Ugh! They're Evacuating us AGAIN?!

Trip Start Aug 28, 2010
Trip End Dec 22, 2010

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Where I stayed
Regent's College

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, September 24, 2010

My trip to London this past weekend was in a word, memorable.  Our flight from Madrid to London was delayed almost two hours due to a French air strike.  Sitting on a Ryanair plane for that long without moving was nearly torture.  Once Adam and I finally arrived at London-Gatwick Airport, we took a bus to West Brompton and then had a taxi drop us off at Piccadilly Circus.  I'd describe Piccadilly Circus as a mini-Times Square.  It was packed with tourists and locals, lights and sounds, and things to do.  (In Britain, a "circus" is a town square or plaza.)  We met our best friends, Alyssa and Angie, at a O'Neill's, a pub in Chinatown, and then walked to their dorm at Regent's College in Regent's Park. 

On Friday, the four of us walked through Regent's Park to Abbey Road.  Alyssa is a HUGE Beatles fan so this was a particularly sentimental journey.  We tried to recreate the famous picture of the Beatles walking across Abbey Road, but it was way more difficult than we thought.  Drivers were honking, yelling, and flipping us off the whole time.  Finding someone to take our picture was almost impossible, too, since they had to stand in the middle of the street (in traffic) to get the perfect shot.  We then meandered over to Abbey Road Studios (where the Beatles recorded their famous album) and signed the wall. 

Next, we took the Tube to Camdentown, a huge outdoor market, where we haggled for souvenirs and ate all kinds of ethnic food. We hopped back on the train and headed to the designer stores on Oxford Street, a huge change from Camden Market.  While at Primark, a store on Oxford Street, the lights inside flickered and then came back on.  Then more flickered and stayed out.  Then more.  Then more.  It quickly became evident that the store was slowly losing power.  We grabbed the last of our purchases and got in line to pay.  The managers had us running from register to register to register, trying to let us (and about a thousand other people) pay before the next set of registers shut down.  Eventually, everyone in the store was instructed to drop our merchandise where we were and head outside.  Since the power was out, the escalators and elevators weren't working so everyone filed down the stairs in complete darkness. 

Later that night, the four of us, along with our friends Leigha, Sam, and Morgan, went to a few clubs in SoHo and then to one near Charing Cross in Trafalgar Square.  After only a few minutes of dancing, a bunch of men in reflective vests got on stage and asked everyone to evacuate the building.  We all calmly left and shuffled onto the street outside.  Our jaws dropped once we finally realized what was happening.  It was pandemonium!  Several hundred police officers were evacuating the entire street, kicking people out of their houses, and shutting down the Tube.  The police kept backing up the crowd further and further until we were several blocks away.  That's when we started to freak out.  We had lost Adam, Sam, Leigha, and Morgan, and we were freezing (we weren't allowed to get our jackets from the coat check as we were leaving the club).  Alyssa, Angie, and I called Sam's phone several times before he answered.  He was with Leigha and Morgan on the other side of Trafalgar Square, but nobody had seen Adam.  Only a few minutes later, Sam called us saying that they had found panicking Adam.  We eventually met up and headed back to Regent's to escape the chaos.  On the bus back to the college, everybody was talking about the terrorist threats from Northern Ireland and how they were targeting British banks.  We learned that a hospital in London had to be evacuated earlier that day because of a bomb threat.  We finally got off the bus near Regent's and were greeted by several cops responding to an alarm blaring at a bank.  Thankfully, they let us go into the park and back to the dorm.  We all warmed up and calmed down and eventually fell asleep. 

On Saturday, Alyssa and Angie went on a trip to Leeds Castle and Canterbury while Adam and I set off to conquer the rest of London.  We started by taking pictures of Tower Bridge while crossing London Bridge.  Our next stop was the London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, the Dome of Discovery, and the River Thames.  We headed across Westminster Bridge to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster), and Westminster Abbey.  We continued on to Buckingham Palace, the Victoria Memorial, and the Queen's Gardens.  We strolled down the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk to the Wellington Arch and the Hyde Park Corner.  We then hopped on the tube and went east to Harrod's, Royal Albert Hall, and the Albert Memorial.  After another tube ride, we arrived at Trafalgar Square and begged the doorman at the club to let us get our jackets from the night before.  After a ton of coaxing and some slight exaggeration, we were finally able to retrieve our coats.  The club's manager explained to us that we were evacuated because of a bomb threat in the club.  Since the club is directly above the Tube and terrorist warning levels were high, the police took the threat very seriously and evacuated the entire area within a quarter mile radius.  After a sigh of relief (for finally having our jackets and for not being blown up), we headed back west to Tower Hill, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London.  One final Tube ride later, we came to Earls Court to catch our bus back to the airport. 

We arrived at the airport just in time to check in and head to our gate.  And then our flight was delayed.  And delayed.  And delayed.  We eventually boarded the plane and took off around 10:30pm.  (We originally had a 7:35 flight.)  After landing and going through passport control in Madrid, we realized the one flaw in Madrid's public transportation system - buses don't come to the airport after 2am.  Since we arrived so late, the Metro was closed and the buses had stopped running, too.  Our only option (besides a €60 taxi ride) was to wait until the Metro reopened at 6am.  Adam and I found a quiet corner in the airport and dozed off for a few hours.  A few minutes before 6:00, we woke up to find at least 50 other people sleeping around us.  We boarded the first Metro train back home and tried to stay awake long enough to read the signs.  I eventually arrived at my apartment at 7am and was greeted by my seņora with a plate of croquetas and a glass of milk. 

This was certainly a trip I will never forget. 

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mammaott on

Wow girl! The pics are awesome. Everyone looks great, but I wanna see some fotos of you!

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