I’m here! London, I have arrived!

Flying over the UK at dawn...
Flying over the UK at dawn…

After about a 24 hour travel marathon, I’m now safe and sound in my London hotel room. I started out leaving the house around 6:20 am on Sunday, then a friend took me to the local airport shuttle place, where my bestie surprised me by showing up to send me off as well! The shuttle left around 7:00 am, and we were off from Chattanooga to the Atlanta airport. We arrived around 9:00 am and my flight was to leave at 11:25 am (which it did.) It was a smooth flight to Boston’s Logan Airport where I had about a five hour layover (and yes, I found a place with some GREAT chowda! No WAY would I leave Beantown without some chowda in my belly!) until my flight from there to London’s Heathrow Airport departed just before 7:30 pm. Once again, it was beautiful weather and a smooth flight – I’m SO thankful! We arrived SUPER early this morning (I was still on EST, so my internal clock was hating me… it was like 1:45 am in my head, but it was 6:45 am local time here in London!) After standing in a pretty swift-moving line to check passports and visas for non-citizens, I was off to collect my obscene amount of checked luggage. Thankfully for international flights, your first bag is free. The next is $100. I was able to check my carry-on at the gate for free as well, so that was a bonus! The hard part was loading up three suitcases and a very heavy backpack (loaded to the gills with laptop, tablet, chargers, books, personal belongings, etc…) onto the luggage cart, and then getting it out of the airport and out to the taxi stand. The line for that also moved quickly and I was blessed with the most courteous, compassionate driver! He loaded all of my luggage (wouldn’t let me touch a thing) and then when we got to my hotel and he discovered there was not a porter AND they had a revolving door… he simply turned off the cab and said he would bring my bags inside for me! That’s going above and BEYOND the call of duty right there!!! And trust me, I tipped him nicely for it, too. I so appreciated him!

The fun part was getting all of those bags to my room. I am on the first floor, but it’s up one floor from the lobby and the lift is very narrow. The front desk clerk gave me a trolley to put them on, but it barely fit. I had to squeeze my way in. It was hilarious! Then when I got up to my floor, housekeeping was up here doing their thing, so there were trollies all over the hall and not enough room to bring mine through. I ended up just taking them off one at a time and walking them down the hall to my room. Haha! Got in a great workout too, because each of those bags weighs just under 50 pounds! 😉

When I got here, I soon discovered this room’s heater isn’t functional, but the desk clerk made arrangements for a space heater for me (which I use in the winter back home anyway, so I am used to them) and now my room is quite toasty. 🙂 It’s not a huge room, but it’s clean and it’s just fine for me to stay in for a week until I can move into the residence hall. The front desk clerk has been most helpful too! She printed out maps for me to get to places to check into getting a SIM card for my phone, and I was able to get there with no problems. I got a SIM card, and I’m now on the EE network. So far, so good! The girl who helped me in the EE store was also just as nice as she could be. It was the store up in Hampstead. She was most helpful and I enjoyed talking to her. (British people are just the NICEST! I love them so much!) I then had a lovely lunch in a cafe just around the corner (one that I stumbled into on my last visit here and really enjoyed…) and afterwards, I came back to the room. First thing I did was to call my Dad and talk to him for a bit. I wanted to reassure him that I was okay – had arrived safely, and to give him my new phone number. It was great to hear his voice. I wish I could have just brought him with me! (sigh) It’s hard when you’re a Daddy’s girl and you have to leave your Daddy. 🙁 I’ve decided to just stay in and rest up tonight since it’s been a long stretch of travel for me (and I don’t sleep on planes…) I had a hot shower, put on my jammies, and am lying in the bed here – and it’s only just 6:30 pm! Haha! There aught to be a rule against THAT! I figured this would be a nice night to have some tea, read a bit, and catch up on my rest so that I can be in top form tomorrow! We are going to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet tomorrow night at the Barbican!!! I can’t wait! We got tickets over a year ago for this!

I plan to go EARLY tomorrow morning to Primrose Hill and watch the sunrise. Just because I can. I love Primrose Hill SO much, and have missed it. It will be nice to enjoy that view. Hoping the weather will cooperate. It has been nice here today, with temps in the mid to lower 60’s (or, I guess I should say… around 18 Celsius… I really need to get used to using Celsius here – but I DID download an app on my phone for that, so… I might be cheating. My Math is not the greatest.)

Since I got my local phone service activated, I’ve been texting with one of my friends here already this afternoon, and… Facebook messaging with others. I can’t wait to SEE them all! It’s been too long!

London… Janni’s back… and she’s ever so grateful to be here!

Last night sleeping at home…

I’m lying here in my jammies, and I am looking around my room at all of my cool posters, action figures and nerd regalia and feeling a bit sad that I will be leaving it all behind while I embark on this journey across the pond to go and chase after my dream. I’ll have to find a way to “nerd up” my room in the residence hall, for sure… to make it feel a bit like home, I guess. It won’t be the same, but sometimes one has to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Those things, however special they are to me, are nothing compared to the giant emptiness I will feel whenever I have to hug my Dad goodbye bright and early tomorrow morning. This will be the longest span of time that I have ever been away from him. I won’t be able to come home for holidays because I simply cannot afford it. I’m not due to come home again for a visit until next summer (end of June.) I’ll miss his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and my birthday as well. Even though he and I have discussed this all SO much, and we both know that I have to do it… this opportunity is a once in a lifetime thing… it still isn’t easy – for either of us. But, I am ever so thankful for technology… because we will be using the heck out of Skype and Email! Dad doesn’t really email, but he has an iPad and can read the ones I send to him, so I can do that whenever we can’t Skype for some reason. His phone doesn’t do international calling, so I got him a phone card… but I think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to use them. There are SO many numbers to “plug in” just to make your call. (sigh) I told him we would reserve that for special occasions or emergencies maybe. Heck, maybe Skype will be enough. I hope so.

My awesome cousin Troy and his youngest son Drake came over today and helped us out by putting up a new mailbox for Dad that’s closer to the house. We FINALLY got permission from the postmaster… took us until yesterday to get the approval, but we finally did. We got the new box up today and it looks great and will be SO much safer and easier for Dad to get his mail now. Whew! One less thing I have to worry about.

As I am kicked back here in the bed, I am not the least bit sleepy (of course) though I feel like I need to get SOME rest because I have to get up at 5:00 am. I leave the house around 6:15 and then the shuttle leaves Chattanooga at 7:00 bound for the Atlanta airport. I will have almost 24 hours of travel time! I fly to Boston first, then have a few hours layover before I fly out tomorrow night for London (overnight flight.) I will get to London about 2:00 am our time (7:00 am their time.) Wow! That’s a loooooong day. LOL! First thing I want to do after I get to the hotel and get all settled? Change clothes and go for a nice walk up Primrose Hill!!! I can’t wait!!! I have been away for too long. I love Primrose Hill and can’t wait to get back to it! <3

So… I guess I will just have to make my peace with feeling conflicted for tonight. I am SO excited about things to come, but I am also SO sad about what I am leaving behind. Lots of prayers, good thoughts, etc… from all who read this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, everyone!