For the first time since I was in college, I am back in Europe. I studied art at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and spent a little over a month of the summer between my third and fourth year of school studying in Florence, Italy (Firenze, Italia). I’d gotten a Eurrail pass, and planned to travel outside the country on the weekends, but the realities of recovering from the weekdays of school, plus other opportunities in Italy meant that I never was able to achieve that goal at the time. I made the goal for myself to get back to Europe and photograph the places I’d missed at the time.
It’s taken me a few years, but I’m finally doing just that.
For those who didn’t follow along with the creation of Geek Field Guide, the concept is that GFG travels the world documenting through photographs, writing, and other media the unique places that you may not be able to visit on your own. My business partner and I ran an Indiegogo campaign that funded enough to get us to Europe, but life got in the way for a bit, causing my partner to regretfully leave the company, and me to take time to deal with health issues, causing the project to be put on hold. Fortunately, things finally have turned around enough to where I can make this happen. My former business partner wasn’t able to join me this time around due to previous commitments, but a friend has offered to travel with me as a photo assistant as we visit some of the places that she wanted to see as part of a trip she’d already planned. This was a great opportunity for me, as it will allow me to talk to her local friends and experience the culture in a way that I wouldn’t be able to as a tourist alone.
First off, TSA Precheck is wonderful. Preparing for a major trip is stressful enough. Not having to worry about unpacking half your bag at the airport helps ratchet the stress down a bit.
Security complete, we had plenty of time before the flight, and relaxed until the flight.
Side note: I am 6’2″, and not skinny. The investment in getting seating with extra legroom was money well spent.
All in all, the flight went smooth, if long, and we arrived in London-Heathrow airport some blurry number of hours later. If changing time zones is this annoying, I have to imagine time travel is going to utterly suck if we ever figure that one out. Also disorienting? Riding the shuttle bus from one terminal to the other. As an American, it’s easy to get a bit anxious when the bus you’re crammed onto turns right into the left lane. Your brain screams, “WE’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY,” but you see everyone else is driving on the left, so it may actually be okay after all.
The main terminal of Heathrow is… an experience. I’ve seen high-end malls which… no, scratch that. Even in Los Angeles, I’ve not seen a mall as high-end as what Heathrow is like. Every big ticket brand is represented in some way. It’s like someone dialed capitalism to 11 there (it’s louder?) and just let the corporations go nuts.
Examples of rampant capitalism and touristic mentality: