Sunday, September 11th
The night before we washed our clothes, packed up, and set the alarm on our little cricket phone for 3:50am. Guess what didn’t go off in the morning?!
Thank goodness Chris woke up at 4:05am. We busted a move and made it down to meet our taxi at 4:45am. Our driver, a native Irishman, had about the thickest accent we’ve heard yet in Dublin. On the way to the airport, he was filling us in on the behind the scenes of the city. Apparently, being a bank manager in Dublin is an extremely high risk job. Thieves will kidnap a bank manager’s wife and children and hold them ransom. We also found out that they have not yet solved any of the cases; these kidnappers are getting the money and walking away scott free! Pfft.
My favorite part of the morning was in the security line. Me and Chris were sleepy, grumpy, and hungry and we’ve got some of the longest faces as we’re shoving our bags through the security scanner. When I walked through the security checkpoint, the airport employee asked me if I had ten minutes. I, of course, said, “Sure!”… in the back of my head, I’m thinking “Oh no, this is September 11th! Maybe having an American girl on the plane is too risky”. What does he do? He hands me his ID badge and says he’ll be back in 10. He’s going for a smoke.
Our flight from Dublin to London was through Ryanair – the ghetto cheap way to fly throughout Europe. You stand in one huge line, board the plane from the tarmac, pick your own seats, and you have to pay for everything on the flight (no beverage is GRATIS!). When we landed, the pilot put a horn noise over the intercom: the one that goes DA DUN DA DA DA DA DUN DUN DA DA DA DA and everyone on board cheered and clapped. Me and Chris stared at each other and said, “If they were so worried, why on earth did they board this plane?”.
Remember that rough start video from day 1 in Dublin? That happened all over again in London. New currency. New town. New transit system.
After a lot of walking and a lot of asking, we ended up boarding the easybus to West Brompton, London.
When we got off, we had no idea where to go and when we asked for help, we got a response in thick British. We stared, nodded politely, said thank you, and just kept on walking.
When we first got off the bus, we could have sworn that we saw a Dominoes and a Papa Johns around the neighborhood and pizza would be just the thing to turn our frowns upside down J We decided that we’d put our backpacks in the hostel and head out for dinner. We searched and searched and searched – with no pizza place in sight. At all. We finally settled for splitting a sandwich from a little marketplace. What do we see on the way home? Two different delivery mopeds.. one for dominoes and one for Papa Johns. Life has its moments!
We finally made it down Bagleys Lane in Chelsea. Our hostel is The Queen Elizabeth! It’s quaint and has “character” – Chris would use the parenthesis when using that word ;) We got settled in and found out that the whole of the place is a bar but there is a little corridor that goes from behind the counter, to a little hallway where the showers are, and finally to a back patio and a little building that just has bunkbeds. That’s where we’re staying J
Here's a little video of our new home away from home:
The majority live there temporarily. Our friend John from Norway moved here for work. Alex is a Chile native who has lived in Greece for many years. We also met two Canadian girls that moved here to teach high school (one reminds me exactly of Robin from How I Met Your Mother!). We sat up in our bunkbeds and chit-chatted for about 2 hours with our new roomies. It felt exactly like a co-ed camp for kids. Haha.
First stop was the Tube Station – London’s underground transit line. A 7 day pass for the both of us was 64 pounds, or about $100! This city is EXPENSIVE. We have yet to find a city map so we decided to just hop on and off the subway and buses and scavenge the town. Our first stop was none other than Notting Hill J The perfect first stop. The sunshine must follow us because we’ve had amazing weather. The streets are bustling and there is shop after shop for everything you could ever imagine. There was a shop of replica jewelry worn by British celebrities. There was a flower shop with the most beautiful bouquets. There’s vintage boutiques, fruit and vegetable markets, and antique shops! After Notting Hill, we rode the bus through the city to Trafalgar Square. Having no idea what we were looking at, we started taking pictures with pretty much everything – just in case ;) There were the lion statues, the ship in a glass bottle, all in front of the art gallery. There was also a live performer doing a bunch of random flexibility tricks. It wasn’t anything special but we got a huge kick out of this part; it’s supposed to represent REBIRTH:
The art museum was free and a nice place to wander around. My favorite painting was called Cupid Complaining to Venus.Cupid complains to his mother, Venus, of being stung by bees when stealing a honeycomb. This is supposed to be a moral commentary showing that life's pleasure is mixed with pain.
Afterwards, we were so hungry that both of us were getting the low blood sugar shakes. We went to the museum espresso bar and each got a big fat COOKIE :D What did worry us about London is that there are signs everywhere that say, “Pickpockets work this area. Beware”. Eakk! We’re watching our behinds more than ever.
When we got to the city center, there was Big Ben and the rest of the Parliament building
Over the Thames River Bridge, we found a park bench overlooking the city and relaxed for a little while. With the city moving so fast, it was nice to sit down and watch the people, the double-decker buses, and the taxi cabs. With the 2012 Olympics, the city is growing, being remodeled and refurbished, there are construction workers everywhere (try being out at about lunch-time! It’s you and a bunch of men in yellow glow in the dark vests).
The last place we saw for the day was Westminster Abbey J What a beautiful church and right in the middle of such a big city.
The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs (and where Will and Kate just got married)
Well, we’re exhausted but we’re enjoying every minute.:)
Alicia & Chris