Friday, March 7, 2014

London's Final Hours

Deux Jours

Day Two started out interesting.  I planned on meeting up with Stevie and Ragin at Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guards.  Minor snafu... we couldn't communicate without WiFi.  So, I am waiting at the gates of Buckingham Palace with some girls in my program, trying not to freak out because I couldn't find Stevie and Ragin.  FYI to anyone wanting to see the Changing of the Guards, it is uneventful. Save yourself the 2 hours and go do something cool in London.  After the procession ended, I went up to the meeting spot we had agreed upon except no Stevie and no Ragin.

So, I said goodbye to the girls in my program, gambling that I would find them. Surprise, I didn't find them.  I waited around for 45 minutes before I figured it was time to make some moves.  Since we did all of our sightseeing on day numero uno, I knew I wanted to window shop.  I made my way over to Bond Street and Oxford Street, as that is what we had discussed the day before.

I stumbled into this little square called St. Christopher's and I fell in love. As if London hadn't sold me already, this little world within the city did it. I stopped into a bunch of boutiques and little shops and got lost in time. I stumbled into a pub and ate the best venison sausages and mash.  Finally getting WiFi, I was able to get up with Stevie and Ragin (see no worries Mom and Dad). Then we went window shopping; Topshop, H&M, Zara and the likes.

Then came the highlight of the day! We journeyed into Soho and had afternoon tea. Not just high tea at any old tea room, it was a secret tea room.  What's a secret tea room you ask? Simple, its hidden duh!   By hidden, I mean we walked, very hesitantly, into a bar that resided at the address given for the tea room. As we stepped up to the bar, me not being afraid to ask a question, said "I think we have reservations for tea?" To which the bartender asked my name and proceeded back to the phone where she made a very veiled call "upstairs." Upon finding out that we indeed, did have reservations, she escorted us behind the bar, through the kitchen, and up a winding skinny spiral staircase to a door where she surreptitiously knocked and promptly walked away.  Stunned at what happened, we stared in awe as the door opened to the quaintest little tea room! Little doilies, cakes, teapots, fine china and rustic fireplaces greeted us. We sat down and promptly ordered tea and cake.  Mismatched china and rickety chairs added to the effect.  We all had such a wonderful time, taking in the atmosphere, taking pictures, and just chatting. I was sad to see the outing come to an end, because that meant Stevie and Ragin were leaving.

After we parted ways at the Tube, I headed out to Covent Garden. I had been anxious to explore the area and was not disappointed. I wandered in and out of magic street shows, little concerts and the shops.  It was closing time for the open air market and I moseyed around the closing corrals with salespeople trying to make one last sale as the sun sunk below the buildings. The trinkets, handmade lace, and even the fluffy bathrobes never ended. It seemed to go on forever.  I ventured around, never too far from the Tube station, in and out of little boutiques along the cobblestoned streets.  Once my feet started hurting really bad, I decided it was time to head back to the hostel.

After hailing a rickshaw from the Tube to the hostel, I promptly took off my shoes and laid down.  Not for long though as a few of us decided to grab dinner at a pub nearby. After a pint of cider, steak and ale pie, with mash we all headed out for our last night in London.  As I had not been "out" at all while in London, a few of us headed to Piccadilly Circus to find a pub/club,  and instead we just wandered around. Stumbling into The White Horse to use the bathroom, only to be told they were closed but they were sweet enough to direct us to another bar that wasn't closing anytime soon, where they were heading themselves. So we followed them, danced the night away, then went to see the NBA AllStar game at a sports bar inside a casino! It almost felt like I was in the US for a second. At the chiming of 2:30am, and the realization that I had to leave for the airport by 3:30am, it was time to leave.

 Returning to the hostel, laying down for 15 minutes, getting ready, and heading to Victoria Station to catch the Gatwick Express was a blur. I slept on the train, made it to the plane, slept on the plane and got lost on the way to the train station home.  When I finally reached the train station, I was so relieved. As I got to the platform, I was exhausted and when the train pulled up, a stranger came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me. As I played out the escape scenarios in my brain, I turned around slowly to see who this strange man was and if I would be able to run away.  Low and behold, as my heart was about to burst, it turned out to be Cameron! Literally, I think I used up one of my nine lives freaking out. As I collapsed on the train ride back to Juan les Pins with him, I recounted my trip, shared my Oyster card, and almost fell asleep.

Yes, reader in case you were wondering, I made it to class that day, exhausted but I made it.

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