Thursday, May 22, 2008

London Calling, Part 1

I left Sacramento on a Monday morning and my mom drove me down to San Francisco to catch my flight. The flight from SFO to Toronto was pretty uneventful. Once there, I had a little bit of a layover before my flight to London. The flight to London was an absolute nightmare. I started out by making the mistake of not packing any type of sleep aids. Customarily, I at the very least include a small bottle of Tylenol PM in my carry on, not packing it will be a mistake I never make again.
I was surrounded by 3 babies and toddlers that screamed and cried the entire time. It was as though they all got together and had a little meeting before boarding the plane and agreed upon which kid would take what shift.
Then, there were two girls sitting behind me, I think they were probably on some sort of graduation trip. They spent the first two hours talking, loudly and obnoxiously, about how great of tans they were going to get on their trip throughout Europe, how cool it was that they wore the same size because then they could share clothes and it would seem like their wardrobes were twice as big. I was relieved when it became apparent that they were going to go to sleep... until the one sitting directly behind me decided that my armrest was her foot stool and the back fat of my arm was the cushion.
With all of this surrounding me, and the lack of a sleep aid, I only managed to get about 45 minutes of sleep on the plane.
In flight, after the flight attendants had passed out the custom papers and I was filling it out, I realized that I had left the paper with the address of where we were staying, at home. I wasn't panicked at the time because I had friends coming in on another flight after me and I knew that they'd have the address. However, I still didn't have the address to fill out the customs paperwork. I contemplated opening up my trusty Rick Steves guidebook and just pick a random hotel or hostel address, but I didn't want to be dishonest on customs paperwork So, I left that section blank. I figured it would be better to be honest and explain my situation to the customs agent and go on my way.
I wait in line to clear customs, walk up to the agent and its a girl who looks like shes about 22-23 years old. She starts with the usual questions:
"What is the purpose of your visit to the UK?"
"How long will you be in the UK?"
"A week"
"And you'll be staying at....."
she's obviously gotten to the part I left blank
"Where will you be staying while you're in the UK?"
"I'm sorry, I left the address at home when I left the states, but I'm meeting with some friends who are coming in on a British Airways flight in Terminal 5 in about 2 hours and they have the address"
"So, you're saying that you don't have a place to stay during your visit to the UK?"
"I do have a place to stay, I just forgot the papers that have the address at home"
"You are a grown adult with a legal responsiblity to have a legal address when you enter the UK"
At this point I wanted to launch into some smart assed diatribe about what do people who are aimlessly backpacking through Europe do, but I am smart enough to know that if there is any one person I should not get mouthy with it is the customs agent who can deny my entry or send me off to some back room for some sort of interrogation.
"I understand, I'm very sorry. I'll be meeting up with my friends in a couple of hours and they have it"
"Do you have ANY idea as to where it is that you're staying?"
"We rented an apartment on Elgin-something-or-other near the Notting Hill area"
"Ma'am, you are a grown adult with a legal responsibility to have an address when you enter the UK"
"Yes, I understand, I am very sorry"
And with that she stamped my passport and let me through.

Due to this little delay, by the time I found the baggage carousel, our luggage is already down so I find a spot where I can easily reach the baggage when mine comes around. And I stand there, and stand there, and stand there.
Pretty soon I realize that its the same 3 bags going around over and over and over again. F*ck.
I go to the baggage claim desk and hand over my tag that I was given in SFO. The agent looks up my claim number. Apparently, my bag liked Toronto so much it decided to stay there. This is at about noon, the guy tells me that there is another flight coming in from Toronto that will be there at about 9pm, and they can have a courier deliver it to my hotel some time between 11 and 12 that night, approximately. Whats the address for where I'm staying?
Great. This question again.
I explain to him the whole leaving the address at home, but am meeting with friends who will have it. He's very nice and says that if I can remember the name of the hotel he can look the address up for me. I tell him that its an apartment, not a hotel. He gives me some contact information for me to call with the address of where I'm staying once I have it, but that if its a hotel the courier service will deliver any time of night, but if its a residence that they do not deliver past 9pm. The flight is not scheduled to arrive until 9pm. So, even though I am feeling all grungy and covered in airplane, I will not have my luggage until the next morning... and no, I did not pack a change of clothing or any toiletries in my carry on. Perfect.

1 comment:

Shauna said...

Whoa. Are you going to tell us the good parts soon? And also... where the hell are the pictures?