Day 1 of Trip to the Land of the Free
June 25, 2010

Some of you know and some of you might be surprised to know that we are actually now in the USA.

While I said Day 1 in the header, it is more like Day 1 ½ as we actually left on Wednesday (23rd) evening from Cape Town. For those of you who don’t know, it was my birthday (no – don’t bother with late wishes I know who you are already 🙂 ) so I got to have my birthday dinner courtesy of BA. Given the frequency with which I do the Cape Town – London trip, I did allow myself (and Helen because I am such a generous person) a little treat in that I used my miles for the 2 of us to go First Class. The kids were originally spread over 2 cabins but we managed to get Stephen upgraded as well in the end. When I went back on one occasion to check on the kids the chief cabin controller said he was wondering whose kids they were as they seemed remarkably comfortable flying by themselves.

Helen and I did enjoy the seats and service. There were only 5 people on First Class and 3 cabin crew serving us! The service was ridiculously good and the kids said their service was also good. The food was also some of the best I have had on a plane and to top it off the wines were excellent. The only problem was that the entertainment system hung in the middle of us watching a movie. First it happened to Helen’s TV and then mine. The Chief cabin controller said he would re-boot the whole system (on account of Helen and my problems!) and the kids were miffed as they were also in the middle of watching movies. As it turned out they never managed to fix the system until they called London on the satellite phone from the plane (which only happened in the middle of the flight). I never did finish watching the movie and nor did the kids. We did all get a good night’s sleep though.

We landed at Heathrow at 6:55am this morning (Thursday) and after going through security again we were back in the departures hall waiting for our flight to Chicago at 11:45am. We spent the time in the BA lounge catching up on emails, having showers, breakfast etc. We boarded on time but eventually left an hour late due to traffic congestion at Heathrow. The flight was 8 hours long but only actually took 3 hours (Stephen told me I had to say that). The service wasn’t great on the flight but we survived it. We all managed to have lunch (which was actually breakfast time in the US) and we all finished our movies and managed to get in at least another one as well. The boys both watched ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (which I had already seen on a flight – worth watching in my view) and ‘Invictus’ (which I still need to watch). Chloe watched ‘Toothferry’ and ‘How to train a dragon’ and I watched ‘Ghostwriter’ (which was very good as well) and ‘Shutter Island’ (which was spooky). We all managed to get in an hour or more sleep as well.

We landed at Chicago O’Hare airport at 2:50pm (9:50pm SA time) and managed to go through passport control, collect our luggage and clear customs in 35 minutes. We took a taxi into Chicago and even though it was only 3:30pm the rush hour traffic had already started and so it took us about 50 minutes to get the hotel. We are staying at Four Points by Sheraton in downtown Chicago (pretty much in between Sears Tower (now called Willis Tower) and Trump Tower). It is a nice hotel, nothing fancy but it has everything we need – free internet access (very important!), in room coffee (next most important), business centre, swimming pool, fitness centre (who needs that?) etc. The kids are sleeping together in one room and Helen and I are across the passageway.

We spent the late afternoon just relaxing in the room, catching up on World Cup scores and watching the record breaking tennis match at Wimbledon. At 5:30pm I went to check on the kids and we had 2 grumpy ones who were so tired they couldn’t possible do anything and Stephen who was making the most of the free internet. I forced them (I know none of you could imagine me (being so placid) forcing my kids to do anything but I have now broken that illusion) to have a shower and then we went out for dinner. They improved as we walked and we made our way down to Navy Pier on Lake Michigan (about a 20 minute walk). We found Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory (remember that from Forest Gump? – if not get the DVD) and had dinner there. Nice food, good service and we actually sat outside and enjoyed the buzzing atmosphere and warm weather. After dinner we walked around the Pier and back up to the hotel again. It is now 8:51pm and if you add on 7 hours you get 3:51am in SA so you have to forgive missing words, poor grammar etc in the above narrative. I am surprised that I made it this far without falling asleepppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp (oops sorry – nodded off there for a second).

That’s it for tonight … will write again tomorrow.

P, H, S, M & C all from the Land of the Free

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