Friday, October 1, 2010

Anything off the trolley dears?

***ATTENTION*** The following was written last Friday morning: ***ATTENTION***

Cheerio Mates! This message comes to you from London, England, United Kingdom! Pam and I spent the entire day traveling yesterday and I thought we were going to have to sleep in the train station, but everything ended up working out just fine! Hooray for having friends in random European locations!
So: I would like to first address Pam's very special birthday as I haven't talked about it yet! Most of the day was normal until night time when we met our friends at Hannigans (honestly, where else?). It was open mic night so I got to sing a little while our friend Courtney played the guitar, it was so cool! I think Pam enjoyed herself and was happy to just relax with good friends for her birthday.

Fun festivities of a birthday party aside, it was not a fun time waking up the next morning. Our bus to Madrid left at 8:00am which meant that we had to be there by 7:40 (at the latest), which means that we had to catch a bus to the bus station by 7:15, which means we had to leave our house by 7:10, which means that we woke up at 6:45. We're college students. However, I am pleased to report that this leg of our journey went swimmingly and we made it onto the bus without a hitch. About five hours- and a great nap- later we pulled into the Madrid bus station. Armed with directions on how to get to the airport, we took to the street and we were immediately confused. Nothing looked right and we could not find the street that we were supposed to be on anywhere! However, all was not lost! Upon looking at our bus tickets once more, we realized that when we had changed them (to avoid the huelga) the woman had also changed the bus station. Once this was realized, however, this was not a problem as the bus station we were ACTUALLY at had a metro stop part of it that went straight and directly to the airport (it doesn't get much easier than that). When we finally reached the airport we signed in and went into the boarding area. For some reason, in Madrid they don't tell you your terminal number, you have to sit and wait until about a half-hour/hour before your flight when it scrolls across the screen and then you run like crazy to get there on time. This also went well and after a few more quick naps in the airport, we found our plane and boarded.

I have heard absolute horror stories about Ryan Air so I was expecting the absolute worst, but I was pleasantly proven wrong. Thankfully I'm not terribly obese or did not have to use the bathroom because then I would have been charged, and thankfully I was not tempted to buy any of the things that they try to sell you while on the flight (including "Smokeless Cigarettes"). We got to London right on time and without any problems, but the next task was to find out where our train was. I realize that everything was in English, but it was like a foreign language- so hard to understand! Thankfully we asked a lovely British woman and she helped us find our way without a problem.

***ATTENTION*** The following was written today: ***ATTENTION***

I don’t know why, I just really wanted to write “ATTENTION” in capital and important looking letters. In any case, let us return to my London Adventure!
When we arrived at King’s Cross Station, yes the same one from Harry Potter, we immediately began our search for Platform 9 ¾, and we found it! They have a sign with the name and half of a trolley that is literally glued to the wall so that when you hold it it looks like you are “going through the wall” to the Hogwart’s Express! This, my dear friends, was like a dream come true for both Pam and I. After many photographs and exuberant giggles in response to a British man’s “It’s not real girls!” Pam and I began our search for my friend James who is interning in London this semester. Fifteen (if not more) futile minutes and the realization that our lovely cell phones do not work outside of Spain later; we began the search for an internet café (Pam’s AWESOME idea). Right when I was on the verge of tears, we found what we were looking for, I signed into Skype, and James was online! Soon after, we were embracing in King’s Cross station- I’ve never been so happy to see anyone before in my life!

The next day, James and Pam’s friend Casey had to work at their internships so we were given a lovely little tour by Pam’s friend Jennie who is studying at King’s College. We first made a quick visit to the British Museum then met up with Jennie’s cousin Patrick (he is studying at Oxford for the year). Our spectacular lunch was at a Portuguese restaurant (yes, in London!) near Jennie’s dorm. Next we found ourselves at the supermarket in search for peanut butter. No one eats the delicious spread in Spain so it is very expensive; however, the English LOVE their peanut butter (at least in London they do- it’s a very international city) so it is very cheap. I bought a jar. Happy and fed we went to Jennie’s residence hall and then she gave us our tour of Hampstead. Luckily, school had just ended so we got to see dozens of adorable little British children running about, and we finished our tour with a visit to a little café. Pam drank a latté and I had a dark hot chocolate (literally warm milk with a block of dark chocolate on a stick to be dipped in the liquid- divine). By the way, we rode on the tube and double decker busses! Also, in true London fashion it rained the entire day.

That night we returned to the other side of London to meet up with James, Jayson (another friend of mine from Stonehill who is interning in London), and one of their house mates and we were joined by one of Jennie’s friends, Nicola (she’s from Trinidad). We went to the “Friend at Hand,” a pub very close to James and Jayson’s flat, and I was determined to try an extremely British food so I ate a “Chip Butty” which was literally French fries between two pieces of white bread with a small salad on the side! However, as they say, (the following is to be read in a very thick British accent) do not knock it until you have tried it! It was simply smashing. Later that we went to a dance club called O’Neills. It had three floors, the first dedicated to a bar, the second to a smaller bar and small dancing areas, and the third to a mosh pit that stood in front of a stage that housed a live rock band. It was so much fun! We definitely boogied down.

The next day James gave me a speed tour of London. We visited Buckingham Palace, looked up at Big Ben, took a peek at the River Thames, gazed at the London Eye, saw a London Duck Boat, and visited Kingston Palace (I think that’s what it’s called- sorry James!) where James is doing his internship. It was a very quick tour, but it was still amazing and hilarious to see that many people thought that James was a local- he was asked for directions about 5 times! James also insisted that I try a Pasty and as they eat them in Harry Potter, I indulged. It was quite delicious and I highly recommend it to anyone. Pam spent her day with her friend Casey. They had a lovely brunch in a French café, visited the British Museum once again where they have the Rosetta Stone, visited Casey’s university in downtown London where there was an activities fair, went to a second-hand clothing store that also triples as a vintage bowling alley and restaurant, shopped for tourist gifts, met up with Jennie and her friends, and ended with some classic silly pictures (again in the museum) until the fire alarm went off and they were forced to evacuate. Our days intersected at King’s Cross where we bid farewell to our friends and jumped on a train to another train to a plane to a very long night in Madrid. I would not advise anyone to buy plane tickets that arrive in Madrid at 12:20 am and bus tickets that arrive in Madrid at 8:00 am. Let’s just say it’s not as fun as it sounds.

Thankfully, we eventually made it back to Granada (after a sleepless night of riding the night buses of Madrid) and we started classes on Monday. We have since been trying to keep up with Amalia’s homework and make sure that we make it to our classes on time. Right now, I better run as we have Flamenco classes soon. I will fill you in on more of what’s going on in our lives soon!

PS Love you so much!

PPS I guess people have been having trouble commenting on the blog- sorry, I don’t know how to fix it! Any ideas?


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