Trip Update Days 1 and 2:
We left for Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon, leaving ourselves plenty of time to get there, park in long-term parking, take the shuttle to the airport, and check in early for an international flight. The trip down was uneventful, right up until the last moment. We were having some difficulties figuring out which of the many long-term lots were open, since all appeared to say closed, so we drove a short way past them in order to turn around and try again.
Unfortunately, as we were about to turn, we were rear-ended. Of course we were.
The husband was looking over his shoulder in preparation to turn, I was looking ahead to check for oncoming traffic, and Baby J was, thankfully, still buckled into his car seat. A minivan (driven by a pregnant woman who was NOT happy) slammed into a smaller car which then slammed into us with a HUGE and sickening thud. We were stopped, ready to turn, thankfully, so we didn't move much, and the husband quickly turned off the car and got out, while I got out to check on Baby J who was screaming, mostly in fright as I quickly determined. The guy behind us yelled at the husband that this was a double yellow line and you couldn't pass (??) which was irrelevant since we weren't. The minivan woman drove off to a nearby parking lot while a nice man who was uninvolved stopped and came over to see if we were alright.
Mr. Nice Man offered me his cell phone since we had left ours at home (note to self: bring cell phones even if planning to turn them off for the duration of the trip) and I called the insurance company to get things started. The police arrived and the officer in charge came up and said "So you were stopped, this other car hit you, and that's the third car that caused the accident?" Which was exactly what we wanted to hear. We explained our predicament (needing to leave for London) and he rushed through getting all the info, gave us a website to refer to for details and let us go on our way. Sadly, our insurance company took longer than he did to put much less info in the computer so we were standing there using all Mr. Nice Man's minutes and time. However, as he informed me when I asked, he had just flown in from Minneapolis for business the next day and had nothing to do today so it was fine with him to wait. See? That's why he gets capitalized!
So, soon-ish, we were back to parking and hoping our sore necks weren't really that sore. (second note to self: always, always, even if it seems silly, give yourself the extra time recommended by the airport. You never know when you'll need it.)We checked in, ate some fried comfort food (we were still pretty shaky), and checked in again (for passport control, they said). Our flight was 1/4 full, so we had loads of space, which we used in shifts for sleeping when Baby J decided he could do so. Unfortunately, he decided for several hours in the middle of the plane ride (as well as last night in the flat) that he really didn't want to sleep, so it was a rough ride for all of us. The space helped, however, and we learned some tricks for our return trip (which I am trying to avoid dreading even as I type).
Some 7 hours later, we arrived in Gatwick, which likes to welcome international travelers with a 5K walk to baggage claim. Omigosh, it was far! Customs was non-existent and immigration (or emigration? I never get those right...) was pleasant and fast. We then got on our cold weather gear and headed for the train into London, which arrived quickly. We were right in front of the handicap access car, which turned out to be the perfect place for the stroller (oh, excuse me, buggy). And then we got to Victoria Station in a jiffy and were ready to catch our bus, the last leg of our trip.
Or so we thought. Turns out, our bus directions were a bit faulty and the bus driver claimed to have never heard of our destination or that is was on another route, but we were already on and decided to just take the bus into the general area we wanted to go after confirming with a lovely local woman that this was a good idea. After we got what we thought was closeish, we got off and then went immediately to buy a very detailed map (third note to self: always bring a map). We found that we were, indeed, relatively close, but we needed to walk (uphill) for several blocks to find our way to our destination. We did, cheerily, since at least now we were sure where we were and the end was in sight, and got into the centre with no problem. We did manage to climb all the wrong stairs (5 flights) at first but then got ourselves sorted and climbed the right stairs (5 1/2 more flights), lugging Baby J and our bags behind us.
That afternoon, we got settled (the parents aren't due back from Wales until tonight), unpacked completely, walked around the neighborhood to check it out (I am going to have to do some shopping in London, it appears), at some Indian food (light samosas and chicken tikka masala with coconut--yummy) from the place around the corner, picked up some groceries (we were drinking all my parents' ginger ale at an alarming rate), gave Baby J a much needed bath and put him to bed, and then went right to sleep ourselves. The night was rough for me since J woke up at all sorts of times throughout, but eventually both he and I got some rest and woke up at a decent time in the morning, meaning that (we hope) tonight will go much more smoothly.