I'm back home in GA! After a FULL day of traveling on Wednesday, I woke up (at 5 am, I'm still a bit jet lagged) in my own bed. I left London on the train to Gatwick at 10am. My first plane left at 1:30 London time (8:30 GA time) and arrived in Michigan at 5:30. It was possibly the best plane I've ever flown in. First of all I went on the night before and managed to score window seats for BOTH my flights. The food was really excellent, though they fed us constantly and with no regard to proper times in either time zone. AND we had our own little personal TVs in which we could watch movies, or TV shows or listen to music for FREE. I've seen this before but usually they activate it for a $5 fee and its not as cool. I spent most of my time listening to music and flipping through the British trash magazines that are SO much better than American trash magazines. Twice the trash, twice the...funny terms. Then I watched at terrible movie version of Lady Windomere's Fan. And talked to the British guy next to me who was flying to Michigan for a meeting and going home the next day. Which is insane. The flights went very well. Between flights I was accosted by the hostile security lady who was very puzzled (and a little bit angered) by the fact that I had spent 3 months out of the country and all I could say for myself was "I was travelling". Traveling? Where did you stay? Hostels. Who paid for it? Me. What do you do for a living? Ummm waitressing and I work at Barnes and Noble. How much money do you make? Uhh the trip cost me about 5,000 dollars. Where did you get that money? I worked... and drug dealt on the side.
Or that's what she must have thought I said because even though we had approximately 40 minutes to get our baggage on board and find our gate, she went through every single thing in mine and Carla's bag. I met Carla in the terminal in London. It turned out that we were both going home to Atlanta. Her parents live there and she went to high school there... but she's been at Uni in the UK and spent this semester studying in Florence. We didn't have seats near one another on the train but we buddied up for the transit. She has a lovely British accent, so I figure between that and my having lived out of a backpack for 3 months we read a bit dodgy. I felt a little revenged as the lady muddled through all my trash. Poor Carla's bags were packed neatly. But I was a bit annoyed when she READ my diary. I guess its a good thing I hadn't written "Death to the USA." or "Praise Allah". I even got my bag sniffed out by the drug dog. Welcome home to me.
My parents came to pick me up at the airport at 9pm when my flight landed. Lil had her last exams the next day and so had to stay at home to study. It was a huge relief to see them. Its always nice to have your travels end in home. And not y'know death, I guess. Ha.
The last couple of days I have spent being kind of stranded. My parents and sister have the cars. But still I've managed to see several friends from Shorter and high school. I've figured up that the total cost of my trip including EVERYTHING, plane tickets, Eurail, the camera I bought for it, food, housing, souvenirs, stupidity and activities cost me: $6,461.61. I just spent a few hours figuring it up. It was a little more than I anticipated (obviously, see above) but its less than I prepared for and I came home...well, not destitute. And, honestly, it was worth every red cent. One hundred days touring England, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, and Ireland...Actually its quite a bargain. Sixty five dollars a day? How much does ordinary living cost a day? With Cable TV and electricity and house payments/rent and dog food. Well, much less you might say and you're making a bit too. Well not enough I say.
If I had it to do over again I would have forgotten the cell phone, taken some spray on smell good (instead of having to be bothered actually bathing), brought a full tube of toothpaste (turns out I go through that stuff), taken one more day in Rome and one less in Corfu but that's tricky because my favorite days in Corfu were the first two, NOT gone to Munich on a Sunday, NOT missed my train in Madrid, known the REAL ferry times but some how not missed out on the day in Ignomensia, NOT let it rain so much in Barcelona and NOT lost several things along the way. But I would have still followed my "crazy" route (it makes perfect sense, thank you very much) and kept everything else, the people, the sights, the experiences, exactly the same.
Well, this is the conclusion of my Bran's Eurotrip blog. I will leave it up for a long time. Possibly until the end of Cyberdom. I will probably start a new blog so you can all keep up with my latest mad project. I'm also going to download the rest of my pictures and label them very soon. Promise.
