Sisters in London

March 11, 2008 0 Comments A+ a-

Our London trip was short, but fun! Donna flew out of Richmond (RIC) and I flew out of Washington Reagan (DCA) and we met in Chicago (ORD). I like the 9 a.m. departure out of ORD because you arrive in London (LHR) late at night--10:00 pm. By the time you go through Immigation and get to the hotel, you are tired and ready for bed. Then you wake up as usual the next morning. The times I have flown over and get in at 7 in the morning only to have to stay awake so not to waste a day, just sucks for me. I feel like doo-doo and I no likey!

(Donna said the original picture of her wasn't flattering, so I disguised her....)

Anyway, we got the last seats in First Class going over. We were very comfortable, for sure.

Arriving in London, we made our way to the Heathrow Express, then from Paddington Station to the Marble Arch on the Tube. (Remember when you pack for Europe, most of the subway staions do not have elevators--so, what you pack, you may have to carry up several flights of stairs!) From the Marble Arch station, we walked two blocks to our hotel, the Victory Services Club, right smack dab in the middle of Central London. As our London friend says when choosing a hotel there, it's "location, location, location."

The VSC is not fancy at all--it is simple, basic, clean and safe. It is a club for the British military and her Allied Forces (the U.S. being one of those.) So, Norm's Air Force service makes us eligible to be members. The rooms are spartan and the price was right. There are many older gentlemen who served the Queen in the military in years gone by--the discussions get quite spirited amongst them, but they always seem to finish by saying "God save the Queen!" Love that!

Donna left her coat in her car when she got to the airport, so we wanted to get a coat for her--and went looking for a department store. We were mostly looking for a Marks and Spencer (like Kohl's) but, in our travels, Donna found a leather shop selling coats. She found very cool, very London coat, negotiated the hell outta the price, and came out with a bargain that looks smashing on her, don't you think?

I think Donna found her "soul city" in London...she is a very stylish, very fashionable woman, who puts a lot of effort and money into her clothes--and it shows. The thing she seemed to notice the most there was how stylishly dressed everyone was--she loved that even the men dressed fashionably and she commented on it quite a bit. She was at home there and that was terrific!

On our first day, we did the "hop on hop off" tour bus and had a nice overview of the city and her sights. We had lunch at a Marks and Spencer Food Hall--and loved the fresh, healthy choices that were there. (If anyone knows anyone who works in a grocery store management position, please tell them we need the M&S Food Hall in the US, please!!)

We walked our high heels off in the short two days we were there--Regent Street, Oxford Street, Picadilly Circus--our dogs were barkin'!! That was just the first day!!

Another word about the Tube stations....some of them have very long and steep escalators. They made Donna nervous. This may look like I am taking this picture as we are going up the escalator--it is actually Donna going down the escalator. She couldn't bring herself to look up or down!! This is the way she rode on every escalator! (Bless her heart!)

We spotted this photographer taking pictures of this model off of Oxford Street.

Day Two found us at Harrod's--to see the gaudy and tacky Diana and Dodi Memorial.

If you haven't seen it, it is a champagne glass with some dried up crap in the bottom of the glass sealed in that black triangle, along with the ring that Dodo, I mean Dodi, bought for Diana. It is gaudy and ugly as is this "memorial."

Creeps me out.

My favorite thing at Harrod's is the Food Hall. (I'm noticing a theme here....) Anything you want, you can get there. And, the newest import from America there is: Krispy Kreme. We saw two--one in Harrod's and one in the airport. I asked a lady if she had ever tried one, and she said no...and I had to warn her that if she ate a hot one, she would forever be addicted!

We stopped for a cup of coffee--once again, to give our aching feet a break!

After Harrod's we went to Leicester Square to see what half-priced theater tickets were left--and there was nothing that we wanted to see--we figured it would be hard to get tickets to "Wicked", but, I didn't think "Mamma Mia" would be so hard...but, it no show, but the flowers were blooming and were beautiful.

Then we headed over to Covent Garden--checked out the trash and treasures they had for sale there, and stopped at a place called Belushi's to grab a drink and, again, let our feet have a break!

After that, I had to go and change one of our British cell phones over from a company called "O2" to a Virgin phone (now called "zavvi"). I won't bore you with the details, but this project should have taken all of 20 minutes. It took almost three hours, and was full of frustration, anger, and a few tears. Not with the Virgin people, but with the O2 people. And, let me tell you this: the O2 staff repeatedly lie and cheat in order to prevent you from changing phones from them to another company. Stay away from O2!

Next morning, we were up early and out the door from the VSC at 7:20 for a 10:15 departure. You would think that would be plenty of time--and you would be correct--IF the Tube to LHR was running. But, nooooooo! We waited and waited and waited for the train to LHR, and finally decided to try another tact, and then an announcement was made that we had to take another train to Paddington Station to take the Heathrow Express to LHR. So, changing trains, draggin bags, climbing stairs--it all ate up our extra time. (time we had planned on eating breakfast with and shopping at the airport!) We arrived at Security around 9:15.

Then we lost another 15 minutes because I was a bad passenger! I forgot about the sauces I purchased (curries and hot, spicy sauces) and of course, they had to take 'em. Then the Security dude didn't appreciate my sense of humor and got a little ugly with me. Then, I got a little sassy with, he gave me the big once over....thankfully, Donna kept me relatively calm and made me stop being so sassy. Oh, one more thing about Security the US, it is okay to bring small scissors, tweezers, and cuticle nippers. Not in the UK. We both had to give them up!

When we got through Security, we went straight to the plane, as they were already boarding. Let me assure you that American Airlines pays the least amount of money it can, so it has the gates that are the furthest possible away! We broke a sweat getting there! And, we were the last to board the aircraft, and they closed the doors within minutes of us arriving there.

After the aircraft door was closed, one of the Flight Attendants found a cell phone in the lav (restroom) and made a couple of announcements to locate the owner. No one claimed it, and the aircraft returned to the gate, delaying our departure by about an hour. I think someone did eventually claim it, but, we were already heading back to the gate.

We DID get First Class, so that was nice. Since we did not have anything to eat, we were starving as they served lunch--and there was a very, very nice white wine that I enjoyed--while Donna was living on the wild side with her Bailey's and coffee. The lush!

Once we arrived in Chicago (ORD) we had to go fast to make up the time lost when we went back to the gate--and had 45 minutes to change terminals and re-enter security...Donna got the last seat on the flight to RIC--and I was unable to get home because of the weather on the East Coast. I tried for two flights, then just got a hotel room.

Once in my room, I curled up onto the Heavenly Bed and was asleep in no time at all. Took the 0635 departure the next morning and got home at 0930. It was sorta sad, because I knew it was the last time I would be non-revving with my Company. The important thing, however, is that I got to sit in First Class!