London Bridges Falling Down

Trip Start Feb 07, 2008
Trip End May 08, 2008

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

I made one of my famous random decisions this past weekend and decided to go to London, England!! One of my friends, Carissa, had booked a ticket awhile ago for only 9 euro and she decided that she didn't want to go anymore so she gave her ticket to me. So the night before our flight was supposed to leave I was scrambling with a few other girls to find a place to stay for the weekend and get the name on the ticket changed (for a large fee of course). We got it all figured out and I was going to travel with Kristina and her visiting boyfriend Jake, to London and meet up with Shauna, Jen, and Lauren when we arrived at the airport in London because we had different flights.
Our flight was out of Dusseldorf, Germany so we took a two and a half hour train ride to the airport only to find out that we went to the wrong airport!! RyanAir, being the cheap airline it is, has it's own airport that is approximately 75 kilometers away from the International airport which every other airline flies out of--so we quickly ran out to get a taxi to the other airport hoping that we could still catch our flight. The taxi driver said that it would be a 45 minute drive and we needed to get there in a half hour--he promised to drive fast and that he did!!! At one point he was going over 180 kilometers per hour (that's about 115 miles per hour!!!) and it was pouring rain mind you....yeah, I didn't let go of the "oh shit handle" for the entire ride and had some quality praying for my life time with Jesus! Adrenaline running as fast as ever, we burst into the near empty airport only to find out that we missed our check-in time by 6 minutes!!! Even after begging the information desk to just let us slip by we realized that we indeed would be missing our flight that evening and sleeping in the airport...bummer...
After figuring out where and when to meet the girls in London via facebook and changing our flight for early the next morning we prepared ourselves for an exciting night of sleeping in the airport. Kristina and Jake luckily thought of taking a shuttle bus into the nearest town, Kevelaer and grabbing a few needed beers and some pizza which lightened the mood immensely. Michealangelo's, the pizza place we went to was very accommodating, and even though their sign said they closed at 11pm, they let us stay and drink with them until about midnight when our shuttle bus was supposed to pick us up. They didn't speak much English, but they were pretty entertained by us silly Americans (Kevelaer apparently doesn't get too many tourists). We did get to chat it up with our driver Harry who was very nice and shared a lot of touching personal stories about his late wife and really helped us put everything into perspective and be thankful that we are experiencing this great trip even if we have a few stitches in our plan like missed flights or cranky airport workers.
After about 3 hours of the most uncomfortable sleep I've experienced, we checking in two hours early for our flight departing at 7am on Friday morning-we weren't missing this one!! The actual flight only took about 45 minutes and with the time change we set foot in the London airport at about 7am ready to take on the day. Another 45 minute train ride into the city later, Kristina & Jake and I set foot in different directions as I was supposed to meet my travel group at Buckingham Palace at 11am. That Friday morning when I got to walk around London and enjoy all the beautiful St. James Park may have been my favorite part of this trip. It was nice just to have some alone time and to just sit and enjoy some natural beauty instead of listening to the hustle and bustle of airports, trains, and city streets. It was a little chilly and drizzly (typical London weather), but as long as I kept walking and kept my umbrella from flipping inside out I was just fine. I got to Buckingham Palace about an hour and half before the changing of the guards and found a small crowd already claiming their spot for the ceremony. I didn't want to stand by myself, so I found another nice park called Green Park-again, it was so nice to just soak in all the green-ness and listen to the birds chirping in the crisp morning air.
When I finally returned to Buckingham Palace I was greeted by hundreds of people all huddled together trying to get a glimpse of the guards with the tall furry hats in front of the palace...then it hit me-how in the world would I ever find my friends in this huge mass of tourists??? As you may have noticed in almost all of my pictures I am always sporting my bright pink coat and London wasn't any different. I figured that they would be looking for me as well so I just kept walking in circles around the palace hoping that one of them would spot luck! An hour later, when I was just about to give up on the search, I saw my friend Shauna with her scarf over her head (her form of an umbrella) and we had an ecstatic reunion. From this moment, I knew that London would after all be a great trip!
The girls had met up with Lauren's cousin Katie, who lives in London, the night before and she so nicely offered to give us a personal tour of the great city. She is a History major so she had all sorts of interesting stories to tell us about all the sites that we were seeing. Sadly, I had to carry my backpack all day since the girls had already checked into our hostel which was all the way across town, but I didn't care at the moment, I was just glad to be with them! We accomplished a lot in the hours to follow and since I think this blog is going to be a long one anyways, I will just list what we all saw on Friday: The London Eye (huge ferris wheel), Big Ben (clock/bell tower), Buckingham Palace, Parliament Square, The National Art Gallery, St. Paul's Cathedral, Shakespeare's Globe Theater, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, London Tower, and the original London City Wall. We also got to see a lot of the subway system of London (they call it the "tube").
