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Getting to London

August 2-3

Zoe and Phoebe fly in from Atlanta, meeting us at O’Hare around 4 PM. We have more than 4 1/2 hours to kill before our 8:55 flight to London. Meeting up is a bit of a logistical challenge, because they have round trip tickets between Atlanta and Chicago, and need to get from Terminal 3, where they arrive, to Terminal 5, where we leave for London from, and we have the e-tickets for all four of us. Our timing was perfect; we arrived at Terminal 5 about 45 seconds before Zoe and Phoebe did.

No trouble getting through security. Surprisingly good dinner at a small Mexican restaurant. Carol talked our way into a BA Executive Lounge, which is especially good since our flight has been delayed an hour. Carol and the girls play boggle, while I email and blog.

We’ve already had several small world experiences on this trip . Our Uber driver is from Ghana and is shocked to hear that Carol and I have been there six times. We have plenty to talk about in the heavy traffic to the airport. Earlier in the day, I’d had three emails from Ghana from Daniel Kwarteng, who took time out from running his pineapple farm a year and a quarter ago to show Carol, Phoebe and I around Ghana. He said to be sure to say hello to his “sister Phoebe,”. En route to the airport, I get a call from my former client and friend, Paul McLoughlin, who I had not spoken to in many months. We talked about our families, including his son Tully who, on graduation from Yale spent time abroad in, of course, Ghana. Here’s Tully when we saw him on one of our trips to Ghana.

On our way to the Mexican restaurant in the airport, a man calls out to us. It is Sanu Raja, father of the Nepalese student, Nirajan, who Carol and I sort of adopted while he was at Northwestern and whose wedding we went to in Pittsburgh this June. Sanu Raja, Sunita, his wife and her mother and sister, all of whom we’d seen at Nirajan’s wedding, were at O’Hare, having just flown in from Pittsburgh and about to return home to Nepal. We’d spent time with Sanu Raja and Sunita before, both in Nepal and in Chicago. Here we all are.

Flight is a breeze, with some watching, some listening, some eating and some hanging out. I’m amused by the exit signs on the plane and tell the girls that they need to exit in that position. They’re not nearly as amused by this as they should be.

Passport control asks us for a letter from Wendy giving us permission to take the girls, but they let us in without it. We’d been aware of this requirement in other countries, but not in England. Takes a little while to get the luggage but not an excessive amount of time. We head out and pile into a black London taxi, the driver calling me “mate” and the girls looking a bit tired.

We arrive at our flat, which is not elegant, but will certainly do for our stay. It’s most prominent feature is the three flights of stairs we need to ascend with all our bags.

After settling in, we venture out to the British Museum, intending to go by bus, but winding up taking a taxi after several false tries by bus. Drove through fashionable London areas, giving the tired girls a quick look. Arriving at the British Museum around 4, we are overwhelmed and tired so settle for looking at the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon marbles, certainly worth the trip.

From the Museum, we descend the long escalator at the tube stop.we get off at a Earl’s Court (pronounced Ellscott) and walk to a pub, where we have quite an acceptable dinner. After dinner, we take a much-longer-than-I-needed 35-minute walk to our flat, where we trudged up the three flights, dumped ourselves into refreshing showers and are about to crash for what I hope will be a good, long time.

Generally, I start out a blog to a country by recounting a brief history of the country. But English history has so many kings and queens, often with the same names (a bit like traveling to Atlanta and being directed to Peachtree Street, except that instead of being called Peachtree, they’re all Henry), that I’m going to just hit the highlight—they used to rule us until, long ago, they charged us too much for tea, so we revolted. And now, almost two and a half centuries later, both of our countries are led by narcissists seemingly determined to drive their countries into the ground. So, anyway, we’ve got that in common to help cement our “special relationship.”

Normally, I take the laboring oar in planning the exotic foreign trips that Carol and I take, but Carol, who enjoys puzzles, has been fitting the pieces of this trip together for weeks. She’s done a masterful job. You’ll get some idea of the puzzle as you read this blog, starting tomorrow.

We’re very excited about this trip with Zoe and Phoebe. Being with them for a week and a half in Peoria, IL would be wonderful.  Seeing London, Stratford and all our friends with them is over the top. As one of our friends, wishing us a good trip, wrote, “this is precious time.” Indeed it is.

3 comments to Getting to London

  • jeanzunkel@gmail.com

    Wonderful start to your trip. Amazing how small the world is isn’t it!!!
    How very special to run into friends around the world.
    Ah London…..I love it and can just see you getting up three flights of stairs.
    I always dread that for sure.
    Have a wonderful time. We will be following your steps!

  • Bob Heywood

    Hey Arnie! Thank you for sharing your London trip with your dear followers in the blogosphere! All parties are big winners on this trip, and the experiences will be cherished by everyone. That the grandkids are still willing to spend time with you is a testament to how cool you and Carol must be. Bravo, my friend!

  • Kay Osborne

    Great start, Arnie, its hard to top this but I know that you and Carol and the girls will do so. Can’t wait to hear how the rest of the trip goes.

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