Friday, July 18, 2008

Hallo, from ENGLAND! (by Clara)

Tally ho, old chaps, here we are in England eating fish and chips and doing other Englandy things. Ok, so we're not actually eating fish and chips... we're in an internet cafe in a church by the British Imperial War Museum in London. We've been here in London for 2 nights, and we're doing some last minute touristy things before we take the train down to Folkestone...

...okay, now I'm actually in Folkestone to finish up this blog entry. We ended up leaving that internet cafe pretty quickly so we could have a second go at the Imperial War Museum (highly recommend it, but a) give your self plenty of time, and b) don't get too excited about the "blitz experience" in the WWII exhibit, because it's kind of lame... "trench experience" is good though).

Somewhat quick recap of our days in London:
We met up in the airport on Wednesday, although not quite as seamlessly as we had hoped. I had called and told Mallory that I might be able to get on an earlier flight to England, and might actually land before her for a change. However, since my dad quoted me the "estimated" time of arrival, and not the "scheduled" time, I was under the mistaken impression that I would be landing nearly an hour before Mallory instead of just 10 minutes before. So, I told her that I would meet her in her terminal, and then of course when we landed, I was stuck on the tarmac for 45 minutes, and Mallory was able to de-plane immediately. When I realized that I wouldn't be able to go into the baggage claim in her terminal, I went to go have her paged, as I was worried she was waiting inside, not knowing I couldn't come it. Based on our later reconstructed timeline, it was about the time that I was at the information desk that Mallory figured it out and came out of the baggage claim, and then, not seeing me, headed to my terminal to wait, figuring I was on the original flight. About 30 minute later, just before I was going to call immigration to make sure she made it through, she called my cell phone on Skype from an internet cafe in Terminal 1. We decided to just walk toward each other and meet in the tunnels between the Terminals, and of course we saw each other while on moving walkways in opposite directions. There was no one behind me on my moving walk way, so I decided to turn around and SPRINT back to the entering end. I think I looked pretty ridiculous, but I think every person has at one time wanted to go the wrong direction on one of those, right? Anyway, once I got to the end (completely winded... I was dragging some 60 or 70 pounds of luggage), we decided we needed to go the direction I had originally been headed to get to the tube station anyway... *sigh*

Then, we checked into our hostel. The original plan was going to be to immediately go out sight-seeing, because we were landing in the morning, only we couldn't check in until 3 PM, and Mal didn't want to sight-see until we were settled into our room. We were so tired, that once we did get our room, we ended up spending the rest of the day in the hostel (we ate dinner there, and the food was pretty crap, so we didn't make that mistake again).

On Thursday, we went on this free tour thing advertised on a flier in the hostel. It was a nice way to view London on the cheap, and the tour guide was funny and Australian, so how much better does it get? He also gave us some useful tips for getting into places for free (ask for people's tickets on the way out... it's so simple!). After the tour, we went to the Imperial War Museum for a few hours and only managed to get through 1.5 world wars worth of exhibits, despite being there for something like 3.5 hours. Afterwards, we attempted to find a West End musical to get into. We both wanted to see Wicked, but, by all accounts, it was completely sold out. We also waited in line for freed up tickets for Mamma Mia, but the only ones that were offered up were top price at £55 apiece, so that was scrapped. We ended up going to a little comedy show in the basement of a hotel for £5, which was quite a riot. I'm personally a huge fan of British comedy, and it was definitely fun to hear a foreign comedian... there were definitely a lot of American fat jokes. We then ended up walking around near the Thames, seeing the London Tower and walking across the Millennium Bridge, etc, until well past nightfall.

On Friday, we got into St. Paul's Cathedral for free, finished up at the Imperial War Museum, and finally managed to catch a train to Folkestone from Charing Cross station at 8 PM. The tube right do Charing Cross was a bit of an adventure... we've both become quite adept and wheeling two suitcases around, sometimes through very narrow passages. The other customers in the underground were quite nice: three times, other people picked up suitcases to help us, twice without even asking (not everywhere had escalators). In one of these instances, we were running to make a train, and a gentleman picked up one of Mallory's bags to help her on. As she was jumping on, the train doors closed on her backpack, trapping her like some large, red-shelled turtle. After struggling for a moment, her eyes glowed green, and she ripped the door from the side of the train and crumpled it like a piece of paper. When the train started moving, I looked down at the wreckage of the door on the platform floor and noticed an "emergency open" button that might have made the whole thing a little easier, and less costly for the London transit system.

Anyway, we are now in Folkestone, and have decided that today is going to be a lazy vacation-from-vacation day, as were are totally exhausted from trying to experience as much of London as possible in 2 days. The beach is just outside our hotel, so swimming should be pretty easy. Over and out.

No comments: