a great little British film called The Trip, and finished my book. I had foolishly read quite a bit of it on the train to Heathrow, so I found myself bookless for a good part of the flight. (My reserve book was in the overhead compartment. Poor, poor planning, I know.)

There appeared to be a large contingent of young British men on our flight coming to America for a visit. No idea whether they were staying in the DC area or what. Wondered what they were planning to do, and whether the amazing water pressure of our sinks and toilets would befuddle them. I myself was missing it very much. Never have I been so glad to see a Dulles bathroom.

I had a touch-and-go moment at customs when the official remarked on my “difficult” last name and I just agreed with him instead of pronouncing it. Was that a test? Did he think I was impersonating Heather Mrockosockwiczkashavicz? Who can say? (I got a similar test at Heathrow. Just look at the picture and stamp the darn passport, people. No small talk.)

Came home to a pile of mail. I really need to start resisting free magazine subscriptions.

And now I’m back. Spent the next week waking up at 4:30 a.m. and walking around tired most of the day. But it was totally worth it.

My top 5 notes from the trip:

1. Britons love lining up for things. It’s a whole field of etiquette.
2. In Britain, arugula is called rocket.
3. Piccadilly Circus is a great place to people watch, a la Times Square.
4. Every bus should be a double decker bus.
5. Britons see no need for air conditioning anywhere or elevators in their hotels. Prepare accordingly.

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: