Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Trip to London

Due to the absence of recent blogs, I will post seperate segments in order to help on the length of the overall entry.

Trip to London
We begin our journey at 5:45 am on the 24th of August. After spending half the night packing, and getting a small quantity of sleep, I headed to the airport courtesy of the honorable Mr. Kolvin's taxi service. Checked luggage at the Southwest Airlines counter en route to Chicago. (Yes, Chicago. We must first obtain a visa prior to the ultimate destination) After waiting for an hour at the front of the B line, we learned that the flight would be delayed due to extreme weather conditions in Chicago. This is cause for consternation. I meticulously planned the trip around the flight times, and arriving at the British consulate by 10:30 am for my visa appointment. I called my dad who prayed and also relayed the prayer request to my grandparents and the weather kindly moved on for a departure around 8:00 am.

Additional security screening was being performed at the gate and I was pulled from the front of the line. This did not take an extended period of time, but I unecessarily got frustrated for I did find myself with a seat quite close to the front of the plane. I felt a bit of chagrin as God gently reminded me "hey, I'm in control here don't sweat it." Oh yeah, forgot about that for a minute. This really helped to provide additional peace for the remainder of the trip.

Southwest really is a quality airline. I think I would fly them every flight if I could. They touched down around 8:55 am right on schedule by my reckoning. I quickly exited the plane and made my way to the baggage area. After talking with the gate agent, I sucessfully left my bags locked up in the luggage area for later pick up.

It was then on to the Chicago train system. I successfully got on the train toward the British consulate in downtown and after 30 minutes arrived at the last station. A quick 15 minute walk put me at the consulate at 10:27 am right on schedule. I then turned in lots of documentation and went to hang out in the city while the paper work was processed. Walked around a good bit, had lunch, saw a 6.5 foot Lego Yoda (seriously). Checked out Navy Pier then headed back to pick up the visa. Jumped back on the train, retrieved luggage and checked in to Northwest Airlines.

The next leg of the journey was a connecting flight from Chicago to Detroit. I arrived in Detroit just in time due to some delays in Chicago. I was quite pleased to have medallion status which allowed me to jump to the front of a long line to get on the plane. My neighbor on the plane was a native UK citizen who had been in the US on business so we had some good discussion as to UK/US similarities/differences.

Watched 3 movies on the way over, slept around 30 minutes and touched down about 10:00 am local London time on August 25th. Cleared customs, headed for the ATM (cash machine in UK lingo), then went with the driver to my flat in the Paddington area of downtown London.
Paddington train station is fairly busy with both the local London "Tube" underground system as well as trains going to other locales. It also has several shops/restaurants. I picked up some essential groceries from the grocery store in the station (yes, really). I definitely could empathize with our friend Paddington Bear on his arrival to the said train station. It was a bit overwhelming with so many people busily on their way here or there.

On the suprise side, I was a bit suprised that I experienced some culture shock such as "they don't have turkey or peanut butter in the grocery store?!" "lots of coin money" "things cost twice as much here" "Salt for the dishwasher?!" "A clothing washer/dryer combo that is truly weird" "how exactly do these electrical outlets work?" I promptly went to bed that evening to awake 12 hours later, eat breakfast and head straight back to sleep for a nice 3 hour nap.

I saw God work throughout the trip helping me to make connections, pick up luggage, obtain the visa with no hitches, ultimately arriving in London. Many thanks go out to Him. :-)

See for some pictures in Chicago including the Lego Yoda. http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/aallen30605/album?.dir=dfb7re2&.src=ph&store=&prodid=&.done=http%3a//pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/aallen30605/my_photos

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