Thursday, August 4, 2011

the end, part two. london again!

8 july 2011

florine was sweet enough to let us leave our big suitcases at her flat while we spent our final european weekend in london! we left the flat in time to get to the gare du nord at 10am. since we were taking the eurostar, we had to got through customs and security. after a bit of a border control scare regarding our lack of OFII stamps, we got on our train and were on our way to…

london! the train ride through the chunnel was so cool! it just got dark for about 20 minutes and then boom! england. the transit was so much smoother than our february journey! god bless trains. we got off at st. pancreas, where tristan met us. he rode the tube back with us to the flat, where we settled in to rest f or a little while. we left around 3pm to meet shane at the liverpool street bus station, as he had to ride the bus into down from the airport. i was so excited to see him! i introduced him to tristan, and then tris and rachel went back to the flat while shane and i set out to explore. our first stop was the V&A museum, where we got to play and learn! there were some fun, interactive “discovery stations” – it was a really cool museum. we headed out to find some food and a place for shane to get a haircut. on the way, we stopped so he could buy some shoes to replace the ones that were practically falling off his feet as he walked. we continued our wandering, stopping in several awesome bookshops in covent garden. soon, we stumbled upon a super trendy, very cheap hair salon. i sat and waited while shane got an 8 pound haircut. the best part was that several of the stylists were french! but shane the pansy was too shy and intimidated by the beauty of his stylist to actually speak to her in french. lol. after the haircut, we kept walking – i think we covered the entirety of london that day! – and started looking for some indian food for dinner. rachel was going with tristan to meet some of his friends at a pub on the river. we headed back to the flat around 10:30pm, arriving in time to catch the end of the movie the gang was watching. around midnight, everyone started heading off to bed. i stayed up for a little while, talking to shane and using the computer. it was so lovely to get to spend the afternoon and evening with him – we had an awesome day. it felt like a total bonus, considering the fact that when we said goodbye in galway in may, we thought it was for a few years!

9 july 2011

this was a supremely excellent, very literary day. shane and i got up around 9 or 10 and got ready to leave the flat. we took the tube to victoria street station, and hopped on a big, red bus to oxford! yes! the trip took about 2 hours, and it was a lovely ride through the british countryside. we arrived in oxford around 1pm and found a spot of lunch – i finally got to have a pasty and it was delish! shane and i sat in a square and listened to a busker while we ate and waited for rachel and tristan to arrive via motorbike! once they got to town and found us, we all took a walk up the main street. they grabbed something to eat and then we made our way to one of the many colleges in town. it’s no wonder that oxford is such a destination for higher education – there are so many colleges there! we walked by the gorgeous bodleian library rotunda and then i bought a ticket to go inside the divinity school. it was there that the dance rehearsal scene from harry potter and the goblet of fire was filmed! it was an absolutely gorgeous room – i love the architecture in oxford. we also saw some kids in slytherin robes. :) shane and i snuck into the courtyard of a dorm complex, just to get a peek, and oh my word – it was so, so very beautiful. stone buildings covered in ivy, bright grass, spiral staircases… we couldn’t believe it. we finally tore ourselves away and went to meet back up with rachel and tristan. the four of us continued meandering, checking out another hp-related college – we saw the “great hall” and the courtyard where malfoy gets turned into a ferret! loved it. i really wanted to go see christ church before it closed, so rachel and tristan napped on a lawn while shane and i ran across town. technically, it was closed for a wedding (of the dean’s son!), but shane and i snuck in for a quick look before we were kindly asked to leave. :) the last item on the list was the eagle & child pub, where the inklings writing group met – including c.s. lewis and tolkien! i saw their signatures and soaked up the awesome atmosphere for a while. around 6:30, shane needed to start heading back, so we made our way to the bus stop. we got back to town around 8, and the two of us ran over to top shop so shane could exchange some shoes. we made it back to the flat around 9, and shane pretty much left right away for this evening soirĂ©e. rachel and i got ready and then made our way across the thames to go see the classic “hamlet” at shakespeare’s globe theatre!! we had such awesome seats – front row of the top tier! the show was a nighttime performance – midnight, actually. we rented cushions and settled in for an awesome production. the cast was small – they all played at least two or three roles. rach and i both really enjoyed it, being the total english nerds that we are. after the show was over, we walked back across the millennium bridge and caught a black cab back home, finally arriving around 3am. shane stayed over at his friends’ place, so he wasn’t home. but i had chugged a coke to stay awake at the play, so i ended up being up for a while. i took advantage of the time different to talk to drew for a while – bonus! it was such a lovely day – one of my favourites during the whole trip! i finally fell asleep as the sun was rising over the gray east-london rooftops.

10 july 2011

needless to say, we slept in a bit on sunday… tris woke us up around 11 to go check another item off of our to-do list – a full english breakfast! it had bacon, eggs, beans, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, and tea… yum. i ate the whole thing, too! shane was home when we got back, and we rested for a while, trying to digest a little big. around 1, rachel, shane and i walked over to brick lane to check out all the sunday markets. we stopped by the petticoat lane market before heading over to spittalfields. it was so hipstery and cool! we spent several hours in the area, just exploring. eventually, rachel and i headed back to rest. i watched the us women’s soccer match with suzy, which was heartstoppingly dramatic. tristan made this delish fondue for dinner with roasted veggies, meats, and bread. we all sat around the table and hung out for a long time. i ran down the street to get ice cream / strawberries for dessert. we were expecting another couchsurfer around 10 – my friend katherine! she was staying in london for her last few days in europe, and tristan, as is his natural reaction, said “the more, the merrier!” she ended up taking longer than expected, showing up around midnight. i was so excited to see her! i introduced her to everyone and we all went to bed around 2 or so.

11 july 2011

last day in london! rach and i were scheduled to leave on the 4pm train back to paris. around 9am, i woke up and packed my backpack up all the way and left with shane and katherine around 11 to go see kensington palace and the peter pan statue. (tris said he would bring my bag to the station, the angel.) the three of us explored the gardens and surrounding area. the palace itself was beautiful – red-brick and very regal. it was where diana had liived with william and harry. people had left all kinds of notes and cards attached to the fence – including 50th birthday cards for diana, which was sad but charming. they really loved her – and the rest of the royal family, as evidenced by the absolute obsession with the royal wedding. the peter pan statue was really cool – and shane was so excited to see it. we were supposed to meet tristan and rachel at the station at 3, so we left the park around 2:30 and took the tube over to st. pancreas. rachel and tris had just arrived. we all said goodbye, which was really sad. it was hard to say goodbye to shane again, but not as bad as the first time. i was still pretty torn up though. and tristan was so sweet as well. rachel and i went through security after our goodbyes were over and held our breath as we practically tiptoed through customs, because of our missing OFII stamps. the woman in france had made us so nervous, but it ended up being a total non-issue. the eurostar waiting area was pretty nice – we hung out for a little while before getting ready to board our train. it was kind of like boarding an airplane! rachel was in the seat right behind me, so once the train got settled, i asked the girl next to me if they could switch, which she kindly agreed to do. shortly, we were on the way back to franceland, for the very last installment in my epic voyage.

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