Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 17: Damascus to London

I started the first of two days of travel with a typical Syrian breakfast, hotel buffet style: foule (beans served with fresh tomatoes, diced onions, and herbs), a milky sweet bread pudding, a sweet cream of wheat-type warm cereal, chicken with tomatoes, hummus, and bread.

A very pleasant fellow, wearing a suit, met us at 8:30am in our hotel lobby to return us to the airport in the customary black Honda. Both he and the driver rode without their seat belts. Warning beeps accompanied most of our ride. You’ll recall our experience in coming into the country which I talked about on Day 12. In leaving the country, we only had one suit and a driver rather than three men tending to us. But the seat belt experience was the same. What is this?

He dropped us off at the VIP lounge, took our passports and luggage, and disappeared. He returned quite promptly with our boarding passes, luggage slips, and passports. We never saw an airline person or a customs or security official or any one else for that matter, except the fellow in the lounge who offered us tea. The boarding process started, we could tell from the lounge’s monitor, and we sat while our fellow talked with his friends or disappeared into the fray outside the VIP lounge. Suddenly realizing that we were minutes away from departure, he bundled us quickly into the car and raced across the tarmac to the plane. We were the last to board.

Just in case you are wondering about this VIP treatment, Katherine was working on a special project as part of the Monitor team in Syria and was being escorted by “protocol.” I was simply along for the ride.

The plane ride to London took about five hours and we began the process of setting our watches back, this time two hours. We spent the night at a hotel close to Heathrow, had Chinese food for dinner in the hotel (surprisingly good), and enjoyed drinking water from the tap. I didn’t have time to draw a chair.

No comments: