England, part 1: Getting to Oxford
I have no fear of flying. We flew to Holland regularly to visit family when I was little, and it was always a big treat for me -- I still have the KLM "Junior Stewardess" pin I was given on a flight in 1974 -- so I have all these pleasant childhood memories of being on airplanes. However, every single aspect of getting on and off a plane -- from buying the ticket, to getting to the airport on time, to running the gauntlet of customs and security checks, to standing by the baggage carousel hoping one's suitcase is here & not in Budapest -- scares the living crap out of me. So many opportunities for things to go catastrophically wrong!
A few things nearly did go wrong on my way to Pearson. At Kipling I somehow got on the 191 bus instead of the 192, and if a kind West Indian lady had not leaned over & said, "Are you trying to go to the airport?" seconds before the bus took off, I would have wound up way the hell out on Steeles instead. Then I couldn't figure out which stop to get off at when we got to Pearson, and the driver was having a screaming argument with the father of a family of four over the fare, so it was impossible to ask, and I wound up at Terminal 1 when I needed to be at Terminal 2. But I was still about an hour early, and I took the nifty airport monorail to where I needed to be.
And then my carry-on was too heavy but the nice check-in guy let me keep it anyway, and then I was finally on the plane, watching the sun rise over the Atlantic.
I took a coach from Gatwick to Oxford, through green countryside dotted with pheasants and red-brick farm buildings, and checked in at the Oxford YHA. It was spartan, but quiet and clean, and in the mornings they had the most amazing breakfast buffet, included in the (very low) accommodation price. I have no idea why the colours came out so horribly in this photo -- the breakfast was much more appetizing in real life.
Note the sausage, which was fresh and delicious, and the grilled tomato. A grilled tomato on your breakfast plate = surefire sign you are in England.
More photos here.