Snow and Canceled Flights

I’m snowed in. In grade school this would have been an awesome day but it means my flight from Newark to Houston has been canceled and there’s no way I can make my Houston to Managua flight today. I called Continental this morning to try to reschedule and it said the hold time was “290 minutes”. Um. I ended up calling the number for Continental in Nicaragua and got through in about two minutes. The lady wasn’t very useful and my mobile phone dropped the call, so I ended up calling the number in the states again which just rang busy.

So I called the number in the UK and was connected within a minute to a very helpful lady who searched routes on partner airlines, other airports and the lot. In the end she was only able to get me a flight out on Monday, so I took it for the time being and figured I’d call back later. Indeed, I called back later to the US number after looking for availability online. I got through within ten minutes, but the guy at the US call center was completely unhelpful and useless, so I gave up with him and called back later.

The next lady at the US call center was equally useless and I basically had to tell her what to look for and how to route the flight and what options were available to her. After much haggling, I ended up showing her a route via Norfolk, VA tomorrow that she could book and she was able to move me on to it. I feel bad for most folks who don’t have most hubs and partners for airlines memorized, that they have to deal with these incompetent ticket agents. They probably end up hitting a brick wall with them and get stuck in these places until like Tuesday (as the lady first suggested to me).

We dug the driveway out of snow and ice this morning, which took an hour and a half. The weather has seemed to warm up (it’s 1C right now) and they’re saying the storm has passed so fingers crossed that I’ll get to fly out tomorrow.

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Turandot at the State Theatre of New Jersey

On Sunday my parents and I went to see a matine show of Turandot at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. This was the third opera I’d gone to see and the first I’d enjoyed. The theater was not equipped with an orchestra pit (or perhaps it was and the director didn’t use it?) so the entire orchestra, plus 20-odd choir members were on stage, behind the actors. Given the lack of stage space, there wasn’t much room for a set so there pretty much wasn’t any at all. The performance was done with their acting and singing alone.

I think the thing that hooked me on this opera was how powerful the music was, right out of the gate. It was powerful, quick paced and seemed design to entertain as well as be sophisticated. The plot was action packed and the scoring sounded modern and fresh, not dissimilar from what a movie’s soundtrack would sound like today. It also helped that I read the plot first before I went to see the show, which meant I could follow along more closely to boot.

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Last Days in London and Arriving in New Jersey

My last few days in London were quite fun. On Tuesday night, we made it out to the West End and saw Spamalot. It was hilarious. Most of the script was pulled right from the Holy Grail movie, but there were some lines updated and others changed all together, but in good taste. There were times when I was nearly out of my seat laughing. The seats too weren’t bad for 20 pound.

Wednesday was a fairly uneventful day. I woke up late, watched some TV, walked around the Kings Cross and Chapel Market areas to do some errands then came back to my sister’s pad by the time she was done with school. When she was back, we went down to Waterloo station to catch a train to Egham to have dinner with my cousin. The three of us had a nice dinner at some small-ish place on the Egham high street, then went back to his house there for a while. After hanging out for a bit, we caught the next train back to London and listened to Queens of the Stone Age on my sister’s mobile phone.

While traversing the tube back to Kings Cross, it was a bit of madness with loud drunk Brits stumbling everywhere speaking what could only be guessed to be English. I was reminded more than once of having a clean shirt from Peep Show. We had plans to go out in the evening, but it turned out to be too late when we got back so we called it an early day.

Thursday about noon-ish we left SOAS and went to Carnaby Street to try to eat a bean burger that I’d been raving about for years to my sister and her friends. They’d maintained that the so-called bean burger was a fabrication of my imagination, so I decided to have lunch at a place where I know I’d had one before on Carnaby Street. Alas, it turned out to be true. The spicy bean burger is dead, long live the leek burger. My favorite pub food had been replaced. We’d in fact tried to search them out for dinner on Tuesday before the show in the West End and I’d totally failed. The leek burger, the new veggie burger at this pub, was good, but it just wasn’t the same.

We walked around the area for a while then decided to make our way to Seven Dials. Pretty cool little area and we did some window shopping there, as well as taking some model shots for (look on my pictures site for examples). We started to walk back towards Kings Cross but stopped in to the Grape Street Wine Bar for a bottle of champagne, which was a great idea, then continued back on our walk. We were meeting some other friends at 830pm for dinner, so we went back to get ready.

Our dinner was in the Bayswater area, so we took the tube out there. Unfortunately, our first venue of choice (a Persian place) had almost no veg options (both my sis and I are vegetarian) so we walked a few blocks over to find a Mexican restaurant that turned out to be awesome. We had nachos, chips, salsa, guacamole, margaritas, beers, enchiladas, taco salads, the works. All told between the four of us, we put away over nearly 130 pounds worth of food (no, not “lbs” but “GBP”). Pretty dear, but it totally hit the spot. After dinner, we settled in to a nearby pub to finish the night off.

Then on Thursday, I woke up at 630ish to get ready and finish packing, then went to the Kings Cross Thameslink station to catch a train to Gatwick. The flight to Newark was uneventful and the plane was thankfully not full (altho the seat pitch on the Continental 777-200s is terrible, I could barely cross my legs). I passed out last night at 1030pm unable to stay awake any longer. This week is just going to be about relaxing and doing a lot of nothing. I’ve got plans to make it out to NYC on Monday to meet up with Derek and will probably go again at some point with my family.

The trip is 60% done! Three weeks of five finished, just this week here in NJ and a week in Central America left until it’s back to the real world.

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