We got pretty worn out with all the sightseeing so we headed to our hostel where we got a free drink upon check-in and man that drink was well needed (I assure you I am not an alcoholic, but you must understand that this is European culture and stressful times-such as missing flights and not finding your friends in a large crowd-can really drive a girl to drink a couple brewskies ;) )
On Saturday we decided to do a bus tour outside of London since we had seen so much of the city already and where else would we go besides Stonehenge? Yeah, really, we went to Stonehenge!! It was about a 2 hour bus ride through the gorgeous rolling hills of England to an open field where those famous rocks stood tall. It was kind of a gloomy day again and very very windy atop the hill, but we hiked up in silence to the rocks that were stacked for over 3000 years. When I think back on it, Stonehenge really wasn't that great of a site to see compared to all the great architecture and art that I have been seeing for the past two months, but just to think that somehow somebody got those huge rocks up like that without any of the technology that we have today was pretty darn impressive!! It was also nice to just be out in the nature and the British did a great job in not commercializing the site too much-it was pretty natural with just the one building at the foot of the little hill with a little gift shop and the ticket office inside. Sometimes people just ruin great history like Stonehenge by putting up all the signs and buildings and "modern" day stuff. Our tour guide was the nicest British lady; I could have sat and listened to her all day because she had the cutest little accent was really honest about how some British are just "posh" an stuck up-but not her of course J
After Stonehenge we climbed back on the bus and headed to the town of Bath where the Roman Baths were located. I hadn't really heard much about these before arriving in the town but they were really impressive. The Roman Baths were actually natural hot springs (just like Hot Springs, SD) were people of every age would come to be healed. It was also a very spiritual experience when the Romans came to use the spa and it was thought that if you sat in one of the many pools and prayed you would be healed of your ailments. It was supposed to be the purest water in the area and it was always about 80 degrees-you aren't supposed to touch it I guess, but curiosity got the best of me and I just had to dip my hand in...turns out they weren't lying and the water was indeed warm...who'd of thought?? The building that the baths were in was the original building that has withstood over 2,000 years!! In America we get excited when we see a church that is over 200 years old and that seems to be new in Europe!
Saturday night we met up with another group of students in our program who were also in London for the weekend and I got to see Kristina and Jake again only this time it was under much better circumstances. That night we stayed with Lauren's cousin who lives in London and Jen and I got to share a twin air mattress on the floor of her dorm room...can't say that I had the most comfortable sleep that weekend, but it was a free night of sleep so I guess I can't complain!
Sunday morning was really relaxing and we just walked around the Picadilly Circus area of London and window shopped at all the really expensive stores like Gucci, Dior, Burberry, Prada, pretty much any famous designer that we never ever see in South Dakota. Time kind of got away from us at a couple stores and we ended up missing the bus that we needed to catch to get to the London airport in time for check-in, so we all were pretty stressed out on the next 2-hour bus ride as we inched through the crazy traffic. I was not going to miss another flight, so as soon as those bus doors opened I bolted!! We all sprinted into the airport and found our check-in counter with about 5 minutes to spare...phew!! And because all our adrenaline levels were so high, we didn't stop to think that after you check in, the flight won't leave without you so we proceeded to sprint through the ENTIRE airport, heaving, pushing and sweating like mad women only to find that they hadn't even started boarding the plane yet....
I really enjoyed London and I am really glad that I got to experience it, even through all the little setbacks I had, but when I sat next to the window on the plane and watched London disappear in the distance I was really happy to be going home to Maastricht. One more country to cross of my list of places to go and some great memories that weren't so great at the time, but are hilarious to talk about now!
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fredelthomas on

Miss you...
Hey Kels...

Sounds like you are surviving the travel life pretty well! It puts a new meaning on the 'You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you'!

We are praying for you and love hearing about your adventures. I saw Megan P this weekend (Jenna's shower) and she said, she sure misses you!

Jalen is doing great! She is almost 7 months now and is working on the 'Da' sound. She can really say 'Da', but we aren't sure she knows that Jason is 'Da'.

Have a great time in Italy!

Love ya,

lesliebogie on

You are a brave girl!
Hi. I can't believe how brave you are to go alone in another country. You are such an independent person; I'm sure you were just fine. I'm glad everything worked out okay. Just think of those setbacks as memories and experiences that you'll never forget. Just think of all these great stories you'll be able to tell people through the years. I love you and miss you!

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