Saying Goodbye To Those You Don’t Want to Leave – Part VI

May15th – 16th

Monday night/Tuesday morning Nat and I were both in and out of sleep. Being self-conscious of the time and wondering if we had set Jenny’s bedside clock alarm right, we were paranoid about being late. Young Nat was picking us up at 4:00 am to drive us to Newcastle Airport. Having literally thrown everything in our check-in luggage, we only had to pack our toiletries and we were off and running.

Young Nat, having travelled just as many miles as an astronaut in his career, could walk through this airport blind-folded. Once we arrived at the check-in gate, Young Nat pointed out a Newcastle United Football player, Jamaal Lascelles (former captain in 2016) walking by with his wife. I was in awe, having never seen a real life professional footballer. I may be a Cristiano Ronaldo fan, but I’m also a lover of Newcastle United and even Manchester United.  Getting back to business, Nat and I were soon informed that we would have to transfer to Gatwick Airport once we arrived at Heathrow. Dumbfounded, we had no idea. If we were told by our travel agent, we had long forgotten. Young Nat looked a bit worried for us, as he could no longer be of assistance, so we said our goodbyes as he watched us walking hand-in-hand off into the abyss!!

The flight to Heathrow was short and sweet, but then the bloody aggravation began. We had no idea where to go to catch our transfer and even with a 3 hour layover we managed to use that time completely by just getting to where we were to go. We had no idea that the small square piece of paper stapled to our ticket was actually the British Airways Transfer ticket we were to use for the bus. Oblivious to it all, we wandered around the airport asking anyone that would walk by where the transfer buses were to Gatwick. Very surprising to find out not too many people even knew there was an area where buses and taxies lined up to take you somewhere. Finally, an intelligent woman, along with following a few “Arrival Transfer” signs hanging above us, we found where the buses at least came through for pick-ups. We, however, just didn’t have a ticket (despite the fact it was in my purse all along)!!

So exhausted, frustrated and barely dangling by a thread, we both said “to hell with it” and purchased a National Express transfer ticket for 54.00 Pounds. Now getting really anxious, our bus finally arrived and we were whisked away to Gatwick for (what were the odds) another adventure.

We’re now walking through Gatwick Airport, for what seemed to be miles, to get to our gate, of which we did not know the number yet. It had not been posted on our tickets. We checked the Gate board and were informed the number would be posted around 11:00 am. Our flight was leaving by 1:00 pm. Waiting and waiting, constantly checking the board, no number was being posted even though it was now past 11:00. We had  no idea what was going on, when Nat asked someone and with luck he told us it had been posted, that we somehow missed it, and with the number in hand, we made a bee-line to get ready for boarding. My heart ached for Nat, worried about missing the plane, trying to slow down a pace to keep an eye on old miss cripple walking behind, he witheld his frustration. Finally arriving at the gate, no one was there. God almighty, please tell us we didn’t miss the plane!!!!!  No, thank God, we hadn’t. The attendant told us we had a half-hour at least. Then suddenly other passengers came literally running in, thinking the same thing we were. Having no idea what was going on, British Airways had somehow managed to confuse a plane full of passengers now in the departure lounge.

At last, finally, we were boarded and sitting in our seats. With no one beside us, we felt we would have a private time flying home. We were informed that several passengers were missing and with that a head count was now being taken. We soon found out – about an hour while sitting on the tarmac – that their flight from Florida had been delayed and we had to wait until they, too, were boarded. We were still lucky as none of the missing passengers were slated to sit in the empty seat beside us.

We were ecstatic to get into the air and looked forward to another boring flight only because we were so tired and knew this would not be the time to get any sleep at all. The meal was soon served (Chicken with Chirizo and soggy chips) which, naturally, I turned my nose up to. Nat tried some just to fill a small void. We then watched a little TV – very old American shows – but were soon put off so we gave up and tried to sit quietly in our seats. Somehow, someway we both fell asleep long enough that when I finally woke up, the rest of the passengers were licking away on Ice Cream Bars – big, fat ones covered in chocolate. Somehow it seemed right as nothing was going our way that day no matter how we tried.

At long last landing on Canadian soil, we had no choice but to gather up as much energy as we could to make that bloody long trek to the baggage claim, customs and  Niagara Airbus pick-up area. Another extremely long walk, winding in and out of the line control areas to get to customs area. Not having travelled in over 7-8 years, some changes had been made and unbeknownst to us, a lot had been computerized. Getting close to where we had to “check-in” on one of a dozen computer screens lined up along the wall with our passport, fill out the Landing Declaration and get a receipt, we soon became even more confused. I was able to follow the instructions, for the two of us, but not realizing that once I completed my turn, I was to have Nat follow, as we would end up with one receipt. Trying to figure things out, along came a snotty-nosed, arrogant and very angry attentant to help us. Not saying a thing but looking at Nat and repeatedly saying “Put it there!!”, “Put it there!!”, Put it there!!, “Put it there!!!”  pointing to the screen and tapping her little stubby fingers on the passport screen for Nat’s passport which had to be scanned. Nat was ready to deck her, but the poor man could hardly lift his arms. Don’t ask, but we managed to get through the whole process, as we began another long trek to the Airbus area where we crashed until our driver arrived.

We were picked up for our last ride home on any kind of airplane, bus or vehicle, and arrived at our doorstep early evening. By way of coincidence we had a retired RCMPer drive us home. I was wearing an RCMP t-shirt I bought while in Regina so he asked me about. Nice man!!!

