Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 2: Westminster Abbey, Hangover, and Pub Crawl

Today was interesting. First off, I woke up at frickin 6am because I couldn't sleep very well. I do miss my cloud, but not that much. I'm not really adjusted to the time, I don't think. However, no matter where I go, nighttime is my peak. I might go watch the sunrise in a few hours because Clay did that yesterday since he didn't sleep much either. I made my time productive by messaging sissy on Facebook. We get free breakfast between 7am and 9am, and I didn't want to wake Brittany up too early, so I waited until 8am.

When I woke up, I felt alright. Then, I felt a bit off at breakfast. Once we left for the day, I felt like complete shit. I now understand hangovers. I got more food in me and some water, but I didn't really feel 100% until I took a nap later in the day.

Okay, so after breakfast, we headed to the Underground where I bought my Oyster card, which is a pay-as-you-go card for the tube. I feel like a Londoner now; it's great. The only Strugglebus moment I encountered was that cardholders aren't allowed to add more onto the Oyster card twice in the same day. I had to go find a shop to exchange my money, and the guy still wouldn't give me all 10 pounds in coins. I managed, though, with my crappy Subway sandwich.

Clay, Brandon, Brittany, and I walked all through Westminster. It sprinkled a bit, and the temperature dropped, but otherwise it was fine. It took forever for us to find Buckingham Palace, though. We asked around, and this one guy straight pointed us in the wrong direction. Dumb Americans! We pretend we're Canadians sometimes because we know the U.K. isn't fond of us. What can we do? However, I do think how much the Brits dislike us is exaggerated in the States. People like to know where we come from and are curious about the differences in our lives. It can be nice as long as we're not doing or saying anything stupid.

We were told today in Adam & Eve, the restaurant we ate lunch in, that it was difficult to understand us. This turned me upside down because I couldn't imagine people not being able to understand American English. I pondered this for a good half hour and realized it must be valid because I don't understand what the Londoners are saying sometimes. I feel so dumb having to say, "What?!" a thousand times. It's weird. Although, I do catch myself saying things in a British accent or certain words are changing in my vocabulary (that's brilliant!). I hope it doesn't fade when I go back to the States. Go accents!

We took a nap for a few hours, as usual, once we got back to the hostel to reenergize for the night's Pub Crawl. This is where it gets interesting. After taking the tube to Leicester, we began at a bar called Verve. It was the classiest bar I've ever seen. There were sparkling chandeliers and modern lighting and furnishing. We got a free t-shirt (another to add to my collection - yes!) and free shots at all the bars. The Crawl was £10 itself, but it covered quite a bit.

The shot was, let's just say, not my cup of tea (punny!). It tasted like black licorice, and I'm not a fan of such flavoring. I figured they would switch it up at the next bar. Wrong! We downed our second shot of the stuff, which felt hot going down for a few minutes. I also had a pineapple and vodka to try and feel a little tipsy. I guess my body is adjusting to the alcohol rather quickly because drunkenness was obviously not an option last night. I did find someone that caught my eye and chatted with him a bit, but nothing happened. Yet.

I don't remember what the licorice alcohol was called, but I just googled it and came up with anis. Seems legit. Apparently it's 80-90 proof? I'll ask around today to get the actual name since I'm ballparking it right now, but I didn't feel buzzed at all. I guess it's time to go back to beer (more Guinness, please!)

We weren't really feeling the Pub Crawl, but continued on to the third bar anyway. Another licorice shot! I don't know why we kept taking them - they just were not tasty. Really, where's the tequila at?! Probably £8 or something ridiculous. The bars were pretty pricey. I've been avoiding converting money in my head because the conversion rate is painful. Darn U.S. economy!

