So, to start off, I am so amazed and excited at how easy it was to get here...
Hearing stories about delayed flights due to inclement weather, taking hours to get through customs, and the other seeming horror stories associated with international travel, I just was expecting.. well, more ta-do and hoopla related to getting across the pond!
I actually arrived at JFK a little more than two hours before my flight, which turned out to be more than necessary-- if you ask me. I slept on the way to the airport, and once the cabby arrived, I sprinted in and was on my way.
So here I am thinking that I could take one of my two suitcases on the flight as a carry-on, and the attendant shut me down quick fast and in a hurry by telling me it was too large to fly in cabin, and that I'd have to check it for $50. STRAIGHT FACE, "But it is carry-on size for Jetblue," I responded. "Well, not for American. What would you like to do?" **Sigh** I pull out a hundred dollar bill that was not designated for luggage fees, remove my laptop from said carry-on, and check it. Because if I'd answered what I would "like to do", I may not have been allowed to get on the flight. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow, especially when that flow is leading toward a wonderful trip to Europe.
Once I got [somewhat] over having to pay to check my 2nd bag, I went through airport security in like 8 minutes and was seated at the gate two minutes later. There's just something about traveling early in the morning on a Wednesday that I love so much! There's literally a handful of people in the airport at that time. Who needs the hustle and bustle of middle of the day weekend traveling??
I got settled at the gate and started looking at video footage I'd downloaded from my Flip camera until Jujubee arrived from her LA flight! Wondertwins back together again!!!! Meanwhile, she shows up with a list of things she needs to get FOR THE TRIP that she's yet to actually get... A coat (?), a flat-iron (??), a scarf to sleep in (?), an ipod charger... I'm like, "Um, did you not understand that the trip was on Feb 9th???? Which is today!" LOL! "WHY do you need to get all of that once we get to London!?" But, Juju had her reasons, and that's alright with me! hahahah
About an hour later, it was time to board. Talk about a flight half empty! It looked more like 60% or more of the seats unoccupied. Better for the passengers, if you ask me. Both Jujee and I had rows to ourselves, and whereas she chose to knit for most of the flight, I was KNOCKED OUT before even leaving the runway. Slept for ninety percent of the flight, and woke up with 55mins left (and that's out of a seven hour flight!) All in all, I'd say that worked out well...
So, blah blah blah, we land, we get to the UK Border to go through and almost get kicked out the country before even getting let IN!!! Whereas I was being very stealth with my ability to sneak a couple of photos at the custom line, Ju takes out her digital camera with bright flash and snaps a photo! Immediately, customs agent 33 calls for security and agent 32 bum rushes like "THIS is a secure area, you cannot take photographs. You must delete it now!" (Really??? Three agents?? For a photograph?) She's like, "Are you talking to me?" Even though I gave her a quicks heads up like, "Yo, they're coming for you right now!" lol! So she's like, "Okay, I'm deleting it... There is only one photograph, see it's gone." So, in the end, it wasn't THAT big of a deal, but I was glad we didn't get kicked out, ...yet. Not one day one, hour one!
Getting from Heathrow to Shoreditch was not all that bad... except for dragging the luggage up and down all of the steps in order to save money (instead of getting a taxi). BUT the major problem from when I'd landed was my Blackberry not working. When I called T-Mobile, they assured that I'd be able to use my Blackberry Curve in London, but ever since I've landed it remains on SOS (or searching for signal). So, of course that kept me from calling my cousin, or anyone else, to say that I'd arrived. It even prevented me from getting online or simply sending text messages. So I need to check into this, though when I finally did hook up with the cuzzo, he had an extra celly for me to use.
But actually linking up with him was has been the most extraordinary little magical event to happen so far! So, Jujee and I are walking down the cobblestone of Coronet, not quite sure where his flat is located or if he's even home. And of course, since he works long awful hours (i.e. a real job) he was not home when we arrived out front with our four bags! So a few people pass us, and I walk up and down the street trying to figure out what to do since I can't reach him via my cell. And Ju is like, "Why don't you ask a nice passerby if you can use their cell phone to call him." Now, if you're like me, you're thinking, IF someone asked if they could use my celly, I'd probably kindly turn them down.... (well, maybe I'd let them, but it's still a random request), BUT I decided to go on and ask someone. The first guy that passed looked too stuffy... and the second one answered a cell phone call right as he was approaching us. I very well could've been like, "Hey, I know I don't know you, but can you get off your phone so I can use it, Mister!" So I'm like ,"OK! Whoever is next, I'm asking him.." And wouldn't you know, the very next person to pass, a nice Spanish gentlefellow with long flowing hair and gentle disposition (if by gentle you mean, wary of two American strangers asking to use his cell phone!) just so happened to be my cousin's neighbor from across the street!
So, not only was the neighbor like "Who are you waiting for? Ben?" but he actually had his phone number in his cell. He called him up like, "I have someone here that you'd like to speak to!"
THAT blew my mind, because, literally, I had not spoken to Ben to tell him I had landed and was on my way. I hadn't known who to ask to use their cell phone... I just knew the address and that I needed to show up! And God sent the neighbor to meet us with his cell phone! HA! Our steps are ordered!!! ...So, cousin Ben was minutes away from arriving by taxi to greet us, and we came up to his *wonderful* and amazing flat. Two or three levels it seems to be, with rooftop access. And he lives alone! It's huge with hardwood floors and a wood panel fridge that blends in with the cabinets! Real cushy living! And the best part are the turntables in his living room! I told him we HAVE to have a party here before I leave!!!! ;D
So once he got us settled in, Ju and I went for a walk and ended up at a little pub down the street from him call El Paso for a late dinner. The food was great, the bartender was cute (Ziya who's named for his grandfather from Cypress), and we're ending night one on an absolute high! Looking for what London's got to offer! And maybe Paris. I really want to try to get there on Saturday or Sunday.. so, we'll see!!!
Stay tuned for more to come!