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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Airports, Taxis, Hotels, People

I am actually writing this through a foggy mental haze from my room on the fifth and top floor at the Alexander Thomas Hotel in downtown Glasgow, Scotland.

I slept maybe - maybe, and I'm being generous here - 30 minutes on the flight to UK.

It was a pleasant enough trip, although anything that got me out of the Philadelphia Airport would have been a mercy. Good Lord, what a three-ring circus! And, the clowns are definitely running the show. I've flown in and out of there any number of times but yesterday was the worst!

Anyway, British Airways - in partnership with American Airlines - is a grand enough airlines. My seat placement was lovely, even though they didn't assign my seat until I boarded. If I had chosen my own seat it would have cost anywhere from $50-80 pounds more. Um . .. no thank you.

And, I did take a Melatonin, which usually always works on me. I was sleepy but I didn't sleep. It was that awful in-between-dozing off-not-really-asleep kinda sleep. You know? Ugh.

I did watch "If Beale Street Could Talk". It's probably not good to watch a Barry Jenkins film on a trans-Atlantic flight on a small screen on the back of the seat in front of you. The interruptions on the PA system from the captain and flight crew giving instructions about when to fasten seat belts and what was being served for snacks and such really frustrated the intensity of Jenkins' work.

I did spend another 2 hour layover at Heathrow Airport in London. I remembered why I prefer to land in Gatwick. But it also was a grand time to observe the British in all their particular and peculiar glory.

I took notes like an anthropologist. Here's what I observed:

You may be at Heathrow Airport if you:
See three young men who can't be more than 19 or 20 ordering a pint at nine o'clock in the morning.

The flight attendant greets you with, "And how are we this morning?" and seems genuinely interested to know as you look around to see whoever else she might be talking to besides you.

Someone says - with great aplomb, completely unaware that they are pleasantly participating in a stereotype - "Mind the gap!"

The ticket agent looks over passengers beginning to line up for boarding and says, "It's a full flight to Glasgow this morning. Would anyone like to jump the queue and board your luggage first?" (It wasn't. I didn't. But, 'jump the queue'? It's my new phrase.)

The Baggage Claim Area is known alternatively as "The Baggage Retrevial" or "The Baggage Reclaim" Area.

Snippets of conversation overheard in the boarding gate waiting area:
"Why don't my kids play nicely together like William and Kate's children?"

"I know, I KNOW! Anxiety can be so very crippling, right?"

"Oh, that new solicitor at the firm? Daft as a brush!'

"I'm positively DESPERATE for a wee bit of a lie down, and it's only nine hundred hours."
And, my personal favorite: "Trump is playing rumpy-pumpy with tyrants in Iran and North Korea, and the rest of the world is screwed."
That one did make me laugh right out loud into my Starbucks latte (which cost seven pounds. What the WHAT????). 
And then I flew into Glasgow Airport which looks a bit like a system of prefabricated tunnels.

I did reclaim my bag, only to discover that someone, somewhere from Salisbury, MD to Philly, PA to Heathrow, London, England and then Glasgow, Scotland had lost my wonderful bright yellow strap with my name on it.

Well, I don't know how many other Elizabeth Kaetons there are in the world, so I'm thinking it's in a trash bin somewhere between here and there.

Le sigh.

I did hail a cab, driven by Ian Wright, himself, and discovered that the Scottish have their own version of the English language which is mostly unintelligible to Americans.

Well, between the sleep-deprived fog and my popping ears and his enthusiastic monologue about various places we were passing, I did understand this, "Didya na catch the stark difference there in the architecture of the old hospital an tha new?"

At least, that's what I think he said.  He also gave me lots of advice about where to have tea and to take the Queen's line to Edinburgh tomorrow but it's lost in the dust bin that is my brain right now.

Check in at the hotel wasn't until 2 PM but I must have looked a fright as the young lass at the front desk allowed me to check in at 12:30. I have one of the rooms that wasn't used last night so it was ready for me.

Bless her pale white skin, blond hair and very blue eyes for having mercy on me, a sinner of the American traveler sort.

My room has a flat screen TV with cable and HBO, free WiFi, a hot water pot with some instant coffee and tea bags and a few biscuits, and a perfectly lovely WC and shower, but there is no AC and there's a radiator on the wall.

It's an old building - a very old building - but it's pleasant enough, "well-situated" as they like to stay here, and surprisingly inexpensive.

The window is open (when was the last time you stayed in a hotel where you could actually open a window?) and there's a lovely breeze rustling the sheer curtain. The street noise is fairly minimal and the view is of a scruffy city but if you look up, the green hills are a bit of a piece from here and contrast beautifully with the vibrant blue sky and great puffs of white clouds.

Lovely, as everyone here seems to say here.

I did take a wee bit of a lie down and I've spent the last hour making sure I recorded my first impressions on the "touristy" part of my pilgrimage.

It's off to the shower with me and then off to find a little something to eat before I return to watch a wee bit of the telly and then it's off to an early bed with me so as to arise early in the morn.

Didya na catch how I'm pickin' up tha language already, then?

Tonight, a bit more of Glasgow. Tomorrow, and it's on to Edinburgh.

I'm thinking I'll definitely be ready for a pilgrimage by then.

As they say here in Scotland, "Lang may ya’ lum reek."


Swanssi said...

I stayed at that same hotel in Glasgow a few years ago, before they began a renovation. I must say I liked Glasgow more then Edinburgh...must be the Brooklyn girl in me.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

There is something a little Brooklyn-esq about Glasgow. Got a bit of an edge. I'll let you know what I think of Edinburgh.

Marionapilgrim said...

I'm already looking forward to every word of your travel journal! I love Edinburgh. It helps when one knows some people there to play with. The choir at St. John's at the top of Princes St. are a jolly bunch!