Landed in London

MAY 15-16, 2024 : Today is the day – the start of a two-month trip to Scotland. As usual, we don’t travel light – 2 large suitcases (kosher kitchen and other motorhome items), 2 large duffle bags (our clothes), 2 carry-ons (computers and other electronics) and 2 personal items (passports and phones). To make sure everything fits in the ride to the airport, we ordered a large taxi van to take us. Turned out that our taxi driver also works as a tour guide to Jewish sites in Spain and Portugal. We had much to talk about. Proudly, there are Jewish places in Portugal that we had visited that he knew nothing about.

Mark got upgraded and I sat crowded in a window seat at the the back of the plane, At least, as we approached Heathrow, I got to see London and the green British countryside from the air. For today, that was my only glimpse of the UK. By the time we arrived, it was late in the day and we stayed in a hotel at Heathrow airport.

The next morning, after breakfast at the hotel buffet, we returned to our room to get our luggage and go check-out. Our room was far from the elevators, and we moved one or two suitcases a few meters forward, then went and got another bag, making our way slowly to the front desk. About half-way to the elevators, the hotel alarm went off, ringing loudly. Big confusion. No one knows what is happening, what to do. One employee, in broken English, said we need to evacuate the building. We had our six suitcases with everything for our trip – what should we do? Just leave them in the middle of the hallway? We are on the third floor and we look down and see everyone in the lobby leaving the building. People are opening their hotel room doors and asking what is going on. No one knows. The confusion grows. We decide to leave the four big suitcases and take the two carry-ons (the ones with our computers, Mark’s tallit and tfillin) with us. The elevators are not working and we look for the stairs. Just as we see a sign to the stairs, the alarm stops. Is it over? Someone says, if it is over, the elevators will start working again. One of the guests goes to the elevator and it is working. Crisis over. When we finally made it downstairs to check out, I forgot to ask what happened.

We left our suitcases at the hotel, walked back to the terminal and took the shuttle to Hertz. Asking for a car with a big trunk, we got a Citroen 5 – the same car we drove (and liked) in Portugal. Heathrow is huge. We had arrived at terminal 4 and Hertz was at terminal 5. The drive between the two terminals was more than 15 minutes.

From Heathrow, we drove to Wood Green, a northern suburb of London. Although we have visited many countries where they drive on the left, it always takes some getting used to. Good that no one was recording my screams as our car veered too far left or too far right. Our destination was Puraan, a vegetarian Indian restaurant where we were going to meet a friend from Columbia University. The last time we saw her was in 1995 – almost 30 years ago. Her son joined us for a very enjoyable (and tasty) 4-hour meal catching up on our lives.

By the time we left, it was the start of London rush hour, and it took us a long time to get out of the city. We had at least an additional 4 hour drive towards York, where our AirBnb was for the night.

It was almost all highway driving – mostly through low rolling hills covered in a million different shades of green. We drove through agricultural land with brick farmhouses, horses and sheep in the pastures.

We finally reached our home for the night, in Naburn, a small village a few miles south of York. The village has a population of about 500, mostly living in typical British brick houses surrounded by small gardens with colorful flowers. One local pub. All is quiet.

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  1. Brits and alarms. Amateurs. We could teach them
    What real emergencies are like