Scotland and Other News

Hello People!  Sorry that I’ve been AWOL!  It’s been a little hectic with the time changes, life, etc.

So Deana and I made it to Scotland safely!  We got up EARLY to catch the underground to the Victoria Train Station, where we caught an express train to Gatwick Airport.   The flight, when all was said and done, was a pretty short one – just over an hour.  We landed to dark skies in Edinburgh, but we were jazzed to check things out!

The local transport in Edinburgh is, IMHO, not as tourist friendly as London.  No underground, but TONS of busses flying here and there.  It was a bit daunting to figure out how to navigate the system (especially with two way-too-full suitcases), but here is where I share that Scottish people are UBBER friendly!  We took the express bus to downtown Edinburgh and then connected to the local bus that lead us to our hotel (which was a bit off the tourist stomping grounds).  At the time we didn’t realize that there was a freaking bus stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR HOTEL, and instead got off two stops before…..walking a bit with our luggage.  We laughed about that once we figured it out.  But we were SO pleased with the Holiday Inn Express, Waterfront!!!!  Felt just like home and had a HUGE room by European standards, a HUGE area for the continental breakfast, and stellar staff that were VERY friendly!  In fact, when we checked in the receptionist was named KIRSTIE!  Isn’t that cool?

Anyway, Edinburgh proved to be amazingly beautiful.  The buildings, the green grass, the expansive views…..and always friendly people who went out of their way to be helpful.  We were able to take a Trike Tour with a good looking man named Gordon, and viewed some of their cathedrals as well as their museum.  The food there was similar to London (not surprisingly), but at least they gave us malt vinegar for our fish and chips!  It was also very COLD!  Oh, in earlier posts I said it had to be below 45 degrees – it was!  Most days were in the low 30’s!  I even was victim to walking on black ice in London!  THAT is another story in itself!  🙂

Anyway, it was cold to be out all day in that weather, but surprisingly we survived.  It helped that we would stop in pubs for meals and such.  But let me tell you, my hair still feels dry and damaged.  LOL  Like I care.

So, heading back stateside, we again needed to leave before the sun rose (which is an interesting idea, since often the cloud cover hid the sun all day!).  We got on the local bus right outside our hotel at about 4:30am and took that to the express bus to the airport.  Once we got there,I freaked at first because our flight was with American Airlines…..but they were nowhere to be found!  Fortunately, Deana is much more level headed in such situations, and she clearly remembered that British Airways are partners with AA, so we were actually flying with them.  But the travels were LONG and a bit HARD.  We first flew to London Heathrow, then connected to a flight to Chicago.  But first we needed to go through security at Heathrow that was an ordeal in itself.  That took about an hour alone!  Once we got to the plane (which was jam full, by the way), we just sat there and flew, you know?  But then in Chicago we needed to go through customs.  By this point we had been traveling about 16 hours!

And I am not ashamed to say, the Chicago Customs people are FREAKING LAME!  First of all, their system seems whacked.  They separated US Citizens from foreign visitors.  I have no problem with that at all.  However, one would think that there would be a system to determine which gates needed employees to screen incoming travelers.  In our case, 75% of the travelers were US Citizens.  However, I would guess that 75% of the staff were working on foreign travelers.  The foreign travelers were processed in about 7 minutes, while us US Citizens took upward of 45 minutes.  We got to the front of the line at about 38 minutes when someone had the great idea to start utilizing the agents that were just standing there, as there were no foreign travelers to process.

THEN, when it finally got to my turn, I get a total jerk!  I have been blessed to have been able to traveled all over the world.  I have had to go through a bit more intimidating immigration processes, such as into Russia.  But overall, the standard questions are, when returning to the United States, are “where are you coming from?”, “how long were you there?”, and “was this business or leisure”.  I have no problem with that.  In fact, truthfully, I have no real problem with ANY question because, in truth, these people are there to protect you and me from scary people entering our country.  But maybe it was this guy’s attitude (which I suspect was related to him being a “little man”), coupled with my 16+ hours already into my trip……..the interaction didn’t go well.

First of all, I was already irritated as I had just spend the last 30+ minutes in line watching these agents do nothing, as the rest of us stood there waiting for someone to process us.  THEN, when I finally got to Mr. Custom-Little-Man, he immediately treated me like a criminal.

MCLM:  Where are you coming from?

Me: Scotland, after a few days in England

MCLM:  Why were you there?

Me:  Vacation

MCLM:  Why did you go there for vacation?

Me:  (suprised)……um, I love London and wanted to see Edinburgh

MCLM:  How many times have you been to London before?

Me:  (getting irritated) this was my second trip

MCLM:  I don’t see another stamp for London

Me:  I changed my last name since I went there the first time……..the stamp is in my old passport

MCLM:  Do you have a job in the United States?

Me:  (Now getting pissed) Do I have to have a job to be allowed in?

MCLM:  No

Me:  (rrrrr) Do I have to answer that question to be allowed in?

MCLM:  Do you have a job?

Me:  Yes

MCLM:  What is your profession?

Me:  Are you serious?!?!!?!!?

MCLM:  Answer the question.

Me: (who, seriously, had wished I could have thought to answer “Exotic Dancer” at this point, but it came to me later) I am an accountant.

MCLM:  Okay, you can go. (this interchange took about 3-4 minutes)

I took my passport, gave him the dirtiest look I could muster, and stormed off.  Of course, Deana did NOT go through a similar experience because, apparently, she didn’t get a little man who needed to prove he was this strong authority or something.

But the fun didn’t stop there.  Because, as it happens, we were required to GET our luggage and ROLL it to put on a belt “for security screening”, before we could connect to our next flight.  I wondered what the point of THAT was, as we didn’t stay, didn’t have to divulge anything…….so why couldn’t the process be done by the airline????  But maybe I am asking too much.

Once we got on our final connecting flight from Chicago to LAX, I was so ready to be home!  I really don’t have much to complain about at this point (shocking, I know!).  We arrived, grabbed our bags, and took off.  At this point we were close to the 24 hour mark of our travels!  All  on my birthday, no less!  One good thing about flying west on your birthday is that the day lasts a very long time!  Whoot!

Okay, that is all I am going to write about now.  More later for sure.

Gina out

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