Friday, October 30, 2009

Whole Day of Travelling

Who in their right mind wakes up at 4am?! I woke up every hour from about 2am as the roll-away bed I was sleeping on was not comfortable and I think it may have been one of the worst nights sleep I have ever had. The good thing though was that we were waking up at a hotel right by Heathrow airport. As our flight was 8.40am, we had to be checked in by 5.40am and the thought of travelling down to the airport filled me with dread. We would have had to leave at about 3am so I would have had to wake up at 2am. I am not a morning person so I wasn't too keen on this idea. My in-laws kindly offered to book and pay for a hotel for me and the kids to stay in so we would not have a rush in the morning and travelling to airport would not be so bad. In-laws also booked and paid for a big taxi to take us to the airport on Wednesday afternoon. The taxi driver had to get a bit creative with the cases but we managed to get everything in and still have a bit of leg room. Brother in law was travelling down with me and the kids so he could help me get bags in and out of hotel.

The journey down to London wasn't too bad but the M25 is known for basically being a moving car park. A slow moving one at that!

We arrived at the hotel, checked in and got all the bags up to the room. Once we dropped all the stuff off we went downstairs to the restaurant to have dinner and we were in bed by 7.30pm. Even me!

Thursday morning we woke early to make sure we got to the airport in time to check in. In-laws were driving down in the morning and were due to arrive at 4.45am but due to fog on the motorway they were delayed by about 30 minutes. I was going to go to Terminal 4 at Heathrow with the kids and mother in law by the shuttle bus whilst father in law and brother in law would drive over with the cases. We arrived at Terminal 4 and found the Continental check in desks. I wrote out some baggage labels with the new address in Indiana on them and waited for the bags to show. Brother in law soon appeared pushing a huge trolley/cart type thing with all the cases on and pushed it over to the check in desk. I had paid for 3 extra bags and 3 over weight bags but this was the moment of truth. Would I have to pay any more? I was expecting to as I didn't fully trust the scales I had used when weighing them all. Bag 1 was 1/2 a kg below the maximum weight of 32kg! Bags 2 and 3 were 1 or 2kgs below the maximum weight. Bag 4 was 2 1/2kg over the usual weight and bag 5 was 1/2 kg over the usual weight. Bag 6 was 2kg under weight! (How did that happen??) So by my calculation I would have to pay another $100. I looked at the check in lady and asked her if I had to pay anything. She smiled and shook her head saying 'Don't worry about it'. Wasn't she nice! I had saved $100! Result!
I had decided that the quicker I can get through security into departures the better. I have no idea where the gate will be or how long the lines at security will be and the last thing I wanted was to drag to children through the airport to make sure we get to our gate on time. We get 1 or 12 photos taken by in-laws and we hug and say goodbye then me and the kids head through to departures. As it turns out there are no lines anywhere, may be the time of day! We also find that our departure gate was 5 minutes from where we got through. A quick snack at Costa Coffee and we head down to the gate.

I was unable to find my phone charger so I couldn't text or call anyone. This means I have to use a payphone for the first time in years to call my mum and say goodbye to her and brother. They hold themselves together pretty well but brother gets emotional at the end of the call. As I have been talking to them I notice the Z and K have started a conversation with a man who is sat reading a paper.

The plane arrives and we board about 30 minutes late. Once we are in a settled the stewards give our earphones for watching the movies. Z and K decide what they want to watch and I plug them in. Over the next 10 hours the kids go to the toilet about 30 times and watch 3 movies each and various cartoons. I was going to read a book but didn't get much chance as the toilet breaks were fairly frequent so I watched a few movies too.

We arrive in Houston about 40 minutes early, even though we had left London late so I don't have quite the panic to get through immigration and to the connecting flight. Once we get off the plane and down to baggage reclaim I get a porter type guy to help me with bags and he takes them all over to the baggage belt for the connecting flight. Once all the bags are on the belt and on their way he turns to me and says 'I accept tips'. I fumble around in my bag and pull out a $5. It is the smallest bill I have but on reflection I know I short changed him. Hotel porters usually expect $1 per bag and this guy lifted 6 overweight bags! I should have at least given him $10 or $15. Oh well. I will know for next time. We get round to the immigration bit and again there are not as many people there as I was expecting. As we stand and wait for our turn at the desk, my darling daughter decides to see if she can fit her head through the handle on her little wheelie case. It does. But then she can't get her head back through again so she starts crying. Just as we are called up the the desk! I yank her head back through and she sits on the floor crying whilst rubbing her ears. Z meanwhile is wandering around asking 'Where is America then?'! A few questions from the CBP officer and we get our passports stamped and away we go. Now we have to find where our connecting flight is leaving from as we are leaving from another terminal. Luckily it is not far so we find and sit down. The kids have a lolly and I just sit there. I am surprised I am still functioning at this point.

We get on the plane and due to torrential rain in Houston we leave about an hour late but thankfully the flight is nowhere near as long as the first one. We arrive in Indianapolis and K and Z both declare they need the toilet so they both go in and are amazed by the toilets that flush themselves, the taps that turn on by themselves and the paper towel dispenser that dispenses well paper towels by itself! We walk down towards arrivals and see Ben waiting for us. 3 weeks apart and we are finally a family again! We get all the cases and go up to the parking lot where the rental car is.Ben managed to get an upgrade on the car and it is just as well really as the cases would never have gotten in the original car! The kids end up sitting cross legged with cases in front of them and the rear window is totally obscured. Ben drives the slightly scenic route past his new office and then onto the new apartment. We arrive at about 11.30pm US time so it is about 3.30am in the UK. I have now been away for almost a whole day! I will need a lie in tomorrow I think.

Looking at all the cases I notice one of them no longer has a padlock. It turns out it was opened by airport staff for security and they left a lovely little note telling me why they had done it. They actually re-packed everything better than I had done originally!

Enough of bags though. I just want to sleep. Night night. See you in 3 days!

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