Our Family Travels Begin in England
We made it to England! This is the first stop on our 5 month journey to 5 different European countries. The flight from Chicago to London was fairly painless. We had heard there is a bassinet seat available on most international flights that can be requested at no extra charge. It it basically a normal seat by the bulkhead with a bassinet that folds out in front of it for a baby to sleep in. Having tried to request it multiple times from each ticketing agent and phone support person we talked to, it turned out to only be available on a first come / first served basis when you arrive at the gate. We either arrived too late (surprise!) or the plane, which had probably been built in the 70s, wasn’t equipped with them. However, the incredibly nice agents at the gate, in addition to entertaining Eleanor with bubbles, were kind enough to move us to a row of 3 with nobody in the middle seat. So we had a full row all to ourselves.
Upon arrival in London at 10:45pm, we breezed through customs thanks to a generous customs agent who saw us struggling with an impatient toddler. I had been concerned about lacking a return ticket to the U.S. because I had heard of people having trouble entering the U.K. with no provable plans to leave. We'll be spending a week in Scotland between England and Germany so we actually purchased a flight from Edinburgh to Munich for the date in August we knew we would be leaving. The customs agent didn't seem to care, but she did look a little confused when she read on the customs form that we'd be in the U.K. for 43 days. We told her we were visiting friends and that was the end of it.
We made our way via taxi to the hotel we had booked in advance and tried to go straight to bed. It was only about 6pm Central Time by then, but we thought going right to bed might help minimize jet lag (we were right…sort of). It took Eleanor about an hour to settle down.
The next morning, we made our way back to Heathrow via a free local bus and caught the Underground (the “Tube”) to Kings Cross station in central London. There we were able to catch a train to our final destination in England, a small town about an hour north of London.
The timezone adjustment was fairly smooth for Deanna and I, but for Eleanor is was a different story. It took her about a week to get her on the same time schedule we had been on in the U.S. (2 hour nap around noon, to bed at 7:30). For that first week she would consistently wake up at 11pm and would not go back to sleep until 2am. This challenge was made more difficult by the heat wave England was experiencing at the time. And the English don't seem to be big on air conditioning.
We’ve had a few surprises already during our stay:
1) Cold, cloudy, and rainy is what we expected in England, but hot, sunny, and mostly dry is what we’ve had so far. England may have been the victim of a stereotype in our minds. It’s been mid 80s and humid for most of the week. 2) The sun doesn’t go down until about 10pm at this time of year. I hadn’t considered it, but London is actually on roughly equal latitude with Calgary, Canada, well north of any city in the U.S. 3) People do wear shorts here. I suppose when it’s consistently 80 degrees outside it’s hard not to.