Walking in the door, Nat and I literally dropped our suitcases and went straight to bed. Only being 8:00 pm, we didn’t give a damn. Nat stayed up long enough to text Susan and Laura to let them know we were home and didn’t want to be disturbed until morning.

We have never felt such exhaustion in our whole lives. Our spirits had been broken. I felt like I had Fibomyalgia (like dear sister, Gail), bent over and walking as if I lost my cane and walker, my whole back wanted to cave in and drop to the floor for a thousand nights. We admitted we were becoming a bit old to travel like that any longer. Nat felt the same way only his legs are in better shape. Those large airports are beyond our capacity to walk through and any time differences in travel would take us twice as long now to get over.

After almost 12 hours of sleep, we awoke Wednesday morning still a tad tired. I got organized – throwing a whole suitcase of clothes in the laundry, getting our meds and toiletries back in order. Nat (believe it or not) went to his usual Wednesday golf league while I stayed home and got caught up with paperwork, bills, etc.

It was later that night, it dawned on Nat, he should have stayed home from his golf. He couldn’t keep his eyes open while eating pizza for supper nor for the entire evening. He finally realized it was going to take several more days for us to get back to where we were before we left. Life was now going too fast for us!!

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We’re Off And Running

As I’m posting this, dear hubby is laying in bed in our London hotel snacking on a Cadbury chocolate bar and watching “Telly”. We’re extremely, extremely exhausted from a very long plane trip and train ride into London from Gatwick Airport. Our little escapade started Saturday afternoon:

Picked up by Niagara Airbus at 3:20 and made Pearson International in time to check our luggage and grab supper at Swiss Chalet. We then headed over to the boarding terminal to wait for our flight, which was pretty much right on time.

The flight over, naturally was exhausting, as neither Nat nor I can sleep on planes. Nat grabbed the headphones I saved from our last plane trip back in 2003 and watched the movie Water For The Elephant. Being about a circus during the Depression he enjoyed the story while I listened to some podcasts on the old iPad. We managed to kill a few hours but the balance was really tough.

As an aside story – Nat managed to have a young woman in front of him that had striking long black hair. Every now and again she would grab the long back lengths and do the old “wrap it up with an elastic” thing. The first attempt we both had to laugh as it reminded us of Fred Flintstone’s daughter, Bam Bam, with the bone at the top of her hair. The black hair was shaped like a bone with straggly ends hanging all around – and all we could see was the “bone” bobbing around now and again every time she moved her head. The second attempt a couple hours later looked like a messy peacock with its feathers spread out. At least it gave Nat and I something to giggle about.

As Nat had an aisle seat, I sat between him and a young Japanese lad – hip, cool and cute – with laptop in his backpack and very cool headphones. He listened to his music and then slept the rest of the journey. We, too, had a bit of a giggle, as the Asian man to the left of him was traveling with a blanket in a bag. After fumbling with his luggage and dropping a case that almost hit my Japanese friend, he grabbed his eye shades, pulled out his blanket, pulled it over his head and down to his feet. If anyone walked by we both could have sworn there was a dead man sitting in that seat. The blanket was laid out that perfectly!!

With a long plane ride finished, we headed over to the train depot to catch the train into London. Another long and educating experience of which we both do not wish to repeat. The first train we were to catch was so jammed packed with commuters and travelers they looked like sardines in a huge can laying on its side. After asking one of the attendants about another train, he directed us over to the next platform, which required us to go back up the escalator (for a second time) with four pieces of luggage, walk back across the train station, back down another escalator to another platform. This train wasn’t as bad, but Nat still had to stand by the doors to watch our luggage, while I grabbed one of the few seats left in our car. Another 35 minute trip into London and we arrived in one piece.

We now had to determine where our hotel was and how we would get there. Trying to get our bearings at Victoria Station, tired, aching and thirsty, we wandered around the station for almost an hour, dodging and weaving in-between Londoners, travelers and other Brits in town for the weekend. We finally found a nice young man that directed us to where we wanted to go, but being at the wrong end of the Station it was going to take us a little longer to get there than usual. And so we began our trek of which was suppose to take us about 15 minutes, but ended up being about 30. Every now and again we had to stop – my hip was really bothering me, Nat’s back and neck were aching from pulling two pieces of luggage, while I pulled the carry-on. Somehow, somewhere we made it!!

As with all of our trips, something else has to go wrong and this was no exception. We arrived at the hotel about 2 to 3 hours before check-in, but after explaining what we had been through and where we were from, the Manager told us to rest our weary bones on the sofas in the front lobby and he told his staff to make up and clean our room ASAP. While resting and waiting for our room, the Manager gave us brochures we could look over for possible things to see and do during our stay. We couldn’t have asked for friendlier service, all of which was very much appreciated.

After finally checking into our rooms we flopped onto the bed and fell asleep. With a couple hours of rest under our belts, we woke up long enough to don shoes and wallet and take a walk down the street to one of the shops for drinks and snacks. Still tired but not hungry we wanted enough food and drink to hold us over until breakfast.

As I’m doing this posting, Nat is nestled under the covers and watching a very funny game show featuring famous British footballers (soccer players). Even I have to laugh, these guys are a riot when it comes to guessing other sports figures. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to seeing a few of Britain’s best television shows while we’re here.

I’m now signing off, Nat’s now sound asleep on his pillow with arms crossed and a half-eaten Cadbury chocolate bar resting on his lap. I’m now going to join him, so goodnight and sweet dreams!!