Departure day arrived and we headed off to the airport, after picking up the friend who would borrow our car while we were away.
Other than spilling a large quantity of very hot coffee in my lap, the SF airport was an uneventful place for us. There was one incident with a haughty Starbucks employee who declared that they didn’t take punch cards because, “This is the airport!” Well, of course! What was I thinking?!
Anyway, we boarded our little plane to Calgary and tried to settle in to the journey. Coming in to the Calgary airport (YYC) was pretty miserable (for me, in any case) because of severe turbulence as we negotiated the mountain winds in our flying shoebox. I haven’t felt that queasy on an airplane in quite some time.
The Calgary airport is homey, but weird. It’s got this whole “space cowboy” thing going on; literally. I mean, there is an actual museum/exhibit thing that is even called Space Cowboy.
We didn’t go in.
The greeters and information folks wear red vests and big white cowboy hats. I’m not kidding. I wanted to take a picture but was too embarrassed to ask. Some of the automatic glass doors had wooden saloon-style doors painted on them. Yes, really. There was an elaborate display celebrating the majestic moose and we were seduced by the sounds of a large indoor waterfall. Giant models of space shuttles and spacemen hung from the ceiling in a variety of spots. It was kind of strange.
I did check out the “interfaith” chapel, just for kicks. By interfaith, I guess they meant “a variety of Christian denominations.” Oh well.
It was a funny sort of chapel, the tablecloth had cowboy boots on it:
A model of the space shuttle was hanging right over the altar, to peculiar effect.
Our layover was only four hours, enough time to eat and look around the airport a little, but not enough time to really see or do anything. It had looked pretty out the airplane windows on our approach…
We decided we would have to come back to see Calgary proper at some point.
Next we began our epic plane and train journey to Liverpool. This second leg of the flight was nine hours, lasting through the night, with our arrival to be roughly 11am the next day. Here’s the crazy part: the further east we flew, the later it got, right? Except that since we were flying above the line of darkness (yes, we were!), it was still broad daylight at 2:00 in the morning.
I shit you not. We were consistently just ahead of the bell curve of darkness. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
It inspired me to write the following poem (ahem):
Flying north of night,
Skirting the darkness.
It follows us in our journey,
Remaining always a step behind.
Hours jump ahead
But we move through them
Time has no hold here.
We create our own wake,
Never looking back.
Upon landing at London Heathrow, we began the next leg of the journey: 5 hours or so on various trains. Destination: Liverpool! Because Constance wouldn’t permit us to be remotely nearby without making a stop in Liverpool (a remarkably cool town, by the way, but that’s for the next post…).
I had done my homework and I knew we’d need to get the Heathrow Connect (cheaper than the Express) to Paddington. At that point we would acquire a Family and Friends Railcard and use the attendant discount to buy National Rail tickets for cheaper. Thence, the Tube (London Underground) to Euston Station and the National Rail to Lime Street Station, Liverpool. All well and good. There did happen to be works on the Tube line we needed to take though, so we had to take the Bakerloo line to Oxford Circus and then transfer to the Victoria line to Euston. Also, can’t actually purchase the Railcards at Paddington; have to get them at Euston. The website never mentioned that!
Anyway, no great shakes, right? Except you have to add 2 very tired children and 1 very tired husband (well, and a tired me), 3 large suitcases, 4 carry-on size bags, and a purse into the mix. Let’s just say it was quite a negotiation. We ultimately prevailed and made it to Lime St. Station intact with no loss of luggage (Duncan left a blanket on the plane, but it wasn’t his favorite “blankie,” thank goodness). Fortunately, our hotel was a mere 3 blocks away at One Queen Square, even if we did end up going rather further around because we didn’t know it was a mere 3 blocks away. What can I say? Making sense of a map is difficult when you’re tired.
By the way, mind the gap.
To be continued….!