Tuesday, August 15, 2006

London - An Adventure

Well, We flew to London last Wed. afternoon for a little "holiday" before the girls started school this week. Of course, woke up Thurs. morning to a changed air travel "climate." Overall our trip was very good but I think Bart and I did have a little cloud hanging over us - would we get our flight back home, should we take the train to Paris and then fly or train back to Zurich, how would the girls respond to the differences required for traveling, etc...
But before we get into all that: We went to Westminster Abbey - very cool and interesting. Although we know the body means nothing once the soul has departed, it was fascinating to walk through that building in which the remains of Queen Elizabeth & Mary Tudor, Kings William, Edward, George, etc..., Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens and many, many more have been laid to rest. Most often thru the galleries you were walking on someones tomb! It is the history and length and breadth of it - Fascinating. Big Ben and Parliament are quite impressive - they were built to be. And of course many palaces & parks were to be viewed - did all the touristy places and tried to get a feel for what we might focus on should there be subsequent trips. The girls played "horsey", chased pigeons and/or climbed trees thru much of St. James, Hyde, Regents and Kensington Parks. Let us not forget the Tower of London - Awesome and of all the things to pay for, in my humble opionion, this tops the list of value for the pound.
As we have become quite the denizens of the public transportation world, we took the Tube everywhere. There is a reason it's called the Tube and never have I felt more like a rat in a maze. And I have a "little" bit of claustophobia - I usu. just put things out of my mind - did that alot down there. Was glad to get back to the Zurich Bahnhoff - our stations have more room, are cleaner and I can breathe!
Well, Sun. morning came and as we were getting ready to go to the airport, we found out thru calling that our flight had been cancelled. British Airways had basically shut down Terminal 4 which services most of their European short-haul flights, Canada and Australia. Great - we got an extra day of sight-seeing. Just wish BA had offered to pay for the addt'l expenses! But we plugged thru the day on their promise we were on the same flight for Mon. I did not pray for miracles to happen but did pray for graciousness, patience and endurance for our family. God answered that prayer abundantly as unbeknownst to me, we needed all 3.

Sunday went fine and we were prepared - bathed the girls, packed Barts and my normal carryons (a backpack & black shoulder bag) with dirty clothes as these bags would have to be checked in and made room for the rest of our clothes, Rachels carryon, Kendra's rolling backpack, my purse, digital AND 335mm Canon, jewelry and a couple of books (english language reading material is my weakness right now) in the medium and small suitcase we had brought. Needless to say, not much shopping was done or souvenirs purchased this trip. We had our coats, wallets, passports and Kendra's blankey ready for the trip. THEN, at approx. 2:40am we found ourselves (in pajamas) with the other hotel guests on the sidewalk in front of the hotel due to the fire alarms going off and of course protocol dictates the fire dept. must come and clear the building before we could return to our rooms (we did grab our passports and wallets on our way out but forgot our room key :) ). Were let in some time later and all of us were able to fall back to sleep rather quickly under the circumstances. So got to the airport early next morning, about 8:30 for a Noon departure, and found that they were not letting anyone into the airport until flights were called. So we spent 2 1/2 hours out in the parking lot with hundreds of others (complimentary milk & coffee with raisin cookies that my girls won't eat) - see all the people waiting in white tents, etc... on TV - that was us! Once our flight # was up, the check-in and security procedures were smoothest I' ve ever encountered. It sure speeds up the process when you have virtually nothing to check in but a little plastic baggie. Once into the terminal, we were able to buy something to eat, crayons & paper for the girls and head to our flight. As long as you weren't headed to the US, you were allowed to take your purchases on the plane - for US, only the baggie was allowed still. I must admit - the freedom from stuff in traveling was not too bad (I put out of my mind that my camera's were at risk of breaking - same technique I use when claustrophobic - and they didn't). I would not sacrifice the security of traveling by air for the right to more carryon baggage - stuff like lipstick, etc... can be replaced if your check-in doesn't arrive on time - Life can't be. But I would appreciate a move to allow one's film and books to be carried onboard - is that asking too much?
Well - the tale doesn't end there. We go to board our plane (not that we see one) and about thirty of us are sent down the jetway only to find all entrances blocked. After the grownups are expressing their confusion, etc.. Kendra begins to cry (poor girl has had several things occur which have turned her into an anxious traveler). Finally an attendant unlocks a door and we find ourselves descending the jetway into a bus which, once loaded, proceeds to a series of planes sitting on the tarmac and we board in the rain. As we sit down, Bart says "You noticed what row we are sitting in, didn't you?" - 13 . Very Funny. So we must admit that our return to Zurich filled us with much happiness and I was even happy to hear the German instructions (which we don't yet understand) once again pouring forth from loudspeakers.
I know that is a long tale but will answer most of the questions should anyone ask us what our London trip was like. I'm hoping our future travels are a little less dramatic.

And if you wonder how the girls did? They were great after the initial shock of not being allowed the comfort of their "stuff" on the plane (of course the comfort of Blankey was allowed). They do not know why the rules changed (they've dealt with enough this summer) only that they did and we have to follow the rules. They played Old Maid and War with game cards while waiting outside and never complained about being hungry in spite of the lack of food, etc... until noon. God truly answered our prayers.
So we are now starting a new week. School orientation was today and the girls are happy about starting school AND I drove for the first time in 5 weeks! We had to get a rental car so I can get the girls to/from school. We are still waiting for our permits so we can get our "regular" car. Hopefully will get a regular computer setup soon and get pic's going - I can't take many more on my digital until I can download & backup the card!
Take care you all!


Frank Hambalek said...

I wondered how you would be effected by last weeks news. I would have never had thought you would actually be in London. Keep in touch.

Jason & Kris Bauernfeind said...

its a good thing you guys are experienced travellers!!:) we will continue to pray for you all....and that you can get your computer back soon - we miss the pics! love you
j & k