November 25, 2007: Time to Go Home

Today is the final day for us in the United Kingdom. Time to head for home. Because our flight is comfortably late in the day we were able to sleep in until a normal time, pack up the hotel room and head on out. We weren’t too rushed although after having missed one flight this week we are being extra cautious. I calculated ahead of time and figure that we have to be ready to go and at the front of the hotel by ten forty in the morning to be completely safe.

Thames, String of Lights, Tree and Parliament

I am glad that I figured out the safe amount of time that we needed ahead of time because it ended up taking a full hour and a half to go from the Comfort Hotel to Heathrow just two miles away or so! It is crazy how long it takes to do everything in London. No matter how close you are you can be an hour away. We took the hotel shuttle service to the airport and then discovered that we had to catch the Heathrow Express to get us to the right terminal! Still, I had allotted for a lot of these types of problems. So we were doing okay.

Once we were checked in and had our seats assigned we figured that we could relax and get some food. We had tried to check in online last night but the hotel Internet access didn’t work and doing from the BlackBerry was impossible because the site used images and non-standard stuff that the BlackBerry couldn’t handle. So we had to take our chances getting seats when we got to Heathrow. Unfortunately we were unable to get seats together because we checked in so late. At least we were somewhat near each other.

We ate at Garfunkel’s in the airport. It was good. Very slow. Everyone was going crazy trying to get their bills so that they could rush out to their planes. We had a really long time to kill so it wasn’t much of a problem for us but it definitely ended up killing all of our spare time. It took about thirty minutes for our fish and chips to arrive, for example. About an hour from the time we sat down until we got the bill and we were carefully moving things along as quickly as we could. So it was fine.

I did have a chance to try actual British Christmas pudding (aka plum pudding.) I was somewhat surprised to find that the infamous plum pudding is simply the English version of fruitcake. Fruitcake generally being, in my experience, much more dense but really the same thing. It makes sense as, in America, fruitcake is the Christmas dessert and is actually a pudding although Americans almost never use the term.

After lunch we did some very quick shopping at the duty free shops in Heathrow Terminal Four (the famous International terminal that handles a huge percentage of the world’s international flights) and then headed to the gate to get ready to depart the old world for the new. We boarded and got delayed for about twenty minutes which wasn’t bad at all.

Once we were in the air the gentlemen sitting next to me figured out that Dominica and I had gotten separated and offered to switch seats with her so that we could sit together which was awfully nice of him because he had a window seat and switched into a centre aisle seat.  So Dominica and I got to ride together almost the entire way back to Newark.

The one thing that turned out bad is that, for once, both Dominica and I had planned on using the in-flight entertainment (watching The Simpsons Movie and Hairspray) to kill a bit of time.  But within the first five minutes of the flight the entire system died and we didn’t get to watch anything at all or even use the cool GPS system to see where we were.  So the flight seemed a lot longer than we had thought that it was going to and we didn’t manage to watch any of the movies that we half wanted to see.  So we spent the time listening to our iPods.  Dominica listened to “Lake Wobegon Days” by Garrison Keiller and then “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” by Bill Bryson while I listened to “Notes from a Small Island” by Bill Bryson.

We landed in Newark, picked up our luggage, got through customs (who were friendly but didn’t say a single word to us at all) and were off in our taxi towards home.  Boy were we glad to be home.  It is too bad that it was so late, almost seven thirty, because we can’t get Oreo until tomorrow.  So we ordered in a pizza and watched some Ballykissangel and called it a night.  Dominica will be heading out to get Oreo first thing in the morning.

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