Monday, June 21, 2010


I'm back from our trip across the pond and getting over jet lag.
We arrived in Birmingham, England, but our luggage didn't! We were delayed an hour at OH airport due to bad weather in Chicago. When we arrived at O'Hare we barely had time to make our plane. I discovered that although I had been to O'Hare more times than I count while growing up, it has changed over the two plus decades. Things are not clearly marked - how is one supposed to know that the international terminal is 5? No where is it stated! I was livid that O'Hare is not better signed for travelers.
Consequently, I had to go to end of the United terminal, catch a bus to the next terminal - a minute ride across the tarmac. We were told to disembark while everyone was questioning, is this terminal E, F, or G? While the bus driver remained mute texting away. Fortunately, a security person was at the bus door indicating that we were to catch the elevated train to our proper terminal. Thanks a bunch! And what's with the texting during work and not answering people who are feeling lost?
I got the proper terminal and was heading to the gate when I saw the Swiss agent with my husband (we got separated in the long walk in the United terminal). It was 87 degrees, I'm wearing a 3/4 length sleeve sage green cotton shirt, with my LLBean healthy backpack purse (also green) carrying a green carry-on and alternating between wearing my sage green hat and carrying it (due to heat and sweating). The agent meets me and another couple from the same flight to O'Hare and whisks us to the front of the security line and we hoof it to the gate. We are the last 4 to board the plane. Whew! We made it! Too bad the air flow vents on this Airbus plane were non-existent and we were very warm throughout the flight.
After landing in Birmingham, hours later, we go to claim our 3 bags, only they aren't any where to be found. We go to the baggage service window and make a claim. I am tired, hot (it's hot in Birmingham, naturally, because we are there! It is an interesting phenonomen when we travel on vacation to cool spots and it's always hotter than normal. We are true to form there.)and upset, and say, "But I have my dress for a wedding!" The clerk thought I said wedding dress! I said it was a dress for a wedding. He scans the baggage claim tickets, gives us a computer slip with a phone number and tells us to call to check on our baggage.
LH and I, sans luggage, hit the Spar (England's 7-11) for bottled water, exchange some dollars and head for the rental cars. The car he ordered, they don't have and we get a minivan! Great. 2 people with 2 carry-ons, no luggage and a minivan!!!
LH gets acquainted with the van (this can take up to 20 minutes, sigh) And then begins, the stress of finding our way to Lincolnshire.
As always in a foreign country, the signage is different. Fortunately, you can Google your way through England and Europe!!! (before you leave!) I had my trusty Michellin map of England and off we went onto the freeway. LH is stressing over traffic, roundabouts and just driving once again on the other side. I am stressing over signs and reading the map and Google directions!!!! Nearly three hours later, hot, tired, stressed, and wearing the same clothes for two days, we arrive at the Hotel where seated at the outdoor patio, are my sister, BIL and niece having cold beers. We are happy to see them, happy to be there, all in one piece, and then we tell our tale of missing baggage. My BIL, bless his soul, runs across the street to Aldi, and buys 2 toothbrushes and toothpaste for us. We check in, carry our carry-ons to the room and go to Aldi's for deodorant and a razor for shaving face and my legs.
I hop into the shower and scrub away the travel grime and sweat. Did ever a shower feel so goood? Put on the same clothes and head downstairs. Where I am given a Pimm's that my niece ordered and LH a beer, bless her soul!
The wedding rehearsal is at 7 pm with dinner following. I mention that I didn't have to think about what to wear!!!!
The rehearsal is at the church the next town over in a small and very old church, but quaint church. The vicar is retired and filling in the installed vicar and is very lacadaisical about the whole rehearsal, merely saying this is how I'd do it, but the vicar might have other plans. Great!
I am ready to fall asleep in my fish and chips at the restaurant!
I didn't get to present my nephew and his bride their Marriage Survival Kit since it was in the luggage.
Back at the Hotel we promptly fall asleep.
Lesson one - always carry an extra pair or two of underwear in your carry- on. I'm glad I did, along with a T-shirt and a sweater.
LH and I went into Lincoln the next day for sight seeing. AFter an English breakfast, a good night's sleep, and no thought of what to wear, the same thing we arrived in and traveled in, we called the baggage service, who informed me to call back later about our 2 bags. 2 bags? There are 3. Oh, do I know the number of the third bag? I read the number and say how could the clerk not see there were three bar codes, 3 claim tickets and only scan 2? Now, not only is there the stress of what I'm going to wear to the wedding, but which bag may not make it? One of mine with the dress for the wedding or LH's with his suitcoat and tie, dress slacks and shoes?
LH buys a pack of new socks and I got foot powder and anti frizz hair gel at Boots - the CVS of England. The hotel shampoo is drying out my hair horribly. We stop at some stores but with my ample figure nothing in my size. WE enjoy a lunch and hit the department store - also nothing my size. Leave department store totally depressed and as we walk to our parked van, right next to said dept. store, is a specialty size store. Yipee!!! Most of it is casual wear. I find a black/white sleeveless dress and a white shrug. Nothing fancy, just do-able. I can't take part in the ceremony in chinos and a t-shirt. We pass a shoe store that proclaims all widths and sizes. I find a pair of black sandals long enough and able to accomodate my bunions. Poor LH. He is resigned to his chinos and one fresh shirt.
As it is nearly 86 degrees, sunny, and muggy, we forego walking up Steep Hill to the Cathedral and opt to drive and park near the Castle which is just a block or two away from Cathedral. We pull into the parking lot, and another car pulling out, points to us and rolls down his window. I'm musing that I didn't see any indication that we had pulled into the parking lot the wrong way. The guy had an all day parking ticket and as it was just 3 pm, he passed it along to us!!! What a grace after all our stresses. We walked to the Cathedral and looked it over inside and out. Architecturally, one of the most interesting and lovely Cathedral's I've ever seen. Couldn't leave without picking up a wee church imp (the devil they say!). Don't we know about imps in churches!!!!!?
We are bushed and head back to Sleaford. I call about our luggage and am informed it is enroute to the hotel, but no time can be given. Ahhh, I'll have my dress for the wedding and LH will have his duds. In the meanwhile, I wet my hair and freshen up for the open house at the Bride's Mom's house. While freshing up, the luggage arrives. Glory, Hallejuah!!!! What a beautiful sight and thing to behold - mu luggage!!!
I pull out the gift for my sister - a hankerchief, all washed and ironed and embrodiered with "Mother of the Groom". I pull out the Marriage Survival Kit - a white satin drawstring bag I made to hold all the contents. And wearing my new black and white dress with shrug and sandals, off we go to the Open House.
We are relieved, joyous and finally, able to relax and enjoy the time with family and festivities.
Travelling is always an adventure. This was the first time in all of my world traveling that our luggage didn't arrive with us.
I think next year, I'm opting for a week on a beach with nothing to do and driving with our luggage. Lots less stress!!!!
(More adventures to follow)

No comments: