Published: February 3rd 2012February 3rd 2012
Happy February All!
Wow. I really can’t believe that it’s already February. With all of the traveling time really passes by fast and I feel like I’m still in December. Haha!
I suppose I haven’t really written in a while, but London has so much to see it really doesn’t give you much time to be on the computer! At least I was pretty good about uploading photos on Facebook so you knew I was alive! At one point in my nine days in London I got an e-mail from my Mom: “Haven’t heard from you in a while…are you ok?” Well, London certainly kept me busy right from my first few hours.
I got a little turned around when I was trying to find my hostel, but I eventually got there after about a half-an-hour of walking (it should have only taken about 10 minutes from the tube station). I was pretty tired. During check-in the girl at reception told me that there was an open-mic night that night if I wanted to sit and watch. I sat in the common area/bar and worked on my computer when the guy sitting across from me started some small
Shaun and Ben
The Aussies that helped me through open mic night.
talk. Just where are you from, why are you here, how long have you been in London, and then his friend came back in the conversation stopped. About 15 minutes later then guy running the open mic night came around to ask for volunteers. All the people at my table said no, until the guy whose name I didn’t even know says, “Oh, that girl was telling me how much she wanted to sing.”
“Really?! Oh that’s great! What do you want to sing?”
“I don’t want to sing.”
“Oh, no! It’ll be great, everyone is just here for fun and we have a lot of people so you might not even have to sing, I’ll just put your name down.”
Then the guy I didn’t know looked at me and said, “You want to remember your trip to London, and now I bet you always will.”
He had a point, but now I was nauseous. I turned around and tried my best to be invisible for the rest of the night. It seemed to be working until after the second singer.
“Next we have…Ben, and the guitar.”
“No. I can’t”
Its true, you haven't lived until you've been in the front row of the second level of a double decker bus.
“I don’t have a singer.”
“Oh, well there is a girl behind you there in an orange sweatshirt that wants to sing. She just turned around, you go talk to her and we will come back to you.”
This was like a nightmare coming true. Turns out Ben is from Australia, he was so nice, came up and asked what kind of music I like. I mentioned Amy Winehouse. “Oh! Do you know Valerie?”
“Actually that’s my favorite song.”
“Perfect! I love that song! We can go outside and practice if you like.”
Well, there really wasn’t anyway out now. Ben and his traveling buddy Shaun went outside with me and we played through it a couple of times, then we just went inside, did the song, and got down. Not nearly as painful as I thought it would be.
In the mornings I was taking riding lessons at a riding school on the outskirts of London, but in the afternoons I would get back to the hostel and usually Ben, Shaun, Alex, another girl from Australia and Marilyn, a worker at the hostel from Belgium were still around. Sunday evening they
invited me to go to Chinatown with them to watch some celebrations for the Chinese New Year. We walked all around Chinatown, ate hot pork buns, and I got to see London lit up at night without having to go out all by myself. Turns out Aussies are pretty entertaining. Accordion? Nope. Squeeze box. Electrician? Nope. They need to call the “sparkie.” Need a haircut? Your travel bro is as good as any hairdresser in all of Europe. “Dude! Don’t touch my fringe!” Oh, “fringe” is Aussie for “bangs”. We even found a bar with a drink lift! It was so cool because the bar had two levels so if you were on the second level you didn’t have to walk back down to the bar you just wrote your order on a paper and put down your money and sent it down the lift and they would send the drinks and change back up! Shaun got us our first round of drinks and when he handed them out he said, “Here Devin, I got you a Lemon-Lime and Bitter.”
“Oh, thank you but I don’t drink alcohol.”
“I know! This doesn’t have any! It just felt wrong
just getting you water. I thought this seemed pretty classy; let me know if you like it!”
I did! It was really good and it did look classy! My new favorite drink, I hope that have them at Tiger Town Tavern! :)
The five of us ended up spending the next few days together until Ben and Shaun headed off to their next destination in Amsterdam, a few days later Alex headed home to Australia. Just Marilyn and I left, but that’s the thing about hostels, when people leave new ones come.
Meet Tess, Amy, Catrin, Jonathan and Andres. Tess and Amy are also from Australia and traveling around for break. Catrin is from Wales but goes to school in Liverpool and Amy’s cousin. Andres is an Industrial Engineer (Yay Laura! :) ) from Argentina, and Jonathan is from Mississippi but is living in Italy for a year with CRU (Crusade for Christ).
Naturally with so many accents in the room it was the topic of discussion. The word “y’all” continues to baffle the world outside of the south, and its plural “y’alls” just blows the mind apparently, haha! We spent most of our first night
From left: Jonathan, Catrin, Tess, Amy, Andres
in the room just asking each other to say things then asking each other to say things is everyone else’s accent. Andres even joined in because is English his impeccable and then we talked about all the different Spanish accents. “You’re learning Spanish in Andalucía? Oh, then you aren’t learning good Spanish, although I’m one to talk, no one can understand people from Argentina.”
Its true, even my host family said that if we wanted to learn “proper” Spanish we should study in Madrid where they speak “correctly.” Eh, the upside is that if you can understand an Andalucian, especially a Gaditana (someone from Cádiz) you can understand any Spanish accent in the world, even Argentinian.
Well, poor Tess got an infection in her foot on their way over to Europe and wasn’t supposed to walk around too much, and by the time they had arrived I had been in London for five days and I had blisters on my feet from how much I had been walking, one was really deep and hurt pretty bad and I was thinking about taking a day off from walking around a lot. So it worked out pretty perfect
for us to go to Westminster Abbey and sit in on a service there. Amy even came along! We were feeling pretty sly because if you go to a service you don’t have to pay to get into the Abbey, for just visiting its 13pounds to go inside. Well, we got inside the Abbey, but we couldn’t see the whole thing, just the first little area inside the main entrance. However, we thought it was so neat to go to the service. Amy said simply and best, “I can’t believe I just took Holy Communion in Westminster Abbey.” She was right, it was better than just looking around; it’s something the three of us will remember forever.
That evening Amy and Tess were supposed to go to a “gig” as they say in Aussie, but because of Tess’s foot she couldn’t stand for that long, so Amy invited me, but I really wanted to go see a show, I suggested she ask Marilyn. We parted ways for the afternoon and as I was out and about I got the idea that maybe Tess would like to go to a show since you are sitting for those. I got back
to the hostel as quickly as I could (which took nearly an hour by the way…London is HUGE). Marilyn went with Amy to the gig and Tess and I went to see if there were still tickets for “The Lion King.”
“Hi, are there still seats available for the show tonight?”
“Are you students?”
“Yeah we have seats left, and we have a discount for students tonight.”
We walked up to the ticket booth to buy the tickets and the girl showed us the seats available; some on the ground floor and two available in the first row on the first balcony.
“How much are they?”
“Normally they are 60pounds, but because you are students they are only 30.”
Now, before the show I looked up what the prices were for the seats. The seats for “The Lion King” ranged from 21 to 64pounds, meaning that we were about to get nearly the most expensive seats you can for half the price. Is there anything better than the life of a student? :)
The show was AMAZING! Truly awesome! It was the highlight of my time in London. From the
singers to the costumes and the sets, I was just so glad that Tess and I got to go. It worked out perfectly that Tess still got to do something other than sit in the hostel and Amy could go to the show with Marilyn.
My last night there Marilyn and I got to hang out for a while along with Sveene (another hostel worker). We went to a playground until we were kicked out by actual kids. “Oh, are you waiting for this swing?”
“Oh, Sorry! “
We got up and left and suddenly all ten kids in the playground rushed for that swing. Clearly we had picked the most popular spot.
Then we got to go to M&M world and Marilyn tried frozen yogurt for the very first time! I couldn’t believe she had never tried FroYo! But then again, Tess was literally shocked for about 5 minutes when I told her I had never tried fish and chips, which are pretty good by the way.
I did and saw a lot of things in London, most of them I did see on my own and I enjoyed the freedom of
getting to explore the city and do and see whatever I wanted, but the things I really enjoyed and will remember I did with the people I met, and it all started with that guys who’s name I don’t know who signed me up for open mic night. It’s weird how things like that happen.
I loved London. It’s such an interesting city with so much to do and see, I would suggest it to anyone who is going to Europe. There’s a lot of history and it has sort of that Paris effect where you are looking at things you’ve only ever seen on TV, movies or read about in books and then there they are, more impressive than you ever imagined. London’s only downfall? Well, they have Starbucks on every corner, but they don’t have Vanilla Frappuccinos! What's up with that? Come on, London.
Well, at this point I think to chronicle every single thing I did in London would just turn into another 5 part Paris blog. Thankfully this trip I did not
lose my camera, therefore you can get a pretty good idea of everything I got to see and do through photos and
With Marilyn and Sveene!
even videos!! No I don’t have a video of my performance, but I’m sure it will be a YouTube sensation in no time :)
I love and miss all of you! :)
There are more photos below