I thought America had flat seats in Business Class. British Airways has REAL flat bed seats; they don't pinch you at the waist and feet. In fact, I was able to get six hours sleep, but that's all I've had in the last 33 hours. It is 10:30 here and I am fading fast; I am meeting an old friend for breakfast in the AM
Anyway, the six hours sleep prevented jet lag, along with lots of water, no caffeine, moving my bedtime up, and staying awake all day Tuesday in London. And melatonin at bed time.
I have been flying regularly since I took a United flight from Seattle to Boston to attend MIT in August of 1970. And in all that time, this was my first seat upstairs. It is quieter up there. Which is a good thing because--did I mention the Bose noise-cancelling headsets on American? I used to carry my own NC headsets when I flew regularly but now it seems like too much trouble. Well. Fly a long flight with them and a long flight without them and you'll have another think coming.
We arrived at 9, a half hour late. I don't know what UK Borders did with the extra time, but they sure as heck weren't bringing in extra agents. Several hundred people stood in line in front of six people. Thank God I didn't have checked luggage; the additional wait after the 45 minutes waiting for my 90 second border formalities would have friend my brain (things have changed in the 28years since I was last here; you no longer get your luggage before "entering" the country.
*Long Lines at UK Border
I had expected to be in worse shape than I was, but I had prepaid a car service, so it took me 90 minutes to get to my condo in the Greenwich Millenium Village (a 10 minute walk from the O2 Coliseum, where Monty Python will peform for me... and 14,999 other people... on Friday night. Since the express train only takes a half hour, I'm going back via that route.
*O2 Coliseum: A White Tent With Poles Sticking Out
On the way in, we passed the London Eye ferris wheel. R and I had talked about my using that as a way to stay awake. So, I checked in, grabbed 52 pounds of supplies (laundry soap, paper towels, TP and food) at a convenience store (price, not weight), then walked to North Greenwich tube station to buy an Oyster card (don't get me started. I never did get the machine to sell me a card; I had a human do it instead.).
Over lunch, I read a review of a play called Great Britain, about a woman named Britain, that was hastily written to parody the recently completed trials of journalists accused of hacking into people's voicemails. I was already signed up for Harry Shearer in Daytona on Wednesday (he had plugged it on his radio show last week), and Rock and Roll Politics with a journalist named Steve Richards. But what the heck... now I am going to see three plays.
The line at the London Eye was depressing. Then, I discovered that England (or at least the London Eye part of it) is following in the footsteps of America in general and Disneyland in particular, by offering a better experience for more money. Basically, it is the same schtick; hand then an extra 10 pounds, and you go in via a special gate; five minutes on line instead of 45.
*Fast Track Everywhere
It is amazing--the wheel never stops; people get in and out of each "capsule" while the wheel is still moving.
I took a selfie with Big Ben behind me at the top of the London Eye ride. It isn't great.
*London Eye Pinnacle Selfie
Afterwards, amazing dim sum at a Chinese place called Ping Pong across from Southbank Centre, near the National Theatre... and the London Eye. The honey glazed ribs were to die for.
My first impressions of London are of an impossible diverse and very lively city. Everywhere I went, sidewalks were crowded (like midtown Manhattan at lunchtime) with people young and old, walking and biking. And there was a Tower of Babel re-creation going on with all the languages. Generally, when I hear a snatch of dialog, i can place it as European, Slavic or Asian. Not today--there were vowels and consonants I am quite sure I never heard before. This could have to do with the fact that, in England, the official start of summer vacation season was Sunday June 29th. Chalk one up to my good timing.
George Bernard Shaw once said that the English and the Americans are "two great people, separated by a common language." I had not even been here a day, when I found my go-to phrases were "I beg your pardon, could you repeat that," and "perhaps you could spell it for me." Frequently, I just nodded my head and went looking for an easier accent. Of course, Steve Martin fans know the danger of just nodding. You might be saying, "I'll have a shoe with cheese on it, and force it down my throat."
No one here has done that. Yet.