Sunday, June 12, 2011

London...In Reverse...Departure through Day 2

We are successfully back from London! I had meant to blog everyday but that was simply not happening! So, I wrote and noted on my Iphone things we did and more importantly things LitlBit said. There were some funny ones! I am attempting to make a book with photos etc. for LitlBit to keep (and mommy). That is going extremely slow! Until then here are a few highlights!

May 19th- Thursday
D-Day! The day of departure. Our flight left Birmingham at 4:30 in the afternoon with a transfer in Atlanta. I finished packing us up the night before at around midnight. THAT was a major accomplishment! We ended up using my standard suitcase, a carry on that had our extra change of clothes/ blanket for the flight/ neck pillows, and each of us had a bookbag. Of course mine had all of the electronics. Computer/iPad/camera(s)/DVD player for LitlBit/cords/meds...needless to say it was packed! Hers had the flight necessities for a 5 year old...TOYS! We ended up getting to the airport with 45 minutes to spare. Well, I thought that. When we were checking in the lady at the counter reprimanded me for being late and KEPT saying our luggage may or may not get on the plane! She stated that the luggage hold is closed thirty minutes prior to departure. Funny thing was that I had 45 minutes until departure. So, she and I were not getting along (putting it nicely). When she finally completed our check-in she was then demanding that we go ahead and go through security (still had 30 minutes at this point prior to take-off) without saying goodbye to the hubs. Ummmm...not happening! LitlBit was not happy and started crying because she thought that would happen. She wanted to hug Daddy! Needless to say Mommy won. We said our goodbyes and then went to board. As we are going to board I saw a huge line of people waiting to get on the plane. Why? They were not able to get on because of luggage. Nobody's carry-on suitcase was able to go on the plane at all. Apparently the belly of the plane was full. So, bye-bye extra change of clothes in case the big one is lost! I was to get it at Heathrow with my other. Really? So, at this point we are not sure where ANY of our luggage will end up! Great start! If it were just me...I would not have been half as irritated. But, the idea of landing in London and not finding any of our luggage was not one that I relished! Oh well! Chalk it up! Being an international travel I knew that was always a possibility. On to Atlanta! Anna gets on the plane and is SO very excited! I took tons of photos and a couple of videos of her as the plane took off! She was giggles and then a bit nervous then back to giggles. She watched the land get further and further away while saying bye to her family. It was really cute to see!

Anna officially had her first flight on an airplane! She did wonderful. Atlanta was like home away from home. Something about when I land there. It is like mentally I know I am almost overseas! My outlook changes a bit (usually for the better!!) We had a little over 4 hours for a layover. I know this seems to be more than necessary but it worked out great with her. We took our time. Calmed ourselves down and had dinner at TGI Friday's. That is my standard dinner before a flight overseas. We sat down to a nice dinner and a large glass of wine. If ever I needed to relax it was then! We then called each of the family members. Anna said hey/bye see you on the other side of the pond to everyone. Time to line up again!

The Atlanta - Heathrow flight was not bad at all. I actually like that flight. Sleepy time for me! This time was a bit different. Once again, wine please! Anna played her games/colored/talked. And then...finally...lights out...sleep...we don't speak again until we are over Europe.

May 20th- Friday
We are here! We wake up around 10:00 a.m. London time. As normal, we wake up to the flight attendants bringing brunch (not much to look forward to here!) We begin packing up our little area. The flight lands and let the fun begin! First things first...luggage. Joy joy joy! We find both pieces plus the stroller...Score! Next we get the pleasure of waiting in a really long line to talk to border control. This is my least favorite part simply because you are just so very tired! After a brief session of 21 questions (why are you here, where are you staying, how long, you have been here before--why, how old are you, you are done) we were sent on our way. Next topic is a taxi. Now, some of you may wonder why a taxi when the tube goes to Heathrow. I will explain by obviously don't know me! Tube vs taxi with luggage and tired? Taxi all the way! When we got in the black cab LitlBit was ecstatic! "Mommy, mommy, mommy we are in a real taxi!" "MOMMMMMY! We are in LONDON!" "Mommy, where are the princesses?" "Mommy, they have trees here too!" She was full of questions and excitement! We decided to make a couple of calls from the taxi to report our where-a-bouts. Following that we were on our way to the house!

