Of course it was sunny for our last night in Iceland, so it was bright out but I managed to fall asleep. I woke before it was time to get up, and unlike most times, it took a bit to fall back asleep. And once I did I had weird dreams – which I remembered, which was also unusual. In the dream we were in the US, and my high school friend Wade was supposed to take us to the airport, and was around but for some reason didn’t, so we had to take the bus. OK, fair enough. Except it was a school bus, and I was driving, and we must have been running late because I was taking short cuts through neighborhoods and going off-road. It wasn’t my neighborhood but semi-familiarish places, maybe the East Bay since at one point Cyndi was there too.
Anyhoo… travel day. After all that in my dreams I didn’t hear the alarm, but I did hear my sister getting up, so I knew it was time. but urgh groggy. I got up and dressed, and OHHEY THE MOON! I put the last things in my bag and it still closed, WOOHOO! I wasn’t super hungry, but ate a skyr. Host mom offered a hot beverage (I passed) and mini cinnamon bun (I took her up on that.)
It was sunny and bit chilly out, I was glad to have a fleece shirt and jacket. The host parents drove us to airport, on the way Mom said she had difficulty falling asleep as if it were she that was going to travel. It got foggy – first wisps hugging the ground then full on by the time we were at the airport.
We had checked in the night before so all we had to do was drop off luggage, but it was not completely obvious (at least to me in my sleep addled state) where to do that. Fortunately a nice fellow in WOW vest pointed us the right way. Oh we could have printed out boarding passes here. We got luggage tags, then went off to drop the bags for their journey (which would hopefully end the same place and time as ours.) Mine weighed in at 16.4 kg. WCN seemed disappointed that theirs was only 14.
From the baggage drop it was upstairs to go through security. A sign predicted 5 minutes, I’m not sure it was even that. There was a very civilized and efficient automatic bin dispenser, and once on the conveyor bins could get routed to the side if they needed more inspection. Also you didn’t have to take off your shoes unless there was a buzz when you went through the detector. And then there was an automatic bin uptake at end of the conveyor. Ah, the little things…
I thought the troops were right behind me, but when I got through and looked around they were nowhere to be seen. Hmn. Nope, they weren’t ahead of me in the shops. Turns out they had skyr, which was on the Not Allowed List before security. I had (jokingly) pointed that out, not knowing they were carrying, and they had stopped to eat it, which I also missed. There was still plenty of time until our flight, and I figured they couldn’t have gone far, indeed, after a short wait we were reunited and I heard the rest of the story.
I did some last-minute shopping, and got some (more) candy and liquor. Then we headed off to our gate. Except… it was past Passport Control, which wasn’t open yet. Once it did open the formalities went quickly, then we were off to our gate, except that section wasn’t open yet.
Once it did open there was not much of a waiting area, so we just got in the queue. And Oh, we’re getting on a bus. When we got to the plane the ramp crew was putting a staircase up, and went up and knocked on the door. It opened and then we all did the walking up the staircase thing to get on the plane.
Once we took off we quickly got above the fog, and saw some of the landmarks we’d been seeing all week, then some of the rest of the country, then we were over clouds and water. I slept a bit then we touched down at 1030 local – England – time, and 7 degrees Celsius.
The plane taxied what felt like forever, but we eventually got to a jetway and deplaned. It was a bit of a maze to get to immigration, and it seemed the oncoming foot traffic was first on one side then the other. Whose rules of the road are we following here?
We filled out the cards and got in line. It was a huge Disneyland snaky thing, but it actually went pretty quickly. My luggage was already on the carousel, the other bag came quickly and we were out the Nothing to Declare door. Amidst the crowd there was our aunt to meet us! We had to find our way to end of barrier to get out and exchange hugs, and then found a spot out of the flow to wait for the hired car driver who was out finding a parking spot. Our aunt had also kindly brought snacks!
The driver came and found us – he had a card with my sister’s name on it! We went out to the car park and loaded up – everyone else had gotten in the back seat, I went to get in the passenger seat… uh, ohyeah. It’s on the other side. I mostly watched the countryside go by, but we also chatted a bit. Turned out the driver was from Pakistan, he had visited San Francisco, and remembered Alcatraz and walking the Golden Gate bridge and it being warm.
It was not so disconcerting on the highway, but once we got into London the being on the wrong, er, other side of the road and roundabouts and semi-roundabouts and nothing seemed orthogonal was throwing me for a bit of a loop. But somehow when we got close to the flat it felt vaguely familiar, although it had been over 20 years since I’d been there. We dropped our luggage and went around the corner to an Italian place for late lunch.
It was a bit muggy feeling but I didn’t really need a jacket at that point in the afternoon. My aunt took us for a walk around the neighborhood, pointing out things like the tube station, other restaurants and options for groceries. Back at the flat we visited and got a bit more of the scoop on activities from my aunt, then she left us to our own devices. WCN found the Iceland vs. Austria game on the telly, I watched a bit then went out for a walk.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Primrose Hill nearby, although there was no panel telling me what I was enjoying looking at in the view. From there I continued into Regent’s Park, discovering sculptures, sports fields – cricket, football (soccer), softball – ROSES, a Japanesesque garden, a hideaway garden, birds of all sorts, including parrots, a sign that said there are hedgehogs (although I didn’t actually see any), and an outdoor theatre. A fancy water fountain and lawn forever. Who mows all that lawn?!
There was a canal and canal boats, a picturesque church and something different and interesting just about everywhere I looked. I went back a different way, and ended up going a little further than I needed to but then realized I had to back track but told myself I wasn’t going to look at the map. I ended up finding my way, although I didn’t have to go over the bridge which I was expecting to, and it came up on me all of a sudden that I was there at the flat. Ah, well, all’s well that ends well.
It turned out that Iceland had won their match! The score had been 1-0 when I left, then it had been tied but they scored again for the win. WCN was watching the next game, whoever that was. And it was actually getting dark!
June 22, 2016