UK & Ireland, Day 15: Shattered

Wednesday, 6/8/16

Our flight out of Heathrow was at 8:50 AM, so we took the train to Terminal 2 and then went on the hunt for brekkie.  We ended up at The Perfectionists' Cafe, a really interesting little restaurant.  Francisco had Boiled Eggs & Soldiers, a meal he recognized from Terry Pratchett books.  This was two soft boiled eggs with buttered strips of toast. They had Cocktails in a Cloud, an elaborate cocktail with a glass full of scented vapour. I had the Summer Shrub with a Mandarin & Thyme Non-Alcoholic Cloud.
The Perfectionists' Cafe Boiled Eggs & Soldiers Summer Shrub
Check out the video below to see the cloud in cocktail.
As we went to board our Aer Lingus flight, the gate attendants started collecting all the carry-on luggage to save overhead space. I didn't like this one bit - I always pack all of my souvenirs in my carry-on so I know I'll have them with me in case something were to happen to my checked luggage. We didn't seem to have much choice in this matter.

We were flying to Dublin where we had an hour and 20 minute layover before boarding our 11:30 AM flight to Chicago. But we actually ending up sitting on the plane in London for an extra 50 minutes due to fog in Dublin that was delaying our plane from getting off the ground. I was sitting there trying not to freak out. I already thought an hour, twenty was tight given that we would have to go through customs before boarding the next flight. My stomach was clenched tight with anxiety as I sat there fretting over whether we would make our connection.

Finally, we arrived in Ireland and the mad rush to catch our next flight began. At least we didn't have to collect our luggage! But we did have to go through US customs...which was surprising. We've never gone through US Customs outside the US. There are currently preclearance operations at 15 foreign airports in six different countries. "The same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections of international air passengers performed on arrival in the United States can be completed before departure at foreign airports instead." Normally, this would be great - get customs over before we get back to the US so that's less time standing in line when we're exhausted after our flight. Today, this was not great. I looked at the throngs of people and flagged over an attendant to explain that our flight was leaving in 20 minutes. She helped usher us through and made an announcement for anyone else who was in the same predicament we were. We cleared customs, but flights to the US always have an extra security step, so we had to step up to a kiosk and fill out some additional information before we were finally able to board. I breathed a giant sigh of relief when we finally sank into our seats, obviously one of the last few to board our plane.
At least we had seatback TVs this time, so I was able to partially entertain myself for 8 hours. Unfortunately, Francisco hadn't gotten confirmation of our vegetarian meal selections, so our meal options were very limited. Note to self: ALWAYS receive written confirmation.
Our flight arrived at O'Hare at 1:55 PM. We went to collect our luggage and pulled off our carry-ons and then watched the luggage carousel go around and around until finally there was nothing left. But we were still standing there.  It had finally happened. After all the dozens of flights that we've been on, we had finally lost a bag. My head was pounding; I had taken one of my super headache pills, and it was just not kicking in. I think if I had been on full functioning mode, I would have been much more upset. As it was, we walked over to the attendant to report our bag as missing. She filled out some forms and was able to look up our bag's current location, and it was still in Ireland - scheduled to be on tomorrow's flight.  I asked for a confirmation of this conversation, and she gave us a form to take with us and said that someone would call us tomorrow with additional information but they would be shipping our luggage to us once they'd received it.

My parents are notorious for getting lost on their way from the Cell Phone Lot to Arrivals, but eventually they pulled up, and we headed back to their house to pick up our kitties.
They were not happy to be back in the car, but they seemed to be happy to see us.
Of course, half the things we needed to go back to work the next day - hair brush, deodarent, etc. - were in our checked luggage that was still vacationing in Ireland. We made do until it arrived at our doorstep at the end of the week. As we unpacked things over the weekend, however, we discovered that there had been some casualties.  I was crushed (along with my tin of Harrod's Cornish Clotted Cream biscuits.). Surprisingly, our checked luggage was largely intact (there was only some shattered eye shadow that was dispersed throughout my make-up bag), but a few items in our souvenir bag were broken. I contacted Aer Lingus, and they did send us a check for the approximate value of these items. Appreciated, but they're still irreplaceable without a repeat visit to the British Isles. :-P


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