Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Londre (London)


For those of you following my blog, you’ve probably realized I have a FREAKIN’ PROBLEM waking up for rotary events. I seriously blame my alarm clock. Something went wrong and I woke up an hour late—luckily I was already packed, but I did forget some important items like contact solution and glasses. AND TISSUES. Super important for sick me.
Mayuko’s host father, and my third host father, picked me up at 5:25 am. We drove frantically through Brussels looking for the bus that was going to pick us up. It was eventually found. Quinn and I got seats right up in front of the bus, right behind a HUGE window. Some dear people donated tissues to me so I wasn’t super miserable—although I was make some god awful sounds with my face. I was still capable of making new friends (Rotary kids are great that way—we make friends. It’s what we do.)
We took the ferry over to jolly ol’ England—WHICH WAS SELLING CARROT CAKE. I bought some in delved into an almost New-England state of bliss. Not quite the same…being old England and all. Some girls gathered ‘round and painted nails, making a general excited nuisance of ourselves. It was great.
Our first stop was Canterbury England (LIKE THE CANTERBURY TALES). We toured a huge Cathedral where St. Thomas (the writer of the Canterbury Tales) was killed. It was really very beautiful. After, me and another American girl named Tasha took some time to explore the town, where we ran into a nice older English gentleman who told us about how much he hated London. It was a fun experience of very opinionated old people.
Next, we hit LONDON! The first time we hit Piccadilly Circus to scrounge up some dinner. I found a place selling bagels…they weren’t quite the same but close enough, with some ham and cheese, it deserves a mention. I slept in a room with two other American girls…I hope my noisy attempts at breathing that night weren’t too annoying.
DAY 2: We woke up around seven to get the day started. The hotel had an English breakfast, which was kind of like home if home wasn’t as good as home is. For example, instead of bacon, they had whole slices of ham. And their hashbrowns were huuuuge. But it was very nice to have things like eggs for breakfast. We went to Windsor castle, the official residence of the QUEEN. I was told there NO PHOTOS inside by some pushy people in uniforms. We watched the changing of the guard, which was cool what with the fluffy hats. I had lunch with some other exchangers in an over-priced café, with a delicious éclair.
Later, we went to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which was actually really cool. There was a photographer there taking Andy Warhol inspired photographs, and another exchange student named Jennie and I got a portrait done. There was also a room of terror, where people ran around yelling things at you in the dark. And a whole room dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock!
Quinn, Jennie and I frolicked in Hyde Park for an hour while Rotex got their schedule together. Hyde park is really peaceful; if someone said they were going to university in England I would imagine them studying in Hyde park. There was a whole autumn atmosphere about the place.
We ate at the Hardrock Café, and got to see some really cool memorabilia in the “Vault”. Like a guitar from Kurt Cobain, and a guitar from RHCP. Super chouette. The guy giving the tour was incredibly English, but loved America enough to have tattoos of the American flag covering his arms. I suggested he visit Boston.
We took a quick tour of the Towers Bridge. Then we traveled into London to see Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abby. We were given free time for lunch, where me and a couple other exchangers saw St. Martin’s of the Field—a church old enough that when it was named, it stood alone in a huge field. Now it’s surrounded by London. We also saw a protest/march of Occupy London—a branch off of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was really cool. Of course I talked to some nice protesters! I climbed the huge lion statue and got a really good view of the crowd—all and all, pretty awesome. I also had some of the best pizza with Chantal, an exchanger from Florida.
That night I saw the British Museum, and got up close and personal with the Rosetta Stone! After that, around 2pm, we had free time until 11pm. I had an awesome time exploring London with Quinn and Chantal; we found a cosy, American inspired diner to eat at, with MEXICAN FOOD! (I miss real spicy food so much!). We drank milkshakes and explored the Stables, an interesting spread of random, hipstery shops that all smell like smoke and candles. It was kind of surreal, like completely Alice in Wonderland random, with statues of huge horses, people smoking hookah and then whole alleyways taken up by people selling Chinese food. Anyway, that exploration was really really amusing.
We meet back at the bus at 11, and started our journey home. I was out SO quick. We all had to wake up to get off the bus for the ferry. The sitting room in the ferry looked like a bomb had gone off—every exchange student found SOMEWHERE to pass out. We were in Brussels by 10, and I took the train and then walked home. When I got to my house, my host parents were very surprised to see me. They had thought I meant 11 at night, not 11 in the morning! I slept, ate lunch with them, and then slept until dinner. And then ate dinner and slept some more. An impressive amount of sleep, if I do say so myself!
This week has been very relaxed so far, but since we have Friday off I’ve made some plans! Can’t wait to share my awesome upcoming weekend with you all…next week!
Little note, I’m already ¼ of the way through my exchange. Isn’t that absolutely insane? French has started to pick up very nicely. Brayan and I are constantly joking around—he’s become a lot like a real brother. This afternoon we watched Tarzan together (he fell asleep).
I’m also too lazy to add photos right now. Check back…much later. I’m going to be quite busy for a while. BUT YES! I love you all dearly!
Adieu, mes amis. Je vous aime!

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