6:25 am London time…1:25 am EST…my mind struggled at finding a time to accept so just opted to wake up. Besides, I was bursting with the type of excitement gained by a whole new world—the day prior had so many sights, thrills, and people I’ve never encountered in my life; let alone…I got a true test of how much I retained from French I/II:
Je parle UN PEU FRANÇAIS.Désolé! Désolé!
(clearly a lot)
Second day abroad equaled first of a couple mornings spent in the bathroom before 8am. I ended up studying AP English vocabulary until my Mom knocked on the door; rather pissed, as she couldn’t take a shower with me sitting in the closest-sized bathroom gazing upon a stack of flashcards ranging from “ad hominem” to “zeugma”.
Eventually my sister woke up, my Dad knocked on our door(we divided two rooms among sex), and I actually put-forth effort in my appearance for the first time in a month. Urban Decay, I’m forever going to hold a grudge against you for discontinuing “Honey” eyeliner but continue to laugh in your face as I savor said pencil.
We ended up going to a chain coffee shop called Costca which reminded me a lot of the coffee shops once inside Borders(Seattle’s Coffee?). The Mocha Chiller I had tasted like a much more coffee-dense, tastier version of a Mocha Frapp. from Starbucks. Blended ice coffee vs. milkshake with coffee extract—hmmm. As we walked to the nearest Tube station, we discovered a bakery called Le Patisserie Valerie with men with French accents as thick as my Chiller.
Baked goods seemed to line the front corner of the shop…I felt like I was in heaven for a second as I ogled over everything. Now I’m going to refrain from listing everything off to not make a “petty French mistake” so just pretend you read a list of fancy sounding French baked delicacies.
Riding the tubes for the first time wasn’t as horrifying as the 90 degree escalator down to the tubes. I’m surprised I wasn’t pushed as I did my typical brief moment of hesitation before stepping on the third metal sheet I saw come before me. There was a lot of hustle and bustle below ground—not as dirty nor panicked as the ones I remember in DC though.
According to the times on my camera, ten minutes later we were outside Buckingham Palace—the place one Kate had her first married kiss at. Clearly I cared a lot about the royal wedding if the first thing that popped in my head was “John and Kate Plus Eight”.
I tried staying calm as I took in all the details around me;
the bright greyish-white sky making everything with color seem more striking
beauty of the metal work on the massive gate
dissecting the Foot Guards uniform(the guy to the left) as a marching band uniform
trying to figure out how much of a pain-in-the-ass it would be to march properly while wearing his hat
wondering if he was wearing dinkles
if the jacket buttoned up or zippered in the back
Okay, most of those were lies as I was too busy acting immature and pointing things out such as this:
In America, breastfeeding in public is a bit controversial and this statue just made me realize that the British really don’t care as I later backed up while watching a man happily frolic through a field naked/with a blade of grass covering his junk as string music played by more naked people with their instruments covering themselves and white gloves over their hands…it was a sandwich commercial.
My Mom began pointing out a bunch of schmeckles as I realized the lions had testicals. Being the immature 16 year old I am, I took pictures of this detail-gallery.
As we waited for the changing of the guards, we ended up hitting a few nearby museums where I didn’t take a single picture…you’re welcome. Instead I spent time marveling at how large the bathrooms were compared to the rest of the ones I’ve been in while in London/the airport and repeatedly thinking (while in the da Vinci exhibit), “Sorry Chem teacher; I think you’re crazy/hysterical but Anatomy is some crazy hard shit I’m not willing to put myself through thanks to the work of this brilliant man. Why am I not surprised he dug up bodies for science? All good scientists do seemingly crazy-ass shit. Hold up—don’t I have to dissect a rat for AP Bio AND breed fruit flies? Oh shit.”
Before I knew it, it was time for the changing of the guards.
I can’t stand being in extremely large crowds of strangers so seeing all these excited people pool around ~5’5 me was a bit overwhelming. Being the “great” older brother he is, my two siblings had a sweet sibling moment as this happened:
I was beyond thrilled to stay on the ground as that meant I had full control over how close I got to “the British marching band”. Yep—you can take this gal out of the band but her heart will forever stay there.
Something I didn’t really understand in my band-related-excitement-state was their formation; they had clarinets in the pack and the piccs scattered vertically. Low brass was in the front few rows in pod-like groupings.
Perhaps to balance the sound out more?
Another major “revelation” I had was if these people got so excited over this marching band, why don’t they have marching bands for schools? Granted; the amount of skill and work needed to have a really composed band is insane but if the population got this excited, it would be worth it.
I was too far into band world to really care that I wasn’t watching anything beyond people standing around in uniform with instruments while trying to stay near my family.
We ended up leaving before the crowd fully dispersed to get lunch—another pub with the same menu as the one yesterday.
Which of course I was completely thrilled with as it was beginning to pour outside and the pub had free wifi.
Vegetarian option number two: consumed and enjoyed.
This time the prices were a little higher as it was closer to a major tourist attraction/not behind a bunch of buildings.
We waited for the rain to clear up a bit before heading out to the Tubes again…this time we were off to Harrods! My brother opted to do his own thing/drink.
Holy crap the place was huge and crowded. Then again, the largest department store I have ever been in had to be the Nordstroms at Boca Town Center.
My sister and I ended up splitting up from our parents and set a time neither my sister nor I remembered. She thought they said 3:30—I thought 4; turns out it was 3:45…oops.
Well two suburb girls with one map in a giant mass of people didn’t exactly equate to enjoyment with little to no sense of north,east,south, and west. Simply; we got lost.
If you’ve never been in Harrods, let me plant this picture in your head:
five floors; lower ground, ground, floor 1-3
each floor has multiple rooms that fit together like a massive puzzle
there’s a few elevators that seemed to be in multiple directions
the escalators have their own room called “The Egyptian Room” which happens to be located in the dead center of each floor.
Okay now factor in massive crowds as result of some major sale, officers scattered about checking for shoplifting, and multiple variations of the same room on different floors.
I didn’t buy anything since 1) I was overwhelmed 2) Kept doing conversion rates in my head and didn’t like the number 3) Knew I could find similar items in TJ Maxx at home
Both of us managed to see what we wanted to see while eventually reuniting with my parents who weren’t the slightest bit pissed. Granted, I used the tongue of my Converse to help my sister convert her shoe size to UK then proceeded to rush her so she wouldn’t be heartbroken at all the shoes she couldn’t afford.
Right across the street was Top Shop so we proceeded to split up from our parents again as my sister spent more pounds in one trip than I did the entire time in London. And yes, I got lost again.
I couldn’t find my sister in Top Shop so went to Burberry to find my parents, couldn’t find my parents in Burberry even after security help(gave them a description of my father who apparently didn’t even enter), so retreated back to Top Shop and was reunited “at last”.
We ended up going to another shopping area with an outdoor market after where we were reunited with my tipsy brother who used his IPhone as Tube 101…it was gorgeous out so we ended up eating outside.
Live musicians were scattered among cobblestone roads with decorated phone-booths everywhere. As we waited for dinner, I ended up walking through small boutiques that were quickly closing(at 6:30pm?!) and spotted a lot of stuff from Fred Flare. The night tasted like controlled perfection—just wished more stores were open. By the time most stores were closed, my dinner was at the table.
This Mediterranean Platter fit the warm Summer night perfectly as it was just like the moment; simple beauty where no one judged you if you ate the roasted garlic plain and opted out from the green olives.
Stay tuned for the rest of my European Adventure 🙂