This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Welcome to London

Our arrival at Gatwick Airport in London was not a bad one, but it certainly wasn't pleasant.

When we finally arrived at what we thought would be the baggage claim area, we noticed an extremely long line...for passport identification. There is a line for the europeans and then, all others, with a by-line of "including US passports". I found that truly ignorant, for the U.S., because apparently, a number of U.S. citizens had to ask "are we 'other'?" or that by-line wouldn't need to be there...

We finally made it through and found our baggage claim area. But once we got there, the conveyor belt thingie was done. As in, all bags had been delivered. I saw a small grouping of bags but none were recognizable to me. However, upon closer inspection, I noticed a pair lacy bright green panties that were oddly familiar to me...just hanging from an open bag. Um, well, those familiar panties were MINE. And my bag had been ripped wide open to show off all of my other privately packed items.

Welcome to London! Of course, this could have happened en route and in Detroit, but the next thing I had to do was stand in another line to claim my damage. Meanwhile, I am texting my cousin, Jhun, who is waiting patiently for us while we deal with these lines...oh wait, let me get my lingo straight, queues.

We finally make it out, rolling my ripped bag, and I find my cousin Jhun straight-away. He immediately goes to Tim. I haven't seen Jhun since 1982, maybe even before that. He and my cousin Joyce have lived in London throughout their lives, but for a good bit of time, came back to the Philippines and went to school there. That's the last I remember seeing them and now, 26 years later, we meet again!

We were so totally American -- a ripped bag among five bags that we had, plus carrying a Whole Foods grocery bag with stuff in it, our backpacks (packed full), as well as carrying our coats, and also, one of us carrying Mi-Mi's things, because she just can't carry anything. This we tried, and successfully, packed into Jhun's Volvo hatchback. I doubt that he could see anything out of the back window.

None the less, the ride to London takes off. The girls and I are in the back, enjoying the scenery. Tim and Jhun talk a bit up front and then at some point, the three girls in the back fell asleep. Man, we were tired after that flight...

It took quite awhile to get to where my cousins live, which is in Central London -- within the hub of the city life. I loved it. Most people say, "I live in New York" but it's really the outskirts of NY...but when my cousins say they live in London, they LIVE IN LONDON.

Their flat is on a nice street on Cromwell and we were able to drop our massive amount of luggage off and met Joyce at the entryway. She is so teeny tiny and just beautiful. The great news is that they are on the first floor of the flat, so we didn't have to squeeze ourselves into the lift.

Life was probably very calm for my cousins (and Aunt, their mum) before we arrived. We just had all this crap and busied up the household. They were great -- they didn't seem to care.

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