The Curvature of the Earth says Hello!
Trip Start Oct 22, 2008
38Trip End ??? ??, 2009
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I'm totally loving England, everything is delightful. I saw a genuine apple tree on the way here. Having just rollercoastered in from Hawaii land of a million kinds of fruit but no apples, a heavily ripe apple tree in England feels like going to Arizona being reassured to find that there are still cactii.
The English accent bowls me over, especially combined with the typical public interaction personality of cheerful/witty friendliness. For example, I asked the bus driver to split a pound into smaller change, and he said "Smaller than a pound? Is that for my tip, then?", which sounded twice as funny in British English. I feel the urge to ask everyone to repeat what they say so I can savor the sound of the accent. On the plane, the world's cutest five year old Irish girl said "boo" while playing peekaboo, in a way I'd love to be able to recreate. Maybe like "beu. Mummy! beu!" Relatedly, facebook and youtube have both asked me if I'd like to set "UK English" to be my preference, and whether or not I'd prefer to receive UK-specific content.
Yes I've been to England before, technically. My mom and I once spent 24 hours in London, on the way to Germany. But this is my first time in the English countryside, and it's just like a picture. The colors are all different, earth, yellowish sky, red roofs, shale clouds, stiff breezes. English faces, horses in pitches, rolling small farm fields, red and green trees. And Oxford, with truly old buildings and loads of gothic arches and spires.
Getting into the country was a joy in itself. The flight was great, thanks me wearing my flamboyant, beautiful, comfortable, homemade clothing,
and reading Tom Robbins' "Another Roadside Attraction". Damon lent me the book, and reading it on the flight has made me smile so thoroughly that I think only good things are possible. Combined with my excitement upon touching down, my world seems made of joy and stardust. Heathrow looks good, all glass and steel and bright light design. The security didn't seem ratcheted up to insanity.
Traveling with an EU passport was the BEST! If you have a US passport but don't have to travel on it, take the alternative!
The only hitch I had with naturalization was reflexively entering the "US Citizens & Others" line, despite deciding to travel as a German. There were perhaps 10 customs agents, servicing this insanely long line, when I spied the "UK & EU" line. With just 2 agents, the line was shorter than a lamb's tail. I proceeded through the line at nearly a walking pace, and then I was through. My only disappointment is that passport-stamping has been traded in for efficiency and RFID. After that, there weren't even customs to go through! A zero-hassle country entry!
Grace wrote excellent directions, which I followed exactly, and quickly and easily found my way to the Oxford bus, and then to her flat where I am now. I'm going to go out and explore the town, and then maybe visit Cambridge!
Where I stayed
Grace Webber's flat