London 2010: Day 1 – Thursday/FridayOur vacation in London didn't get off to the best start.
Susan worked from home on Thursday and I settled for a half day in the office. I was knee-deep with proposals and spent most of my four hours at work attempting to tie up every possible loose end. We had a proposal due at the end of day on Friday and one more awaiting my return next week. After writing dozens of emails and meeting with every person who would handle my responsibilities while I was away, it quickly became noon. I reminded everyone that at 12:01 p.m., I would be long gone. At 12:01 p.m., I was in my Prius racing out of the parking lot.
On my way home, I picked up our fruit and vegetables and grabbed a quick lunch. Susan processed our veggies and I attempted to make myself look productive. We double-checked our luggage and left the house around 3:30 p.m. We dropped off the fruit with Susan's mom and we were on our way to O'Hare.
We arrived at the airport and checked our luggage. We read our books while we waited. I was reading The Natural and Susan had Room. Our seating number was called and we boarded the plane. We were set to leave at 6:30 p.m. and arrive at Heathrow around 8:45 a.m. the next morning. We didn't have many plans for Friday. Just dinner around 8 p.m.
Then we waited.
About one hour later, we were notified that the plane had an issue with its electronic system and they just needed a part. The part arrived, and no dice. It didn't remedy the problem. The announcement was made that we needed to wait for another part. Copy. Paste. That part didn't work either. Now the pilot told us we needed a new plane. The next flight to London wasn't scheduled until Friday around 4 p.m. We needed this new plane to get out at a reasonable time.
We headed back inside. Susan's older brother works at O'Hare, so he joined us while we waited. After close to four hours later (from our original departure time), we were back on a new plane and off the ground.
I'm not a good plane sleeper, so over the next eight hours, I tried my hardest to fall asleep. Susan was able to sleep for a while. I managed a few minutes here and there, but nothing substantial. Eventually, I did sleep for about an hour, but I might be rounding that up.
We finally arrived at Heathrow. We passed through customs and found the train to Paddington. At Paddington, we hopped on the London Underground and raced off to the Victoria station. That's where we were first introduced to the term, "mind the gap."
After getting our bearings, we made sure to look both ways repeatedly before crossing the streets, and found our hotel. We stayed at The Rubens Hotel directly across from Buckingham Palace. I'll admit to being completely drained. With the six hour time change and minimal sleep, I was exhausted. Once we unpacked, a good two hour nap was in order. Somehow that managed to perform a complete system reboot. Around 4 p.m., I was as good as new. We ordered a quick snack from room service and flipped through English television stations.
Around 7:15 p.m., we grabbed an English-styled cab and were on our way to dinner at Hibiscus. That's when I realized that I didn't quite know how tipping worked in England. I noticed a "value-added tax" was included on the check. We seemed to manage and called it a night.