19 June 2012, Gail’s trip log

Well, today was interesting. We got up at 500 and went to get breakfast before the mobs. We were still moving, so obviously we were running a little late since we were supposed to be tied up by 500. Anyway, we went to our tour gathering point a few minutes before 700, got our stickers and sat down to wait. Dan made a visit to the loo with an iffy GI system, which thanks to some quick preventative drugs got better fairly soon. About 730 they told us they were running behind getting luggage off (which we had assumed, since arrived late). Finally they started calling tours and things were looking up. But suddenly they announced a ‘Code Alpha team report to the gangway’ over the PA system and we knew that was a medical emergency. Things came to a halt. We found out later that someone disembarking had a heart attack on the narrow gangway and they had to get an ambulance and set up a second gangway as quickly as possible. We finally got our call, waited in a long queue to leave, got our luggage and, after being knocked down by a man who was careless with his luggage cart, finally got on the bus and started out about 845. About 1 ¼ hours late, but we were off to Windsor at last. We had noticed a small refund on our tour on the final billing we got this morning and it turns out it was because we were not able to tour the royal apartments today, as they’re in use by guests of the Queen, who is in residence at the Palace this week – for Royal Ascot week, which started today. We went right by the grandstand on our way to the Palace. Fortunately it was early enough that it wasn’t a problem for us, though there was a queue of over a mile of motor vehicles going the other way, as they were being led by a coach and four horses, all of the occupants in proper morning dress for Ascot. We got to Windsor about 1000 and it was really awesome. It was a bit of a hassle to get in, but it was worth it once we got through security. You really need a whole day. We even got to see some of the changing of the guard ceremony, which was a fun surprise. We hadn’t even gotten near the Palace in London. Got some pictures of the guy standing at attention in his little hut guard post. St. George’s Chapel was really interesting, with all the amazing stained glass (much more than in any of the cathedrals) and all the monarchs buried there, including Henry VIII, George III, George V and the “Queen Mum”, and many others. It is expected that Elizabeth II will be there in due course, with her parents. We had to be back on the bus by 1230 to head for Heathrow – to start dropping people off for their flights. We got delayed by a fender bender between two of the terminals but since we aren’t flying out until tomorrow, it didn’t bother us. We even got the bus driver to drop us off last, at our hotel, and saved cab fare and some hassle. We got checked in – one of the nicest Sheratons so far – then went to get a late lunch about 230. Had the most superb fish and chips ever and then picked up a scone from the lobby Starbucks for bedtime. Now catching up on Facebook a bit since we have free internet. Have both had showers and have clothes ready for the morning. It will be a long day. We have to get up at 500 again and get a shuttle to the airport. We are flying Aer Lingus to O’Hare in Chicago, with a 3 hour layover in Dublin. We got to Chicago about 330 their time. Time to eat my muffin and get to bed.

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