Tourist Info Desk

Welcome to Fernweh, a blog concerning the (mis)adventures of one Fulbrighter during a year spent in Europe teaching English.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Der erste Tag

"And here...we...go!'

Sheesh, this day never ends. It began almost 24 hours ago, in quiet little Snohomish...

Mom and I got to Vancouver quickly and easily and I sat for nine long, uncomfortable, boring hours on the plane. Seriously, they design airplanes to be right on the border between mildly uncomfortable and painfully uncomfortable, so you're constantly in a state of discomfort but can't quite put your finger on why. However, one of the shows they played in flight was Top Gear: the one with Geoff and the R8 V10. I watched it twice. :D

Anyway, a funny thing happened in the hideously long passport check line at Gatwick. I ended up next to this tall guy in line who asked me a random question, and we started chatting all the way up to the customs desks. I got through first, and I though it would be rude just to bail on him, so I waited for him to come through as well and we kept talking. We got our baggage, took to the train to Victoria Station, and since it was still hideously early in the day (like 10 am!) and we were starving, we decided to wander a bit. We met some nice blokes playing tennis on the pavement, came upon Westminster Cathedral entirely by accident, got lunch at a store called Boots (go figure?) and wandered down to Buckingham Palace to look around and catch the tail end of the changing of the guard, at which point we went our separate ways. It was an extremely pleasant way to begin a solo trip, and certainly upped my expectations for meeting awesome people on this odyssey of mine. He's now off to heaven-knows-where (he doesn't even know!) with his 80 pounds of baggage, on an adventure around the world. Evan, wherever you are or end up, good luck and and I wish you the best!

At that point things went a little sideways. I staggered to the Tube station with my luggage--it's hot and muggy here, and I'm wearing thick, warm, summer-in-WA clothing--only to discover that the entire Jubilee line, which is the only one that serves the stop where my hostel is, is closed for construction. There's always something that you need or want being renovated in Europe! This meant I had to take two other subway lines to go three stops, wander around helplessly looking for the right bus, and once I found it, plead with the bus driver to let me off at the right stop. Once at the right stop, I then had to find the blasted place, using only my wits and vague memories of my four nights staying here a year and a half ago.

On my way up the hill, I saw a lime-green Lambo cruise by, growling like a rabid lion. I am in the land of Top Gear. That made me smile. I'd like to take a joyride on one of the buses just to go car-spotting.

So that brings me to where I am now: lying in my bunk, struggling to stay awake, hoping I'll get to watch the Doctor Who finale tonight. Tomorrow I'm leaving bright and early for Bath.

Bottom line: I made it. I'm safe. The adventure has commenced. And now I'm going to take a nap.

UPDATE: After my nap and shower, I wandered down to the hostel’s TV lounge just in time for the start of Doctor Who. If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil it, but it was epic; and if you don’t watch Doctor Who—for heaven’s sake, why not?!

Anyway, at the hostel’s restaurant, I struck up a conversation with a very kind young woman from Quebec. As we were talking, one of the waiters came up to us and asked me if I was American. When I applied in the affirmative, he asked me what to do in America if you liked someone and wanted to demonstrate your admiration. I said I didn’t know, so he proposed that one might buy a drink, then offered to buy one for my new friend. The two of us (my Canadian friend, Laurence, and I) had dinner together, and afterward the waiter came by again and looked me straight in the eyes.

“Are you American?” he demanded.

“I think we’ve established that,” said I.

“Then would you like some apple pie?”

This was so unexpected a logical leap that my brain couldn’t quite make the jump, and I ended up just nodding dumbly and then dissolving into giggles. He brought very delicious slices of pie for both Laurence and me, and never charged us for them. Go figure. Anyway, I got free pie and a delightful evening with a very interesting and fun dinner partner. Now I’m exhausted (I made it past 10 pm!) and I have to catch a bus in the morning, so off I go to bed!

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