Sunday, June 10, 2012

African Adventure Day 1: London

The following blog posts will document the week-long vacation to Africa Todd and I took in the first week of June 2012. Each post will focus on one day of the trip. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, June 1st, 2012

 We left our apartment around 4:00pm on Thursday, May 31st, and caught the Airporter from Larkspur to SFO with plenty of time to spare before the first 10ish hour leg of our journey between continents. After an excruciating ride next to a recent Humboldt State graduate keen on over-sharing her recent romantic escapades with a certain Sean and an affinity for the word “like,” we arrived at Heathrow International Airport around 2:00pm London time. With an 8 hour layover, we decided to do a little exploring and visit one of Todd’s friends who had recently relocated to the area. Unfortunately, because the San Francisco-London legs of our flight had been purchased using miles (so we only had to pay for London-Africa), we had to haul our luggage around with us. For this reason, I did my best to pack as lightly as possible, bringing with me only 2 pairs of shoes (for those who know me, this is epic).

After spending a small fortune in Euros and increasingly large amounts of time trying to navigate the London rail and underground systems, we finally made our way out into the city and up to the apartment of Todd’s friend Brad. We were only able to stay a short while to freshen up, say hello, and create a game plan for the remaining time in London, which would be brief. Ultimately we ended up taking a cab down to Big Ben so we could get a couple pictures, driven by a British cabby who happened to be a SF Giants fan. With his familiarity of the Bay Area including Marin and his knowledge of the sites we passed by in the taxi, we were able to have an engaging conversation as well as a brief tour of the downtown London buildings and sites. Since Todd had heard nightmare stories about the security at Heathrow and the streets were clogged with people due to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, we decided to head back to the airport to check in as soon as possible.

One of my goals was to take a photo by a red phone booth!

Brad and Todd

Us front of Big Ben!

At Heathrow, we were pleasantly surprised with the ease and efficiency of airport security. Perhaps they upped their game due to the Summer 2012 Olympics. They have clean, specific, and helpful stations set up at the beginning of the security line, with exact specifications of what you can and cannot bring in your carryon luggage; there are these cases full of containers of things that are ok like travel sized toothpaste and shampoo, and other cases with things that are not ok like Coke cans, water bottles, and full sized toiletries. They even had disposal stations complete with illustrations to throw away items before hand, like liquids, trash, etc. and regulation sized plastic bags if you happened to forget to bring your own for your liquids. The security staff was extremely pleasant and helpful, the lines were short and moved quickly, and overall the whole process went much smoother than most other security processes I’ve ever been through.

After getting through security much earlier than anticipated we had plenty of time to find some dinner and for me to avoid shopping. For those who have never had the pleasure of spending time in Heathrow’s departure lounge, the call to shop at every luxury goods store you can possible imagine is overwhelmingly great. For a girl such as myself, passing by my favorite establishments such as Burberry, French Connection, Tiffany & Co., Hermes, and more proved to be difficult to not give in to temptation. We were, after all, on a mission!

After a meal at a strikingly simple take-out placed called Eat. (that’s actually what called us there in the first place…the name “Eat.” was like a beacon straight to our grumbling bellies), we were ready to board yet another plane for a 7 hour-ish journey to Africa.

1 comment:

  1. If you return through London, kindly bring me back Banksy please (and thank you!)