American Airlines Conspiracy to Keep me From Sleeping, the Tube and Other Day 1 London Tidbits (August 23, 2009)

I am here playas! I am sitting in my hotel room at the Victoria Park Plaza London, having just returned from scoring my evening meal of yogurt and mango (it is a Hindu fast day and I refuse to let travel logistics provide my mother-in-law with further reason to question my devotion), at Pret-A-Manger, a delightful organic cafe chain that appears on almost every block in the City. I was a rank, sweaty mess when I finally arrived, but after dinner, a long bath and a short nap, I am invigorated. I just can’t believe this is real. London baby!

My flight left O’Hare at 9:45 PM sharp last night. I had dutifully ingested my Dramamine, as well as several glasses of red wine, telling myself it would be best to go right to sleep and adjust to the time changes ASAP. But even as I reminded myself over and again the last week, my words rang false – even to my ears. I have traveled overseas on American Airlines before, and was well aware of their fabulous personal entertainment options. Blast it! I slept nary a wink and instead watched the following four movies in rapid succession:

  • The Hangover (sick and twisted in the best way and how much more do I now love Ed Helms?)
  • Grey Gardens (both Drew Barrymorer and Jessica Lange were something fierce, and who knew Daniel Baldwin actually still worked as an “actor?”)
  • Easy Virtue (so-so, but I typically hate Jessica Biel, and did not in this one)
  • The Proposal (What can I say? I am a sucker for Sandy Bullock, not to mention Ryan Reynolds is smokin’.)

I was in a state of semi-remorse for my childish refusal to turn off the TV and go to sleep by the time the flight landed. But somehow I found my second wind when turning to the business of getting myself some GBP (that’s British pounds for you layfolk) and figuring out how the hell to get to my first hotel via the Tube. Boop did not come here for taxis, y’all and I was determined to do this the way Londoners do. Except…

1. Taking the Heathrow Express train and connecting to the Tube cost me 20 GBP, or roughly $30. Wow! I was warned that London was pricey, but seriously? The Heathrow Express is sort of like the Metra and the Tube reminscent of the CTA. Who in God’s name would spend $30 to take the CTA? How do blue collar Londoners afford the commute?

2. If anyone ever thought getting around the various CTA rail lines was a challenge, please see the map of London’s system above. I am proud that I got to my destination in one piece and without any obvious wrong turns, but that is only because I swallowed my little tourist pride and asked for help – more than once.

3. Access for the disabled on the Tube – just doesn’t exist, at least not on the Circle Line, the one I took to Victoria Station. No escalators or elevators, just old fashioned stone steps. Boop did not have energy for the gym today, but after lugging 45 pounds of crap and two jackets all over town for over an hour, I think I am good.

So tomorrow is the Shakespeare walking tour at 11 AM. One good sleep, a workout in the hotel gym, and I am ready! And are you all behaving yourselves Stateside?

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