Spring Break, Day 1

London Travel Blog

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It's time I told you the story of a girl. A girl who went to London. And to many other places, but first to London.

My trip began as all trips begin: trying to beat off the advances of a 76 year old French woman as I stuffed my luggage-laden self into an elevator the size of a London telephone booth.

But how would I know about London telephone booths? Oh yes, that's right, I've been to London. Keep in mind it's been some time since these events occurred, so I hope I can still make the story shine. Then again, a laundry list of the things I've done would probably satisfy you all anyway. You know it's true.

Je commence. It took us a while, walking around the Gare du Nord train station, being sent here and there and everywhere possibly in order to get our tickets figured out, but probably just to fuck with us (they do so love to fuck with us), before we made it past customs in, as they say, the nic of time. Running to catch a train hauling a 13 kilo pack is much like being Dumbo in a performance of Swan Lake (probably an LCDT production). But finally we were on board, surrounded by quite possibly the most obnoxious children in all of France, and eager to leave the city of Love.

The most memorable part of the chunnel experience was probably, except for that whole going to England at long last thing, the part when I was huddled in the semi-fetal position moaning at the pain of my bursting eardrums. Far worse than any airplane, apparently, is going under the ocean. So unnatural be the plights of modern travel. You may say others had it worse off, crossing by wooden boat with the horses in the hull and whatnot, but I think I would have preferred the pre-Battle of Hastings technology to high-speed trains and bleeding oriphses. Not that would ever join ranks with William the Bastard. Golly, it's just a metaphor.

I must admit I was moved upon my first glimpse of my native land, the country of my heart's delight, but there's no need to go into all of that here as it would only make me sloppy. I'll admit there was some reaching out to awkwardly grip my travel companion's wrist in a fit of short, shallow breaths, but there's no better cure for a case of raging sentimentality than trying to figure out the London Underground the minute you get off the train, which is what happens next in my story. Pack-laden, tired, and smelly before dinner, it took us some time to realize how to get where we wanted to go and another 10 minutes of whining about the superiority of the Paris system before we were Go. Then, of course, our hostel was so far north of the city when we took out our map after exiting the tube, in the rain of course, we realized we were off the map. I didn't worry much though: I've been watching a lot of House recently, which makes me a better sleuth, and I had faith in our deductive reasoning. 10 minutes later we were met with this:

Palmer's Lodge. And the omniscient narrator in me assures you that it was the best place we stayed during the entire trip.

Dinner was priority one, as it usually ended up being. I remember being absolutely ecstatic that we could get thai food for just a few pounds around the corner. The months on the Paris-diet had left us jonesing for something hot, spicy, and asian (that's right, I went there). I guess it was something about Paris being the digestive equivalent of a world where the only dish invented is chocolate birthday cake with double chocolate frosting. Although I doubt the French would ever eat American frosting. Me, however... well I'll never take Asian Kitchen for granted again.

Of course, mid-wanton we realized neither of us had any idea how restaurant etiquette works in the UK, so cut to us staring at each other over our chopsticks, paralyzed by awkward fear. Tasty, tasty awkward fear. You may think I exaggerate, which I do you should know that by now, but you should also know we've been embarrassing ourselves at every turn, step, and second in France. Far be it from us to add another country to the no-fly zone of pathetic awkwardness.

In the end we played it cool and left some change behind the mustard dish before heading for the hills. And that was pretty much all we did the first night, revel in our living arrangements and relish our rangoon. I took a little break in the hall before bed though, very refreshing you should try it sometime. The window was open and it had just finished raining and the air smelled warm and sweet and deliciously familiar... and then some idiot American frat boys came barging through the hall, belching and saying various derogatory things about women who probably deserve it, not even reprieved by any sort of sexy foreign accent. All I could do was take a deep breath, turn the page, and think... ah, home.

Of course, one day I hope I will be comfortable enough in France to not be so keen for the familiar that even frat-boy idiot-head jerks seem as wholesome as grandma's apple pie. Or better, Chris'. But let's be honest, there's no way I'm going to be here long enough for that.
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photo by: ulysses