Oh, Bernstein, I'll take you to Foggy London Town!

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End Jun 07, 2009

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, February 23, 2009

So, on Thursday the 19th we left for London right after Ramiro's class. I was feeling a little edgy since, although I was not alone, I had never traveled internationally without parents or guides in Europe before. There were about 5 others with me in the journey to London. Everything went pretty swimmingly in terms of getting to the airport, checking in, and getting to the gate. So far so good, minus taking off about half an hour late.

Once we arrive, things start to get a little interesting. Note: you already know my disdain for Heathrow Airport after they lost my bags on Day 1. Nevertheless, we arrive and I try to turn my phone out to see if I get service. Nope. However, I actually don't even get that far since I got a new SIM Card and I didn't know my new PIN for my phone, so therefore I couldn't even see if I had service or not. Good start...

Nevertheless, we figure out a way to take the Tube (Underground Metro system) towards my friends Gordon and Eric, who were my 2 roommates last semester. Luckily, 2 of the girls were with had BlackBerrys and got in touch with one of them indirectly. After about an hour Tube ride (that cost 4 pounds), we tried to transfer to another train. We were unsuccessful since the tube closes at 12. What a lame, early city!

As a result, we try and take a cab. Much to my dislike (and confusion), Millis flags down a guy who thinks is a real cab driver. He was quite wrong, and I was pissed since this guy was actually an unregistered Italian "cab driver" who spoke some pretty crappy broken English. I gave him the address of where our friends were staying, which seemed to be fine until the Italian man realized he GPS was not functioning at the time. Nevertheless, he assured me he knew where it was.

On the way, we listen to what I think is the Dire Straits Greatest Hits collection, featuring Sultans of Swing. With my classic rock knowledge, I obviously stumped Millis who obviously had no idea. A couple minutes later, the man was clearly lost and had no idea where this place was. With no phone and perhaps the wrong number to call, things were not looking good. Thankfully, however, the Italian man, amidst his cursing of "steupid peez of sheit, why weunt yeu werrrkk?", the GPS actually started working. We got to the street and arrived at 4-7 Crawford Passage. An incorrect phone number prevented me from calling. Yet, I figured yelling out my friend's name would work. After a couple yells, my friend Gordon hears me and says my name, much to my liking. Who would have though simply yelling a name would gain entry into the apartment! Well I DID!

We arrived and settled in at around 12:45, roughly 2 hours after we touched down in London. Realizing it was too late to go out, my buddies and I just caught up for a couple hours and went to sleep. But hey, it was all good; I was in London.

The next day Millis and woke up and connected with my friend Jenny Lowenstein so that we could meet up and she could escort me around the city of London. Although she had been there over a month, she still wasn't too familiar with the city. Nevertheless, she brought a friend that knew her way around decently.

We started out by taking a gander of a very nice Plaza area (perhaps around Leicester Square) and took pictures with these gigantic lions. We continued on our way and made it to Buckingham Palace, which was pretty sweet. We watched the anti-climatic (in my opinion) changing of the guards that seems oh-so-serious in protecting the Queen although the gates literally prevent an infant from protruding through the gates. We kept walking and eventually reached the Parliament Building, which was definitely awesome to see as well. For the majority of the time, I kept thinking of one of favorite shows/TV personas Da Ali G Show / Ali G (played by Sacha Baron Cohen). Nevertheless, we walked along and eventually made it to Big Ben, the famous clocktower/structure that we should all know about (unless your name is Jenny Lowenstein and you say, "Wait, is that Big Ben?"...Yes, I realize she had been studying in London for a month now). Still, it was a pretty awesome structure to see in person. Practically on the same block was the Westminster Abbey, some famous church, but it looked very complex and extravagant.

We continued walking along the River Thames and went under a series of bridges. We walked by The Eye, which is like a giant Ferris wheel that overlooks the city. It was expensive so we decided not to do. We continued and made it to St. Paul's Cathedral, which is a magnificent Baroque church designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1673. That's about all I know, but that's good enough for me. After this, we parted ways with Jenny and made it back to our friends' apartment, still phone less and unable to get inside the building without yelling a last name. Don't worry, it worked!

Dinner was nothing special. We ate at KUNG FOOD, which is a just local Chinese place with a badass name. We chilled out for a bit, and got ready for our night's festivities consisting of a Pub Crawl. In essence, we spend about an hour each at 5 different pubs where we travel with a group and 2 "guides" that navigated us through the city. In total, the pub crawl cost about 12 pounds...$16 maybe It was a pretty diverse crowd-kids from Tennesse, NYC, Alabama, Germany, and other places. I really enjoying hitting up different bars and we even met up with some other WashU girls on the way. Good to see some familiar faces. I did notice also that drinks were very expensive in London and covers were even required for pubs and bars. I think that's pretty absurd in actuality. However, with the pub crawl, we didn't have to pay any covers. The night ended up lasting pretty late, but made it back safely to my friends' place.

The next day, we woke up sort of late as well and dilly-dallied around since Millis and I couldn't really leave since we had no way of getting back in the building. We waited for our heads to feel better and eventually walked around an area that resembled Times Square in NYC. We checked out a few stores and remained very tempted to buy an unbelievably aromatic Belgian Waffle, but we somehow resisted the tempation.

My roommate Eric made some dinner of Cajun Chicken, Baked Potatoes, and Broccoli. He did a good job. We got ready for the night with some "flexible" plans but due to the lack of a group consensus once we were out, we failed to actually do very much that night. Oh well. We could have seen the #5 DJ in the world (Benny Bennasi) play at a club, but line was too long and I didn't heed Jenny's advice in buying tickets beforehand. My bad. Overall though, I really enjoyed London and seeing my friends albeit an expensive trip. At least I did not have to pay for a hostel or anything like that. And who could forget the hilarity that ensued as a result of all the funny British accents, such as the over-enthusiasm of giving directions and things like that.

We made it to the airport with plenty of time on Sunday. Our plane took off late, but I slept the entire plane right once again, and, before I could say "Jamón," we had touched down in Madrid. We got home by 9:30, had some delicious baked Maruja chicken. It felt great to be back, and I was ecstatic that I would not be leaving Madrid for an entire month.
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zengelemon on

i bet your boys cajun chicken wasn't as good as the steak i made at shea's last summer!

you're (we're) almost 21. too bad you can't exploit that birthday to the fullest since you can drink anywhere you want. any big plans?

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