Watch this space for pictures later, but for now I’m just going to so a summary of my last day and the trip home. It’s been an exhausting few days, and I can hardly believe I’m home now. I’ve also been having difficulty with my home wireless network, which is why I don’t want to do the complete journal right now (I’m leeching off a neighbor, and I don’t like doing that).
So the last day I had in Cambridge I got up and did Professor MacAllistair’s Constitutional Law exam. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I’m reserving final relieved judgment until I see my grade. All I have to do now is a paper for Professor Shaeda’s class, but that’s not due for another week, because she was cool enough to give us time after the trip so we could enjoy the trip that much more.
After the exam I went and had some home made lunch in my room (with the icky English peanut butter), with my windows open listening to the ragtime band on the lawn that was playing for some kind of alum/fellows/whatever party. Then I went to the plodge and asked the porters for walking directions to the American Cemetery. They told me that it was way too far to walk, “it must be three or four miles!”, and recommended a bus. Wow. Three or four miles. So I walked out there after they gave me the directions and paid my respects to the American servicemen who never came home from WWII, then walked back. The whole trip took less than two and half hours. I had a similar reaction when I first got to Cambridge and asked at the train station for walking directions to Trinity Hall, “that’s got to be at least two miles!” WTF? I guess the English don’t walk any further than the bus station if they don’t have to.
So after that I got to packing, and because of weight and space restrictions I had to give up my socks, underwear and T-shirts in order to fit my souvenir purchases. It worked out to be an even exchange, so my suitcase was good for the airplane. I was running late for the last day banquet, so I checked out of my room and lugged my suitcase to the restaurant. Turned out to be a very nice restaurant, and there I was dressed for travel with a pile of luggage next to the table. The waiter even had one of those waxed and twirled moustaches that makes you feel like you’re not rich enough to be there, and I suppose that would normally be true, but KU was paying the tab so it was all good.
I left the banquet early in order to get to the train station on time, gripping the straps and throwing my fifty pound suitcase over my head, Army style, and humping through the city like a champion beast of burden. I was supposed to meet my friend Jason to have someone on the trains to talk to, but I got nervous about the trains shutting down and stranding me somewhere. I had £10 total for my journey home, and didn’t want to spend half of that on an additional Tube ticket. As it turned out I missed my friend at the station because I had to jump on a train because the next one was leaving too late. The train ride was weird, knowing that it was my last one and all that. At King’s Cross I got on the Picadilly Line and rode it all the way to Heathrow. I would have loved to know I should go to King’s Cross when I first got to England, because I ended up changing trains all over London trying to figure out what I was doing. But on the other hand, I did learn to use the Underground from that experience…
At Heathrow there wasn’t too many folks there. It was weird to be in such a place and have it be eerily empty. At one point I found myself going down a long tunnel alone while a distant alarm went off, warning of a fire at someplace else. Eventually I walked away from the source and found myself in the terminal, which had some people curled up on benches and against walls waiting for things to open. I ended up doing the same, waiting a good 4+ hours for Air Canada to come online.
The flight was a good one. There was good weather and I had an aisle seat, and I didn’t have any of the usual ear pressure issues. I chatted some with the Canadian next to me, napped for a short time and read some out of the Poetic Eddas. Toronto airport was crap. The airport itself is crumby, but U.S. customs was a pain in the ass. Not the actual customs search part, I had no problem with that. But standing in a tiny room in a snaking queue for AN HOUR drove me absolutely nuts. After that I had some difficulty figuring out whether I should get American or Canadian money or just buy my food in GBP. I think I probably got screwed, because I got American dollars, then found out that Loonies are worth more, and one of the bad things about Toronto airport is that there is next to nothing to eat there and it’s too pricey. Heathrow is what an airport should be, honestly, with all kinds of food to be had and not all of it off the wall expensive. Choices are a good thing.
So anyway, I used nearly all of my four hour layover to get through customs and security, and then found myself on a puddle-jumper with Toronto F.C., who was playing Kansas City the next day. That was interesting, though I didn’t talk to any of them. The flight home was good, and blessedly quick.
Dad met me at the airport and drove me straight to the China Buffet in Leavenworth, and I was very happy about that. I had been going for two days by then, and it was great to get home, kick my shoes off and finally see my kitties again.
I’m going to post some pictures to fill out this journal entry, and I’ll post one more later on as a “final thoughts” about the whole thing.