So I made it to London safe and sound, that alone is fantastic. That is not to say it didn’t come with some nerve-racking moments but I’m here and that’s what’s important. I’m guessing that’s not enough for those of you reading this blog so I will delve into further detail.
I learned three things on my flight in: saying goodbye is really hard, I am not an efficient traveler and any food when you are hungry tastes like heaven.
First point. We were at O’Hare airport and despite entering the wrong terminal at first (Who knew Canada was not in the international departures section) I got checked in with about 2 hours to spare before having to board. Since our terminal didn’t have any food places for non-travelers we (my mom, Amanda and John) took the rail-car back to the international terminal to grab some grub.
McDonald’s rewarded us handsomely with some delicious food (quarter-pounder with cheese for me) and suddenly it was time to go back. I was dreading this point because saying goodbye is just so sad. I’ve never been away from my family for more than two months so this was particularly troubling. Not to mention bidding adieu to my fiancee Amanda who was on the verge of tears the whole time. Yet, I also know it’s only four months and they will pass in a blink of an eye so I managed to remain positive.
Next point. Going through security was a nightmare, and not because of any invasive machinery or pat-downs either. I was traveling way too loaded so it took about five minutes just to unload everything onto the security trays. I had to take off my jacket, empty my pockets, slip off my shoes, take my laptop out of my backpack, place my backpack on the conveyor belt, place my luggage on the conveyor belt, take off my belt, and finally, even take off my hoodie. Needless to say, I was “that” guy that holds up the line for 10 minutes. As taking everything off wasn’t bad enough, putting it back on took twice as long. Luckily I stopped to tie my shoes once I left the security zone or I would have forgotten my carry-on bag. Ouch, that would have been bad. For the rest of the trip, I would have my hands full juggling everything I was traveling with.
Once on the plane, I settled in reading my book Soccernomics (thank you Grandma) and finally settled down. We pulled away from the port, sat on the runway, and sat, and sat and sat. I didn’t think much of it since that is the norm nowadays but once the little ding went off and the captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker, I knew something was up. Turned out the check engine light was on (or something like that) and we would be delayed for a bit while the mechanics worked on it. That made my stomach drop. I was cutting it close as it was with only an hour and some change to get to my transfer once in Montreal so this would only make things worse. If I missed my connection in Montreal I would have the privilege of waiting 24 hours at an unfamiliar city where French was the main language. Fortunately, the mechanics worked their magic in about 20 minutes and we were off, for real this time.
We landed in Montreal at around 6:45 p.m. and by the time I got past customs, it was 7:05. Oh, btw, boarding for my flight to London was supposed to begin at 6:45, no biggie. I laced up the racing shoes and booked it to gate B60. There was no need to rush (as I found out between huffs) because like all planes, it was a little behind schedule and boarding had yet to start. Once on the plane, I was placed in row 38C next to an Irishman with some pungent B.O. to match my own (apologies to the peeps in back of us) with two screaming babies about 5 rows ahead of us. It was all good though, I was on the plane and had no rush. To my surprise, our pilot said we would be arriving five minutes early to our destination. That is before the delay that had us sit on the runway for an hour, there is no such thing as an airline being early.
The flight itself was top notch. There was zero turbulence, I got used to the pungent odor of my neighbor (who happened to be a nice guy who worked on an oil rig and had missed his flight to Dublin 12 hours ago thus explaining the B.O.), and we got to pick from about 15 movies to watch on our personal screens. I watched the social network, napped, took in two episodes of Modern Family, then finished off by watching Going the Distance. Or should I say almost finished off. We landed with about 30 minutes left in the unspectacular movie.
Back to point three though. As a thorough reader will attest, there was very little mention of food since my departure. That would be because there was none since that yummy Mickey D’s. I was sleeping on the first flight so missed the little snack they gave out. I ran to the gate in Montreal so had no time to get anything. Roughly speaking, I went from about 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. central time on nothing, not even water. When the stewards came by with their magic food carts, my stomach was doing a little jig rejoicing at the incoming meal. I had a little salad, a roll with butter, chicken with rice and a brownie, all washed down with a coke. Any other day, it would have simply been average airline food but to me at that moment, it was a five star delicacy. Food is definitely my friend.
Quick sidenote: I had no legroom on the plane because I put my backpack under the seat in front of me. Terrible idea on a long flight. My legs are still bent in a 90 degree angle.
I got to London, went through customs without worry, got my bags no problem and took out 200 pounds or $358 from the first ATM I found. That is all for now…