I can't believe I'm writing this again! In the past (as in one month and one day ago, exactly!) I might have been more bitter about the first post getting erased, but I really think I've become a lot more comfortable/used to kind of bad things randomly happening, and then just dealing with it and moving on. Like rain and wind and unpredictable internet breakdowns. Oh, Europe!
I felt a little strange leaving the Madrid airport. I really had some emotional times there-. From arriving and experiencing my first of many Spanglish conversations, to my first time getting on the Spanish metro, to my last night in Spain...the Madrid airport had become a sort of home-base for me, I suppose.
But anyways I was pretty ready for a change of scenery after being there 8 hours. And so I arrived in London!
I'm hoping that since this is my second attempt at writing about London that my descriptions will be a little more clear. But honestly, my two and a half days in London are a blur. The city was great, but a LOT to take in during such a short time. Also the main point of our stay ("our" as in myself and about 20 other American students) was to attend an orientation hosted by Butler about everything England. This was really nice of them and I learned a few things about the UK that I might not have known...but the lectures and paperwork took away some sightseeing time. Luckily I was so exhausted from Spain that the sitting didn't bother me too much.
My first day in London was pretty weird for me because the previous day never really ended (similar to my Canada/Spain transition). By the time I navigated myself and 2 suitcases through the Gatwick airport, to the bus station, and through the London underground "tube," I got to the hotel in the late afternoon. HOTEL!! A real hotel, with doors that locked and a cleaning lady and a real mattress with a comforter and everything! It was great.
We were staying in Notting Hill, actually, which is kind of on the outskirts of London...but right across from Hyde Park and Kew Gardens! I went running there and it was very beautiful. It was great, too, to see other people running. Did I mention no one runs in Spain? I guess they're too busy taking siestas every afternoon...haha. So yeah, the parks were really nice. The weather was pretty gross. But I didn't mind too much. When I left the parks, though, and ran on the streets, it was a whole new experience. First, I'm glad I didn't (and still haven't) been hit by a car driving on the left side of the street. Secondly, I'm glad I didn't injure myself by colliding with pedestrians. Seriously! I ran into two people in two days. This is how it happens. So the weather is so crappy in London that people don't want to wait outside for the busses (yes, those big red double decker ones!!hehehe). So they pile in the VESTIBULE (shout out:alanna klos) of the nearest cafe/shop, and wait till they see the bus coming. Then they run out the doors onto the sidewalk like crazy people! And collide with innocent joggers! So yes, I slammed right into two bus-catchers during my stay.
Okay, but actual sights and interesting things. Well. Thanks to an excellent tour guide, I saw quite a bit of London in just one day! Since I had caught up on my sleep during the first day and a half, the last day I really caught up on my sightseeing. I saw like a billion things and can't remember all of their names :(. Lots of pretty government buildings and the Thames and Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. We rode the London Eye when it was dark, too. That was definitely a really good decision. I mean, I guess all cities look pretty at night, you know? But London was kind of different. I think it was Big Ben that did it for me. That was my favorite thing in London, I think. The whole city just rumbled every half hour and it was just....well, cool! I know, this is such a typical touristy account, but I can't pick any really detailed adjectives to describe these things I saw for only minutes.
Oh! Hamley's toy store was so...big. Wow. I also really liked Soho. London has a little Chinatown, too! I still fancy the Chinatowns of New York City and DC-and (Katie Collins) they did not have a Wok and Roll. Haha.
My clearest memories of London are just little things that happened, like the collisions and whatnot. There was this internet cafe right outside of our hotel, and I befriended the man who ran it. It was in a basement below a convience store, and was soooo warm and cozy compared to the cold rainy streets. I spent some time there (2 hours exactly, in fact) over the trip and had some good chats with my friend. He also worked in the store above and gave me some free postcards! And he gave me a lesson on all the different coins.
The money here is quite different and some of it doesn't really make sense (what a pun..ha). Like the coins are actually worth quite a bit, you know? The biggest one has a value of two pounds, which is like 4 dollars, which is like...the cost of one washing machine in my dorm. Not kidding. But anyways I'll try not to whine too much about money because we all are. I mean, Americans over here in particular are having trouble with the exchange rate, of course. But another thing is that British kids over don't really save up for college like Americans do. It's wayyyyy cheaper for them to go to university than Americans, but since not everyone goes or expects to go, they're taking out loans and eating Ramen noodles (well, "Pot Noodles," actually) just like me. One of my flatmates ate only bagels for 3 days because she had no money in her account because her loan from the government hadn't come in yet. I offered her some of my food, but she is actually quite keen on bagels! Haha. Her name is Lauren-"Loz"-and she's in love with America and majoring in American Studies. Alanna, I told her to go to New York for a real bagel :)
Anyways, I'm supposed to be writing about London. Oh! A big highlight of London was that I bought a PHONE. I called my mom and gave her quite a surprise! Hehe.
One night we went and saw Rain Man, a play starring Josh Harnett, in the city. It was an alright show. Anyways after that we went to this big bar/club that boasted of "American Pool." So another girl and I played these two guys...who ended up being from Madrid, of course. Does this mean Spain misses me as much as I miss it?! Anyways, sorry America, we lost the game. Still a good time though. Oh! And then we had an American breakdown and went to KFC.
Except it wasn't really KFC, because they were missing everything great about KFC. No biscuits, no macaroni and cheese, no mashed potatoes?! What in the world. Not quite on par with American fried chicken (New York fried chicken, in particular....), but it was still funny to think I was sitting in a KFC a billion miles away from Kentucky.
How have I managed to write this much? Oh wait, because London is awesome. Still, if anyone actually read all of this, then you are...well, a really good friend. Or just really avoiding schoolwork/the crossword puzzle/unpacking/sports practices/showering/bois. If you want to KEEP avoiding these things, you could, like, write me an email or a real letter or something too! I miss everyone soo much, seriously. Keep in touch!