I woke up on Wednesday and was ready to go. I had been packed for days at this point and didn’t have anything left to do. The only issue was that my flight was not until 10:00 pm, so I had almost the whole day ahead of me. In the early afternoon I left Larchwood, saying farewell to the comforts of my room and bed. It’s harder than you think to say goodbye to such a thing like a bed, because I knew it would be nearly three months till I would be back.
Once I arrived at my dad’s, it was back to waiting around for me. The plan was to leave a bit after 5, grab some dinner on the way to the airport, and aim to arrive by 7. Flying internationally they suggest getting to the airport 2-3 hours ahead of time. On the way to the airport we talked about the trip I would be setting off on. Besides my iPhone, I wasn’t bringing a camera with me, and we both concluded that this was a bit silly. Dan (the other half of ReachingOut2TheWorld) has a great camera, so I never really felt too much concern in the camera department… Regardless, we decided to stop at BestBuy before getting dinner, quickly looking through the most affordable cameras. Lucky for me there was a deal on a small Canon PowerShot that would seemingly fit all my needs. The purchase was definitely uncharacteristic of my dad, as he typically likes to do a bit more research before making any buys. But, since time was not on our side, we didn’t have many options.
There was an Olive Garden next door which would prove to be the best decision of the night. It was crowded so we opted to sit at the bar. Any other restaurant this might have made for quicker service, but at Olive Garden, it just means you get to sit on higher chairs and be forgotten about. We didn’t actually get our soup and salad till closer to 7 and when we mentioned I had a flight to catch they returned with our food in to-go containers and compensated our entire meal! I really wasn’t expecting that, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise after just spending a chunk of money on the camera. Having actually filled up on the soup and salad (because that’s what we all do), I figured I would just bring my chicken parm with me on the plane. I wasn’t sure if this would be an issue or not, but it proved to be no hassle at all.
Even with the delays to the airport, I still arrived with plenty of time, and there was really no wait at all to get to the gate. Once on the plane, I decided I would wait till they took off and served drinks before digging into my pasta feast. Upon doing so I definitely received some jealous looks. It wasn’t even the slightest bit warm at this point, and I almost asked the flight attendant if they would heat it up for me, but with it being so early into the flight I didn’t want to be “that guy.” Just about the time I was finishing up my meal, which was still awesome despite the temperature, the crew came around with meals for everyone. I’ll have to admit I was a bit shocked. It was quarter to 11 at night and I really wasn’t thinking they’d be serving a full dinner. You know I can’t turn down a free meal, and I happen to really like plane food. I was really in it for the cheesecake slice that I noticed was on the platter. While eating, I had my choice of nearly 100 inflight movies. They actually had the movie I was hoping they would have, The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s a movie starring Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend renting it.
With the movie ending around 12:30 am, I had hopes of getting some sleep. I knew with the time difference I was going to be losing about 5 hours, and if I didn’t sleep now my entire day would be difficult. With that being said…I couldn’t sleep at all! Blame it on the upright position, the lady behind me that just had to keep hitting my seat, or the man in front of me that kept figuring out ways to recline his chair further and further into my lap. All in all, I wasn’t able to sleep.
The plane arrived into London around 9 am local time (4 am NY) and my next task was navigating the airport, through customs, and onto the baggage claim. For those of you that are wondering, my huge duffel bag was not charged extra! The timing also worked out great; just as I got to the baggage claim, my huge, overweight, blue, monster of a bag was rounding the corner. I grabbed it and threw it onto my cart and started heading for the exit. This is the part of my journey that I truly began to regret bringing such a big bag. Having 3 bags total: a backpack that held my laptop and other personals, a small carry-on which basically just held the board game of Catan, and the 60+ pound Blue Monster, I made my way to the first rail station in Heathrow. I had to get to Victoria Station to catch a train to Nottingham, which was due to leave at 2:08 pm. I just had to figure out how to get to Victoria Station. After a few wrong turns, asking several people for help, and 3 trains later, I finally made it to Victoria. Just as I got there, my strap ripped on the Blue Monster. It was embarrassing, but also very problematic. I still had a decent way to go, wasn’t exactly sure what my next move was going to be, and was midway up a flight of steps with the Blue Monster at my feet. I quickly dragged it to the side to get out of the way. At this point my only option was to forget the shoulder strap and just carry it as hand luggage. Mind you, this is a very heavy bag and I’m just approaching the 24 hour period of no sleep. A bit lost in Victoria Station, I figured out where I had to go to retrieve my train tickets to Nottingham… Only they were not directly to Nottingham. First, I had to take a train to Kings Cross Station, then a train to Grantham, before finally taking a train to Nottingham. Luckily, even with all the trains and some minor delays, Sean was waiting for me right when I arrived. Unluckily, I still had the longest walking commute of my journey ahead of me and my body was just about ready to shut down. Sean was a huge help by taking on my other two bags, but I wasn’t about to let him struggle with Big Blue. We hiked across Nottingham until we could catch the bus that would take us to Sean’s home. Sean, being awesome, had dinner already underway.
The rest of the evening was spent meeting Sean’s family, taking a walk to a local pub, and teaching his sister, Cassie, how to play Catan. I believe we stayed up till about 1 in the morning before it was finally time for me to sleep. I very well could have gone to sleep much earlier in the evening, but my thought process was that if I could hold off until midnight or so, I may be able to dodge the jet lag I’d be feeling the following morning. All in all, it had been nearly 39 hours without sleep. Sleep never felt so good that night.