Monday, March 01, 2010

Onward through the Night

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February 26th, 2010

I'm on an airplane! Why am I on an airplane? I'm going to England for two weeks for work. This all happened so fast that I still can't wrap my head around it. I've tried to worm my way onto many an international business trip, always to no avail, but here I am now at 40 on a trip to England for 14 days, and it wasn't even my idea.

I've only told a few people at this point, mainly because I wasn't sure this was going to actually happen until about a week or so ago, and I secretly feared the plans would change and the whole deal would be off.

There are several people going over from work; some from GSK and some from JCI, including Tom, my GSK manager (the guy that hired me 5+ years ago), and Terry, my current JCI supervisor. Tom and I are flying today (Friday night), staying in London Saturday night, and driving up to Ware, Hertfordshire Sunday where we'll be working long hours through Friday. We're trying to figure out how to get to Bruges, Belgium for the weekend next weekend, then back to Ware for the second week, and then fly home Saturday, March 13th. That's the plan at this point, anyway.

England has never been high on my list of places I wanted to visit. I'm not sure why, or what I have against England. Maybe because Jennifer is not really a fan, so the UK never came up as a family travel destination, possibly, and I didn't imagine myself planning vacations as a solo traveler, but since this is work and not vacation, it worked out. I'm here to work, officially, but I'm going to work fun into the downtime regardless, because "that's how I roll." On the plus side - I speak the language (I took English in school.) Not that not speaking the language has ever been a problem for me when traveling, and in fact, I prefer non-English speaking countries because they tend to scare American tourists off, particularly the novices. The last things I want to see on a foreign vacation are other Americans. On the downside, I'm a foodie and I'm currently under the impression (or stereotype) that British food is not wonderful. That's OK. I'm still going to try as much as I can, avoid American food entirely (if possible, it is one of the Traveling Roths Rules of Travel™ after all) and make the most of my time in the not-USA.

Now for some housekeeping. I'm flying on American Airlines Flight 147 direct between Raleigh-Durham and London Heathrow. Boarded at Gate C23 (first time in the brand new C terminal. It's nice, but where are the power outlets?) Boing 767-300ER, seat 37A. Like always, no checked baggage. My camera/laptop bag is at my feet and I have no room. There was a chick in the aisle seat next to me who asked if wanted the aisle seat in the center section a row up so here little friend could sit with her, but I declined. I book window seats for a reason. Fortunately, after takeoff she went up and took the center-center seat next to her friend, much to the chagrin of the other guy on the other aisle who had until that point had an empty seat next to him. But to my benefit, I now have space to spread out.

8:50 GMT We're in a holding pattern over London for an alleged 15 minutes. It's too cloudy to see anything. The rest of the flight was uneventful, and I did manage to sleep some. Going East is always tough, but at a time difference of only five hours, not too tough. Weather is 40s (~4C) and cloudy/rainy.


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