Monday, July 16, 2012

Kalamazoo (and Leeds) Update

These dancers are probably not medievalists.
Once again, I went to the big Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo in May, at which I went to the dance, but did not dance.  This year, though, I also went to the alternative, European Medieval Congress in Leeds, where I tried to go to the dance, but an hour and a half after its nominal start time, the music hadn't yet started.  Needless to say, I did not dance.

 Too bad, I guess, because I heard later that there were Daleks at the dance, which might have been worth seeing.  But I had to get up early the next morning to set out on my trip home, and (as it turned out) it was probably a good thing that I got a good night's sleep.  Because here's a brief run-down of my trip home from Leeds.

City bus from dorm to train station in time to get a coffee and a pain au chocolat before my 9:15 train.
Arrive at Kings Cross at 11:30.
London Underground to Paddington Station, where I purchased a ticket for the Heathrow Express.
Heathrow Express 12: 10 train.
Heathrow check-in and security cleared by a few minutes after 1:00.

At this point, I was delighted: I've spent literally hours before getting through Heathrow check-in and security, so I thought my time from King's Cross to the Heathrow lounge was really great.

Get on plane for 3:00 departure.
Plane takes off, and then about the time they were going to come around with drinks, the pilot announced that we needed to return to Heathrow: there was some sort of pneumatic leak.

When we landed, fire trucks came out and sprayed water on the brakes to cool them down.  At first they were trying to get the engineers to fix it so we could take off again, but that turned out to be impossible.  We sat on the plane until about 7:00 waiting while the airline staff arranged a hotel for us, and while they scrounged five buses to take all 250 passengers back to the terminal. 

Bus back to the airport, where we had to go through immigration again and pick up our luggage.

Air Canada did put us up in an airport hotel (another bus ride) and provided us with dinner and breakfast vouchers. I shared a dinner table with two other guys, one who was also going to Columbus and a college student from Toronto, who figured it was his chance to load up on free food.  He and I, I admit, each took three desserts, including little lemon parfaits in tiny shot-glass sized glasses--but the table spoons that were the only spoons available literally wouldn't fit into the glasses, and we couldn't eat them.  5:30 AM wake-up call, courtesy of the airline: I certainly didn't request it.

7:00 AM bus trip back to Heathrow; 9:30 departure time.  Same flight, actually, according to how airlines count these things, just delayed 18 hours and in a different physical plane.  But same seat, same neighbors, same flight crew.

Arrive in Toronto about noon, where I waited over an hour for my bag, which I needed to collect and take through customs before I could move on to the next flight.  Missed the flight, of course, because of the misplaced bag.

Flight to Washington National Airport, arrive about 6:00 PM.
Flight from Washington to Columbus, arrive about 8:30PM.  Unfortunately, during my phone call to Rosemary from Toronto I had mistakenly said "about 9:30," so that's when she picked me up.

Forty-one hours plus, I make that, from 9:15 AM GMT in Leeds to get on the train, to 9:30 PM Eastern time to leave the airport in Columbus.

Oh yeah: one of those days was Friday the 13th. Three buses, two trains, one subway train, four airplanes, four airports, three train stations, three countries.

It's good to be back home.