14 September, 2009

Day Onetwo

Yes, I did mean to write it like that: nearly 48 hours of travel without (much) sleep. Two days for the price of one. See, I’m adopting Scottish frugality already!

The trip itself went quite well—as well as something like that can go—with more than a few worst-case scenarios that actually worked out fantastically.

Lindsay and I were dropped off by Dad, Nate, Bethy and Auntie at around noon. My bag was .5 lbs. over the 50-lbs. weight limit, but they let me slide (luckily!). On the other hand, Lindsay got threatened by $150 fee for being 1.5 lbs. over! Some quick rearranging and a helpful Delta worker with a French accent later we were on our way.

We zoomed through security, which, considering it was September 11, was surprising. No bag checks, no searches, no fuss (and I even forgot to take my liquids out of my bags)! One last green chile cheeseburger at the airport and we were off!

The long flight was long, as per the name. I glanced at a few of my Scotland travel books and attempted to nap, but personal TVs and air meals are far more interesting than sleep. At one point we passed directly over Scotland, but for some reason the pilot didn’t want to let us parachute down.

Amsterdam was uneventful, but we met our first Scot while waiting to board the plane, a woman on her way back from visiting the States who lived in a small town halfway between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. We also met a few other American exchange students heading to Edinburgh (none to Aberdeen, sadly) on the flight.

Once in Edinburgh, we disembarked and had to fill out something called a “Landing Card”—

these ended up being so involved we had to fish for certain information to fill them out. Not knowing that a line was in the process of forming, we sat down on a nearby bench to dutifully fill out the information. By the time we got to the line, it was sixteen miles long and—that’s right—we brought up the caboose.

Getting through customs, however, was shockingly easy once we got up to the line. I did all the talking since Lindsay was hoarse from being sick and might have been quarantined for fear of Swine Flu, we only had to show our passports and Visa Letters (from our schools) to get in. I even think I filled out the Landing Card wrong. We’ll see?

Even better, since we were at the end of the line—and I’m not sure how loudly I ought to say this—I totally think we skipped customs. Our luggage got there safely with us (thank God) and by the time we got to the “nothing to declare” line, no one was there to even hear our declaration of nothing. Since it was nothing, we shrugged and kept going. No one stopped us.

The tricky part came with getting a cab. Too terrified to attempt navigating a foreign bus system on our travel-numbed, zombified brains, we attempted to catch a cab, which proved possibly harder than getting a bus. However, once we finally found the little loading dock where all the taxi drivers stood around smoking, we got a nice man with a very thick Scottish accent (the thickest so far!) to take us to the University of Edinburgh. He even knew the very building we needed to go to! He even let us off the extra 75 pence we owed him, too, and just rounded down to 20 pounds. He wouldn’t even let us tip him (though apparently tipping is not necessary in UK taxis).

From the main building where he dropped us off, we were able to get a buggy (like a golf cart) driven by another nice man with a not-so-thick accent right to our door. Be aware that we were carrying roughly 130 lbs. of luggage each, and had been doing so for the past two days. We then, of course, as luck would have it, had to drag these 260 lbs. of luggage up to the second floor where Lindsay’s room was (we did have help, admittedly). Also be aware that the British number floors differently from us. They start the numbers after the first flight of stairs, so second floor was actually the third floor by our count.

Did we go to bed then, like smart girls? Nope. It was only 10 AM New Mexico time, and we were wired with excitement, despite being brain dead. I knew a kid in high school theatre who would take two muscle relaxers and an energy drink (!) before every show. I think the feeling was kinda like that.

I don’t remember much after that, except that the cafeteria food was not tasty and definitely not worth the 4.50 pounds I paid for it. We also sat around trying to get Lindsay’s internet to work, with no success (hence the late blog post). Everything might have been better if we had been able to call home, but 15 minutes of free internet to shoot emails to family just didn’t cut it, and so we went back to the dorm very tired, very defeated, strung out and anxious.

But the sun came out the next day.

Actually, it was out the first day, too, but that's not dramatically significant. The pictures included here are of our luggage, us at the Minneapolis airport, us in Lindsay's dorm, and the gorgeous view from Lindsay's window--Arthur's Seat.


Caitydid said...

I need to figure out this cool thing of posting pictures in one's blog.

I'm glad to hear you got there with minimal craziness. They didn't check our bags at customs either, which was really strange.

Lindsay's room looks really nice! Way nicer than mine, anyway, especially with that /view/. It reminds me a little of the foothills.

So when do you get to go to Aberdeen and get all settled?! Oh, also, if your weather is as lovely as mine right now, don't get too cold! Yaaaaay English weather. I also feel like I really should have shared some revelations with you (tipping, and floor numbers, which I already knew). I'll try to remember such things in the future.

Oh: you'll want to know, if you don't, that at least in England, you pay the bus driver, not the bus. Don't stick money in the slot on the machine or it'll jam it and make for cranky drivers.

There was something else but I forgot it, too. D: Sorry!

Dick's blogg said...

Hi my dear Meg! Love your blog!! Lots of great info. Miss you, but know this is such a great adventure for you. Hope the grub improves. Unc and I head to Gallup tomorrow, but should be able to hook computer up. Check out Sundays service when you're all settled in. Was great as usual. Know it's a whirlwind for you now, but "the new normal" will click in eventually. Hope you get enough rest at Lindsays(and NOT on the floor). Bye for now honey. Can't wait to hear more!!!!
Love, Auntie and Unc

Madison said...

Landing cards! I remember those, I had to do them in London on my way back to America last year! I did it completely wrong but the security guy let me through anyway after a small leisurely chat about the merits of traveling abroad (which was random).

Can you take pictures of some of the food you eat? This is a weird request but I want to see if any of it's identifiable.

You have no idea how jealous I am of you, studying abroad is so fun. We'll think of you at the Hobbit meeting tonight!