|Jul. 30th, 2005 02:09 pm UK/Worldcon Trip, day 1|
Well, yesterday we - Tara, Derrick and I - left for the UK to go to Worldcon
and do the "tourist thing." After what is essentially, for me, a really long
day, we are settled in for the evening at the Apex City Quay Hotel in Dundee
Yesterday, or departure was just the end of a long string of otherwise
unrelated events. I had to go to the dentists for a regular visit, and we
wanted Derrick to go swimming with Kindercare, so it was almost a normal
morning for the two of us. Tara, on the other hand, had to deal with the
contractor who was supposed to be installing new windows on our porch. The
contractor got started late, and showed up with not enough people to finish
the job, and without all of the supplies they needed. Needless to say, this
added to our packing and getting ready to go stress.
As I reported yesterday, (but actually just posted) I ended up spending a
couple of hours trying to get the audio version of Harry Potter and the
Half Blood Prince loaded onto both Tara's and my iPods, which didn't help
with the packing a whole lot.
We did get everything packed and done just before the limo got to our house, a
few minutes before the scheduled 3:30 pick up. We loaded our suitcases - we
have 2 large cases, and one smaller one, so they take up a bit of space - and
were off to the airport.
Once at O'Hare, we encountered an expected level of chaos. The line to check
in for international flights was very long, and Derrick and I were forced to
sleek out and back for reasons that I don't appreciate coming from a nearly
nine-year-old boy. Similarly the lines to get through security were long.
Getting through security wasn't helped by changes in the policy - they wanted
the cam-corder out of the bag as well as the computer - nor the fact that
something I was wearing set off the metal detector.
After grabbing an early supper at the food court, we made our way to our gate
and found, eventually, some seats. It was waiting at the gate that I did the
write up on "Harry Potter and the Two iPods." Finally we boarded the plane
and got settled.
This was when I confirmed that American has put the row of seats they took out
a few years ago back into the coach section of some of their airplanes. This
meant that I did not have as much leg room as I expected, nor as I needed. In
fact I'm half convinced that our row had less leg room than it was supposed
On top of this extra crowding, Derrick refused to even try to sleep until the
plane took off. When we ended up waiting for clearance for about thirty
minutes, this did not help my mood or Derrick's sleep.
Once the plane was airborne, Derrick slept, with his head buried
uncomfortably in my side, adding to my warmth and discomfort. (My side, where
he had been leaning was soaked with sweat, both his and mine, when he finally
Even though I'd had a decent, but early dinner, I went ahead and ate the
dinner on the flight, and then tried to sleep. I didn't succeed very well.
Being in an aisle seat - since American has 3 middle seats and only two outside
seats on a 767, we were sitting across the middle - I didn't have the side of
the plane to lean on. So, even with an eye mask, and noise canceling
headphones, I was only able to doze fitfully for less then two hours.
Finally I gave up on sleeping, and switched from listening to a random
selection of non-Christmas music, to continuing to listen to Harry Potter.
We woke Derrick up just before they served breakfast. About an hour later we
landed in Glasgow, where we had to sit on the runway again, this time waiting
for the previous flight to clear the gate.
Getting through immigration and customs in Glasgow was a breeze. Once we got
out of customs, however, we discovered that the Glasgow airport was a mad
house everywhere on the ground floor except the international arrivals area.
This kept us from wanting to push our luggage through the solid mass of people
between the international arrivals area and the toilets, which delayed our
leaving the airport for several minutes.
Finally, we boarded the bus to the city center and the train station where we
could catch a train to Dundee. We got our rail passes validated, and headed
out to wait for our train. By the clock, it was approaching noon, and I was
getting hungry. After examining our choices - instantly rejecting Burger King
to avoid our (Tara and my) embarrassing beginning to our Australia trip in 1999
where our first meal was at Mcdonald's - we got some very good sandwiches on
bagetts and waited for the 11:42 train to Aberdeen to be announced. Once
announced, we got on, stowed our luggage (after someone helpfully reminded us
where it goes) and headed for Dundee.
The train ride was uneventful. The scenery was very nice, epically the
Castle at Stirling. After visiting Canada and Australia, it was also nice to
see houses and buildings that clearly told us we were not in the US.
We arrived at Dundee and got our luggage off the train (with the help of some
boarding passengers) and worked our way out of the station. On our way out we
confirmed that the luggage lockers have been shut down - thanks to our
terrorist friends - so we'll have to make other arrangements for storing our
bags tomorrow between checking out of the hotel and leaving for Edinburgh.
After quickly consulting a map, and not finding our hotel, we decided to take
a cab instead of trying to walk. When our cab arrived, we were lucky enough
to have one equipped for dealing with wheelchairs which had more than enough
room for our luggage. I ended up sitting with the driver, who was exceedingly
friendly (at least by American Standards). This was only slightly unnerving
since I've never sat in the left hand front seat of a car I wasn't driving.
However, this did convince me (not that I had needed convincing) that renting
a car and driving from Glasgow to Dundee to Edinburgh to Glasgow to London
would not have been the way to do this trip.
We were dropped off at our hotel. After fighting my bag through the revolving
doors that wanted to turn tighter than my luggage could, we got checked in and
crashed in our room for a few hours. We all took a short nap. While Tara and
Derrick extended their naps, I took a shower, and then a bath since I could
actually sit in the tub.
We ended our evening by visiting the City Quay shops, just as they were
closing for the day, and getting dinner at a Chinese Buffet that probably
wasn't worth the £30 it cost.
Tomorrow we plan on visiting Sensation, a children's museum dedicated to the
senses, and seeing what else we can see in Dundee before heading off to
Edinburgh. Dundee is where my Grandpa grew up. We do have some relatives in
the area, but never got them looked up, so we won't be doing any relative
visiting. We'll probably just visit some of the other sites and then take the
train to Edinburgh before it gets too late.
As long as we have access to the Internet in Edinburgh, I'll try to make
regular updates on our trip there. If not I'll make at least some updates in
Glasgow and London. If I can figure out how, I'll even post pictures.
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