Thursday, 31 July, was the day of travel.
We had decided to fly from Rygge Airport, just south of Oslo, and went there by car from our summerhouse. The trip was pretty eventless, but I have to say I was very uptight and tense. The entire trip was ahead, and this was the first time I went with my Dad and his family on a joint trip.
I'm generally nervous about these things, and as I've learned to cope with that and my anxiety attacks alone, I tend to feel even more stressed when I am around other people ...
We arrived at the airport and found long-term parking without any problems, and had one bag to check in (we sort of shared it, which was a great solution, as we could all have shampoos and stuff in the checked-in bag, and didn't have to worry about that going through security.
There weren't even a line to the check-in so things certainly worked out smoothly. Through security without a hitch, and for me it was great seeing what it was like travelling with a family, with kids (my two little sisters are 10 and 7½ years old - they are very used to travelling and are just amazing!!). I usually think I have enough of a worry to take care of myself and my bags and my passport and my boarding cards - and here it's everything times four! Incredible!!
My Dad and his family travel a lot, so they have a routine and a familiarity with a lot of things that I don't have, but I still think it's amazing they make it work so effortless.
I think we timed everything exeptionally well actually. We waited maybe 15-20 minutes after having checked in the bag for the security checks, and then we had to wait maybe another 20 minutes before standing in line for the passport control, and I think that is great ... I'd like to have a little extra time, just in case something happens.
We did stand in line at the gate a bit early and had to wait, but not too long. I do love Ryanair's new seating system, which is fantastic and should mean that you don't have to wait in line at the gate at all (although people do anyway!). The seats are numbered, if you like you can pay an extra fee to get the exact seat you want, providing you check in online more than seven days before departure. If you don't do this you will simply be allocated a seat when you do your online check-in, without paying anything extra. As there were five of us travelling together, I know my Dad and his partner watched this very closely and logged in at midnight, seven days before our trip, both to and from London, to check in, and in doing so, we all got seats together!
But since, when you come to the gate, you already have your seat, there's no need to stand in line or board the plane early, nobody will occupy your seat, so why hurry?!
So, we did get seats together at the plane, meaning I sat with my little sisters on one side of the isle, and my Dad and his parter sat on the other side of the isle ... perfect! Although I was constantly on edge and very uptight and nervous. In retrospect, I know there were no real reason for it, but reason and sense don't quite come into it when you have problems with anxiety.
The flight was ok, almost had a hard time catching up with my sisters as they talked almost constantly, but it worked out really well. I'm not used to flying now, and I did think it was quite bumpy going up, and a lot worse going down - but I have a feeling I'm a bit oversensitive too ...;)
We landed at Stansted Airport about 20 minutes early, walked to Passport control, which worked very smoothly. I usually let my Dad and his family go before me in queues and such, as they are a whole family, they have kids etc., but usually I was done before them ... in Passport control, in various security checks - they had a lot to check when four people come up, but I am alone and they usually just waved me through! :)
Though I did make a fool of myself a little, when the officer at Passport control asked me where I flew in from and I replied: "Swede....um, Norway!!" *LOL!* Felt like an idiot not even knowing where I came from - but it didn't feel like we were in Norway! :)
Our bag came quickly and then we headed for the bathroom, before going down to Stansted Express. We decided not to stress or hurry, but still made it on the 2.15-train, and it was nice and quiet and not a lot of people at all.
At this point I was almost exhausted ... from being so nervous and dealing with anxiety the whole day (I could never really relax), and I also suffered from my usual after-flight-heading, which kept getting worse because of the anxiety ... *sigh*
We came to Liverpool Street Station and it took a little while to figure out exactly from where our bus was leaving - and there actually is a different to "just check on something" when you are alone with one or two bags, or if you are five people with seven or eight bags!! :)
It didn't take very long to find bus 23 and be on our way but I think all of us were tired and I know the kids were really hungry. We got off the bus at Charing Cross station, where we saw a McDonald's sign, and the others went on ahead to get food.
I was going to pick up my London Pass, as the place closed at 4.30, and even though I was nervous and it was extremely hot, I felt quite all right. I think it was partly because I knew where I was going and what I was going to do, as I had done this in 2012 as well, and also because this was the first time on this extremely intense day that I had some time to myself.
I know, it sounds horrible that I'm complaining so much about my Dad and his family, and trust me, it won't continue like this!! They are amazing and I love them to bits, but this particular day was very hard for me, and when I'm having difficulties dealing with things, being around other people makes it ten times worse.
So anyway, collecting my London Pass worked out really well - and I just love the place where you do it because it's almost unreal ... Maybe I'll even make a separate post about it later on! :)
I met the others at McDonald's, and believe it or not but they had just gotten their food when I got there. I hurried and ordered my meal and we were basically done at the same time.
Took another bus to Sussex Gardens, managed to get off at the right bus stop and it didn't take long to find Olympic House Hotel. Checking in was a bit ... weird... Again I let my Dad and the others go first, but we had a hard time speaking English, and the lady in the reception had a hard time speaking English (and I think she was hard of hearing as well) so it took a while before she realized we were travelling together but had booked two rooms! :)
Eventually it all worked out, the other had gotten a room on the ground floor while I was on the third floor, so I took the elevator up - and couldn't find my room! *slightly panicky!* It turned out I had my room out near one of the staircases (apparently most single rooms are situated like that, it was the same in 2012 at the Orchard Hotel). The room was quite nice, very small of course, but everything was clean and tidy and seemed to work out, with a really nice bathroom! And they had one normal EU electrical socket - meaning the adapter I had convinced everyone we needed to charge cellphones and batteries was completely unnecessary! *lol*
After a little while I heard a knock on my door and there were my Dad and my two little sisters, wanting to see how I was going to live! :) :) We decided we would get settled for a little while and that I would come down to their room in about half an hour and maybe we could go for a little walk or something.
I was completely exhausted and was afraid I'd fall asleep, so I tried not to relax too much, and managed to, after a bit of a wander, find my way to the "family room" (as I later on used the stairs, which were quite narrow, very steep and very uneven and felt like the were leading up to a tower, I came to call my room the Tower-room, with the Tower-staris leading up to it! *lol*).
We decided to go for a walk, and ended up at Paddington station. Before the trip I had read the story about Paddington to the girls and they were of course excited to be at the station where he was originally found. I didn't expect to find much there, but there's this gorgeous wonderful lovely Paddington statue (have tons of beautiful photos of the girls with Paddington, but for privacy reasons I won't publish them here) - and they also had the most amazing Paddington store!! Everything was superexpensive, of course, but it was fantastic just to go around and look at everything.
I didn't feel very well at all though, all the tension and anxiety and weariness caught up with me and after Paddington station we split up. My Dad and the girls went back to the hotel, the girls' mother went to buy something to eat and some water, and I really felt I needed to be on my own for a while, so I took a walk around the area for about half an hour. Went by the "family room" when I came back to collect some of my luggage from their bag, and then climbed up the stairs to my Tower Room! :)
I have to say that this day was the hardest. Everything worked out really well on a practical level, but emotionally it was really rough. I'm very grateful I had my own room at the hotel and that the room was so nice, because I could truly relax and unwind there, and I think I very much needed that!