Thoughts from Places: Starting My First Trip Across The Pond

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

| | |

The First Leg of My London Trip

Buffalo to Toronto to London

I took this as we waited at the Border. Looks like Canada
is CLOSED. I thought it was hilarious.
I've wanted to go to London forever, practically. This was problematic seeing as it's 3,000+ miles away across the pond and I've never been on a plane, nor did I actually foresee myself getting on one. However, it turned out that the biggest problem of getting to London wasn't to be the plane ride itself (which I had been dreading) it was getting to the Plane itself! My mom and I had a plan: take the Megabus to Toronto, hang out at the Eaton Centre for a little while, then take public transportation to the Pearson Airport. Sounds simple, right? It probably would have been for anyone but us.

We got to the bus station almost an hour before the bus was to depart only to find out that the bus was going to be late. It came almost 2 hours later. But wait, that’s not all. When we finally got to the border, everything went smoothly until, of course, the bus broke down. We found out later that the battery died. Though, while we were waiting at the US/Canadian Border we did have entertainment. A man was dancing, there was a huge spider, and we discovered a poster claiming a $50,000 reward for information leading up to the capture of a clown’s murderer. We didn’t leave the border until 12:20. We were supposed to be in Toronto at 11:10, we didn’t arrive until around 3pm.
I wasn't kidding about the Clown Murderer...

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:20pm so as per instructions we planned to arrive at 6pm, 4 hours early for an international flight. Originally, we planned to eat lunch at the Eaton Center, explore it for a few hours, eat some dinner there as well and then make our way to the Pearson Airport.  Because of all the Megabus Drama, we were able to eat lunch, explore the Eaton Center only enough to buy a souvenir each as we searched for the correct door to lead us to the proper subway platform. (Let me just say here that a mall is a little too big if it has a subway station, but also ridiculously and unnecessarily large if it has MULTIPLE STATIONS!!)

Actually getting to the airport and to the proper place inside of it was also incredibly hard and frustrating. We couldn’t get on the subway unless we had tokens. Okay, so I bought 4 so that we would already have them when we came home. So, my directions to the airport said: take the subway then take this bus. We got to the bus station and the woman told us it cost $6 each and that the next bus didn’t leave until 5:45pm or something ridiculous like that. In a panic, since this was our only option we quickly bought the tickets, and just as quickly regretted it because we were now going to be late for that 4 hours before International flight thing. I went back to the window and asked how long exactly the bus ride was because if it only took 10 minutes or so we would be fine. The woman then realized that she was wrong and that the next bus would be arriving any minute and that we probably just missed it because we had been talking to her, but to run out and check! Turns out she was still wrong because the bus didn’t come for another 10 minutes but whatever! We got on the bus and to the airport.

Mom snapped this photo of me being really excited
about leaving.
And yet our problems were still not over. The bus dropped us off at Terminal 1 and we, of course, needed Terminal 3. We went in and asked a security guard how to get there. He said and I am quoting directly here: “Go up, and up, and then take the Sky Train.” WHAT?! How is that at all helpful? What is a SKY TRAIN?! UP AND UP WHERE?! So, we just decided to go up the escalators to the next floor and ask someone there. I asked at a rental car desk and they vaguely pointed over my shoulder. As I turned around another woman who had been on that $6 bus was asking a passerby where to go and we followed her since she seemed to be getting better directions than I was. She became something like our angel. She knew exactly where she was going as soon as the man pointed her in the right direction. Better yet, she was traveling on our airline as well, but to Rome. The “sky train” by the way, was just an elevated train that ran between terminals and was located on the third floor. The guard’s directions were okay but they failed to mention all the turns we had to take in between the “up and up.”
That's right, Llama George came to England with me! Here
he is poking out of my backpack.

