Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I hope that this will be an excellent way for me to keep all of my friends and family up to date on my semester abroad in Rome. Please feel free to post any comments you would like, or shoot me an e-mail and I will try to respond as soon as possible. Also, if you click on each of the photographs below, it will display them at their full size.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

London: Day 1

We woke up this morning at around 3:30 AM to get to the airport for our 6:50 AM flight. I am stubborn and thought for sure that we would somehow be able to use the public transportation to get to the airport, but I was wrong. We walked about two miles and didn't see a single tram or bus so we finally broke down and called a taxi.

Our flight was actually pretty nice. We flew Ryan air and were able to find seats in the Exit row, so we had a lot of extra leg room. Our flight arrived at the London Stansted airport at around 9:45 and then we hopped onto a bus to take us into the center of London. The bus ride was awful. Not only did it take two and a half hours to make the journey that should have only taken half that long, it was, no joke, about 90° inside. I don't know if the air conditioner was broken or if the driver was just being stubborn but it was one of the most miserable rides of my life.

Monica and I on the plane. She was nice enough to give me the window seat.

The wing and sunrise shortly after we had taken off.

As I was checking out the instructions on the seat in front of me I became a little confused when I saw this part. Apparently, if you are sitting in the exit row, you are not allowed to have dentures, as they may in some way impede your ability to open the emergency door and jump out. (Dad, can you explain this one to me?)

The is me being sweaty and uncomfortable on the bus into the center of London. Both of my shirts were almost soaked through.

We spent the next two hours walking half-way across the city to our hostel. It was only a little rainy but by the time we had gotten to the hostel we were pretty soaked through.

This is Monica sitting in the bar on the main floor of the hostel we are staying in tonight.

This is a little patio in the back yard complete with tables and a hot tub. The hostel is called the Ace Hotel.

We got cleaned up and then went to the Notting Hill bus stop to meet my cousin Beth who was coming in to visit us from Oxford (she is studying abroad there this semester). We didn't exactly know where the bus stop was. All we knew is that the bust that she was on was called the Oxford Tube. At first we just started looking around at all of the bus stop signs to see if we could find the right one. We couldn't find it so we started asking people if they knew where the right bus stop was (because we kind of spoke their language) but we still couldn't find the right stop. Eventually we saw a bus that said "Oxford Tube" on it and started chasing after it until it stopped. We did this about three times with different buses, running back and forth on this street when we eventually decided to split up. I went back down to the Underground to see if Beth was waiting down there and Monica waited at a stop we thought would be the one she got off at. Five minutes later, she came up to the stop. Victory.

This is Monica and Beth talking in the Underground after we eventually found Beth.

Then we took Beth back to the Hostel to drop off her stuff and decided to hit up Trafalgar Square and find a place to eat for dinner. We took the Underground to the Embankment stop and started walking up towards Trafalgar Square. When we got about 50 yards away from the Underground I looked to my left and saw a huge building that turned out to be the PriceWaterhouseCoopers office building which was pretty cool. It was kind of strange thinking about where I was now and where I was going to be in a year. We continued up the street that was lined with different restaurants and eventually found our way to Trafalgar Square (this is the huge square in front of the National Gallery). We took a few pictures of the square and the fountains at night and then kept looking for a restaurant. We eventually decided to go to a pub because there is pretty much one on every single street corner. The one we finally decided on was called the Bear and the Staff. Monica and I were pretty excited to have the opportunity to eat something other than pasta and pizza (don’t get me wrong, we love both of them) and we thought that nothing would taste better than a burger and fries, or “chips.” They were amazing.

This is me in front of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers building near Charring Cross in London.

This is Trafalgar Square at night. The National Gallery was a little behind me and to the right.

One of the fountains in Trafalgar Square.

My delicious burger, chips, and Guinness at the Bear and the Staff near Trafalgar Square.

When we finished eating, we checked Let’s Go and decided to head back towards our hostel and check out this movie theatre called “The Electric,” to see The Science of Sleep. I think we all just assumed it was going to be a regular theatre, but were met with a pleasant surprise (other than the price). It was 10 pounds, but the theatre was in an old auditorium and it was awesome on the inside. In the back row there were huge plush leather couches with footrests and people had their shoes off and were just kind of hanging out waiting for the movie to start. There was also a full bar in the back where you could order drinks and desserts. The rest of the theatre had huge leather seats that were much too comfortable to be in a movie theatre (in fact, they were so comfortable that both Monica and Beth fell asleep in them). I could only sneak one photo, seeing as how we were in a movie theatre and I didn’t want to get arrested in a foreign country, and it doesn’t really show anything (sorry) but take my word that it was really amazing. After the movie was over I woke the girls up, mainly Monica, and we called it a night.

This is the one shot I snapped in "The Electric." The leather chairs were unbelievably comfortable (just ask Monica and Beth).

Outside "The Electric" after we saw The Science of Sleep.

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