Day 2. Up in the air, down on the ground.
We made it to London without any real problems. We left out of home about 1PM and stopped at Taco Cabana in OKC for lunch. We parked at what used to be called Whinery's Parking, off airport.
Getting through security took only a few minutes as all our boarding passes had TSA Pre-check on them. Woot! One small benefit of me flying 50,000 miles per year. We had about an hour to sit around the boarding area before we boarded our first flight. The plane was a CanadaAir CRJ-700, one of the smaller planes used for commercial travel. Space was tight.
At Houston, I gave the family a quick tour of the United Airlines Club and then we sat down for a nice meal at Pappadeaux' cajun restaurant that's inside the E Terminal at Houston. Pappadeaux is a nice place in Dallas, Austin, Houston, etc. so worth a visit if you have a chance.
Loading the next flight went alright. We had seats 2 rows behind first class, so we had extra legroom. We were flying on a Boeing 787, which I had never flown before. Honestly, it's just like any other airplane, just a little newer.
One little mishap occurred when I put my bag into the overhead bin, my water bottle slipped out and hit the laptop that a 13 year old girl was using and made her drop it. Her mother came out of her seat in full mama-bear mode. I didn't escalate the situation because I was sitting next to her, but she shot evil eyes at me while everyone else got on board. Later, the flight attendant made the girl put up her laptop and she dropped it again on her own. I put up my hands and said "I didn't do it this time!" The mother looked at me as if I were the Devil, but then she almost cracked a smile. She didn't talk to me the remainder of the flight, but that's alright as I slept most of the way.
Beau had the window seat and slept against her mother. Elijah was next to Jackie. I was across the aisle next to mama-bear and her other sainted child. We all had some snacks and then fell asleep, fitfully, for the trip across the pond.
The flight from Houston to London took about 8 hours and 15 minutes. According to FlightAware, here is the path we took.
Jackie made little baggies of goodies with a bow and a note stating we were on an adventure. She and Beau gave them to all the gate agents and flight attendants that they met along the way. One of the gate agents at Houston caught up to us and said her maiden name was "Croninger" and wondered if there was some family tie there. As we were approaching London, one of the first-class cabin attendants snuck back to our row and asked Jackie if we'd like a bottle of champagne for our adventure. Well, duh!
So folks, the moral of the story is, be nice to your flight attendants and they will be nice to you.
Landing at Heathrow, we departed the plane quickly, only to walk half a mile through corridors to the immigration queue. We stood in line for about 30 minutes until we got to hand over our passports. Then we got tickets for a train to Paddington Station. I had bought our Tube (London Subway) tickets in advance, so we picked them up there and headed on the subway to our next destination--pick up keys to our apartment.
This final stage involved walking about 2 miles in different directions. Fortunately, traffic wasn't too heavy and most people were still at work as it was 4:00 PM.
We have a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor a fairly busy street. It's decorated in a modern style, with most of the furnishings by... IKEA. We all took a nap and managed to ignore the sounds of motorcycles, police cars and honking horns.
The building on the left is called The Shard. It's a very noticeable landmark and is about half a mile walk. Peeking through the trees, you can see the rounded top of The Gherkin, another notable London building.
Now we're off to see what sights there are at the Tower of London and perhaps London Bridge.
We strolled down the street toward the Thames. Traffic on Tower Bridge Rd. was still a mess at 8:30. I looked up some pubs along the way with Google Maps. One of the hidden pubs, on a narrow side street was called "The Anchor Tap". All the reviews were good, so I steered the family that way. The thing about pubs that I've experienced is they are hit or miss.
We walked in the door and there were a few locals crouched over the bar, chatting with the barkeep. I asked about food and he directed me up a set of narrow stairs. Jackie gave me a look like, "I'm not sure about this". I wasn't either. The dining room at the top of the stairs was decorated in what Americans would probably describe as "Grandmotherly Provencial". It was thoroughly British and probably hadn't changed since Churchill was in office. But, the middle-aged woman tending the bar was a complete gem. She was pleasant and delivered a couple pints for Jackie and I and sodas for the kids.
A bit about beer. I will drink most any beer set in front of me, although I dislike the yellow lager beers so common in the States (Coors, Budweiser, etc.) Jackie likes a dark stout beer or hard cider. This pub was a "Tied House" and sold Sam Smith's beers. I had a "bitter", which despite the name wasn't actually that bitter. Jackie had a Sam Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout which was absolutely the dark brown nectar of the gods. The bartender said they export the stout to the States, so if you get a chance, it's a must-have.
The food came along in about 20 minutes and we were definitely hungry. Elijah and I had meat pies, a traditional British pub dish. A pastry filled with meat, served over mashed potatoes and smothered in salty brown gravy. Both were delicious. Jackie had the staple of Fish and Chips, which was also wonderful. Beau went with a salad, being our designated vegetarian. We left, stuffed and happy.
We walked for a half mile along the Thames riverfront walk. A lot of people were out, taking selfies with the Tower Bridge, which was lit up nicely in the emerging twilight.
Beau is amused that British people actually talk the way she's heard on TV. She's now trying her best to mimic the accent. We'll see how obnoxious she gets and whether I have to shut it down.
We were tired by 10:30, so we headed back to the apartment and stopped at a Sainsbury to pick up a few items for breakfast. Traffic on our street was still backed up. I don't know if this is a constant issue with this block or something happened. We did hear ambulances go up and down until after midnight, as I write this.