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Contiki European Experience


Day 1 - April 29, 2005 - Philadelphia, US to London, UK


The most anticipated day of my life finally arrived.  Months of preparation and anticipation had come to a sudden halt.  I actually went to work on this day.  My coworkers scolded me for even considering such a thing.  However, my overnight flight to London's Gatwick Airport wasn't scheduled for departure until 8:30 pm.  I figured the hours would go by at the rate of days if I just sat home.  So I went in for a half day, and left at noon.
I finished packing and my bag actually exceeded Contiki's weight restriction (44 pounds) by one pound.  Not willing to rely on leniency, I put a few things in my carry bag and was done with it.  Next, Meaghan, my grandparents, and my sister came to the house and we all had pizza.  I remember not being hungry at all.  However, I decided to eat to avoid paying top dollar for sub par food at the airport.  It wasn't difficult to eat several slices of pizza.  It's amazing how much anxiety can blanket hunger.
At 4:00, we left for the Philadelphia International Airport.  We amazingly arrived, during Philadelphia's Friday work traffic, with little problems or delays.  I checked in and felt like a dolt for adhering to the international flight policy of checking in three hours ahead of time.
At one point while we were waiting, a man dressed in civilian clothing approached the counter with a dog.  They then lured the dog into a cage and put it on the conveyor belt with the rest of the luggage.  I found it amusing and Meaghan seemed to think it was cruel.  I think she thought the man was actually checking the dog and having it loaded into the luggage compartment.  I voiced my opinion that I was pretty sure it was a dog used for security measures.
Eventually, the time came and we said our goodbyes.  I made it through security and waited for about 20 minutes in the terminal.  While waiting, I noticed that the gate across from ours was departing for Frankfurt, Germany.  I couldn't help but think that in two weeks, I would be in this country, as if I didn't have enough anticipation to begin with.  I also took note of some of the British people throughout the terminal; their accents and passports in particular.  It began to feel like the trip was actually beginning and it wasn't just merely thoughts and hopes any longer.
They finally announced boarding and we lined up by zone.  I was zone five (the last zone called) and hurried into the line.  I noticed five kids, probably around my age (22).  They were definitely musicians of some sort.  Their carry on luggage was all musical equipment; guitars, cymbals, etc.  Based on their appearance, I assumed they had something to do with the music I'm primarily interested in.  However, before I had the opportunity to inquire, I was at the front of the line.
I was issued a window seat for my flight to London.  Being 6'4", my mom suggested that I try to get an aisle seat because an eight hour flight would be hell on my legs.  Admittedly, I was looking forward to the window seat.  I did plan on taking her advice though.  I got to my seat, and a girl a little older than me was already there.  I introduced myself and she immediately asked if I would mind switching seats with her.
We then took off, a few minutes behind schedule.  I started playing with the screen in front of me.  There were several movies and TV shows to choose from.  I planned on watching The Village, since I had not yet seen it.  I was too excited to watch a movie just then though, so I decided to wait.
I eventually started chatting with the girl sitting next to me.  She had a long, French name that I can't remember to this day.  She said she had been living in Washington DC, working and going to school.  She was originally from London and was visiting her boyfriend, who still lived in London.  She said she made the trip about once per month.  It's amazing how much certain people travel more than others.
One of the kids from the aforementioned band was sitting across the aisle and one row back from me.  All five of them were completely split up throughout the plane.  I overheard him talking to a woman next to her about their band.  I then asked him what band he was in.  He answered, "Still Remains," and said they are from Detroit.  They were on their way to London for their first European tour.  He explained that they were recently signed to Roadrunner Records.  We talked about concerts and bands for quite sometime.
They then served dinner and I chose the chicken.  It was horrible.  I noted to myself that as far as the people go, this trip is starting out amazingly.  However, as far as the food goes, it's terrible.  After dinner, I was in the mood to watch The Village, but I knew I would fall asleep.  I didn't want to only watch a portion of it, so I decided to watch the Simpsons.  In the end, I put on my music and dozed in and out for the remainder of the flight.  I never did get a good sleep in though.