Friday, March 27, 2009

A Hard Day's Night...

So many of you have been saying that I was "oh, so brave" to fly from Italy to Edinburgh on my own with my 3-year-old and my 2-year-old...the truth is...it wasn't bravery. It was severe insanity with a touch of suicidal tendencies! (Or, at the very least, just being extremely selfish. Which I paid dearly for.) After coming home, all I really have to say is this: Never. Ever. Ever. Again. Never will I again fly with two little ones by myself! Especially with them both going through the phases they are right now. Temper tantrums (screaming, crying, yelling...), roughhousing (pushing, tackling, and wrestling, which turns into hitting, kicking, and knocking over), and exercising their opinions and own desires apart from my own...it was foolish of me to do it. But I was bound and determined to not miss out on the get-together for the swap! But, as I said, I paid dearly for my selfishness...

The Hard Day began at 3am. I stayed awake all night long so that I didn't oversleep and miss the flight. I had to wake the boys up, get them out to the car, and get on the road toward the airport. (We had a friend that took us there.) Got there in plenty of time, got boarded (fairly) easily, I was super excited, albeit very tired, and was ready to go to Edinburgh!...but the plane wasn't. There were technical difficulties that kept us grounded for 2 hours. Two hours!!! Thankfully, I got to doze for a bit. Aidyn had also fallen back to sleep, but Calen was awake. As I was taking the carseats, though, and he was strapped in, I wasn't too concerned with staying awake. (Aidyn's carseat was too wide to fit in the airplane seat, which I hadn't counted on, because I know it fit just fine in the plane on the trip to move to Italy...) Finally, after they fixed the engine trouble, we were off. Got to Gatwick in London.


Arrivederci, Italia!



On the flight, they passed out what they call "landing cards" to those that are not UK citizens. Basically, you have to give them your passport ID number, the name and address of where you'll be staying in the UK, and the length of time for your visit. In all the papers I had printed out and made a point to have on me, the hotel reservation was not one of them. Go figure. So when we got to London and had to go through immigration, I wasn't allowed through. I evidently went in the wrong line (hauling the 2 carryon cases with the carseats laying down, one on each case, that kept slipping every time I turned...so I got shunted to the side to the right line, me apologizing to everyone I was cutting in the right line, yelling at two delinquent children that were tired and insisted on throwing tantrums and so on. I get over to the guy, lay down the cards and passports, and he gives me this look. Almost like a "are you stupid?" look. Before I even had a chance to open my mouth! And he pushed the cards back at me (again, before I had a chance to speak) and said, "these have to be completely filled out." I told him that I didn't have the address, and you know what he said back (before I could ask if he could help me at all)? "Then get it. And move to the side so I can help the people who do have their cards filled out." Okay, now, I get that there are other people waiting, but good grief! That guy was beyond rude! He didn't call anyone else over to give me a hand with said cases and screaming children or even any hint of how to find the address or anything! So I haul everything over to the side, catch the attention of someone patrolling the "gate" at the immigration control, and they said there were phones behind me, I could go use one of them. That person at least gave me a pitying look, even if they didn't try to help me move that direction or anything...

So I get over to the pay phone, and I turn on my cell. I got texts in Italian telling me I'd have extra fees for using my phone in the UK. Yeah, okay, I didn't care about the fees at that moment. Right then, all I wanted was to call Lizzie Wychwood or Lily May Clearwater to see if they could look it up for me. My phone wouldn't work. At all. Great. (Turns out, when you have a prepaid phone, you evidently have to inform the phone carrier ahead of time...) So I was going to use the pay phone (that blessedly accepted euro, as I hadn't changed money yet) and call them...but I couldn't find the number in my phone that I know I programmed in the night before!!! Ok, so I would call one of my friends back in Italy and have them look it up for me. The phone wouldn't recognize Italian numbers!!! So my flight from Venice was already 2 hours behind schedule, I was supposed to meet a taxi to take me to my connection at Heathrow, I had two screaming kids and insanely rude people at immigration control, in a foreign country where I couldn't get a hold of anyone I knew. I was already on the verge of losing it, and the trip had only just begun!!!
I got the attention of one of the guys nearby, and he pointed me to the British Airways (who I was flying with) desk on this side of immigration. I go over there, clearly stressed and hassled, and I tell you, those people are magic. LOL One of them must have been a witch who calmed me with a charm from a wand under the desk...Anyway, they shuffled me around to switch my flight to Edinburgh to one going out of Gatwick so that I didn't have to stress about my Heathrow connection. Unfortunately, that put me at getting into Edinburgh at 2pm instead of noon, and the first meet up was supposed to be at the Elephant House at 2pm, but at that point, that was a minor detail I could overlook, just so long as we weren't stuck in London! They point me the direction of security, I haul my cookies (and the cookies of my kicking and screaming children) over to get our boarding passes checked...and someone from immigration comes over and says "they sent you the wrong way, you have to go through immigration." ARGH! I still didn't have the address! Nor could I remember the name of the hotel! Once again, the British Airways people worked their magic, though. I gave them what I remembered of the hotel name, and they looked it up for me and filled out that stupid blank line on each of the cards. Finally. I got through immigration. Went to go through security, and they tell me "you can't take the seats on the plane. Those have to be checked." I deliberately didn't pack any check-sized bags to avoid dealing with any of that! But whatever. Drag everything back to the nearest British Airways desk. (Not the same one as on the other side of immigration, lol)Once again, they were super helpful. They basically took the seats away from me and checked them for me. lol That was a nice break!

