Piccadilly and Leicester Square

With the trip drawing to a close, I wanted to do some more sightseeing after work. Mark and Ben recommended Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square so I decided to take them up on it. I got there at dusk, right when the lights of the buildings were starting to match the light from the sky. It was mobbed.

There were street entertainers there, and big screens across the buildings, and lots of shops and restaurants. I walked along for a bit grabbing pictures. The two areas are not that distinct from each other; “Piccadilly Circus” is a big plaza, and if you walk down one of the streets from the plaza, you end up in Leicester Square. The whole area has the same vibe.

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Back Home Again

Well, I’m back home again. Barely. My clothes are still in transit. Yesterday was not the airlines’ finest hour.

Daria and Harry’s flight to Miami was cancelled; they had to wait several extra hours to get a flight to Curaçao, and fly back to the UK from there. Our flight from Bonaire to Atlanta was delayed an hour. This turned out to be nearly disastrous.

Customs is Broken

When we got to Atlanta, we had to uncheck all our checked baggage–and remember, we had a plane full of divers, not just us, but several other groups as well, and all with lots of extra stuff, and go through Customs. It was insanity, and we had an hour less time than planned. My bags took forever to come out.

Then we had to go downstairs to go through Customs, and get our forms stamped. And because we came out of the secure area to pick up the backs, we had to be re-screened again.  I just don’t get it. Customs didn’t need to see our bags; they just stamped the forms. And if they needed to see them, couldn’t they have an agent look at them as they were being transferred from plane to plane, instead of making us go through an insecure area? Couldn’t they have had the flight attendants collect the forms in flight, and pull out anyone they needed to see, and send everyone else through a direct connection?

Once we cleared customs, we had to go running back to recheck the bags, and clear security again. Security was a seething mass of frantic people trying to make their flights. They were not willing to accommodate the fact that we had a connecting flight; probably because there were so many people. There was a long long winding line to get through it; Paul was convinced we wouldn’t make it. He made a point of sticking by me though, and I thank him for that.

I felt like I was doing a bit of a strip tease in line– in order to get through as fast as possible, I was pulling off my sweater, taking off my watch, pulling out my wallet, before we got to the scanners. I was traveling with my laptop and cables, so I had to pull all that stuff out. To make things more complicated, after the xray machine, there were three of us with MacBook Pros right in a row, and some idiot decided to put them all in the same bin. Fortunately, mine has a scratched top, so I was able to pick it out. I then shoveled everything back into my carryon, and still in my stocking feet, and with my pants starting to fall, because there was no time to put my belt back on, ran toward the gate. Run, run, run, take the tram, run some more.

We made it, with literally no time to spare. They were closing the plane door as we got there. I was ahead of Paul, and I wasn’t sure at first that he’d make it. Once I was in sight of the gate, I slowed down a little so they could see me, and then see Paul, and hopefully let him on. They did, and then they slammed the door closed.

And then we waited.

While they were not willing to wait for us, they were willing to wait for luggage. Then there were more difficulties with luggage–things were out of balance and had to be adjusted. In the meantime, we found out there were several people (not in our group) who missed the flight.

Delta loses the luggage

Still, finally, we were in the air, and soon we were back in snowy Boston, where we all trudged to the baggage pickup. My dive gear appeared; then there was an announcement that all the stuff was off the plane, and if you were missing something, to file a claim. Obviously, they knew they’d screwed up. Henri was missing a bag, Paul was missing two bags, and each of the couples was missing at least one bag. At least, I have all my expensive stuff in hand, and I’m only missing my laundry. Still, it was not a great ending to an otherwise great trip.

Update 1/22 5:19 PM:

The second bag was just delivered.