I am keeping the original sections of my trip journal. I hope you enjoy.
London Part I
I am going to post my journal notes a little at a time. I get kind of wordy. It was quite an adventure and I wanted to get it all down. If you really want to know about my trip, read on
Here is the first installment:
December 9, 7:15 PM As I write this I am headed for Chicago O’Hare International Airport from Tulsa. The flight from Tulsa was delayed and I was told I would miss my connecting flight. The guy at the gate was pretty busy since he had another flight leaving from the same gate. So I pulled a large number of papers out of my bag and found the one with the flight information and reservation number. I set the rest of the papers down because it looked like I was going to be there for awhile. I called the United Airlines 800 number and finally got through to an actual person who was as helpful as she could be given the circumstances. She said she could get me out on a flight the next day and that she had held the seats for me in case I needed them.
I then called the trip insurance people to find out if I was covered for any expenses if I got stuck in Chicago or if I needed to book on another airline. Turns out I do have some coverage if the flight is delayed more than six hours. The customer service agent I talked to transferred me over to a guy who was in “reservations” who could help if I could get out of Chicago on another airline. I was waiting for him to pick up when they announced that the ground delay on my original flight had been lifted and were leaving as soon as they could stuff us on the plane. I wasted a mere moment for the guy on the phone and decided I had better get moving. So I shut down my laptop (which had steadfastly refused to connect to the airport wifi network), shoved it in the bag, grabbed the laptop bag, carry-on bag, and the stack of papers, and headed toward the stairway out to the plane. There was another plane still at the scheduled gate so we all got to go down the stairs the old fashioned way. I spoke briefly with the gate agent and he said I should be able to make my connection now. (We will see about that…)
I went down the stairs. And pulled my boarding pass out of my pocket.. I still had all of my papers I pulled out of my bag to find the flight information in my hand. When I was trying to had my pass to the gate agent when my cell phone went off. It was the travel insurance people calling back to see why we had lost connections. Good for them! While I was answering the phone, I managed to drop all of the papers and the next guy in line helped me pick them up. I gave the guy my boarding pass and hustled out to the plane. After giving the baggage guys my “carry-on” bag (you carry it out to the alpine and they put it on) I fairly bounded up the stairs and into the plane. When I was trying to get down the aisle I managed to drop all the papers again. As soon as I was situated on the plane I called United’s 800 number again and I tried to make sure the person I talked to the last time had not given my seat away on the flight from Chicago to London. He said he couldn’t help me since I had called the “wrong number” and I said that it was the same number that had worked the last time. And he hung up on me, as nearly as I can tell. I tried to navigate the voice mail and get back to an agent but I got the “turn-off-your-phones-and-other-electronic-devices” announcement before I could get in touch with an actual person.
The aggravating thing was that I didn’t have time to get my book out of my “carry-on” bag before I gave it to the baggage guys, so I am typing this instead of reading.
So now I am ensconced in seat 5B of this little commuter jet. We well see how the adventure unfolds.
(Note: The members of the choir were asked if they could provide lodging for the guest composer. And several volunteered.)
December 10 8:26 PM London time and 2:26 Tulsa Time
I have just finished having dinner with the three sisters who are at the residence this evening, Eva, who sings in the city chorus and is my contact, Pamela, and Jean. Jean cooked dinner this evening and the main course was chicken tarragon. (Yum). I have been shown about the place and I think it will be good for the next few days.
After last nights entry the plane pulled up to the gate at Chicago O’Hare about ½ hour later than the gate agent had said when we left. It was an amazingly smooth landing after the bumpy flight. When we got close to the terminal you could see the snow blowing across the tarmac and hiding it from view. As we got close to the terminal you could see large pulsating robot-looking sprayers de-icing the planes that were preparing for take-off. A very bizarre sight, to be sure. It looked like a movie scene. I think there was lots of air traffic flying in circles over the lake that all arrived at the same time. I got off the plane and checked to see if my connecting flight had departed. It had not.
Originally the flight from Tulsa was to land in Concourse C, which was the same as the departing flight. Perhaps because of the weather, my flight landed at Concourse B and I had a to go fast. All of the time on the treadmill at the health club seemed to pay off. I kept a brisk pace, even on the people movers. I did rest on the escalators which was just enough recovery time. When I got to gate C15, the plane was still there and the walk-way had not been pulled away. The were trying to radio whoever was supposed to move the walk-way back. It took some serious pleading, but the gate attendant finally called to see if they would open the door of the plane and let me in, since the walkway wasn’t going to move back any time soon. The did!!!! So I hurried on to the plane and found my seat which had not been taken by anyone, thank the Lord.
The flight was long and uneventful. I did manage to get my large carry-on taken away since there was no storage room in the back of the plane. I was glad it was on the plane but, again, I didn’t get my book out to read. Ah well.
At Heathrow, I was in the show-us-your-documents line behind a blues singer and her guitar player from Birmingham AL. Didn’t get her name. We had a nice chat since it turns out we were all Eric Clapton fans. When I went to pick up my checked bag it never came around the carousel. As luck would have it, the computer automatically rescheduled my flight when I was so late getting into my Chicago. My luggage, not realizing this, waited for the next flight out. They are supposed to deliver it to me tomorrow AM.
I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington station and a cab the rest of the way to the Society of the Holy Child Jesus community off Cavendish Square. Eva had said that it is “tucked away” and it surely is. Deans Mews is not much more than an alley. Made me think of Diagon Alley. Sister Eva Heymann took me to my room and took me to lunch at a cafe in a building on the alley. I had a nice visit with her. She is a very interesting person. You can google her name if you want to find out more about her. She showed me a store where I bought a shirt and a pair of khaki’s to wear until my luggage comes. I finally got to take a shower and a nap before dinner.
In a bit I am going to go see the Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square and perhaps find a wifi cafe. I can use Eva’s computer to email but I hate to be on it for any time. I am feeling much better after a shower, a nap, dinner, and evening prayers with the sisters.
The accommodations are interesting. Sort of a cross between church camp, band camp, and a decent hotel. The food was much better than any of those places.
The residence of the Sisters of the Christ Child Jesus
More to come!