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Thursday, June 18, 2009

First Day In London

Chris drove very slooooowly to the bus station in Portsmouth. He did not want me to leave. Phoebe came along for the ride in the back seat. She loves riding in the car. Little did she know. . .

We got to the bus station, checked me in and then Chris got Phoebe out of the car to wait outside with us. She was fascinated with the stone bench, new location, everything. Then my bus for Logan Airport pulled in. Chris took her back to the car, after I gave her a huge hug and "I'll miss you."

We got my luggage on the bus, then Chris asked me if I could just stay home. Of course the answer was no. We kissed and he walked off, looking like a lost puppy.

I got on the bus and sure enough, it arrived at Logan in plenty of time. I got upgraded to Premium Economy, more legroom, amenities, etc, which I sorely needed (pun intended) after having the staple removed from my scalp earlier in the morning. Oh yeah, I had to go back to the emergency room to have that puppy removed. At first, the nurse was like "I'll give you the tool and you can have someone in London remove it." I'm like what? Some strange British person pull a staple out of my head? NO THANK YOU.

Security was a breeze, had some boneless chicken tenders, thinking that since it was a late night flight, we wouldn't get dinner. WRONG! Helmut, my flight attendant (seriously, that was his name) came flittering up to me with a tray of glasses. Champagne, orange juice, or water. I chose water. Then he came back with a little amenities pack - eye shades, sleep socks, a pen (for what, I don't know), toothbrush and toothpaste. Then he came back with a bottle of water for the flight (he did this with everyone, not just me, of course).

As soon as we were airborne, we were handed a menu. Geezus. If I'd known, I wouldn't have wasted my money on food. Chicken, beef or pasta. I chose the teriyaki chicken. Helmut insisted on a wine. I chose white, thinking one glass would help me sleep. Watched Hotel For Dogs (silly, but cute), and I did sleep for a whopping three hours. Our flight ended up taking only just over 5 hours instead of the expected almost 7. My head hurt where the staple had been taken out.

Got off the plane, took an hour to go through customs (no one even wanted to check my bags for a catapult, pout), got my bags and finally met my driver, Dave. Originally from Barbados, he'd lived in London since he'd been 9. I judged he was in his 40s. He used to be a Roadie for The Thompson Twins and Pink Floyd. Oh yeah. We got to talking, I got him laughing and he asked me if I was busy. I told him since it was 8 in the morning, the hotel probably didn't have a room. So he proceeded to give me the condensed auto version of London.

I got some good pics of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, some bridges, the Royal Court and some other things. Damned if I have the right adapter to put them on my laptop (doh!) But he was funny and informative and seemed to like I was so easygoing (hold on Chris, he knew I was married).

Got to the hotel and sure enough, no rooms that early. So I asked to be called when one came up. The girl at the front desk was sweet. I got a cup of joe and then logged onto wifi and began posting short things about my trip on Facebook and Myspace. My head was really pounding by then and wouldn't you know, I forgot aspirin (or the equivalent), but did remember Advil PM. Go figure. Since I didn't want to pass out, I just bore the pain.

I was the first to get a room - it's a new Wyndham Days Hotel. Nice room, double bed, good size, like new. Weird thing, though, you have to use your credit card room key to get the lights to turn on. Seriously. If you pull the card out from the slot in the room, no lights.

Went for a walk through the east end, looking for Brick Lane. Couldn't find it (I hear shopping there is fantastic), but saw some interesting people and places. No one bothered me. Maybe I look English.

Speaking of, wow. Most English men just are not good-looking. At least not where I am.

Went back to my room, talked with Chris on Skype and Facebook chat, then went down to the bar for dinner. They had a special - glass of wine with your choice of chorizo or tapas. I ended up going with a red wine and chorizo. Excellent combo! I then got the sliced duck breast salad. I've found that if you're nice to people here, they will go out of their way for you. The girl at the front desk? She had a hectic day and was still there when I went down for dinner. I told the bar manager she needed a raise. She came over with a map and began giving me directions to some local things. Cool!

I talked with the bar manager and when my duck breast salad came, he refilled my glass and told me since it was the end of the bottle, it was on him. Wow.

And I kept hearing stories of how rude the British are. Not one has been so far (although the guy at customs *did* make fun of my handwriting - pfft).

Back in my room, took a nice hot bath, going to put Icy Hot on my shoulders, will talk to Chris for a bit, then it's bed time for this Bonzo.

I have to be downstairs by 8 am for the conference.

I still can't believe I'm here.

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