We powered through our 24-hour delay in leaving for London and got to the airport all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Having been upgraded to first class because of the insane air traffic control outage messing everything up, we checked in and went to the fancy, preboard lounge for snacks.
The boys were besotted by the Shirley Temples and general fanciness of it all, and we then eagerly boarded the plane to New York. Row 1. Wow.
And then we waited. And waited. And the auxiliary power control broke. And the heat crept up to 88 degrees F in the cabin. And not one person was offered a snack. An hour or two in, the coach customers got a beverage. Nearly three hours after boarding, and after listening to the flight attendants talk rudely about the passengers (oh what you can hear in Row 1) and basically ignore us all, we took off.
So many people on our flight missed their connections, a number of which were to locales abroad. As it was 9:30pm when we finally deplaned at JFK, I'm sure lots of folks had to wait until the next day to get another flight. Fortunately, we made our connection to London, but I think it goes without saying that that first leg really sucked. I'd have been furious if I'd paid for those first class seats. Damn! Air travel has sure become largely un-fun.
That said, international first class is off-the-hook fabulous. We each had a large, comfortable, massaging seat that reclined fully into a bed. We got pajamas, the option of food at any time, individual TVs/movies/video games/noise-canceling headphones, and two bathrooms for just seven passengers. It's absurdly lovely. The kids were beside themselves. Ol and T fell asleep almost immediately; I wasn't long to follow. J stayed up videogaming with manic glee.
First class is definitely the way to most enjoy long-haul flights. I told the boys to savor every bit because they will likely never fly this way again. And did I mention that as compensation for the original canceled flights which took a day from our vacation, we got to extend our trip and fly back business class? Mahgah!
Once in London, we moved in to our B&B, part of a gorgeous home in Kensington, and immediately went out to foil jet lag by keeping ourselves occupied. We walked along the Thames, through Belgravia and then to Kensington Park before succumbing to exhaustion and returning home by way of La Cave au Fromage and a separate, non-cheese but very lovely market for other goodies.
I was asleep by 7p, the boys and Tom by eight; Jack and Ol slept for 13 hours, as did I with the kindly assistance of a midnight Ambien. Jet leg is such a bitchy side effect of the otherwise fabulous fortune that is international travel.
Today we met an old friend at the British Museum and roamed its endless galleries: the Rosetta Stone! the Elgin Marbles! an Easter Island bust! elephantine Assyrian gates! Sutton Hoo riches! It's so nice that museum admission here is free of charge; it's especially liberating when traveling with kids because you can come and go as you need to or please. I will say, however, that the BM's complete lack of garbage cans is vexing and odd.
The boys spent a long time wandering the gift shop, deducing how best to spend the first of their saved money. Oliver ultimately decided on a working catapult pencil sharpener, and Jack chose the same sharpener, two small Egyptian scarabs (I love scarabs) and a quill-and-ink set. He feels one step closer to Hogwarts.
Tomorrow: the Warner Brothers studios for a tour of the original Harry Potter sets.