Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sunday, 21-November-2004

As if I hadn't thought of it myself, Dad reminded me I should journal my trip to the UK. That however would be boring! My trip to London consisted of a nine-hour flight from Minneapolis next to a guy who was completely introverted in a seat which had obviously been designed for and by the members of The Lollypop League.

I guess, to be fair, I should accurately report what Dad had said. In a telephone conversation a couple days ago he reminded me of when my brother had traveled to India on business. He suggested that I do what Denis had done on his trip. I imagine that this is what he meant since the cab fare from Hampton Court to the Taj Mahal is likely to be extreme.

I began to prepare for my trip a week ago. Getting up earlier than usual and checking the office email by 04:30 each morning was the routine. then, after my morning walk with Saga it was off to the office (for me, not the dog…) where I worked for a few hours alone and in the dark before anyone else started to show-up.

So, my preparations completed, I packed, headed to the airport and flew to the UK. As I have said, the flight was uneventful. It was mostly sitting and being uncomfortable, sleeping and being uncomfortable, or walking around to try and be comfortable. The plane landed at 08:55 GMT and I departed into the main terminal at Gatwick. It was a lot like debarking at any major airport – lots and lots of waiting at the terminal to get through customs. Unlike Canada (the customs office with which I am most familiar, however, the bored customs official did not seem to want to hassle me. He just asked if I was here on business and then waved me through.

It is cold and rainy here. Actually, it’s a bit like Seattle without the coffee. The driver had a lot to say about politics and what is wrong in the world. Apparently, a goodly portion of that is driven by my being an American. I got to the hotel where it was more waiting for a room to be readied. Now that I have the room the first thing that I do is take a shower… what bliss! After fourteen hours of travel to be clean and warm again. So of course the second thing I do is don my jeans and sweatshirt and go out for a hike along the Thames. The hotel I am at for the first week is right on the grounds of the Hampstead Castle. Apparently it was the court of King Henry VIII. It is a lovely place and has a lovely path that runs along the river that people hike and bicycle along. I walk all the way into Kingston, the next little hamlet along the Thames from Thames Ditton and it is a great day, apart form the dismalness of the weather, that is... For the last mile-or-so I begin to wonder if I will be crossing another road or not and when I finally find one I ask one of the locals if the road will take me back to Hampton Court. “Yeah. Bit of a walk, though.” The kid responds. “You’re an American, aren’t you then?” he adds.

I confirm that I am and he commiserates about the outcome of the election. “Sorry to hear about Bush being re-elected, then, are you?” he asks. “I mean, he is really a wanker, isn’t he?” I thank him for the directions and set off for the Hotel. After the walk I take the train from Hampton Court into Waterloo and take a walking tour of London that begins at Trafalgar Square and wends back down to Waterloo station by way of the London Eye where, as luck would have it, I share a capsule with two couples who have just this morning arrived in the country from Colorado. They are over on vacation and have decided to site-see until bedtime so that they can get into this time zone. What a small world.

So I guess I am going to take Dad’s advice and do what Denis did… I’m just going to take a more high-tech approach to it!

Don Bergquist – Thames Ditton, United Kingdom – 21 November, 2004

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