Today proved to be long and crazy, despite my best efforts to plan every detail and have a smooth trip. I took off yesterday for London around six in the evening, and arrived in Heathrow around nine in the morning. During the flight I read Kerouac and watched “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” so my mood was deep and thoughtful. I stayed up the entire flight and thought I was cooler for not sleeping, a decision I now regret.
When I landed, my phone refused to connect to the Wifi and I freaked out. I needed to contact the two girls with whom I was meeting, Abigail and Anne, and I could not. I panicked slightly, and then cooly decided I had to set off on my own. Right after making that decision, I ran into them, which proved to be a blessing. We got out tube tickets and sped to Gloucester Station on the metro train. We arrived around noon, starving and tired. We had planned with our professor to meet at our hostel around 12:30, so we scored a quick bite and sat waiting for her.
And waiting. And waiting. And she never showed.
We couldn’t get into our rooms until 2:00, and the rest of our group was busy exploring London with our professors, so we became a little despondent. I suggested we walk around see some sights ourselves, and Anne and Abigail agreed, so we went to Hyde Park and walked through the gardens. They were fantastic, and I took a lot of pictures.
We got back at 2:00, got into our rooms, and napped accidentally. Around 3:30, one of the Normans, Andy, walked into our room and woke us up. They had arrived! I met up with most of the Normans and we took off to Harrod’s, a famous British department store. Imagine a European Whole Foods combined with the swankiest fashion and lifestyle designers merging into one giant store of opulence. We walked around and took pictures, and I got a little trigger happy around the produce, which was high, high quality stuff. A real treat.
After that, two friends and I went to a pub to get a beer, and I drank my first beer in Europe, a Guinness. It was tasty. We talked for about an hour and like food, the beer proved to be wonderful because it gave me an opportunity to talk to two guys I really like. After that, the whole group met up in front of Harrod’s and we boarded the metro. We went to Leicester station so half of the group could go see “Chicago,” a play for which they bought tickets before Anne, Abigail, and I met up with them.
The other half of the group walked around looking for a restaurant, and we found an amazing, three-storied, century old restaurant. My only requirement for our dinner place: fish and chips. They had them! and the fish was great; the chips, on the other hand, would have done better with catsup (vinegar = overrated).
Following our tasty dinner, my half of the group boarded the metro and zipped back to the hostel. We hung out a bit making plans, and then we decided to hit up another pub. I decided not to get another beer, because I really wasn’t feeling it, but I got a soda (which breaks the record for most overpriced drink in Europe), and had a great time hanging out. Then, the sleepiness hit me. I became catatonic and said nearly nothing for the last 20 minutes, and I knew I was going to sleep well. However, it is one of the Norman’s birthdays–Andrew! We bought some champagne and are going to throw a little soiree when he and his half of the crew comes back.
The first day was great, but not quite yet over. I found out later that our professor never met with us because she had broken her hand, and is in America. She joins us in a few days, but until then, we have just two professors. Neither of whom, I should mention, I have seen. The students, so far, have completely decided our agenda. Today felt like a pure vacation, with no adults, no guidelines, and nothing we had to do. What a day!