I didn't think the plane trip would ever end! Didn't get to the hotel until 7pm London time. Had been on the go for over 30 HOURS!!!
It was a mad dash this morning - trying to get everything ready. Made it to the airport at 7:15am. Then there was the 10 mile (exaggeration of course?) trek from the car to the terminal. I think my suitcase weighs a ton!
At the terminal, the problems began. First, I couldn't find where to check in the damn suitcase. When we finally found the place, ended up talking to a grouchy old lady. We checked the bag to Madrid. (BIG mistake - should have been to London!) Anyway, checked in at the gate and waited. Next problem - to find that Melissa.
Sat down and stared out the window. My stomach felt like the butterflies were doing the Indy 500 down there.
There was a girl with curly brown hair, along with another girl (sister?) and a white haired lady. Could that be her? It is! Oh joy! I felt comfortable with her from the first. Then we went with our separate families to eat some breakfast - nachos and tomato juice. Well, Karen had coke. Then Joyce, Ron & Lisa joined us at breakfast, as did Melissa. Mom, I think, took 10 trillion pictures. Then, as we walked back to the gate, Julie came - YAY!
Hugs and kisses all around! Time to go!
On the plane, we tried to sit together, but it wasn't to be. Through a curtain and pole, I watched parts of High Road to China. Other than napping and eating lunch (fish, rice salad with creamy Italian dressing, roll & pecan pie), I just sat silently next to an older guy didn't say 2 words.
Off the plane in New York (JFK). What a disaster! We were supposed to have 2 hours to change planes but barely had one. Had enough time to get to Iberia's terminal (after a ride in a super crowded bus), check in, use the benjo and immediately get on the plane.
On the next to last row on the plane, right side, we spent the next six hours. The movie/music headphones did NOT work.
It was strange - from sunset to sunrise took three hours. On the right side of the plane: a full moon, white & bright shone in a black sky over a land of clouds below. One the left: the clouds in front were blood red as the sun began to rise. At the same time, it was both midnight & sunrise. Beautiful.
Madrid - AUGH!!!!
Madrid was a nightmare. First Melissa and I went down to try and get my luggage which I had mistakenly shipped/tagged to Madrid instead of Heathrow. We got to Passport Control and tried to get through to luggage without going through all the red tape - no such luck. No Habla Ingles either. So we just got through and started looking for my bag. No such luck - LOST! It was a lot of fun filling out a lost luggage claim - answering questions in Spanish. My Spanish after five years, is just plain lousy.
Next problem. We went to check in for our connecting flight to England. We're told "Sorry the plane is all booked up" What???? As we stood in line for a standby flight - oh shit! The thoughts of being left behind just raced through my head - that on top of no luggage? Shit. I just wanted to cry. I mean, what else could go wrong?
I had to open my mouth, didn't I? Oh we managed to on the flight, and we ran all the way to the gate, and we were told by fellow ISEers to stop. We had been bumped off the flight by a bunch of school kids. Talk about over booking!
After a five hour lay over (free snack for the inconvenience, walking around the terminal, getting ready to cry, wondering whether this trip was such a good deal after all), we boarded a cramped, stuffy British Airways 737 to Gatwick (our luggage went to Heathrow). Iberia forgot to call ISE, so nobody was there to meet us. Talk about the last straw.
They (Gatwick people) were really nice and helpful. I mean, it made you feel better that someone took the time to help. Well, I guess twenty eight tired, bedraggled young people are enough to get on anybody's case. We were driven to Heathrow to pick up our luggage. Guess what! Three of us, Melissa, Burt and I had no luggage. I was getting really good at filling out lost luggage claims.
After our new bus driver (ISE's) showed up, we were driven to our hotel. Got lost of course.
After being assigned a room - Melissa, Ann & I went out, changed some money, bought cookies, soft drinks a tooth brush and dinner. Greasy fish and chips. Came back to our room - it had three beds, bathroom door which won't lock and gets stuck. Sat on the floor & ate dinner. Went to bed. ZONK!!!
Melissa had called ISE the week before and had asked if anybody from her area would be going on trip. She got my phone number, called me, and introduced herself. I think it made both families a little relieved that neither of us was going to be totally on our own. Melissa ended up being my roommate for most of the trip.
Toilet paper in the hotel was like wax paper. Ick.
Way back in 1983, people who did not have a boarding pass could go all the way to the gate to say their farewells and to pick people up.
I had never been on a flight longer than an hour. I had flown to Los Angeles and Reno, and that's it.