Anyway, we snagged a table and were really feeling like dipping out. It just wasn't really that fun. This is where I get dumb. I was bored, so I decided to go mingle in the crowd and the guy from earlier finds me. He was with some obnoxious friends who kept taking my picture (sketch much?). We got to talking, not that we really understood each other because English wasn't his first language and the music was blasting, and his friends wanted to take another damn picture and motioned for us to kiss. Well...surprise! He was really attractive and foreign, so whatever. The friends started to get a bit aggressive and utterly annoying so I told them off and headed back to my friends. Clearly, it was time to leave.

We walked about two miles, then hailed a cab, which are very nice in London I must say. In fact, I really haven't seen a p.o.s. here. Not one. Walking around London at night is magical. It's a beautiful city - stinky, but beautiful. The lights dance on the Thames, and people are up all hours of the night. The architecture just looks that much grander with the sleepy shadows encasing the ancient structures. We appreciated their ornateness until one friend (I won't name names, *sigh*) peed in front of an embassy. And no, it was not me! Shake. My. Head. There were guards or something right down the pavement, too. Luckily, he didn't get caught, and we made it back in one piece. He was a little drunk, I'll give him that.

Some guy in front of us was talking about spaghetti sandwiches and how he wanted to invest in them, so we commented on it jokingly. He then asked if we were from Philly! Apparently he's been watching some guys on YouTube, and he's an expert now on Philadelphia. This just cracks me up because it's so random. Yes, of all the cities in the U.S., we must be from Philly because that's what he knows. We encouraged his spaghetti sandwich idea, though. I bet he'd make a fortune.

We also saw some guys definitely on the Strugglebus. They were attempting to both ride one bike down the road; it is highly probable they were drunk. They wobbled and giggled, and I was genuinely concerned they would get run over. They didn't, but we found them a few meters up crashed along the pavement laughing hysterically. The funny thing is they passed us a few minutes later going at it again! Priceless. This is why I don't need to buy souvenirs. These memories are better than anything I could've wished for. I should've recorded it, though. It was great.

You should also know London drivers do NOT mess around, hence why I feared for the bikers' lives. I would die if I drove here. Think of the scariest driving you've encountered. Now multiply that by ten. I suppose it may be comparable to New York. Also, the street signs are on buildings, not on the road. I know my way by landmarks now, and the only street I really know is where the Inn is. 'Tis a strange place.

This morning I couldn't sleep, so Clay and I went to watch the "sunrise". It was more of a shade rise because London skies are almost always gray, and the sun seems like a myth most of the time. Our arrival date was an exception, and I'm convinced Florida followed Brittany and me here, if only for the day. The skies doesn't change much, so it always feels later than it truly is. The "sunset" also doesn't happen until 10pm. Maybe that's why I can't sleep; I'm just never tired. It could be the naps, too. I don't know. I'm obviously just a opossum - I sleep in the light, and wake in the night. It doesn't matter which time zone I'm in, I guess.

Clay and I talked for a long time, and it's so nice to meet truly great people. He is a blessing. I was hoping to meet people from outside the country, but it feels just as good to meet others who are sharing the same experience as myself. I like that we have a lot in common and know we'd be great friends if we actually went to school together. There are beautiful people in this world from every walk of life. I think everyone needs to get out of their own backyard and learn about the cultures elsewhere. It completely changed my perspective on where I come from and wonder about why people behave or live a certain way. My mind is opening to a completely new place, and I'm so grateful for this opportunity. I don't think I can go back to being content with just staying in the States. There is so much world out there that needs to be explored. You can't get that by staying at home.

Today, our third amiga comes in. We don't have much planned since we've seen the main attractions, but we need to go to Platform 9 3/4, the Globe Theatre, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Abbey Road. I suppose we'll take the tube some more. I love public transportation, by the way. It gets us where we need to go in a timely manner and saves a lot of money and gas for the locals. I wish we had that in the U.S. Otherwise, I think it will be a relaxing day. I'm getting used to the city, so I'm feeling more comfortable with everything, except the smokers. I don't know if it's a European thing, but man! They are everywhere!

I'll keep you all posted about what's going on over here. More adventures to come! Cheerio!

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