Snow Day

Dec 22, 2010

I'd only been back in Dubai for a day, but it was time to jet off once again, to London!
I couldn't wait, as this time I'd be meeting up with my friend Jesse from Canada who happened to be visiting! With only a few hours of sleep I headed off on what was a great flight with awesome crew. I'd been feeling homesick since my return to Dubai, and this trip was exactly what I'd needed to boost my spirits. I was hoping to surround myself by all things festive in hopes of regaining my usual excitement for Christmas.
After landing in London, we headed to the hotel to check in. Much to my delight, large snowflakes began falling from the sky. What great timing! A few of the crew members made a mad dash for the door, beaming as they announced that it was the first time that they'd seen snow in their lives. As a Canadian, it's simply unfathomable to think that some people have never experienced winter. They were beaming with happiness as I took their photos and a few for myself. There is something so magical about a fresh snowfall, if you can look past the bitter cold and terrible road conditions that follow.
Realizing that I had to be in the city to meet Jesse, I quickly went to my hotel room to change and catch a bus. I snacked on a chocolate bar to pass time during the long train ride until I'd finally reached Picadilly Circus. I was still a bit early, so I wandered to the giant souvenir shop where I was to meet Jesse and browsed the tacky displays of plastic phone booths and double decker buses. (In saying that, I plan to purchase a phone booth before I resign...)
As I was passing time, I spotted him!! It had been well over a year since we'd seen eachother, but there was Jesse, in London!! We excitedly hugged and chatted (okay, that part was mostly me) about our lives and what was new and exciting. I showed off my beautiful engagement ring, which happens to be one of my favorite things to do these days. We headed back into the cold. By Canadian standards, it was quite mild. The snow had melted and the sun was shining. I was absolutely freezing, of course.
We wandered the streets aimlessly with no plan or destination. It was nice to actually have company for once. Jesse had traveled all the way to London without a camera, which was a crime in my eyes. I forced him to stand in front of phone booths and pose in Trafalgar Square. We came across an art museum, which he happily rushed into upon discovery of a "Free Entry" sign. He's a bit of an artsy nerd boy, but that's what I love so much about having gay friends. We wandered the massive museum, him admiring the art as I made fun of the poses and hairstyles of the people depicted. After awhile we'd worked up an appetite, so we set out in search of a delicious meal. We stumbled across a cute little Italian place, full of more character than any restaurant in the city where we'd both grown up. That's one of the great things about London. We dined on pizza and pasta. He sipped a glass of wine while I stuck to my sparkling apple juice.
After a delicious (and inexpensive!) meal, we headed back out. Next stop... Starbucks! Jesse has been a loyal employee of my favorite coffee shop for years. Some of my earliest memories of him are ordering caramel macchiatos from his smiling face. We grabbed toasty warm drinks to keep us warm as the sun set over the city.
He was staying with a friend while visiting London, so it was time for us to go meet up with said friend. We hopped on the Tube and navigated flawlessly. Once we'd emerged at the station,we waited. And we waited. Eventually we recieved a message from Jesse's friend Ben, saying that he'd be late and to meet at a sushi restaurant across the street. We found the place and took a seat inside, and waited some more. I didn't mind, because it was extremely warm and I was happy to thaw my frozen self. We waited for what felt like forever, until Ben finally rushed in, apologetic. His parents were in town, on their way home to Canada after a 6 month stay in Syria. How random that we were all in London at the very same time. They were waiting for us at a restaurant, so we set off in search of it. Trusting Ben with navigating was perhaps the poorest decision we made that evening, as we found ourselves miles from where we needed to be, trekking through the cold in search of a tiny restaurant that I was beginning to believe was non-existent. After much confusion and even more backtracking, we eventually found our way to the fish and chip restaurant where Ben's parents were still sitting, despite having already enjoyed their meals. They were very sweet people, and we chatted about life in the Middle East versus Canada. They even paid for our meals, despite my objection. Time had flown by and it was getting late, so we all headed to the train station where we hugged and went our separate ways. It was a long journey back to the hotel, and I was so tired I felt that I was falling in and out of consciousness standing up on the train. Once I'd finally reached my room, I plopped into bed and called it a night.
The next morning I woke up shortly before my wakeup call and proceeded to get ready for the flight back to Dubai. As I entered the lobby I looked outside to find that it was snowing yet again, so much so that we were all pretty sure that we'd be delayed. Our thoughts were confirmed as we bused to the aircraft and watched the news reports that the Heathrow runways were closed. Despite this, we still rode the bus to the aircraft, where we discovered that the crew and all of the passengers were still onboard, since no gate had been available. We waited for a great deal of time, watching the news that reported the airport would not reopen for 3 hours. It was going to be a long day. Eventually, stairs were brought to the plane and passengers slowly disembarked, taken by buses to the terminal building. It was a long process, and after 3 hours on the bus we were finally allowed to board the aircraft as the other crew finally were taken to the hotel. The runways were still not open, so we passed the time by watching movies and gathering in the lounge where we'd set up our very own buffet. I know it sounds fun, but in reality it wasn't. I grew tired of airplane food months ago, and the entertainment system kept being restarted, starting the movies over from the beginning. An hour passed, and then another, and then even more. Nobody knew what was going on, not even the ground staff or the captain. A few of us decided to make the most of the time and headed outside to build a snowman. It was dark outside by this point, and freezing cold. We went back inside to warm up, and continue waiting. After 7 hours on the plane, we were restless and demotivated. We finally recieved word that we'd be returning to the hotel, which was a great relief after such a long day. For reasons that none of us understood, the crew meant to depart on the evening flight were brought to the aircraft. After being informed that the aiport would not reopen until morning, they were brought back to the hotel and we had to continue waiting for the bus to return to pick us up. By this point we were frusturated and dreaming of bed, so you can imagine our reaction when we learnt that the hotel was full and we'd be forced to share rooms. We thought it was a joke, until we unwillingly were told to choose our roommates for the night. I didn't know any of the crew very well, and ended up bunking with Connie, an American girl who just happened to be on her very first flight. What a great first impression. Luckily, she was very cool and I didn't mind sharing a room despite my desire to talk on the phone to Ryan for hours. She is also in a long distance relationship, so I had to be fair.
We woke up early the next day to find that we were on standby. Nobody knew when the airport would reopen, so we were stuck at the hotel until further notice. We spent the day flicking through TV channels, most of them broadcasting the airport closure that we were all well aware of. We briefly escaped the hotel to walk to a supermarket, where no good food was to be found. Trying to save our money as we'd yet to recieve our full meal allowance, we opted for a dinner of McDonald's. It was the first time I'd had it in 6 months and I thouroughly enjoyed every single guilty bite.
At around 8 pm we were informed that we'd be flying out that evening... wake up call was at 12:45 am. The entire crew was shocked and not impressed by this news, seeing as how none of us were well rested after a day of waiting for updates. We got in as much sleep as we could before dragging ourselves out of bed and downstairs to check out.
Much to our surprise, the flight departed on time and we were finally on our way back to Dubai after 3 days. The passengers were grateful they were finally on their way. Some of them told us stories about sleeping on the airport floors and missing out on days of their long awaited holidays. As crew, it had been extremely difficult, but we really couldn't complain in comparison to some of their stories. We finally landed in Dubai where we happily rushed out into the warmth. Home, sweet home. Or something like that. After spending my whole life in Canada dreaming of school or work cancellations, I'd finally had my first snow day.


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