Upon arrival to the house (about 30 minutes later) we got settled into the house and our new digs. The new room was great. It was HUGE! We had a private shower/toilet that we could close off from the rest of the world. Outside of the separating door was the t.v. room (LitlBit watched cartoons when she woke up a couple of mornings) and the kitchen. So, pretty convenient. LitlBit met the latest hire for the house. She is from London. So, LitlBit was intrigued by her accent. After we got settled we took a walk to the bank. Great. The bank. Sidenote...banks there are not like here. You don't just walk up and get the teller to give you cash on your account. You are asked why, given long time frames for cashing checks, and wait. Don't get me wrong. All is done very politely but just not a fun adventure when you are running on about 5 hours sleep (and you know that you will be awake for about 30 hours or more on only this sleep). At any rate, we survived that. We then went to a patisserie. Oh, Heaven on Earth in London! We took our house friend back and then caught up on happenings at the house. At about 7:30 p.m. we trekked out for dinner. Not wanting to venture far that first day we just went to Cafe Forum. LitlBit wanted to eat outside and watch everyone. I happily obliged. Following dinner we stopped by the grocery (Waitrose) before it was back home to call family. I love Waitrose! Such yummy things to buy there! When we got home we talked and played. After a shower we were ready to settle in at close to midnight (yes you read that right). So, we leave Birmingham at 4:30 on Thursday, we go to bed 26 hours all in all we have been awake about 21 hours or more. For me...that is nothing. For munchkin...that is a whole heck of a lot! She did good though...she is my little traveler!

May 21st- Saturday
It is our first official day in London! There were about a million things I had planned in my head. But, decided Saturday we would spend as much time as possible outside so that we would get on the right time zone! After we woke up and had breakfast I let LitlBit watch cartoons while I got ready. Nothing like some British cartoons! Then we were off. To the tube we go! LitlBit rode her first tube! We took it to Victoria. Not far..but enough so she was curious as to what we were on! First on my list was the Royal Mews. Unfortunately, when we got there it was closed. We can thank our president for that. He made a trip to London during our first week. As such, they closed things off for security checks (I suppose). After promising that we would come back later in the week (when they reopened) we headed on foot to Buckingham Palace. Litlbit got her first taste of London...the walking part of London! She was not the happiest little one for having to walk so much. I thought it was best to get her used to that early though. Yes, we could have gotten on a bus or back on the tube. But no. We were breaking in early with the walking! We get there...LitlBit was still a bit zoned out but enjoyed seeing where the prince and princess kissed (we woke up at 3:00 a.m. to watch the royal wedding of Kate and William). We watched the infamous Changing of the Guard. Following that we took some pictures and then saw the guard go down Queen's Walk. This is a traditional march. LitlBit was excited to see the horses up close! We then walked through St. James' Park on our way to Kensington Park. If you are not familiar with the park it is so pretty! At the side closest to High Street is the Round Pond. So many ducks there! It is beautiful! The walk to it is fabulous too. LitlBit walked, ran, skipped, tried to catch squirrels and was lots of fun. At the very back of the park is the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. This playground is AWESOME! I just wish we had something like it here! First, it is huge. Second it is fenced and gated. Only so many parents/kids are allowed in at one time. They count as people enter and exit. So, there was a queue when we arrived. Outside of the playground is a very nice concession area. There is a part of it that is inside the playground. So, you can order food/snacks/a lolly either in or out of the playground area. We waited in queue for about 7 minutes. Once in we explored. One part of it is in the theme of Peter Pan. There is a ship (A massive ship) on top of a sand area for the kids to play in. Play in the sand, climb the ship, play all sorts of things. There is a water area on the other side. Throughout the park are little paths with hidden things to do (swings, slides, musical instruments, tons of stuff). We stayed until dinner time and played. Litlbit Loved it! Dinner was at Wagamama's. Oh I have missed you! As expected, munchkin LOVED it. Since we were still on High Street we walked back to Kensington Park afterwards to see the ducks at the Round Pond. We stayed there until sunset (literally, it was setting). We headed back home at about 9:00 p.m. and it was still as if it were 7:30 p.m. in Birmingham. A bit hard to get used to! LitlBit took her first bus home (of many). Bus 49 was our friend. She seemed to enjoy the bus more than the tube since you could see out of it. Note. With children in London. Memorize the bus system. They will love you for it! Once again, get home, get settled, eat a snack while waiting on daddy to get home. We call daddy on video call at about 11:00 p.m. our time. We are exhausted! Talk to daddy and hit the hay a little after midnight. Happy, we made it! Our first day in London...we made it! We are both like kids in a candy store at this point!!

Now playing: The Clash - London Calling
via FoxyTunes