Signing out. Au Revoir. Adios. Ciao. Cheers.
Ahhh! It's my last day in Europe. Tomorrow I will simply wake up, eat breakfast, and get on the train for Gatwick. My flight leaves at 1:30. Yesterday I bummed around a bit. I had lunch at St. Paul's and wandered about some of the areas I hadn't been too. I read the newspaper for a bit in cafe and continued on to Leicester Square to look for theatre tickets. I once again depended on the "if I wander around something will probably fall into my lap" mentality which once again did not prove sucessful. So I went quite happily to see Narnia. Sorry Dad! I didn't get your post until this morning. I figured all you Rome people would beat me to it. But I'll go again. I thought the movie was fantastic. I may read that series after I finish The Lord of the Rings. I have a big day ahead of me today. Still loads to do on the list. Last night I did secure a ticket to go see "A Christmas Carol" starring (all the Trek-ies will be jealous) Patrick Stewart... who's the commander or whatever on The New Generation...right? So I am excited. It will be my grand finale.
I feel like maybe I should have some big revelation to tell you all about. But I haven't really. I've learned heaps of small things. Practical things. I feel like a bit more of an adult. I know now that I can survive for the three months on my own. Even if I'm a girl. Even if I don't know the language. Even if I don't eat meat. But I really knew that all along, I just hadn't tried.
Let's see, I've learned the difference between Aussie, New Zealand and English accents. And that all three can all be completely uncomprehensible.
I've learned that I'm not a loner. I don't mind being by myself but after about a day I'm ready to be with people. I feel sorry for people who are social outcasts because it's very self absorbing not to hear any thoughts but your own for too long.
I also feel sorry for anyone who has to sell something on the street. I think they get rejected more often than actors and that is no easy feat. Especially petitioners, because likely enough I'll be one at some point and I don't want to listen to them either.
I've learned that I am horribly addicted to the Internet and need to start monitering my time when I don't have to pay by the hour. I mean... I don't want it to eat my soul.
I've learned that even vacationing can be WORK and I am too often unbearably lazy.
I've learned some geography. Man, it was awful.
I've learned that I have a LOT more travelling to do. I've planned at least a dozen other trips since I've been here. There are more adventures to be had-- and I have every intention of having them. I'll keep you posted.
Back home.... in London.
I got into London a couple nights ago. I still love Ryan air. Iwas put into the "local" room where all my roommates are very fun and comfortable. But they've been there for up to 5 months. Yes, there is a girl who has been living at St. Christopher's for FIVE months. She must've been around the last time I was there. Plus they all have jobs which is BO-RING. And means that everyone is asleep by 11pm and up before I wake up to get breakfast at 9am. Luckily, yesterday I met a couple of German girls at breakfast and palled around with them all day. Pia, who speaks English fluently (I thought she was American when I met her, her mom is from Virginia) and Daneilla are studying in Southern France and were on a weekend break. We went to the Tate Britain museum which I loved. I can't believe I didn't make it around there the first time. We took a free tour and spent a couple hours afterwards looking around. They have this great series of brochures that suggests a "collection" for every mood. They ranged from "happily depressed" to "hungover" to the "i like yellow" collection. I saw Ophelia and The Lady of Shallot. Afterwards I was selected to take a very important survey (how old are you? what brings you to the Tate? how did you find the Tate? would you say you really liked that exhibit?). After that we took the tube to the ice skating rink at the Someset House. It was very scenic but VERY expensive. So we just watched for a while. Then we wandered around Covent Garden and Leicester Square. We ate at a cafe and headed to see the giant Christmas tree at Trafalger. There was a Christmas concert going on...mostly just carols performed by middleschoolers but we stayed for the ENTIRE thing nonetheless. It was a nice day but COLD. Pia and I wanted to go see Narnia but Daniella didn't so we just walked home along the river. It was a good day.
