Well, I have been in London for a few days now, having lots and lots of fun (while recovering from jet lag) so I haven’t really been thinking about blogging until now. Today I’m taking an early night, resting my feet, and taking a chance to update you all on what’s been going on.
So, I left Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday and flew to Orlando, Florida. My friend Kristen, who works at Disney World, came and stayed with me at the hotel, and we had lots of fun chatting, although I was definitely a little nervous about my big transit day. She can tell you–I probably repacked my carry-on six or seven times!
But everything went fine, of course. I flew with AirCanada from Orlando to Toronto, and while the flight went fine, Toronto was the worst part of the whole journey. Part of the customs and immigration process in Toronto is picking up and rechecking your baggage, even if you have a connecting flight. It’s a pain, but what can you do? So I waited for my luggage…and waited…and waited. I was sure that it had gotten lost (somehow) and resigned myself to getting into the huge “baggage complaint” line when, after forty-five minutes of waiting, my luggage appeared! It was marked “in transit, do not give to passenger,” so I’m sure that was the issue. But, nevertheless, I took it and went straight to the Icelandair desk to get my boarding pass.
Well, not really “straight” there…I had to take a bus to the other terminal, was misdirected by two different employees of the Toronto airport, and yelled at by the person scanning my bag. But eventually I made it to the Icelandair desk, where I met pretty much the nicest lady in the world. She was confused as to why AirCanada hadn’t printed all my boarding passes (they are a partner airline with Icelandair) and why my luggage was marked “in transit.” I joined her in that confusion. But she retagged my luggage, printed all my boarding passes, and checked my heavy carry-on bag free of charge, so I only had a little tote to carry. Sweet.
Then I waited in a massive line to get back through security, and ate a quick dinner before boarding the plane to Iceland. I was supposed to have four hours in between flights, but ended up spending over three hours just getting to my gate. Suffice to say, Toronto is not my new favorite airport.
But the trip to Iceland was delightful. They gave us bottles of Icelandic water, and blankets and pillows printed with Icelandic lullabies. I couldn’t sleep on the flight, but I watched a movie and played with the interactive world map, and before I knew it, I was in Iceland!
I think I was really sleepy at this point, because I accidentally went through passport control, even though I was not technically entering Iceland. Luckily, the airport is tiny, and I just circled around and went back through. Plus side, I now have Icelandic stamps in my passport, and I might have been admitted to Iceland for the shortest time of anyone in recorded history (less than five minutes?).
The flight to London was also great–I slept the whole three hours. Now, this was the part of my trip that I was most nervous about–getting through British customs (I don’t have the best past experiences with those guys), lugging my baggage onto the Gatwick Express, and then on the Underground to my hostel in Earl’s Court–but it went smoothly!
The customs official did ask about my expired UK visa, but I explained that I was entering as a tourist, not a student, and would be gone in a week, and she let me on in to England. The amount of individual power that those agents have blows my mind…but that’s a post for another day.
Got to my hostel (Saint James Backpackers, would highly recommend) without any problems, although changing into new clothes and setting down my suitcase made me inordinately happy (I had been awake for 25 hours at that point). Then I headed off to explore Earl’s Court and Kensington! I will update on all my London doings soon enough–but for now feel free to check out the pictures on my Flickr (see sidebar over there —————–> ).
Four flights down, one to go, and then I’ll be in Austria! Cheers!