Then ahead of me lay the actual flight to Edinburgh! We had some time to kill, and I was told I could go up to the lounge and let the boys play in the British Airways lounge play area. Sweet! A break for me! I get aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way over to the lounge and up the elevator to the right level, and the people at the desk ask to see our boarding passes. Evidently, you have to have a certain class of ticket to use their lounge. Lame. To the nth degree. Haul the boys (who were not happy with me, since I had asked them if they wanted to go play, and they were looking for the playground...) and the bags back down to the other level and just went to our gate to wait. That was when I was finally able to fire up my laptop and leave a couple messages on the Rav forums. My boys, by that point, were getting a bit out of control, turning quickly into those kids you always see that run around screaming like banshees and wonder if their parents have any control over them. And the answer to that was pretty much "no." I didn't care by then, though. If someone wanted to complain, let them. Then I could vent my frustration on an airport employee and say "if you want them to behave like humans, get me into that lounge's play area!" I was almost disappointed nobody did complain, actually. I wanted to yell at somebody! LOL And actually, the only rude people I met at all on the trip were the immigration people on the way in (and the security at Gatwick on the way out, but that's for a later post)...everyone else was nice and understanding and helpful. Got on the plane. The boys were still tired and then complaining about being hungry and just wanted to go home. They actually got mad at me when I told them home was far, far away...

Finally. We got to Edinburgh. But nobody was there to meet me. I looked at the clock. 2:30. They were all at the Elephant House already. By that point, if it weren't for the little ears with me (and the little mouths attached that repeat all they hear), I'd have let out a nice, long stream of curses...still couldn't remember my hotel. (The BA people picked a hotel and wrote down the address. I don't even know if that was the right one.) My laptop battery was so low, my computer wouldn't turn on. My cell phone still wouldn't work. There were computers usable there, but you had to pay to use them, and I couldn't find the supposed slot for the coin. (I actually found it later, on the return trip!) But there was limited access for free, and I was able to track down a phone number for what I though was the hotel. Got a hold of their main office, and they checked...and I was right! That was who my reservation was through! Ok, so then just to find my way there with nobody I knew nearby and no knowledge of the city...the answer? A taxi. LOL Got to the hotel. Checked in. They told me all the general check in info, but I hardly heard any of it. I was at my wit's end by that point. Got the boys upstairs, went into our room. They immediately occupied themselves with jumping on the beds. I locked the door (so they couldn't get out of the room and run away), dropped everything, and shut myself in the bathroom. I had no phone numbers, no way to use the Internet, no way to contact anyone from the swap, and was with two unruly children in a hotel room of a strange and new city. I seriously sat down and started to cry. I heard a phone ring, but I thought it was in the next room. From the sounds, I could tell the boys had stopped jumping, so I dried my tears, took a deep breath, and went to see what they were getting into. Aidyn dropped the phone back onto the receiver like it was a hot coal! LOL Thankfully, it rang again, and turned out to be the wonderful Miss Lizzie! Evidently, she had been chatting with Aidyn. LOL So the whole crew (Lizzie, Emma W., Emma G., Elladora and her friend Vicki, and Lily May) came over to the hotel to hang out in the hotel lobby to relax for a bit. Oh, I so needed those friendly faces!
Emma G. and Lily May



Lizzie, Emma W. and Elladora




Lily May started off with a gift for my boys (toy dinosaurs!) which they (and I!) were both grateful for! And I got some gifties! My kit was amazing!!! (I'll be posting pics of my actual kit in a different post...this is the anecdote of my travels!) We went out to dinner at a restraunt called "The Filling Station," which was awesome! There was so much there that reminded me of the U.S. (it's awesome living in Europe, but sometimes you just miss your own country, you know?)...the "oldies" that were playing, the paraphenelia on the walls (Ford, baby!), the non-Italian taste of the food...it was awesome! After that, the boys and I went back to the hotel and all three of us were alseep at 7:30pm...


So in short, I had a looooooooooooooooong, hard day, but that night was the beginning of a wonderful stay in a beautiful city! The next day's events to come in a following blog...

8 comments:

Cassandra Puddlemere said...

OMGoodness. I would have been fricken' suicidal!

Hermione Bagnold said...

Told ya: insanity with a touch of suicidal tendencies...

Emma Wigworthy said...

Immigration need shooting!!!

Andromeda Finch-Fletchley said...

And that is why I will NEVER take the two boys on a plane trip by myself. You poor girl. ::big hugs::

Sarah said...

What an adventure! I can't believe you survived all of that, btu I'm So glad you did! What a good end to a rough day!

Pren said...

oh my gosh! what a crazy day! you are a saint for not swaering in front of your kids. hahaha or maybe crying.

Lizzie Wychwood said...

You are amazing!

Winnie said...

Oh, you poor thing!!! Traveling can be such a pain sometimes. I'm so grateful that you finally met up with them, though. Super BIG HUGS to you!!