The final bits of packing and leaving the house went smoothly. Kaden was pleasant, though spacey. Stu and I stayed up after we put him to bed at his normal time and we watched Ice Age 3 (didn’t get to finish it though, poo). We got him up and into his car seat still in his jammies and though he didn’t fall back asleep on the way to the airport, he was a pleasure to ride with.
At the airport he entertained himself by watching his reflection in the window which looked like a mirror because it was dark. We were in the new Etihad terminal and (as) if you needed another reason to fly Etihad, this is it. It’s brand spanking new and only for Etihad travelers which means you’re not stuck in the general airport waiting area, which, as anyone who’s flown through AD knows, is crowded and loud and bright. The Etihad terminal is fabulously uncrowded and has ample seating anyway. Truly lovely.
The first flight started off fine. Kaden was obviously tired (it was 3:30 AM) but remained in good spirits nonetheless. He kept up his good mood through the “snack” of a chicken salad sandwich and then decided he was dead tired (and full) and cried for about an hour before he finally gave up and passed out on Mommy’s lap. It was sweet at first but then my hip fell asleep and I had to pee really bad, so I had to carefully maneuver out from under him.
Unfortunately the meal this time was pretty downright bad, which is odd for Etihad (and stay tuned, this is NOT what I have to say about the final meal on the way home). Eating it with real silverware did make up for it a bit, but it was still pretty raunchy. Even Kaden wouldn’t eat his egg, but filled up on yogurt and a croissant instead.
The 8-hour flight seemed to go by very fast and we found ourselves in London. Getting through the security checks to our waiting area was basically painless (remember this for the return journey) and we had a nice breakfast at TGIFriday’s during our layover. Stu had steak and eggs and Kaden and I split an omelet that featured REAL ham and was decidedly excellent.
While waiting in London for our gate to open, one of the (super buff) staff ladies noticed that Kaden was growing tired of his coloring book and hauled over an activity table to where we were sitting. It had an abacus one of those beads-on-wires things mounted to it. He exclaimed, “Coo-wool!” and blew raspberries as his “bead cars” drove along the wires for the next 20 minutes. Thanks, airport lady!
Waiting in London, looking at the AA flight we would soon board.
Stu and I agreed that it definitely didn’t feel like we’d been travelling for 15 hours already. It felt like a longer trip to Italy in April. We were very grateful. We were also grateful for Etihad giving Kaden a pouch thing with coloring book, colored pencils, stickers, and a blank jigsaw puzzle for him to color on. We had yet to even bust into our “new” packages yet (the toys we bought specifically for the plane).
After getting seating on our American Airlines flight, Kaden fussed some about his seatbelt but then went right to sleep before takeoff. Unfortunately, met his tolerance threshold a couple hours into the flight and then made life pretty miserable for us and our neighbors for the rest of the flight. As good and easy-going as the first flight had been, the second flight was as miserable. We busted into some of the prizes, and enjoyed those for a few minutes, but he was mostly just miserable.
We got to Raleigh and had to wait for about 45 minutes in line at customs, which sucked. Kaden was so sleepy and upset that we basically became the entertainment of the line, trying to soothe him for minutes at a time. I pointed out every truck (he thinks they’re all “Mater” from Cars) I could see and we discussed the trees and airplanes (he was understandably wary about talking about those). We finally got through and easily got our luggage and car and headed off.
We got to the hotel and could not stop talking about how beautiful the area was. It was so green and lush. I would imagine, living somewhere else in America where grass grows naturally, one might not go to Raleigh and be overwhelmed by greenery, but having lived so long where we do, it was the greenest place I’d ever seen.
The people were all amazing nice and helpful in Raleigh. We got checked into our hotel and headed off to Walmart (I just couldn’t wait anymore, hehe) for some supplies and then got Wendy’s on the way back. We kept talking about how courteous and polite everyone was. I finally got my chicken muggets with honey mustard that I’ve been craving for months and it was even better than I’d remembered.
Poor Kaden kept asking to go to bed throughout his dinner. We ended up staying up until about 8:00, which I was pretty proud of, as long as we’d been awake.
Sorry about only one pic, it's hard to remember to snap them when you're sleepy and travelling. :) More to come!