Jason: Today is our final day in Europe, and while we're sad to end our adventure, we are looking forward to sleeping in our own beds once again.
We depart from the Master Robert Hotel, which is situated "near" Heathrow. It's too far to walk or catch a shuttle bus, but close enough that we're directly on the approach glide path for incoming 747's. The front desk calls us a cab, and for 15£ we're heading towards the airport. Our cab driver makes the airport run look like a video game, constantly switching lanes, and revving the engine before the traffic lights change (here in the UK, they have "racing" traffic lights, which show yellow and red just before the switch to green, enabling you to get a head start into the intersection). He even goes so far as to take a secret one-lane tunnel into Heathrow, beating out several other cars to our terminal. Upon arriving, I tip the man and apologize for the fingernail marks I've left in his front dashboard.
Alas, his heroic efforts to get us to the airport during a single song on the radio is all in vain. We're 3 hours early for our flight (we left the hotel at that time because we had to check out by 11am), so we get ourselves checked in to Virgin Atlantic. After surviving their draconian baggage weight allowances, we head up to the main departure gate. We're so early that they haven't posted our gate yet, so we hang around in a random corridor for about an hour. While we're waiting, we watch an elderly Indian woman utterly fail to comprehend the moving walkway and fall; I rush over to help her up, and try to convey (via furious gesturing, as I don't speak Hindi) that she cannot remain in the prone position as doing so will cause significant discomfort when she reaches the end of the walkway. We waste our final minutes in Heathrow spending our last bits of coin on Cadbury Flake Bars for the trip. Finally, our gate is posted, and we head out to board our flight.
Virgin Atlantic simultaneously proves itself the most and least comfortable flight we've been on. On the plus side, the food is excellent (and plentiful --- a full meal, free wine, ice cream, and candy bars), there's a video screen for each seat with over 30 movies to watch, and we get our own bag of goodies (sleep mask, earplugs, toothbrush, and socks). On the minus side, the seats are crammed so close together that I spend most of the flight getting a good long look at my own kneecaps (Amy, on the other hand, doesn't seem to mind). Also, the aforementioned video screens don't work properly, and so the flight attendants must reboot the system several times (which takes 15-30 minutes). Total Geek Side Note: I notice that the video system runs Linux (RedHat 7.3, to be exact).
The flight is uneventful, though Carolyn is abnormally gleeful about the turbulence that we encounter. (I didn't think the flight was that boring, but with the video screens on the blink, I guess Carolyn was looking for a little excitement.)
Upon landing, we breeze through customs and wait for our luggage. 3 of our 4 bags show up immediately, but our final bag is literally the last one to come off the plane. Free at last! We rush outside to catch the Silver Line, which will hook us up with the T to Harvard Square.
As we come outside to wait for the bus, it begins to rain. Actually, "rain" is not a sufficient description for the precipitation that materializes and hurtles towards us, sideways, at 60 miles an hour. As we huddle behind a concrete pillar to avoid becoming totally soaked, Carolyn finally snaps and begins to laugh like this is the funniest thing she's ever seen. Amy scrambles to find a dry spot, while trying to figure out what is so funny. Jason calls to Amy to get out of the rain.
Finally, the bus comes, and we load on with our luggage and stand all the way to South Station. Despite the tunnel closures (the Big Dig tunnels apparently suffered a minor design flaw whereby 2-ton chunks of concrete fall from the ceiling and kill people), the bus is allowed through, and we reach the station without incident. Not a moment too soon, as we're standing next to two girls who are having the World's Most Insipid Conversation Ever. Or maybe I'm just tired and grouchy.
We get off the T, make one last heroic effort to lug our bags up flights of stairs, and swear that we're never taking public transportation again. I run to my Aunt's house to pick up the car, and then swing back to Harvard Square to get the ladies and our bags. From there, it's second star on the right, and straight on 'till morning. We take the Mass Pike home through thunderstorms, and get home by 9:30pm.
Home at last! We're tired, but happy; it's been a great trip. We've gone from $ to £ to € back to £ and finally back to $ again. We didn't get our pockets picked, and managed to escape without any major gastrointestinal distress (side note: now that we're back in CT, I seem to have come down with something after all...). We've seen two of the largest cities in Europe, numerous historical sites, famous artwork, and eaten a phenomenal amount of bread products. All in all, a success.
We hope you've had fun following us in our adventures across Europe! Many thanks to our friends and family, and all their help and advice for our trip. Until next time, this is Jason, Amy, and Carolyn signing off!