Woke up fairly early but had gotten some good sleep. Used the morning hour to write the blog for day 8. Got my bag together. I went into Barbara’s room for a tearful (on my part, she was still half asleep) goodbye. It has been so wonderful traveling with her, and I’m really going to miss her.
I got my stuff downstairs and attempted to call an Uber. My credit card on the app blocked the transaction, but I got a text from my bank and I said that yes, it was really me trying to use it, so the block was removed, and finally, I summoned the Uber. By the way, Barbara didn’t take me because she’s actually working on this tour while I am vacationing. She was able to stay in the Edinburgh flat until 1 pm and wanted to use the time to sleep and rest. Knowing that she is having issues with her voice, it seemed right for me to let her try to get as much recovery time while she could before she has to get back in the car and drive down to play more England shows. It’s all good.
My driver, Andrew, was very nice, and we had a nice chat on the way. Our flat was near the airport so it only took about 10 minutes to get there. The Edinburgh airport is relatively small. I was there in plenty of time.
I had tried to check in online 24 hours prior to my departure times for both flights, but since they were not British Airways flights, I was unable, so I was a little nervous. But I checked in at the no-line Aer Lingus desk very quickly and, boarding passes in hand, made my way toward security. All the airports get jumbled in my head, but generally, the security lines at Heathrow, Edinburgh, and later Dublin, are more efficient than the US. They have a two part system for the bins you put your stuff in and it’s kind of set up like a bowling alley. There’s a lower section where the bins get maneuvered from the end and they push out to a numbered location (1-5), you grab a bin, fill it, and if you need another, it’s right there in your position below the main conveyor. When you’ve filled one, you slide it forward on to the main conveyor that goes through the x-ray machine. I don’t know if you can visualize it, but it’s good. I think in Edinburgh they have little slots for you to take the bins after you’ve been cleared to gather your items, put shoes on, etc. Very convenient.
As I said, I had some time, so I went to a little restaurant and had my last bacon roll and some coffee. When my gate was finally announced, I decided to go ahead and exchange my money. I got $8 back, haha, I guess I did fairly well with my cash. Then I went to my gate and waited a bit.
When it was time to board, I was a little put off that we had to walk on the tarmac to the plane. Not annoyed but surprised. Here’s what I saw:
It was all fine, though. Not a full flight, so I had the row to myself when my seatmate popped over into an empty row. It was a quick flight, just over an hour, and then I was in Dublin. We got off the plane the same way to a waiting bus that took us to the terminal where I then navigated my way toward the connecting flights area. I came upon the immigration lines and I moved to the non-EU passport line. It wasn’t very long and when I got up there, the officer was asking me where I was staying in Ireland. When I said I was going on to LA, he informed me that I was in the wrong place. Oops! I thanked him and walked to where he had indicated, toward a rather not visible sign that said “Flight Connections.” I had totally missed it and had wasted a bunch of time!
So I followed along more closely this time and followed along to the US Pre-Clearance area where they do the US customs inspections ahead so when you get to your destination, you just pick up your bag if you have one and leave. The process wasn’t too bad. They had kiosks where you scan your passport and get a receipt, then go up to the agents. Mine asked what I’d been doing and if I was taking anything back. I said, “Shortbread.” His response, “Anything edible?” I said, “Shortbread.” Haha. Then he asked if I had any agriculture, and I said no and was sent on my way.
I had about an hour or so before my flight was leaving, so I had a seat. I noticed people drinking in the waiting area, then I saw this:
Empty Guinness glasses in the waiting area. Turns out there was a little vendor at the end of the area selling water, soft drinks, small snacks, and also Guinness. They soon announced that our flight was delayed but I went up to the counter to check out if my seat was aisle, window, or middle because I had no idea. I learned that it was an aisle seat on a 2-seat row and that no one was seated next to me. Yay!
After another delay and a gate change later (thankfully, it was just across from the original gate), we were boarded and getting ready to go. The Aer Lingus plane was not as nice as the British Airways plane, but I was in the very back row with no one beside me, and I was quite alright with that.
To minimize jet lag, I knew that I would need to stay awake on the flight since when I landed, it would be about 7 pm in Los Angeles. So I watched movies the whole way (about 10 hours). I watched the 2nd half of the 2nd Kingsman movies (I’d started the first one on the way out), Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin wrote & directed, I liked it), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1, Pitch Perfect 3 (silly fun), and most of The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds – yum). I read a little bit too. I was successful in my plan, but very tired.
Mom & Norbert were picking me up thankfully, so I was texting with Mom and she said they were looking for parking. When my brain finally caught up with me, I thought to tell them that they shouldn’t park at all because I was already at baggage claim, not at international arrivals since I’d already gone through immigration back in Dublin. I gave her my location, waited for my bag, saw them pull up, ran outside to say I was there & still waiting for my bag. Norbert came in to say that they would circle again while I waited and I said okay, then turned and saw my bag, grabbed it and ran out to them just as they were getting ready to pull away. Whew!
Getting out of LAX was arduous but once we were on the road, it was good, sharing little bits & pieces of the trip. We got back to the house and Norbert declined coming in to eat, which was surprising, but I was okay with it. Mom made us some ham & cheese sandwiches and we chatted some more. I gave her the Scottish gifts I’d gotten for her: a little bottle of Edinburgh gin and some dark chocolate orange shortbread. She seemed pleased. I went to bed a little after 10 pm, I think, totally satisfied with my trip and travels.
I woke at 1 am (9 am in Edinburgh), 7 am, and finally at 10 am. I can’t remember the last time I slept until 10 am. I guess it takes an international trip to get me to sleep in! I was moving pretty slow though. I skipped breakfast & coffee, but I did laundry and took a shower which was much-needed. I felt much better after the shower. Mom made croquetas with bread w/ garlic & tomato. I watched TV and lounged about. I took a small nap around 5 pm. Somewhere in there, I folded my clothes and packed my bag. Mom & I went to dinner around 6 pm to 12Sixty in La Mirada. I had a steak sandwich that was okay, the fries were great. I got an apple tart for dessert that was not very good. Mom had her favorite chicken ciabatta sandwich and a raspberry mousse for dessert that was nearly frozen. She couldn’t eat it, so she took it home and they took it off the bill, which was nice. We got home about 8 pm and I got my stuff together.
I left LM around 9 pm to drive to San Diego. I took the almost-mine new car, the Honda CR-V, and it drove great. Man, I was tired. I got a Coke at McDonald’s and sang along to the radio, but I felt like I was on fumes by the time I got to my building. I got my mail (almost nothing but junk mail!) and went to my apartment. It felt good to be home. I was in bed by 11:30 pm, ready to head in to work and return to my regular everyday life. What a great adventure it was.