Sometime in early December I found a ticket price of about $17 to London… I figured I had no choice but to purchase it and that I absolutely needed to buy it. Once that decision was firmly set I had to quickly try and find some housing in/near/close to London which I managed to do with help from my brother and mother, and now my friends. I was invited into their lovely home and made to feel like one of their cats. Which is one of the highest honors one can achieve (and cats aren’t told to clean up the table).
Day 1 in the London area (I was an hour or so north of London) I got to attend the Nativity presentation in the ward and it was lovely! The only surprise was we all clapped at the end of the presentation! This is just so uncommon to me but I loved it and I really do think those kids deserved all of the applause. And then, just for David’s sake, we played games for 6 hours. It turns out I’m not terrible at Timeline, but fairly awful at Codenames.
Day 2. The walk
This day I caught a ride into Finchley and from Finchley took the underground to King’s Cross station. I get really uneasy in the underground and dislike traveling in it alone. But with some amazing directions I was able to successfully navigate my way to downtown London. From here I started to explore on foot… I had no plan, except to get to the Hyde Park Chapel by 12:30 pm. This allowed me the ability to choose a street at random and walk down it. So… through pure random chance I stumbled upon:
- Trafalgar Square
- The National Gallery: and saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers
- Buckingham Palace, at about the right time for the changing of the guards
- The V.A.
I really had no idea where I was until I looked at a map. I stopped caring what I saw once I saw the Sunflowers… I’ll admit that I also teared up. That Doctor Who episode killed me and is probably my favorite episode of Doctor Who ever.
Buckingham Palace confused me so much… All the roads were closed leading up to it, and there were so many people all standing around. So basically I saw this big building and a huge crowd and only when I got closer to the building did I pull out my phone and check. I definitely said “ah, this makes sense. That’s the flag, looks like the queen is home” out loud, because I talk to myself… What of it?
After this I met up with a great friend and we went and explored the Winter Festival in Hyde Park, and then went to Big Ben, which was under construction… I thought it was hilarious! After we parted I swiftly walked in the wrong direction. Once i realized this I had walked too far to turn around (nor would I have) and had to add an extra mile or two to my walk to make up for it, and then I raced Google Maps back to the tube station I wanted. I beat the prediction by 10 minutes with adding the 2 miles of wrong way. So Google, never tell me it will take me an hour to walk 2.3 miles. That’s rude.
Days 3-7 of England
I read a lot of articles, saw a great movie, went into Leighton Buzzard ate a good BLT, went back into London and saw another friend, and did more holiday things. It was a great time.
Day 7 The Exodus…
On this day I awoke at 6:00 am and got ready for what turned out to be the bus ride from hell. Maybe not for me but for everyone else on that bus they were definitely annoyed and mad and eventually someone got thrown off the bus (spoiler).
I got a ride from my friends to the train station at 6:40 in the morning. The train was 11 minutes late… This bothered me a lot, but I figured it would be ok. It was, I arrived at the Victoria Coach Station with 10 minutes to spare. So as I walked to the back of the bus to check in and get my luggage under the coach I was informed that the luggage area was full and I would have to put my bag under my seat. Luckily I pack small so it was easy to do… I finally calmed down because I was on the bus, it no longer mattered what happened I would be ok. At this point we were 15 minutes late on leaving when the announcement comes over the bus. “Everyone needs to get off the bus, we are repacking the bus and those of you with too much luggage will be made to stay” Dun, Dun Duh!!!!!!!! I got off the bus with the fellow passengers and re-queued. I got to cheat because I was going all the way to the last stop so I boarded and “dropped” off my luggage first (I stuck it under my seat to save space for everyone else).
So we all board the bus again and it eventually leave, an hour and a half late. We drive all the way to the underground channel and have to get off the bus and go through passport control. Get back on the bus and drive towards the channel… THEN WE DROVE INTO A TRAIN CAR. Not a crash, but into it. We became the cargo. I ended up napping on what I thought was everyone loading into the train but really it was the train moving under the water and then BAM, I was in France. Strangely enough 14 years after I was there for the first time.
Everything was pretty uneventful. We somehow made up an hour driving to Cologne. I was terrified I’d miss my exchange but everything turned out alright for me… Enter this man who I had traveled with from England. His luggage was apparently too heavy and big and they didn’t want to load it. So he got angry and mean and may have thrown a punch. The cops came and he was removed from the bus driver. Once this happened we left on our way.
So now I’m in Germany. It was pretty great.