Our trip started out pretty rough. I was to meet my parents at LAX and then we would all go to check in at British Airways to board our flight to London to start the first leg of our six week journey through Europe.
After checking to make sure their flight from Palm Springs had arrived on time, I waited in baggage claim for them. 10, 20, 30, 40 mins go by and no Mom and Dad. I began paging them to come to baggage claim. I got a call from my parent´s friend saying they were waiting at gate 86 for me. The problem was I couldn´t get through security without a ticket. I paged and paged walked up and down, make two trips to the United counter pleading with the staff to please go look for them or let me walk back to the gate to search for them. In the meantime time is marching on. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:20p.m., it was now 8p.m. and I was frantic. I finally got the staff to allow me to walk back to gate 86, no mom and dad. This was about a 20 min walk and I am sweating, pissed and freaking out. One last page then off to British Airways to search there.
As I walked up to the counter, I asked if there was any way I could find out if my parents had checked in and of course they said no. I told them I had just been looking 2 hours for my parents at the United terminal and that we had a 9:20 flight. It´s too late for you to go, you´ll have to take a flight tommorrow, the man behind the counter said. My breath caught in my throat and a rush of thoughts raced through my mind. Crap, I have out hotel info-where will my parents stay in London, how will I find them if I can´t fly out until tommorrow?, are they on the plane…where are they? Just then my cousin called me to say my mom called to say they were already at the boarding gate.
I relayed this info to the counter staff, just before I was about to let out some allegator tears, a kind woman behind the counter said, ´quick give me your passport´, I did and make it to the plane.
Come to find out mom had dropped her cell phone at a friends house just prior to boarding the plane in Palm Springs. She said they heard my first page, but dad didn´t want to go to baggage claim, he wanted to go to British Airways. Rotten just rotten. I told him I´d get him back, just wait.
The flight was the longest 10 hours in history. I can never sleep on planes, it´s just my curse. When we got to the Customs Desk at Heathrow Airport and the Customs Agent asked if all our passports were new. I said mine wasn´t. He said I´m sorry to say these (holding up my parent´s passports were invalid.) Again my breath caught in my thoat…..oh no, what could be wrong now?, hadn´t they followed the right process? would we be denied entrance to the U.K. and sent back home and the next flight?
He pushed them back at us and said these are invalid until they are signed. Please sign your passports. Whew! I almost had a heart attack, I hope someone besides me knows CPR.
We then took a bus to the Luton Airport and then a Black Taxi to our hotel which was supposed to be a short 7 miles away, turned out to be 13 miles and 40 euros later. It was my parents first ride in a Black Taxi and what a ride it was! I think our driver was late for dinner with his wife cause he drove like he was gonna get a beaten if he didn´t get home soon. I told my parents this was a ´WEEEEEEEE moment´and they should just put both hands straight up and act like it was a roller coaster ride.
We laughed at how small our hotel room was but were way too tired to put up a fight. We got to bed at 1a.m. and woke up at 3a.m. (a whole two hours of sleep) in order to catch our flight to Lisbon.
I booked the hotel through Travelocity and paid in advance. When checking out at 4a.m. they told me the were going to charge my credit card again. I found out arrguing over the bill at 4a.m. after you´ve been up for 30some hours with only two hours of sleep is very bad and can´t accomplish anything. They said they´d research it. I still don´t know if they charged me again.
Stay tuned as I´ve got lots more to tell you. I´m doing a Traveling Bootsnall Shirt journey where I´ll get people from all walks of life in cities all over Europe to put on the shirt for a picture to share with you. I plan on putting them together for a calendar for 2007.
We are also holding a World Mexican Train Tournament (a domino game). I´ll let you know who wins in each country and then the overall best will gain the title of -World Champion.
For my friends at Hoag, I´ve brought Hoagie along to be my trip mascot and will take pictures of him touring the world with me.
Lot of fun things.
Travel tip: Pack your PJs last as they will be the first thing you´re looking for after an exasting trip.
Travel Warning: Senior Citizens need very little sleep (2-4 hours per nite), so if you plan to travel with them you better take your vitamins and drink lots of coffee, cause they party like Rock Stars.