Journey to Scotland

Part I: Trip over the Atlantic
And the London Layover

a travelzine by Diann

(Copyright 1996. Please do not reprint without permission.)


Webpage highlights:
London Layover -

Some Preliminaries, plus August 14:

The trip over to the UK was hectic. On the Friday before the trip, my cat Titania suddenly needed to see the vet, although she tried to dispute this -- her eye was weeping and very light-sensitive. So, I brought her over at lunch, went back to work, and picked her up after. Turns out she had kitty conjunctivitis, which in most manifestations is not transmittable to humans. Since we didn't know if this manifestation was transmittable, I played it safe and refused to share towels with her.

What with packing, attempting to wake up early (and get to sleep early), visiting some friends in Yonkers, and having to put in an appearance at work, and wondering what essentials I'd forget, the rest of the weekend before my trip was quite busy. On Monday August 14th, I dropped Titania and Jebu off at the feline penitentiary to be boarded while I was away.

There were lots of other moments of excitement. Terrorist threats were laid against NY area airports, resulting in tighter security and an earlier recommended arrival time.

Early afternoon on August 14th, a family friend gave me a lift to the bus service to JFK airport. The bus was to arrive at the airport at 4 PM -- well, it kinda did, but then took the next hour to reach my terminal. This made me a bit nervous as I imagined 3-hour check- ins, data searches, strip searches, etc. No, fortunately. British Airways merely checked all luggage at the front door via scanners, and then everything else was as usual. Actually, better. These folks were efficient. I checked my suitcase through to Glasgow.

Changed some money and grabbed a mini-pizza.

Eventually got on the plane. I sat with a very pleasant couple from Italy who knew just a bit more English than I know Spanish (which is to say, not much). The plane, however, was UnComFortable. Sure, our steward was friendly and helpful, but the seats left me with no leg room (I'm tall.) It made for some massively uncomfortable seating, and near-impossible sleeping. Well, that's what one gets when one flies steerage class. I'll know better next time

The plane left at seven; we were fed a decent dinner at nine, and breakfast at midnight. I turned down breakfast in favor of drowsing. I mean, breakfast at midnight? Even by London time this was only 5 am, and far too much a shock even for someone who's been trying to wake up earlier and sleep earlier for a time prior to the flight.

August 15th, and still awake...:

I had breakfast at Heathrow (eggs and what evidently passes for toast in the British Isles), and took the underground (which sometimes isn't) to Covent Gardens. Turns out the place is a big market, not a garden. S'Okay -- kind of a neat setup anyway and there are things to do around here in addition. Which is why I'm right now here, waiting with my heavy carry bag for 10 am to roll around so's I can check out the Museum of Transportation. (Note: Some of these notes were taken "on the spot", and only transcribed later.)

The Museum of Transportation was worthwhile, although I quickly grew tired of transporting that carry bag, which seemed to be gaining weight. The oldest buses, trams, and trains were the most fascinating. I liked seeing how the London underground was constructed; there were models present. The Tube really is tubes, convoluted spaghetti under the city.

Took some pictures, wandered a bit. Got to Trafalgar Square, dodging pigeon missiles. Saw St. Martins-in-the-Field, a church near the square. Evidently, when the place was built, it was in a field on the outskirts of a London that eventually grew up to engulf the church. The architecture was inspiring.

Stopped in the National Gallery, also just off the square, for a bit -- found myself impressed by John Constable's landscapes, Camille Pissaro's near-Impressionism, and the somewhat-earlier French portraitures by a woman whose name I forgot to record, but it began with a V.

Discovered I liked a carbonated beverage called Blackcurrant Tango -- tasty and not sweet (these days, even ginger ale is growing too sweet for these taste buds...)

I passed through Piccadilly Circus, but this area of London had grown too crowded by then to enjoy. Wandered down to the Thames, but didn't get more than a glimpse -- at least in this section of town, roadways are constructed in a way that effectively limits access by pedestrians, especially pedestrians with carry bags which have turned into a tonne of bricks. My feet were beginning to voice their own agenda, although my eyes and the rest of my senses wanted to continue their explorations.

I returned to the Covent Gardens area, where a street fair was well under way. An Andean Indian duo played in the streets, and a gypsy tried to get me to give her money.

After a bit more wandering, I took the Tube to Hyde Park, where I sat a bit in the dry warm air. The grass was browner than brown -- a severe drought had taken hold. A man from the West Indies who now resided in this country struck up a conversation, but I was too tired to maintain much of this.

Headed back up to the airport, and ate at Harry Ramsen's (sp?), taking a vegetarian entree as it was the cheapest, and by this time I knew I was too tired to taste properly. (I hadn't been hungry at all in London proper; I passed up quite a few good-looking eateries for the chance to walk down one more street and explore...) Still, I wasn't so tired as to not spot the fact that the spinach canoli (or whatever it was called) was really made with broccoli. Not that it mattered. It was broccoli in a pastry with a multi-cheese sauce. I haven't a clue if it was any good or not, but it did fill crevices.

Got on the plane. Beautiful views from a comfortable window seat -- especially beautiful arriving in Glasgow. Would have been perfect for pictures -- not hazy and not too bright -- but I was too tired by then to cope with the camera. Bone tired. They served a dinner on the plane, which I hadn't expected or planned for, as the flight was under an hour.

Diann's Scotland Page | London | Glasgow | Edinburgh | Ayr | Arbroath | Highlands-1 | Highlands-2 | Intersection | Cuisine

Last Updated: Friday, March 29, 1996