Yes, it is that time again. In less than 10 hours I will board a plane to HEL. I’m fairly sure the runway will be paved with good intentions (!). You might recall my previous posts about HEL, the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport; the rather unfortunate IATA code is just such easy fodder!
Unfortunately, in those 9.5 hours I have to sleep, finish packing, travel to the airport, check-in, and wait…so I’d better get started. But first, just this quick post to say hi to everyone out there, especially those of you whose e-mails I have recently ignored (I promise to rectify that before Christmas at the very least!), and a Happy Thanksgiving to Americans everywhere too.
The next week will be a flurry of work, and the week after will be a non-flurry of Japanese vacation bliss! This morning I had 47,000 YEN burning a hole in my pocket (in just 7 bills it doesn’t seem like much, but is actually about US$600) to get us started on the trip, and I think all other arrangements are ready to go. Astrid has a couple more days to finish up work and get ready, then she’s off to Heathrow as well, flying non-stop on BA to Tokyo.
So, I’ll leave you with two random pictures from the last couple of weeks, pulled off my Blackberry…
This is the view from the roof terrace of 55 Broadway, which is London Underground's headquarters. I had the privilege of attending an evening event there, and we were rewarded with this amazing view. Many of the key players in the London skyline are present here. From left to right: the London Eye (a wheel ride on the South Bank of the Thames); Big Ben and the clock tower at the Houses of Parliament at Westminster; The Shard, the soon-to-be-completed irregular triangular glass tower by Renzo Piano that, at just over 1,000 feet will be the tallest building in Europe - and just happens to be right next to Astrid's office; the twin towers of Westminster Abbey, traditional site of royal coronations, weddings (including the recent nuptial), funerals, and burial; and, finally, the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament, which was the tallest secular building in the world when completed in 1858. Off to the left the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral was visible, and just to the right is one of my favorite buildings in London, the neo-Byzantine Westminster (Catholic) Cathedral. What a view!
A much less famous but more appropriately me picture; this is the morning rush-hour scene at 8:20am at our station, Earlsfield, this past Monday; it was a bad morning peak with emergency maintenance work taking place at Waterloo, the London terminal, so each inbound train was leaving about 30 people per door unable to board (with 24 doors per train). The two red trains in the foreground are the type providing our 16 trains per hour all day every day, and you can just see a London-bound train passing on the express tracks to the right. This is also a perfect capture of London weather this time of year (well, really, from September to April) - gray and a bit foggy with a dampness practically visible in the air!