I’m sitting in the British Airways Lounge North at Heathrow International Airport in London. It’s 13:50 local time, 6:50am back in the Centennial State. I don’t know if or when the international clock will become second nature, but have become quite proficient at adding/subtracting 12 from a whole integer. Thank you elementary school math - I’m so glad I paid attention-ish that year.
So, I started a new book a week ago called Dead Wake. It’s the retelling of the famous passenger ocean liner, the Lusitania, which was sunk my a German Uboat (U-20, for you history snobs) in the spring of 1915, during WWI. Quite appropriate, I thought, given my European sailing adventure.
Last night, as I settled into my modern day first-class accommodations to traverse the Atlantic, I was reading about the boarding of those ill-fated passengers a little over a century ago, and couldn’t help but mentally compare our experiences. Alfred Vanderbilt (of Vanderbilt fame/wealth) “tall and lean, with dark eyes and hair, and a taste for expensive suits…a welcome presence on board, especially among the women” seems like my most sensible comparison, for glaringly obvious reasons.
Alfred, accompanied by his valet, paid for a stateroom in first class that ran $22k in today’s dollars. Accompanied by my stuffed animal elephant, Eleanor, on loan from my 10 year-old, Charley, I purchased a business class ticket for about 1/10 the one-way fare. Certainly a win for modern economics, but some things come at a price.
Vanderbilt brought along 50 of his finest Italian-made suits. All possible, given that each passenger was allowed 20 cubic feet of luggage. At 50lbs a bag, I couldn’t bring myself to pack one, let alone many, tailored suits. The puffy jacket had not yet been invented in 1915, or Al could have brought several hundred. I packed one. Point for the 21st century in efficient packing…score for history on callous exuberance in clothing. 50 suits, Alfred, really?
What took me 6 hours of smooth flight time will take our spoiled little Lusitania passenger a week on the open ocean. Advantage, present day.
Vande wins on the entertainment front. Though I caught 3/4 of the latest Lasso episode before the airline WiFi crapped out, he will be treated to a billiards room, brandy and cigars, morally-casual women and nightly gambling and shows. One point for Vande. Although, slight subtraction for his selfish indulgence. I mean, you couldn’t have brought along a few of your buddies with all that railroad money, Alfred?
It’s really a toss up upon arrival - it would be unconscionable to compare sustaining a surprise torpedo attack by angry Germans to getting patted down AGAIN by handsy Brits in a stuffy terminal of smelly foreigners, after made to wait in line for an hour. Tie?
After some much needed sleep in the lounge, I ordered a trio of sandwiches found under the “High Noon Tea” section of the menu. I splurged for a cappuccino and may go for a martini in a bit to really embody the James Bond persona. My flight to Sweden leaves in a few hours, so not much time to canvas Heathrow as an international man of mystery before morphing into a Viking. Let’s talk again in Sweden…I’m curious what Alfred will do with all of his money, power, and killer threads in international water. Ta ta.
We're the Zimmerman Family!
Home Base | Denver, CO
A family of six that
LOVES to sail !
Follow our crew (Royce, Tara, Avery, Charley, Nora & Ruby)
as we blog our sailing adventures
Set Sail 4.22.23 | Las Palmas - Across the Atlantic - Island of Antigua
Set Sail 9.22.21 | Sweden - Germany -
Set Sail 7.18.19 | Newport, RI -
Martha's Vineyard, MA -
Nantucket, MA -
Thanks for reading !
Previous Trip Posts: