hi hi hi!
I'm so sorry that I have been MIA these last few days. It's been kind a whirlwind of emotions ranging from excitement and joy to complete fear and panic.
So, I'll give you the scoop on all that I've done in the last three days:
Landed at Heathrow bright and early. I made my way through a huge customs line and when I finally got to the customs official I definitely got a through examination. I have told some of you, but in preparation for my trip I printed out bank statements, flight itineraries, and purposely went ahead and booked a hostel and a flight out of the UK and came to customs with all of these in hand. I did all of this because I have heard 5 or 6 stories from friends and read about strangers in the Dallas Morning News who were delayed in customs or actually denied entry into the country because they didn't have proof (or actually have) of return tickets, enough money, or a semi-solid plan of itinerary. So I walk up to the desk in my regular kill them with kindness (some jaded people might call it ass kissing) attitude and am immediately here's how the convo went:
- How long are you going to be here?
answer: 2 weeks and then I'm going on to Paris, sir *insert award winning cheesy smile*
- Can you prove you are going to France in 2 weeks?
answer: yes, here is my ticket, I'm actually leaving from this airport
- How long are you going to be in Europe?
answer: 4, well, no, 3 and a half months, I'm going to Turkey too in the middle. *start getting nervous*
- Can you prove you will be leaving Europe?
answer: yes, here is my return itinerary *begin looking around the area to make a Bourne Identity-esk escape... if I ninja kick that dude and steal his gun I can make it into that air vent and sweet freedom will be mine!*
- How much do you think all of this is going to cost?
answer: Well I have ##### in available funds, and then can access an additional #####. do you want to see those reports? *o.m.g. I'm never going to be allowed in!*
Then the customs official gives my passport the hard stamp as if he doesn't really want to let riffraff like me into the country but I've come too prepared to be denied.
Deep breath. I made it in!
I then took the subway/underground/I never know what to call it/tube to my stop to find the hostel. I wander around confused for about 5 minutes until I find some sort of information desk and am told which way is north. Let me warn you now, I have wandered around lost a lot lately, so prepare yourself now. Started heading north. Got kind of lost. Then due to my tremendous map reading skills (people-- i had drawn the map from the subway wall map because I hadn't bought one yet) became un-lost and found the hostel!!
Checked into the hostel. Then made my way into the the neighborhood, Camden, around the hostel. Camden is kind of a working class neighborhood filled with cheap ethnic restaurants, markets, and bars. I got a delicious giant plate of lamb shawarma for 3£. There was so much food on the plate that I was able to take leftovers for dinner!
At this point I'm still feeling fairly energetic and decide to try to press through the rest of the day to battle any jet lag I might be feeling by trying to stay busy. I decided to go to the British museum, consult my map, make it about 15 or 20 blocks, and then get lost. Stop in a random hotel and ask the concierge where the museum is; she informs me that I am approximately 300 meters away I just needed to keep on walking. It was a little embarrassing.
On the way to the museum my energy starts to wain. By the time I'm in the museum and looking at the Rosetta Stone I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I stayed in the museum for approximately 8 minutes before I decided to bail (the museum was free, so no worries about my budget!), walk home, do NOT get lost. Make it home, lay in my hostel bed and write this in my journal:
"First night, it's 5:05 so tired too tired to have feelings or write"-
Pass out for 2 hours and wake up around 7 pm with nothing to do, no friends, not really hungry, and really sleepy. Shockingly, instead of letting myself go back to sleep I blasted some Brittney Spears on my ipod (Ashley, I know you would approve), went downstairs, made dinner of leftovers and veggies. Next to the hostel kitchen is a little tv room and I settled in with my dinner with some of the other hostel stayers (what do you call us? hostelers? guests? members?) and, I kid you not, watch that cheesy American show 2 and a Half Men (or something like that) with Charlie Sheen with them!
Whew! That was my day. I'm going to quit here and post about Day 2 and 3 separately.
All and all everything is going well. I've fought a little bit of homesickness and loneliness, but I am feeling great and even made a friend last night!
Get ready for posts later about my other days, the museums I've attended, and more!
I miss you all very much!