Midnight in Heathrow

By September 24, 2014Musings

My flight arrived at 8pm. I collected my headphones and checked my seat to make sure I didn’t miss anything. As I walked off the plane and into the airport, it wasn’t excitement that I felt but a sense of calm and welcoming. I was back in England! (I lived here from 99’- 02’)

I left Anchorage for a one-way flight to London, Heathrow to visit my mom. I bought the cheapest ticket I could find but should have known better that cheap doesn’t mean quick. A 6 hour flight brought me to a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland for 10 hours. I spent my time here collecting the coins from the gift shop (I collect currency in every country I visit), and sleeping on a bench.

10 hours was tough to get through, especially with jetlag hitting hard. Thankfully I slept a great deal before my connecting flight later that afternoon.

Then, a short 5 hour flight to London and my journey was over! Sort of.

My travel logistics became a little more complicated given that I wanted to visit my mother the same weekend she was flying back from being out of town. Only after I bought my plane ticket did I realize I would arrive 16 hours before her!

It would be much easier to drive to the house together and I wasn’t about to spend a fortune on a hotel for the night (prices in London are outrageous), so the long wait for mom’s flight began.

I spent the night in the airport, satisfied I was saving money on a hotel, but miserably uncomfortable. I read, listened to music and slept here and there for minutes at a time. I watched the flood of people coming out of the terminal, wheeling their luggage in a hurry or embracing a loved one who had been waiting for them at the gate. It was quite comforting to see so many people with big smiles, happy to see their family again. I wonder how long they had been apart. I wonder what their story is.

Time passed, hour by hour till soon the traffic in Heathrow slowed to nothing. Soon it was just a few others and myself, each curled up in a corner, trying to get some sleep.

Nighttime in an airport is so… slow and quiet. Such a contrast to the hordes of travelers throughout the day. At night, I could hear the sound of the automatic doors opening from time to time to let in a straggler from who knows where – the night crew sweeping, mopping, polishing the floor and the café breaking down and setting up for tomorrow. All was very still and quiet. Too quiet. God I can’t sleep and this bench is killing my back, maybe I’ll sleep on the floor, no its too cold, ok maybe just use the restroom, that’ll kill some time! Nope, it’s closed for cleaning, Ahhhhh! Get me out of here!!!!!

Eventually the slow tick of the clock brought day light once again – sigh of relief.

I ate breakfast at the airport restaurant and finally had my full cooked English breakfast I’ve longed for: bacon, sausage, hash browns, baked beans, grilled tomato, 2 fried eggs and a very large cup of tea with milk and honey.

Sitting content with my elbow over the back of my seat, (I must admit I felt as though I owned the place having just spent the night here) I sat and watched as the flood of people began to move once more.

The day wore on and Heathrow was filled again with thousands of people, each with their own journey to take.

And finally, after 16 hours of waiting, and a 1 ½ hour flight delay, my mother arrived. It was great to see her, the both of us with so much to say, we didn’t know where to begin.

It’s great to be back in England. From here my plan is to build up this website and search for my next adventure. We’ll see where the road takes me.

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