Adventure #18 London Solo
There is no possible way that I would have a layover and not leave the airport. I’ve never been ANYWHERE up to this point in my life and I couldn’t live with myself if I sat in an airport in some fabulous place like Italy or Amsterdam and never stepped outside. So when we were making plane reservations Celese found that it was cheaper to have a stay-over than it was to fly straight home. Hallelujah!!! London here I come.
Apparently my No Sleep While Flying habit lives on because my flight left Ethiopia at 3 am and I stared out the window into the dark earth below me until the sun illuminated the plain, brown scenes of Jordan. We flew to Amman but never got off the plane. Just exchanging crew and picking up more passengers.
I’m very glad that I didn’t feel the need to explore Jordan just because we were landing there. The view from the plane showed a baron, brown desert. The phrase ‘there’s no place like home’ must be purely sentimental because the ground beneath me is very familiar. All of the buildings are brown rectangles. Like a small child built their own city using only dirt and brown moving boxes. It looked very uninteresting. I’m happy to sit on the plane for an hour and then be on my way.
I know I’m a travel novice but never could I have predicted the experience I had with this new crew. The crew’s chipper English accents did help put a lighter even comical shade to things. I can’t seem not to giggle like a silly school girl every time someone speaks to me. For some reason it makes me giddy. I’m seated in the very last row of the plane which neighbors the flight attendants area which means I’m privy to all of their going-ons. Starting with a male attendant attempting to stow his luggage in the compartment above me and almost dropping is carry on bag on my head. His apology for the almost horrible incident was appreciated. Then the lead flight attendant begins to demand cleaning products from the ground crew in Jordan. “I need sanitizing products immediately.” Another flight attendant inspects the lavatory and reminds her that the plane has only been in route for a couple of hours. She replies,”This plane has come from AFRICA! Everything needs to be sanitized.”Her response is unsettling to say the least. Horrifying really. I’m now envisioning this woman as Hilly from The Help. Maybe there’s an initiative I don’t know about but if the plane came from Africa who does she think is going to use the bathroom? No one got off the plane!
Of course it only gets worse. A message is read over the loud speaker as an attendant walks down the aisle spraying insecticide throughout the cabin. I’m caught so off guard. Honestly the attendant is talking so quickly that I can’t decipher her accent fast enough and all I catch is “this has been approved by the World Health Organization as safe but you may cover your eyes and mouth as a precaution.” Can you say Ellis Island? I find it hard to believe that in 2011 I’m being deloused on an airplane. It’s obviously a necessary procedure. I mean I did in fact bring lice treatment with me and plan on boiling myself in a hot tub of water when I reach London but oh my am I concerned about the plight of the world at this moment.
Later I’m treated to the real life drama of a flight attendant and his life partner. Some kind of custody battle over a child. The other attendants were very sympathetic to whatever was happening and I’m so nosey that I was grateful for the distraction. Remember, I’m not an easy flier? I like getting my mind off the fact that I’m being hurled through the air in a very heavy machine. I’m glad that I don’t sleep well on planes. The view is amazing from 30,000 feet. I saw Austria and Turkey and a slew of others that I can’t name. I saw the Nile river, mountains, craters, lakes. Much better than the insides of my eyelids.
We land at Heathrow in the afternoon and I pay to stow my bags at the airport so I don’t have to lug them around with me. I convert some dollars to pounds and after trying for three days, in about a zillion different ways, will eventually find out that you can only exchange Ethiopian Birr in Ethiopia. Ce La Vie. I’ll send it to Nati.
I’m anxious to spend as much time as possible in London so I fore go the tube and take the much faster Heathrow Express instead. The scene out the train window is vastly different than the views I’ve been experiencing the last 10 days. I can’t believe how picturesque England is. Even from the air the world below seems quaint and lovely. Everything is green and reminiscent. I’ve also developed a horrible problem. Everything makes me giggle. I have a smile permanently plastered on my face. I have to use great restraint not to giggle when people talk to me. I hope I can keep it together well enough not to seem like a simpleton or drug addicted.