Tuesday, June 22, 2010

London: For Marth and Lex

Yes yes, I didn't blog about anything on the Continent except my first day, and now I'm back in London, but I have to blog for Marth and Lex.

AHHH! London is amazing! But about a tenth of its awesome is memories of time with you (because come on, London's too awesome to be dampened TOO much by your absence). So, here is a photo essay (correct term?) of my missage of you.

Because I've been without Martha telling me when to eat it got to be 3 in the afternoon and all I'd had was a chicken sandwich at 10 (when I hadn't had dinner the night before). So...I made sure I ate my dinner and got some protein. After I checked in at my hostel I got a good old Bento Box, sans Martha, as you can see. I bought Japanese candy in her honor.

After dinner I went over to the Globe to see if I could catch a groundling ticket for tonight. I had a soft serve in honor of Lexy. I got a double cone. She knows what that means.

I took a load off at Southwark after the Globe. And drank WATER, by myself.

I know that Burrough Market being empty has nothing to do with Martha and Lexy not being here, but it was so sad and lonely.

Ok, this is hilarious. I wanted to take a picture of how long the escalator was for Lexy, but I didn't want to be an ugly tourist and hold up traffic so I took a picture on the sly as I went up. After the flash went off I realized it totally seemed like I was being a bigtime creeper. I was going to delete this photo, but I think it'll be great on a plate.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Paris: Anglophile in Pair-ee

So, I made it to Paris. Of course it wasn’t as nerve racking or hard as I thought it’d be. St. Pancras actually had some of the nicest people working there I’ve encountered. I completely spaced that fact that international travel would require security checks and all so I was rather surprised by the airport like luggage scanners and so forth. However, the scanning wasn’t as stringent as it is in the US, so all went well. I can’t think of any way the US could be stricter w/ baggage checking, so I was more than prepared for this part of the trip. The woman who checked me in smiled and told me to have a nice trip. After six weeks of grumpy tellers and cashiers she was very friendly.

The ride itself was fine, nothing to report. After I got into Paris Nord I had to find my train to Loli’s. I’d gotten my Metro/RER pass in London right before I left so I didn’t have to worry about that. I did want to find a cash machine as soon as possible so I see this long row of yellow machines w/ slots for cards and pin code pads so I put my debit card in. Not a cash machine. The shear amount of them should have tipped me off to the fact that they were ticket machines of sorts. The girls who went to Paris for their weekend said they got cash at the station, but I couldn’t see a place anywhere so I focused on finding my train to Loli’s.

I can’t imagine navigating the Paris Metro w/o having navigated the Tube in English first. Paris’ Metro is basically the same, only it’s dirtier and they have double decker deals on the RER!! Oh, and it’s in French. Again, I actually didn’t have that much trouble. I assume though that I’d have avoided being on the wrong side of the platform many times today if I spoke French. No, I take that back, I just think that it’s not as clear as the Tube.

Anyway, I got to the station Loli told me to get off at and walked up to a map to get my bearings for some reason, even though she gave me very good directions. The station guy came out of his booth to help me. He spoke a tiny bit of English and looked pained when I asked if he did, knowing that communicating with me was going to be a chore. From what I could gather there was a bus that took me to Loli’s street 1000 metres up the road. He wrote the numbers down for me and was very nice about explaining in French how to get there. After it all he asked if I had a light. Some other guy did. After walking the way he told me (that wasn’t Loli’s way) for a little I turned around and went the way she told me and got there no problem.

Loli’s a gem and had a Metro plan all for me. After I showered a bit (I tried not to wash my hair and failed, the shower head has a mind of its own!) because it’s SO much hotter here than when I left London, Loli showed me on the map where places of interest were and I set off for the evening. At the station by Loli’s my card wouldn’t work so a cop from a gaggle of cops that was at the station took my pass and asked about if for me. I stood between these four big French cops while this one cop that spoke just enough English to tell me in a nutshell what the station guy told him (the same one that tried to help me earlier) helped me get through the deal. Seriously. At one point he dropped my ticket and was wearing gloves so it was super awkward watching him try to pick it up. All in all though, he was super nice, and the four policeman were very nice and all rather attractive.

OK, confession time. My coming to Paris has pretty much been just for research. I haven’t even thought about what sites to see, at all. Loli pointed some major ones out so that’s where I went. I transferred two or three times to get the the Champs-Élysées. What is this? If I hadn’t JUST talked to friends and mom about what to see in Paris I’d have no idea. And I obviously still didn’t b/c I got off at the stop and walked the wrong way, which if I knew what the heck the CE was, I’d’ve realized. I ended up passing the Small and Grande Palaces. What are these? I don’t know, but aren’t you proud of my translations? I crossed the Seine on the Alexander Bridge that looked famous. At one point I turned around and what do you know!! It was the Eiffel Tower, not terribly close, but there it was. It looks smaller in real life. I followed whatever road that was for a while.

My goal was to find a cash machine and eat something b/c I’m trying to break out of my shell. Well, I failed on both accounts. Loli said there’d be cash machines everywhere once I got into the city, but I guess not around the touristy sites. Of course, even though Rick Steves plus all my friends who have been to Paris say that almost everyone can speak English, I assumed that whomever I asked couldn’t so I didn’t ask. Fail.

I eventually figured out the the Champs-Élysées was the road from Arc de Triomphe to Napoleon’s obelisk. I walked to the obelisk because I like Egypt and it looked closer. It was pretty cool. By this time I was exhausted though so I didn’t walk the other direction to the Arc. From the obelisk I did see the something or other National and some pretty buildings. Seriously, I realize how much of Paris is wasted on an Anglophile like me.

So, I went home, and had a sandwich. I’m exhausted. Tomorrow’s first order of business is to get my Eurail figured out, and get cash. Later I’ll go to the adult session of Stake Conference all in French and then meet women I want to interview.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

London: Leaving

I head to Paris tomorrow...

Not going to lie, I was really kind of freaking out about going to Europe by myself, but have since calmed down. I'm still anxious, but if you're not anxious you're careless and my dad ain't no Liam Neeson (as he tells me). Packing stinks, esp. when you're in a very small room w/ two other girls that are doing the same thing and you have to stay under 50lbs yada yada. Luckily I packed very lightly, leaving an extra 16 lbs in my big bag and who knows how much in my carry on. So, my big bag is currently 8 lbs underweight, with all my new books even! I'll store my big bag at a storage place for the two weeks I'm gone. Apparently said place is tourist centric with a scale and all, so I'll do all my rearranging when I get back there to pick up my luggage. I think I'm good with weight, because I'm sure you were wondering!

So, off to Paris. My friend Sarah set me up w/ Loli, who seems wonderful. She's a local (former?) RS president that has been babying me through everything so far. After Paris is Bern, Switzerland, which could still turn into Geneva. After Switzerland, Germany! Than Chunnel back, extra day by myself in London then back home to Provo. Honestly, I can't wait until this is all over and I can just sit at Ashley's and watch TV. Cakes is picking me up from the airport!! I'd just appreciate some permanency right now. I'll get it when I move back here w/ Martha to work!

Now, to finish packing and to find my Chunnel and Eurail tickets that decided to disappear a day ago...