neither here nor there: day 1

Travel to London on foot, subway, bus, and plane.

And we're off. Ah, the well-packed bags and the printed itinerary...all the planning and organization soon to unravel as the messiness of travel kicks in...

It's strange eating up all the eggs and o.j. still in the fridge at 5 a.m. Also odd walking to the T an hour later to catch the first Sunday morning train, bags rolling behind us, keeping a sort of rhythm as the wheels pass over cracks in the sidewalk. We actually missed the train we were aiming for so we didn't get to the airport until about 7:20 for a 9 a.m. flight. We spent the next hour and twenty-five minutes checking in and getting through security, with no time for coffee, but enjoyed listening to the likes of Journey and Avril Lavigne. We weren't the only ones who didn't allow three hours to make it to the gate; plenty of folks scrambled on after us. In fact, I remember being surprised we took off more or less on time. Ah, the sacrifice we'd have to pay later...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Apparently they still feed you on international flights. Neal and I got one each of the two breakfast choices - French toast and omelette - and shared. Later we had little sandwiches, leaving little need to tap into the huge Ziplock bag I'd packed with snacks - energy bars, granola bars, pretzels, mixed nuts. This would come in handy later. We watched Music & Lyrics from little screens in the backs of the seats in front of us.

Overall, it was a pretty pleasant flight. Little did we know our bags were still in Boston. There were about 20 passengers in line at the baggage services well after the conveyor belt stopped producing bags. They blamed it on a broken conveyor belt back in Boston. They had to know, taking off, that an entire cart of bags was being left behind. And all we got in return was an overnight kit containing an odd assortment of toiletries. No shampoo, but hairspray. My hair might be greasy but it ain't goin' nowhere!

All things considered, I think I handled it pretty well. I'd say I was in a weird sort of denial waiting in line, sending Neal to other conveyor belts where I was sure I'd seen our totally generic bags pop up. As I got closer to the front and bits and pieces of what had happened filtered back down the line I felt really angry. But by the time I reached the front of the line I had mostly accepted my fate and looked forward to what was inside the little blue travel kit. The stages of lost luggage, perhaps?

Anyway, they assured us our bags were being put on the next flight out right then as we stood in line and that they'd deliver them to our hotel room sometime the next day. Our work there was done. We purchased our Oyster cards and began our first trip on the London Underground, taking the Picadilly line west to Kings Cross and transfering there to the High Barnet branch of the Northern line, all the way to Tufnell Park, where the charming Europa B&B is located. On the train I met an American woman (she said she was an actress and the more Neal and I thought about it, the more we think she looked familiar, but I still haven't been able to pinpoint who she was) on her way back to London, where her daughter lives, from, of all places, Athens. I'm pretty sure the recording on the Tufnell Park lifts to the street level is Judi Dench ("no smoking anywhere on the underground"). The trip took a bit over an hour, followed by a 10 or so minute walk (but, hey, no bags to schlep behind us!). It was well after 11 p.m. by the time we checked in but, of course, it only felt like dinnertime to us.

The B&B was nice enough - surprisingly comfortable queen bed, little t.v., and pink toilet paper in the private bathroom (that was a huge plus) - but I still think it's pretty insane that for the same price (on Priceline, but still) we stayed in a four-star hotel in Athens. The last line in my journal from around 1 a.m. the next morning, when I was jotting all this down, reads: "the luggage sitch puts a wrench in my itinerary but that's what this experience is all about, right?" Be careful what you wish for.

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