Monday, September 11, 2000 - Woking, Surrey, England

What an incredibly long day (and night and now, it seems, another day) I think I will be sleeping for quite some time.

Getting up as late as possible (I was up quite late last night flipping channels…only ate one piece of pizza, packed, yes packed, the rest of it, will enjoy it here over the next few days) I had got my bag in order so I just left it with the hotel and took the free shuttle to the airport from which I grabbed the train (an extension of the “L”) to downtown. I was surprised to learn that the train only charged the same fare as everywhere else – $1.50 – though the trip took about 45 minutes to get there (much of it was outside so something to look at most of the time). Really nice without luggage…(I, very sneakily, put my computer into the bag that I left at the hotel – no one will ever know!).

I really wanted to see a bit of the city before I was scheduled to leave in the afternoon. I have not really been feeling that great and the rather rainy weather did not really help me out at all. I took the train to the Water Tower which I only passed briefly on my trolley tour (which I seem to have taken years ago!) where I was surprised to find a few people playing instruments and a bit of a park. Quite nice with a long queue of horse-drawn carriages in an adjacent street.

Of course, I took the opportunity to visit a local computer store and a large book store. Really, my last chance to spend money (not that that was my goal on this trip).

I then walked down Michigan Avenue to the downtown area (about 1/4 mile or more – I was VERY exhausted with this cold or whatever I am fighting) to take one last look at the Loop and the Picasso statue outside Daley Center (near city hall) before taking the return train trip to the airport.

It was VERY hot in Chicago (and VERY humid after the earlier rain) so I quickly grabbed a drink before taking a round trip back to the hotel to pick up my luggage.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the airport to find that my flight to Detroit (the first stop on my return to England) was cancelled! A bit unnerved I waited about an hour in a rather angry line (other flights had also been cancelled - evidently due to bad weather in the “midwest” though how Detroit qualifies as such is a bit beyond me!). I was pleased to find out, after my anxious waiting, that they had booked me on another airline flying through Amsterdam (one that “always flies on time” according to the original airline's check-in manager!).

I quickly grabbed a free automatic train to the International terminal to wait for my flight. Quite crowded and I was a bit disappointed to learn that I had been given an inside seat (I really like flying on the window so I can go to sleep or relax without ever being disturbed) but I really should not have worried since, as it turns out, I was on the aisle seat in the middle section with only one other person on the other aisle. A bit annoying that the arm rests did not move since we were in the first row of a section (the trays are in the arm) so I could not stretch out very well.

I was able to read a bit but never really had a chance to sleep on the flight, catching myself starting to snore just a few seconds before they turned on the lights (perhaps it was because they heard me start up!).

This was the first time I have flown into Amsterdam so I craned my neck to be able to see a view of the city which I always thought to be quite compact but saw that it stretches for quite some ways though I did see the core area…all the canals and old buildings.

The airport was a bit of a disaster as I had to walk from one end of the rather large airport to the other to catch my connecting flight to London. Of course, my luck did not seem to hold as we then waited for about three hours before the flight left (yes, about 2 1/2 hours late) due to weather problems in London. I was fed up with doing anything so spent the time reading, though I could have wandered around the airport for a bit (without any local currency, of course). No customs when I arrived…which was interesting.

Arriving in London I tried to claim all the stuff I had picked up for customs duty but they officer did not seem to want to look through my rather large and disorganized bags to find the receipts and add everything up so he let me by (hey, I was honest!).

Catching a quick taxi ride (rather nice leather interior) to pick up my car I made my way home after quickly popping my head in the window at my job to tell them I would not be in today (though I thought I would) since I was so late and not feeling very good…have to take it as a holiday, oh well…

It has been a very busy vacation and I must admit that the friends I met while there really did make the thing “come alive” for me. It was interesting running around Chicago and I must admit I learned a lot there as well as at the convention. I have not done everything there is to do in Chicago, not by a long shot, but I always leave something in towns like this for “the next time I visit”. The weather has been consistently hot – I can understand the use of air conditioning, that is for sure!

Now back, I have to get into “the grind” again, this trip really has opened my eyes to alternate possibilities, perhaps it will mean I will make some effort to change how I live, then again, perhaps I will just “bide my time” until the next trip…Perhaps travel is my lot in life…I can live with that…