Tuesday, December 31, 2013

traveling british


i suffered some packing anxiety but i was efficient nonetheless; it's helpful to make lists and handle purchases before the day. i felt a bit silly trying out fez when i wasn't completely done, but then i received an alert from british airways informing me that my flight was to be delayed by three hours.

WHAT?! what a screw-up! so i was ready to go far too early and my otherwise unstressed time visiting family and friends in london would be pressured.

the metro to bus transfer was (unwittingly) perfectly timed. i was made nervous by a woman in the bus putting in or moving around a contact lens while we were in motion. i arrived at the airport and headed straight to a store to buy a tsa-approved lock. at least the plastic clamshell packaging had a little easy-open flap that even *i* could find.

after checking in - handing in my luggage and printing out the boarding pass i couldn't get on my phone - i tried to change us dollars to british pounds. the guy took my money and showed me a number that was higher than i expected: great! odd, but great. he proceeded to give me that amount in canadian dollars.
"i asked you for british pounds."
"i can't change us dollars for you, i have to change them to canadian dollars first."
i gave him a dark look.
"and you couldn't have told me that before? i *have* canadian dollars."
i told him to give me pounds for the canadian dollars. as he turned to do that i realized that he was succeeding in double-charging me for the conversions. rude bastard!
"hey, stop! just give me my damned us dollars back. i'll change them on the other side."

the only good things about the three hour delay were the free subway dinner and a few hours of contemplation / meditation that i sorely needed. and i wrote online dating while i waited, which i'm quite proud of.


no security problems anywhere. no serviceable wi-fi anywhere. the prices in johannesburg's domestic departures hall are set for international travellers, and that's really, really uncool for south africans.

mariah carey - all i want for christmas is you played EVERY TIME i walked into a men's bathroom. subliminal messaging?


1. sitting next to the kid's toys by the gate and talking on the phone is not a good idea. a bunch of them decided to come and play and i had to move across the hall. the smallest kid took a shine to me and the bigger kids were taking care of her, which was cute but made trying to converse on the phone a bit of a mission.

2. on the first flight i was sitting just behind the infants' row, and counted us all fortunate that they were all, for the most part, relaxed on the flight. on the second flight, i was sitting IN the infants' row, and the parents next to me were flying with their child for the first time. they were more worried than i was, though, and we were all very grateful by the end of the flight that the squealing had been minimal. also, my headphones block out a good amount of noise :P


the in-flight food i had was undoubtedly the best i have ever tasted in thirty years of flying! i am totally satisfied that i remembered to order vegan meals. they were all delicious and i wasn't forced to compromise on anything :)


from wednesday morning until friday night, i must have slept between two to four hours in total. i entered zombie-mode almost immediately, unable to focus on anything like a movie or a book, uninterested in writing or even in listening to music. i kept trying the latter and giving up. most of the time i just kind of stared miserably while my head lolled.

when i *did* manage to sleep, it was at all the wrong times. i'm very grateful that they kept waking me for my meals, though!


my stomache was killing me from just after the first take-off until i arrived at my cousins' in london. i was up and down to he bathrooms with no results, i don't know what the hell that was all about. my second flight was ruined by restless leg syndrome in spite of my repeated top-ups of tonic water. i was not impressed, no matter how much i got up and stretched my legs remained cramped.

overall experience:

in spite of the last items mentioned, overall the experience was really good. the airport stuff was all smooth in all directions, the planes were relatively spacious and the only things to complain about had nothing to do with anyone but me.


the underground was simple and i was surprised at how familiar everything was when i'd last been there in 2004.

on the picadilly line to cockfosters: that's a name they might want to consider changing. just sayin'.

my family: it was great seeing my cousins! i only had an hour or so with them, and they had some friends over. when their kids brought out bread and food, they pointed at a bowl and told me it was a mushroom spread. cool! i put it on a slice of bread and it was excellent. a short while later someone asked how it was made.
"oh, mushroom, ricotta..."
"there's cheese in there?!"

why would somebody describe mushroom AND RICOTTA as just mushroom? does cheese not count? i commented that i wouldn't have taken it then, and was asked about my dietary choices. everyone was cool with my reply that it's for health reasons and was happy to leave it at that.
except for the family friend, who got an angry look on her face as she asked: "what makes you think that being vegan is healthier?"

"if you'd asked me that a couple of years ago you'd have been absolutely right," i began, and proceeded to inform her about the research that's been done over the past years. that sparked a discussion about supplements, and once that was over we could change topic and everything relaxed again. only... when the family friend left, she did so without saying goodbye to me. hmmm.

travelling from there to leicester square i just missed the right train; fortunately i only made moonflake and zenstar wait about fifteen minutes, and even more fortunately we'd be travelling on the tube together for a while so we actually ended up with a decent amount of time for coffee and catch-up. it's so nice to see them doing well and even nicer to hear that we're all thinking along similar lines long-term! :)

that moment when i remembered that i didn't need to pack my nice jacket: *facepalm*

i didn't have time to meet with tpj, so i called him from the airport and we chatted until boarding time. i need to make the most out of the $45 package i took for the uk...

"gold-digger" is such an ugly term. i prefer "full-time high-class monogamous prostitute".

i was glad to find an indian toilet at johannesburg's baggage claim. the other stalls would have been impossible to change in. i don't know how people change clothes on an airplane.

i arrived in cape town exhausted and feeling grim - like i'd been travelling since wednesday. as soon as i got off the plane, though, i could feel the summer holiday feeling and once i'd gotten home and had a shower i was feeling quite human again in spite of myself :)

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