Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vacation Part 3: Return to England

At this point I must confess that I am quite tired of early morning planes, which require even earlier in the morning bus rides to airports. But complainer that I am I lived through it, and it is quite nice to actually have the day to see the place you’ve gone to and not have wasted a day just with traveling and such. Dublin airport was a whole other story however. First off when we got their, they have what in my opinion is the most confusing and stupid check in system ever. I won’t even try to explain it to you because it’s that dumb. Secondly the lady at the check in counter asked to see my carry on baggage, at this point I have a plastic bag in my hands and my backpack on my back, so I just turned around and pointed to my backpack. Then she says and I quote, “You’re only allowed one carry on bag…” here she paused and when I didn’t say anything right away she goes, “…you have two.” The same way you would to a toddler. I wasn’t pleased with the tone of her voice, it wasn’t nice. So I just quipped back that the plastic bag would fit into the backpack. Which for those of you who weren’t there, was obviously a lie. Then she goes on about the one bag restriction, which is understandable, but stupid since the plastic bag was quite small, and how if at the gate I still had two bags they’d stop me and make me pay 30 extra euros, which is a lie on her part. So basically the situation was two apparently tired people lying to each other in the check in line. I’m not proud of myself, but she was dumb and I wasn’t in the mood. Besides if necessary I could have taken out a shirt or two from my bag, layered up and then fit the plastic bag in the backpack. So then we wander around looking for the random and slightly hidden entrance into the security check line, another genius Dublin airport arrangement that was obviously designed by the 5 year old daughter of the manager, or whatever airports call their head person. So we go through security, and low and behold on the last plane we’ll be taking my Swiss Army knife gets found and taken. I played innocent and forgetful and didn’t put up a fight, because of course it’s illegal and there’s no arguing with that. I was slightly disappointed that my knife got taken, but also oddly relieved that at least one of the three airports we went through caught it. So we made it to the airport and grabbed a bus to London, completely uncertain as to how our day would unfold. In the search for internet so that we could figure it out for sure, we stumbled across a place that offered it to us free, as long as we took a survey first, which took me about a grand total of 1 minute since I’ve worked in market research in the past year. So we found Carly’s number and then figured out that if we did go to Cambridge that night we could get back in time for our bus to Paris on Sunday morning. After that our moods were lifted quite a bit and we started our routine of just wandering toward whatever sounded cool or looked cool at the moment. So we wandered into the Westminster Cathedral and towards a large structure with lots of colored dots on it and then along a wall of pinwheels, then towards Buckingham Palace, then down the mall and toward Big Ben and Parliament and Westminster Abbey. This whole ADD traveler thing worked really well in London, there’s just lots of really random stuff everywhere! The only problem was that we weren’t always exactly certain of what we were looking at. In fact when we came up on Big Ben up close we weren’t actually sure it was Big Ben for about two seconds, I guess I never realized it’s actually attached to the Parliament Building. We sat down on the big monument/ fountain across from Buckingham Palace just a bit since our backs were revolting from the weight of our backpacks and while we sat we notice that one of the gates was open and there was a crowd around it, so we watched from afar and after a while a car drove by. Lindsey turned to the British lady next to her and found out that apparently it was a ‘senior royal’ since the car had flags on it. So we saw a senior royal, don’t know which leave the castle, I don’t know what for, maybe they needed groceries. After that we wandered some more and saw more parts of London, got Dad his pin from Hard Rock, which makes #3, there was one from Dublin too that I didn’t mention I don’t think. While I was taking the picture of the tea quote on a wall I dropped my camera!! I was worried, but it seemed to work just fine when I took the picture so I stopped worrying, until I tried to take a picture of an arch that was far away and it went all weird. So basically I think I knocked one of my lenses out of place, which sucks because I’m going to Rome for my next break. I might break down soon and see if I can get it fixed here in France, because sending it to Nikon is o-u-t. I’d rather have it unaligned and with me on vacation than not have it at all. After that incident we kept walking around and ended up just a bit lost. GREAT! Not too lost though, we found a B&B and asked the nice lady at the front desk who gave us the best news ever, the bus station was just a couple blocks away! So that lady is my new hero. After that we were pretty beat so we found food and then found the bus station and waited just a bit until our coach came. The ride up to Cambridge was pretty good, I slept through most of it. When we got there I groggily got up and off and collected my backpack from the sidewalk where the driver had tossed it before he hopped in and drove off in a rush. It wasn’t until about five minutes later that I realized I’d left my plastic bag with several of my acquired souvenirs in it on the bus, as well and my very soft red scarf. Since there was nothing that could be done right then, we went and met my friends, who I really enjoyed seeing! It had be quite a while, except for the three I saw right when I got here, but still I’m used to seeing them all much more frequently. So it was nice to meet up and hang out for a while. We chilled in their hall for a bit and then dozed off to sleeping.

Saturday we went with them to their cafeteria type place and ate a proper English breakfast which was the same as the breakfast in the hostel but also with oily mushrooms, which was odd. We then proceeded to hang out for a while longer before heading into the city so that we could see Cambridge. It was a fun day and pretty chill, which was nice. After a week of traveling I was pretty tired and glad to be able to relax just a bit and hang out. After walking around the city and seeing all the cool stuff there we went back to their dorm and prepared to stay up until 3 am so that we could catch our bus back to London so that we could catch our bus to Paris. However, I wasn’t feeling very well at all and had to get some sleep and was physically not able to wake up at 3 am and walk with my heavy bag into Cambridge, much less keep it together on a bus all day long, so I had to bite the bullet and pay for a train later in the day and then a train to Paris so that I could still catch my train to Nantes the next day. I’m glad this hit me when I had my friends around to help me out with getting new things arranged and when I could just crash in Carly’s bed and fall asleep. So Saturday night just kind of bled into Sunday morning and before I knew it I was waiting for a train.

Sunday morning I got the train station with a bit of help and got on my way without too much trouble, even though I still wasn’t feeling great I was a bit better. The train ride was definitely smoother than the bus would have been which was nice. I got to London and then into Paris, I got to ride in the chunnel which makes your ears pop tons and tons. It was weird and kind of annoying. In Paris I found other fellow IES travelers waiting in the station for their train so I waited with them and watched some movies on my iPod. Then, I got on a train headed back to Nantes and the rest is really not interesting so I won’t bore you with it. I made it back safe and sound and my host parents were on a trip of their own by the time I got back, so I just ate some dinner solo and went to sleep to fully shake off whatever I’d got that made feel so awful.

This concludes my first official vacation and my adventures had during it. In between this week of break and the next one in April there’s a month of classes to attend and learn during. Complete with mid-terms and a couple big assignments to be done, so I’ll be busy with all this for a while. On top of this I have to plan my next vacation during April! I’ll be on vacation on my birthday, so that’s really nice, I’ll be able to relax a bit and not worry about school at all. Tomorrow I should have a post that summarizes the two weeks after vacation that really aren’t that exciting, so they just get squished into one post. And then I’m officially caught up with the blogging thing. In case you haven’t noticed I did post pictures of my vacation so you can go look if you’d like to. I’ve gotten some comments about seeing more of me in these pictures, and in response I’d like to say, suck it up. I’m not in Europe to take pictures of myself I’m in Europe to take pictures of Europe. There a few of me in them, take what you can get. So there. Well, looks like I’m done for today.


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