Sunday, 22 July 2012

Last night in Bognor

Just for the record we didn't fly BA, we flew with United. 

As per my previous post, Matthew and I arrived back in Minnesota on July 9th. We had a pretty long journey. 

We also only had two days from the time we arrived back from Uganda to get everything ready to go. Originally we thought we were going to be coming back in August, but things changed. We only bought our flights back to MN while we were in Uganda. Thomas, being the kind brother in law that he is let us stay at his house. 

We went down to Bognor on the Thursday and the day before we left we had a really nice evening out with friends and family.

We all met up at the local Indian and  had a farewell chicken tikka masalas. It wasn't an official leaving do, just a nice dinner with Tristan, Sue, Thomas, William, George and Ryan. 

Sue gave Matthew a really lovely present. She had printed out a bunch of photos of Matthew and the Bognor gang. Some real gems from over the years. It was a really touching present.

Since it was our last night in England, that meant a trip to the pub. We went to the Claremont, a pub that can only be described as a hardcore boozer. If you ever find yourself in Bognor and are looking for an authentic local experience head there and tell them Matthew sent you. You'll get a free serving of whelks to go with your pint.

We decided it would be a good idea to leave some packing for after the pub, so that meant we were up until 1am. We had booked a minicab to come collect us at 3:45am so after a brief sleep we were off to the airport. 

I am always a bit nervous about taking a taxi at ungodly early times in the morning. Matthew and I had a terrifying experience a few months back when we were on our way to Lithuania.

Long story short, the taxi driver fell asleep behind the wheel and we ended up shouting at him to wake him up. Once he was awake Matthew convinced him to pull over on the motor way and to let him drive to the airport. So, now Matthew can add taxi driver to his CV.

Thankfully our driver was bright and chipper despite the early hour. We had a 90 min drive up to Heathrow that was actually pleasant. 

Once we were at the airport all we had to do was check in and make one last trip to Boots* before boarding the plane back to America.

As everyone knows the airline industry has tightened their belts and clamped down on the amount of luggage you're allowed to check in. I used to be able to check 2 bags on an international flight, but that was back in 2009. 

Our carrier only allowed us one bag each, although I did look at the website and I could swear it said 2 bags, but I wasn't in the mood to argue at the check in desk. I had also caught a cold the day previous and wasn't feeling too feisty.

The woman on the check in desk was more than happy to point out that we were over the allowed baggage limit and I think she was hoping that I would melt down and be reduced to tears by the news.

I was like, whatever. I am happy to pay the extra fee, it's not a problem. 

I am also not ashamed to say that I was secretly pleased with the look of disappointment on her face when I just slide my credit card onto the counter and paid the fee.

We checked in and headed to the lounge. I don't remember too much after that, probably because I was so exhausted. Matthew and "slept" for pretty much the entire flight.

Next thing I knew we were landing in Chicago. Oh yeah, we had to go with a connecting flight. Flights to MN in the middle of the summer aren't as cheap as I had hoped. It was definitely worth saving that $25.00 by having a connection. We also got to recheck our luggage and go through security again!

During the connection Matthew had to present his green card packet to the US Border Authority. That was pretty straightforward. When we came through customs Matthew showed his visa and then we were ushered into a separate office area. We were in and out in 20 minutes.

The flight from Chicago was short and sweet and then we were in Minnesota! I called my friend's dad from a pay phone (yes, you can still find a few pay phones kicking around the place). My friend's parents have had the same phone number for my entire life, which comes in handy.

We collected our baggage and headed out to the pick up area and waited for Dennis to come and collect us.

We were whisked away in a lovely air conditioned car to their house in West St Paul, where family was waiting to welcome us with hugs, kisses and food. That was two weeks ago.
Lots has happened in that short amount of time. I also realize that I haven't blogged about our trip to Africa. Don't worry, I'll be posting shortly. There will be lots of fun posts about life in Minneapolis, because it is great to be back!

*Going to Boots at the airport is an English tradition

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