Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Arrival!

Hello hello hello from the other side of the pond!  Sorry I haven't updated sooner - the last two days have gone by extremely quickly.

Monday was the day I flew out from San Francisco International Airport, nonstop to London Heathrow.  The flight was about ten hours long, and I arrived in London around noon.



Few quick things about the flight:
 - I arrived at SFO pretty quickly (thanks Ellie!) and got through security within fifteen minutes.  No fuss, very straightforward.  Did a few laps around terminal 3 and then planted my butt at the gate and started reading The Martian (WHICH IS SO GOOD).
 - Premium economy was very good, and for me it was worth the price tag.  I fit into the seats snug but fine, and I very much appreciated the free booze and actual silverware with my meals.  (Seriously, I got two small drinks before takeoff, another before dinner, a small bottle of wine with dinner, and then some brandy as a nightcap.  Not bad.)

Pre-flight sparkling wine 
(It's not from Champagne France, so it's not champagne!)

Virgin Atlantic tweeted at me too!

I also took a time-lapse of most of our descent into London!

video

- Luggage was a bit of a pain.  I had to take a few extra things in my carry-on because my checked bag was just a few pounds overweight from when I originally packed it.  Carry-on backpack ended up being around 20lbs, which took me back to my lug-textbooks-from-class-to-class days.  Thankfully I didn't have to lug it around much.
 - I did not sleep at all.  Zero sleep.  ZERO.  Not because I couldn't get comfortable - I just had really poor timing.  I read more of The Martian, played a few sudoku puzzles, and my seat mate recommended The Imitation Game from their in-flight on-demand movies.  By the time I had finished, I decided to take a peek out the window to see what Greenland looked like and it was SUPER bright outside.  My brain took that to mean HEY IT'S DAYTIME YOU CAN'T SLEEP NOW.  I tried for about ten minutes but couldn't sleep.  Then I went and read some more, tried again, finally started sinking into my seat and then the cabin lights came on because it was breakfast time.

When getting into London, the plan was to use my old iPhone 4s with my prepaid SIM card to message my host that I had arrived.  Of course the prepaid SIM card plan fell though (there was no network whatsoever it could connect to) and I could not find wi-fi ANYWHERE at the airport.  (Seriously, I even checked the coffee shops.  You'd think Starbucks at the airport would have wi-fi!)  Thankfully the signs at the airport were pretty helpful, so I decided to just hop on the tube and hopefully catch a signal at King's Cross.


Sorry, that was the only picture I got of the underground signage at the airport station.

I felt really awkward on the tube with so many bags, but everyone understood.  The guy sitting next to me even wished me a good trip as I was getting off at Kings Cross.

Well, no luck finding wi-fi at King's Cross either.  At this point I was thinking my phone was just straight up broken.  Luckily, signage at King's Cross is also very well displayed so I was able to navigate pretty easily.  I got doubly lucky with the timing too!  I only had to wait about two minutes on the platform before the train opened up.

Just over an hour later I got off in Cambridge and decided that my host wouldn't know to meet me there, so I should take a cab.  The cab ride was a little scary because this was my first time in a car in the UK so everything is reversed.  Right turns are suddenly a feat.

I got dropped off on the correct street but I couldn't find the address.  I spent about 20 minutes asking people that were out and about where to find that specific flat, but nobody had an idea other than "try those apartments over there" or "the numbers are out of order, just keep looking around".

On one of the corners was a cafe with internet, so I decided to try and message my friend using their wi-fi while sipping a Baileys milkshake that I bought for four quid.  (I'm on holiday, I can drink if I want!)

  


The wi-fi there wasn't great unfortunately.  It seemed like every message I tried to send wasn't able to be sent successfully.  I messaged my friend on facebook messenger, iMessage, I tried regular texting them.  I was even loading up my work's VOIP service so I could try calling them when he walked in the door.  Turns out that I had walked past the flat about five times earlier!  Oh well.


I'll update again soon with actual stuff I've been doing here.  Until then!


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