Friday, August 13, 2010

London Day 1

After an embarrassingly long hiatus, I am writing this blog post right before I go to sleep in the new place I call home.  It’s been a long 42 hours, and I haven’t slept a wink. Hopefully, this blog post is coherent.

The summer FLEW. I’ve been literally living out of suitcase most of this summer, and the two final weeks I had to prep for the journey snuck up on me fast. I consider myself pretty lucky to have such great family members to help with this transition. My parents are safekeeping my car. My sister Binita is safekeeping many of my belongings in her home.

Packing is up there on my list of least favorite things to do (including filing my tax return, standing in a long line, or calling toll-free customer service numbers). International travel passengers on Continental are allowed one checked bag, one carry-on, and one personal item. Elite status (which I lost) gives you another free checked bag. Free second checked bag privilege does NOT apply to everyone with a Continental credit card. There’s only one that will give you a free second bag on an international flight. Bags over 50 pounds but less than 70 pounds cost an extra 50 bucks. Bags over 70 pounds are not allowed to fly. A third checked bag is pretty steep and costs 150 bucks. I only know these rules intimiately because I spent the last week conniving to get the most stuff overseas. I know that I don’t have much room, and Europeans live more sparingly. However, this is my stuff, and it’s hard to part with it. I am also SO thankful for my good friend Seema. She was such a huge help in packing and saw me frantically packing and repacking in the last 48 hours. We also became skilled bag weighers using the digital hanging scale. HAHA!! Getting through security at IAH was interesting…I was shifting things at the very last minute so that I could take my giant North Face backpack as a carryon.  I also was wearing a thick fleece and Uggs to save on luggage space.  That raised some eyebrows in the Houston airport.

The flight was fine. Had some wine, watched some movies, and replied to some emails. I didn’t sleep at all, and that came back to haunt me. My uncle recommended a car service when we arrived at Heathrow. It was SO nice to know that I was going straight to my apartment vs. some temporary spot until I got my own place. That was stress I wanted to avoid, so I was able to find a flat and lock it in before we moved in. My flat is literally 3 blocks away from LBS, so my commute will be short and sweet.

Binita and I did our best to unpack and organize my 300 pounds of luggage. We went to oh so many stores. That’s why our feet were so sore when we came back. The things that make moving to London difficult are high cost of living, the fact that you aren’t familiar with stores, and overcrowdedness of the city. I’m only a recent resident of London, and even I’m sick of the hordes of tourists around here.

After a long day of unpacking, shopping, a journey to distant IKEA, and no sleep, we had a quick dinner at Pizza Express and called it a night. The funniest part of the day was at Marks & Spencer when Binita was paying for items with her photo debit card from Bank of America. The UK has a chip and pin code for credit card holders. Basically you have a chip in your debit card, and a four digit code that protects your identity. They rolled this out a couple of years ago after credit card fraud became alarmingly systemic. When Binita showed the cashier her card, the cashier asked for ID, made her sign, and then gave her a 15 minute lecture on signing the back of your card. She pressed that it’s dangerous. Binita countered that there was a photo on her debit card. HAHA!

1 comment:

  1. Great to hear that you made it. Keep the stories coming!

    -James Stinson