UK: “Have fun stormin’ the castle!”

I’ve putting off this last major post of my UK triplog, but as the London 2012 Olympics are almost over, I guess it’s time to get back to work. This was actually one of my favorite days (was there any day that wasn’t a favorite? Probably not!) and I’m already planning my next trip to include some activities I missed this time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
My last day in the UK was spent primary in Windsor. I do wish I’d had one more day in London to just be and really, properly say goodbye to the city. But spending the day outside the city also worked quite well. Despite my late night, I was up on time and leaving Katia’s flat to catch the 0840 bus to the train station. I have to say, it felt rather normal to leave Katia at home, writing, while I ventured to the bus stop alone. I’d become VERY accustomed to my UK life and it was going to be a hard transition back.

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UK: “London, baby!” “That’s not going to get annoying.”

First, I have to say that it’s hard to believe it’s been an entire month since I was in the UK! I know I’ve been back to work, on another trip and back to work again in that time, but still! I spent much of the early part of this year planning and looking forward to this trip and it’s a little surreal how fast it went by and how far in the past it is already.

I’m very grateful I made myself do a detailed “what I did today” log every time I had any downtime (mostly at lunch and on the train home) because it makes writing up these blog posts so much easier. Thanks for indulging me as I share my vacation with you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012
I woke up later than I wanted to and had a fight with Katia’s shower that it mostly won. For all the things I love about the UK and the British, plumbing is not their strong suit. Bee infestation not withstanding, Katia’s accommodations were perfectly lovely, except for the shower. It only had (minimal) water pressure on the “double hot” setting (it’s electric, which I’d never seen before), and even with the temperature dial turned all the way to cold, the water was scalding. Not being overdramatic when I say I thought I was going to have skin peeling off before I could get my hair washed. Anyway, we decided that since the water pipes were on the outside of the building, the sun was also heating the water in the hours before we got up, making it unbearable. So, after that first day, we started showering at night and it was much more tolerable.

All that to say, I was running behind that morning. Katia got up with me and dutifully walked me to the bus stop, and showed me how to flag it down. Turns out you have to hail the bus like you would a cab, even while standing at the bus stop. I came to enjoy this system and for the first few days after arriving back home in San Francisco, I’d get irrationally annoyed when my bus would slow down or stop at a bus stop and no one would get on the bus.

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UK: “The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The alarm went off at 8am, but I quickly hit snooze. Finally about 8:30a, I rushed to get up and get ready, so we wouldn’t miss our full English breakfast. I’m not one to really eat breakfast at all, but Katia assured me it was something I had to experience. There were two long buffet tables full of sunny side eggs, scrambled eggs, black pudding, English bacon (which is really ham!), bangers, baked beans and other assorted goodies. There was quite a nice juice bar as well, from which I had delicious cranberry juice. I hate cranberry juice cocktail and it’s almost impossible to get just juice here in the States, so that was a nice treat. It was grey and a big foggy around the green as we sat by the window, enjoying our breakfast, but Katia was quick to reassure me that it would likely burn off by lunchtime.

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UK: “And since we are in England, I suggest you make some tea.”

I arrived in Cambridge about 5p. Having not had time to notify Katia before leaving Kings Cross, I was on the lookout for a payphone to let her know I was in town. I was set with the change from the Most Expensive Twix Bar Ever, but of course, the first set of payphones I found didn’t take coins. They did take my credit card for the Most Expensive Five Minute Phone Call Ever ($5). Katia was clearly frazzled when I called as I was two hours earlier than we thought I might arrive. But more importantly, she had just discovered that her flat was invested with bees.

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UK: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport.”

The last time I went abroad was in May 2008, when I visited another good friend from high school (Ellen) in South Korea. I spent six glorious days exploring the Land of the Rising Sun with Ellen, including a powerful trip to the DMZ, briefly setting foot in North Korea while under visual and video surveillance. Four years later, I set off for England with the same luggage, but a new brand-spanking new passport, ready for visa stamps.

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