Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wednesday, June 27th

We land in London at 7:00something am London time. Tired and sleepless but excited, we are told our luggage will be transferred and we prepare to leave the airport. As we walk to the exit, Jasmine speaks up, "Uh, guys, is that our luggage on the ground next to that carousel?" As she says this we hear an announcement overhead in a thick British accent, "Ladies and gentlemen, any luggage that is un-accounted for will be confiscated and destroyed. That is all." We saw our luggage. Right at the perfect time. Apparently is does NOT automatically transfer to a different airline. The downside to this was that we had to end up paying a lot to store it for the day while we went into London.

The next adventure was taking the train to Paddington Station. Once there, we had to wait in line for taxis that would bring us to the spot where our double-decker bus tour would begin. The tour was incredible. There was so much to be pointed out that it was almost impossible to keep up with the guide. We saw everything from Buckingham Palace (where they were changing guards) to Westminster Abbey to Big Ben, the London Bridge (completely adorned with the olympic arches), the Eye, and Saint Paul's cathedral. I loved seeing famous literary sights like Sherlock Holme's apartment and the streets used for Diagonal Alley and the Ministry of Magic. We even saw the building that the Beatles used for their recording studio, the hotel room that Lady Gaga stays in, and the building that Amy Winehouse lived in. London has SO much history. The icing on the cake was absolutely being able to hear and videotape Big Ben chiming at noon. What a sound!

After eating in a pub and taking some fun pictures in phone booths, we had to take a taxi back to the airport. While checking in, we were told there is no record of our flight. After a few minutes of research, the airline discovered that our flight was booked for a different airport in London-over 2 hours away! We wouldn't be able to make it even if we wanted to. There were a few moments of trying not to panic while thinking about how in the world we would afford a hotel room and a whole extra flight. But the Lord looked out for us once again. They ended up having the same exact flight out of our airport at the same time. And they put us seated near each other too. It worked out well, except for being charged yet again for some luggage. The evening began with that short flight turning into quite a long one. We took off late and landed late. When we landed, we realized rather than having a layover as we thought, our ten hour flight into Johannesburg was already boarding. At the exact opposite end of the Frankfurt airport. As we realized this, our pilot informed us that the plane had to stop in the middle of the taxi area and we had to board a bus to be driven up to the airport. This took a while, and many other people on that plane and bus were also supposed to board the next long flight with us. They were all quite grumpy.

We found out that Frankfurt has an 11:00 curfew, and the plane was not going to wait for anyone in order to take off in time. So we ran. And we ran. And we ran some more. And then realized we were only half way through the danged airport. So we ran even more. By the time we reached security we were dripping in sweat. The employees of the German airport are not very friendly. The one flight we are afraid of actually missing, and security decides that almost all of us need the third degree or a total and complete pat-down. Once we finally get through security and to the plane, we are stinky and sweaty and having to plop into our seats right away for a ten hour flight. The pilot announces that there's a line of planes trying to leave before curfew, and we worry that we won't taxi in time for takeoff. But we make it with just a few minutes to spare. Since we didn't really sleep the last night, most of us conked out for a large portion of the flight. felt incredibly long.

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