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 to.
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 shifted off).
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.