When we got in line to get our boarding passes a woman asked us if we would be willing to switch our departure date to tomorrow because the flight was overbooked. They would give us $400 and put us up in a hotel. My response was “but we can get on this plane right? This is the plane we want, not your plane tomorrow. Are you saying we can’t get on this plane? Because we booked these in April and we are getting on this plane tonight!” And she relented and let us past her. Despite that scare though, after meeting that woman, whom my mom called our Toronto Angel (I was referring to as nice Rome Lady), things started to get better. I desperately wanted to use my backpack as a carry on. I knew that technically the dimensions were a couple inches off, but I was confident that it was under the weight limit and I was hoping that they would let it slide. They did. There was no problem at all while checking in and getting our boarding passes. I had a few panics in the days preceding the trip because I was having a hard time getting the proper info to get our passes. Finally, I had just printed out the Priceline Itinerary hoping that the ticket numbers on there would be good enough to prove that we did in fact have tickets.  Turns out we didn’t need any of that, just our passports. I was also allowed to take my backpack on board no problem at all. He also gave us a $10 off coupon to their lounge which we didn’t use but it was still an incredibly nice gesture after all the crap we had just gone through. We never saw the Toronto Angel again. She had disappeared into the crowd and we never were able to thank her.

This is the really cozy place we waited for our
Another thing I was super worried about was Security. I had spent days going over what was and was not okay to bring on a plane. I knew that everything had to be put into a separate bin and that I had to take off my shoes and belt (chose not to even wear a belt just in case). I knew that liquids had to be 3 oz or less and that they had to be in a quart bag (even though I didn’t actually bring liquids). I also had my medicine in their original bottles and in a separate clear bag. I knew absolutely all of this and didn’t need to. The woman had me put my backpack in one thing, my meds still inside, and my shoes on! I went through the metal detector and I BEEPED!! I couldn’t believe it. I DID EVERYTHING RIGHT. WHY WAS I BEEPING!? I panicked and my panicked brain said “OMG DO I HAVE A METAL HIP?!” which makes no sense because I don't, but I checked my hip and there was my phone still in my pocket. I went back put it in my bin and walked back across with no beeps. “That happens all the time, sweetie, don’t worry” said the nice lady, and then she gave me my stuff. Seriously, Canadians are almost too trusting. Mom went off too, by the way, she forgot her rings.

        We found our way to our gate which also had an incredibly over priced café right next to it, but also outlets and comfy seats. We hunkered down for our 3 and a ½ hour wait. A little while later I went to find food and came back to find some pilot in my seat. Mom had told him not to sit there but he ignored her. He was the pilot on the flight to Pakistan. As soon as he stood up I slid into my seat. His response was: “Oh. My seat.” Mine back? “Sorry, it was mine first.” And then I ignored him. He moved to the seat next to me but asked the MAN across if he could sit there. However, the rest of the people surrounding us were little old people going home and they were adorable.
I was fascinated with the current progress of the plane!

By that time I was getting INCREDIBLY ANXIOUS. But not as anxious as I think I should have been if that makes sense. I thought that I would be inconsolably freaking out.  After the rude piloted Pakistan flight left, the flight crew for our plane arrived. I heard this conversation: “Oh I’m glad I found the right gate so quickly!” then “The big bald guy is hard to miss!” He was in fact hard to miss. He was also really nice. He was one of our flight attendants.

       Then it was time to get on board the plane. I am proud of how unfreaked out I was. Apparently, we had a very smooth take off. I have nothing to compare it to so I’m just going to go with it. Before we took off I heard an English woman behind me say, “Jolly Ranchers? *ate one* Oh, these are fruity. They’re lovely, they are, like foxy glacier mints!” I glanced at mom and smiled, if it hadn’t yet sunk in that I was finally on my way to England, it did just then.
The sunset from the plane.

I spent the last few hours of the night watching Inside Out with mom. I slept for a little while, but it was stupidly warm on the plane. I did see the sunrise from the plane though. It was incredible to see what the clouds see. I actually cried from sheer joy when we were landing. I was finally in England.

Sorry to leave you hanging, but I promise to tell you all more later!