Anne Leonard

Life on the road

I won the hotel lottery on this trip.

I won the hotel lottery on this trip.

Just back from a week-long trip to the UK. Not home more than the weekend and I find out I’m going to Germany in March. Oh well, other than crossing the border at Lake Constance and changing planes at Frankfort, I really haven’t been to Germany. So the news is exciting, albeit a bit ill-timed as I’ve just gotten over jet lag.

Last week’s journey was a classic business trip as the only photos I took were of my hotel room, the airport and Newfoundland from the airplane window. I did have two wonderful curries, one cooked by a co-worker and the other at my favorite Indian restaurant in Cheltenham.

The crappy planes United is now flying across the Atlantic.

The crappy planes United is now flying across the Atlantic.

“You from Amreeka?” the waiter asked me.

“I’m sorry?”

“Amreeka?”

My continued bafflement led him to clarify, “Bronx? Canada?”

When I assured him I was from Amreeka, Texas to be exact, he asked if it was near the Bronx (no, not so much) and then added for good measure, “You’ve been here before.”

So there is yet another Indian restaurant in England where they know me by sight.

As I was leaving Heathrow on Friday morning, I thought once again: What a gracious country. Of course, a lot of it is the accent. They can say, “fuck off,” and make it sound like: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Here’s a passage detailing a layover Mike and I had in London in 2001:

Newfoundland, or about half way home.

Newfoundland, or about half way home.

        Our first trip to Italy was just two weeks and a few days after 9-11. We flew to London on a British Airlines flight populated by no more than a dozen or so nervous souls. Generally I can sleep my way across the Atlantic, or at least fake it, but on this particular night I curled up under a linty BA blanket across three empty seats and rather than doze off, closed my eyes and imagined Saudis running up and down the aisles with paper cutters.

          So I arrived in London even worse for the wear than usual. While contemplating once again what a hash the Brits have made out of a simple toilet, (for the uninitiated, let it to suffice to say, don’t try a courtesy flush), I stood outside the men’s room waiting for Mike. Even though it was only 7:00 a.m., Gatwick North was teeming with international travelers, many of whom looked like they’d stepped out of a Fellini movie. Mike appeared, a bit green around the gills and shaking his head.

            “Wow, that is one stinky bathroom,” he said. Indeed. In addition to the constant sound of flushing toilets, I’d been holding my breath against the toxic cloud wafting out the door that – perhaps for this very reason — was propped open with a trash bin.

            “We’ve got two hours until our flight,” I said, looking around at the bright array of shops. “What do you want to do?”

            “I don’t know about you,” Mike said, “but I’m in England and I’m going to the pub.”

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