Shade flies in style

Aitza works for a phenomenal company: Virgin Holidays. One of her perks involves flight benefits, which is the major reason that we are able to have a family Euro-trip instead of another weekend at New Smyrna beach. I’m not knocking my favorite beach, but Volusia County has to work a bit harder to compete with the realms of Henry VIII and Caligula. Another perk is that occasionally, depending on seat availability, Aitza gets upgrades. This was one of those occasions. Aitza and Shade got to enjoy the luxuries of international upper class. That meant a fully reclining “bed,” all the liquor they could drink (which was lost on Shade), and cheese plates! The first class crew pampered Shade James-Bond style. Meanwhile, Mayan and I chilled in Premium Economy, which has those big seats like Cap’n Kirk sat in on the Enterprise. Edwin, Brett and the Twins, Raizza and Roanna (whom I’m now dubbing the Big Kids) had to slum it in the back, but Virgin’s economy class is better than most flights’ first class, so they weren’t complaining. Plus, Aitza smuggled Edwin some Upper Class fancy cheese.

It’s lucky we made it on the plane at all thanks to Monkey Mayan’s vivid imagination. As we were handing over our passports to Orlando International Airport security, Mayan grabbed the retractable handle of our carry-on luggage and starts pulling it out with both hands and pushing it down, yelling to me, “Daddy, look, it’s a TNT detonator.” I quickly silenced him, explaining in whispers that this was absolutely the wrong place and time for any reference to explosives. We made it past the TSA rep, and all was good. Unfortunately, the seed had been sewn, and as we’re lining up for the Xray, I start singing AC/DC: “Cuz I’m TNT. I’m Dynamite! TNT, and I’ll win the fight!” I got an aggressive shushing from the entire family. At least Mayan has the excuse of youth and ignorance. My only excuse is that I have absolutely no control of my brain or mouth. That seems to work as a defense in much of the American justice system.

We cleared customs easily thanks to Shade’s charm … and wheelchair, which is  the magic ticket for getting through lines and past officials.  Gotta find the positive wherever we can! In only a few hours, the Brits proved themselves the most polite, understanding and accommodating people in regards to those with extra needs. No matter how many times we crushed  their toes, knocked over their bags, and jammed them into elevator corners, they always pardoned themselves and offered to help out. The train and bus employees would run up with ramps or help carry Shade plus wheels up and down the vehicle entrances. Rule Britannia.

IMG_2099Our day in the London area wasn’t the typical tourist focused event. Aitza, the boys and I (which I’m now dubbing the Fam 4) have been here numerous times and done the Big Ben-Parliment House-Tower Bridge-London Eye thing to the point of nausea. So while the Big Kids took off to gawk at the monuments, the Fam 4 took the train to Victoria Station, and then hopped on Bus N73 for a leisurely roll through the city to King’s Cross Underground Station.

When you’re not in a rush and have no real destination, you can see a lot from the windows of a London double decker. We saw thousands of Londoners sprawled out in every available park, cafe, bench and curb, soaking up the lovely, lovely British sun. (Brits in shorts are not always a pretty sight, but we won’t hold their pasty blue-veined legs  against them.) Aitza is convinced that the whole rainy England thing is a myth. It’s always clear and warm when she comes, even in winter.

IMG_2103Mayan and I climbed to the second story of a double decker, which is a great place to see statues. Some of the memorable ones were a giant horse head and Genghis Khan sculpture near Marble Arch.

We saw protesters in Hyde Park bringing attention to world hunger for the G8 summit. There were thousands holding signs about the millions of children that die yearly of starvation. And now for a shameless plug:  check out my article about my friend’s aquaponics farm — quite possibly the answer to world hunger.

The most memorable sight from the bus was also the least appealing: a park full of hundreds of naked bicyclists. It just so happens that we drove by the finish point for the London Naked Bike Ride in Protest of Oil Dependency .

A nude bike ride does not attract the fittest people, but it does attract the sweatiest. Most of them looked like they had just peeled their rears off some vinyl stool seats at the nearest pub. Think beer bellies sheltering, ahem, tiny kickstands. To immortalize the horror, as we pulled up, three guys tucked their junk a la Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, and posed for a picture. You could hear the entire bus make a cringing sound. (This sounds similar to screeching brakes, but it came from the passengers.) In Shade’s words, “My eyes are scarred.”

IMG_2108We finally ended up at King’s Cross, our only real goal during the trip. No educational museums, ancient monuments, or historic buildings. We came for pop culture. King’s Cross is where Harry Potter and Ron Weasley ran through the brick wall at  platform 9 3/4. So we had to do the same. Once we passed magically through the bricks, (which surprisingly tickles)  we hopped on the train back to our hotel in Gatwick.

IMG_2106Travel exhaustion has murdered us. The family is zonked in bed. But I stayed up to keep you informed. Tomorrow we travel to Rome.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tami
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 21:36:12

    Thank you Aitza, for demanding your crazy husband to start the blog again. Other than the starving children reference, I laughed out loud. For Mayan and Shade , I “Lol’d” They are so lucky to be able to go over the pond or whatever you brits say! Have fun.!


  2. Kristin Libby
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 21:48:56

    Sounds like fun!


  3. Darren Crampton
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 00:26:59

    Awesome writing!! One of the few things I actually enjoy reading. I’m much better at the math thing reading hurts my brain


  4. Shade's Progress
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 07:12:18



    Jun 09, 2013 @ 13:45:29

    we love it! keep it coming!..i would say we wish we were with you, but after that naked bike episode, I’m glad to say we are not! ha! ha! love, amy and kids!


  6. Kathleen Jensen
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 14:34:12

    That’s totally awesome!! #Haveablast!


  7. Marcy Dyal
    Jun 11, 2013 @ 00:07:02

    Riveting as always!!! loved the links to other fun stuff. I loved the aquaponics!!! had to sign up to get email and may just have to volunteer….. good work you!!


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