Things left to do before I leave London:
Last minute shopping.
Eat Indian food.
See a play and/or movie.
Maybe ride the London Eye.
Maybe go iceskating.
Ireland is funny...and maybe a little cruel. They have a maternity hospital named "Rotunda". And their slogan for raising money for the homeless is "The homeless are revolting!". Plus they have a "Why go bald?" neon sign. Well, I think it's funny.
I had a productive day yesterday. I went with Dean to see The March of the Penguins. Which I liked a lot. Though I'm pretty sure I dozed off at least 5 times... whenever Morgan Freeman stopped talking. I can't imagine the filming was very easy in Antartica. But it was pretty fascinating learning the about the lives of on of it's only inhabitants. Then we went to the National Gallery of Photography. It was pretty interesting full of prize-winning and political pictures from Dublin since the early 1900's. Next we went to St. Patrick's cathedral. It's enormous. Jonathan Swift is buried there. They also have a door through which a big fued was apparently brought to a truce. Because after cornering one clan the pursuing man cut a hole in the door and stuck his hand through as a sign of good will. Hmmm.
Later I hung out with some guys playing a drum outside the hostel. They were pretty good. Tonight I'll spend in London, where I started.
Ahh. Countdown: 5 days
Aussie D= Dean
Harvey= Harry (No thanks to Dean's Aussie accent)
Yesterday I managed to waste an entire day. I had to walk down some major shopping strips... and I HAD to pop in the shops. The modern art museum I set out for will reopen in Spring 2006. I couldn't find my wax museum (though I may look again today). And I spent way too long online. Luckily I went back to the hostel and ate dinner and then Dean and I played chess (I lost...twice). Then we went out with Canadian Mike and Aussie Lauren to pub. And I moved rooms...unbeknowst to me. But I've met quite a few Americans lately they are ALL studying somewhere. Oh so typical young American tourist behavior.
Today Dean and I are going to watch March of the Penguins. The weather has been cloudy and rainy since my first day. I decided to go back to St. Christopher's for my last few days in London. I can't believe this time next week I'll be home!!
In Dublin's fair city...
I've had a good couple of days in Dublin. I did manage to follow the walking tour in my book the first day I was here. I started out talking to some security cops on St. Stephen's green who proceeded to A)snatch my hat B) beat me with it and C)afterwards try to ask me out. The Irish are funny creatures. I also paid a visit to Trinity College which was scenic and bustling with students. I haven't gone to see the Book of Kels yet. When I got back from my wander I went out to a pub to watch the Liverpool v. Chelsea game with a couple guys from the hostel. We watched the Manchester game last night too. And I don't remember these boys names. One is from Queensland/Brisbon, Austrailia (I think his name starts with a D) and the other is from the Philipines but has been living in Richmond, VA for the last 6 years but is studying in Spain this sememster. Last night we also went out with one of his friends from school in Spain, Colleen. I DO remember her name...it seemed particularly appropriate. When I got back to my room the second night I had a roommate, Nikki from Portland, OR, who was working in Dublin (both her parents are Irish so she has citizenship). She's going home to Portland just a few days before me. So we hung out yesterday. While she took care of some buisness I went to The National History Museum and saw all the native Irish stuffed animals and bones of the "Great Irish Deer" (dinosaur). Then I went to the National Gallery and looked at a span of Irish paintings and sketches. All for free. Hoorah. Today I'm going to check out the Modern Art Museum and possibly the "National Wax Museum" (could it be as good as it sounds?). I think I've gotten myself a little hooked on chess. I played Nikki after we got back to the hostel and won both rounds. Then my Austrailian beat me...pretty badly. But I came back and won a game played by Harvey, who I thinkis from Spain. He gave up a little early (I captured his queen 4 or 5 moves into the game) and Aussie came in but even he couldn't salvage it. So 3 out of 4 for me. Today I might also go see a movie at the Irish Film institute. And tomorrow I am toying with the idea of taking a Irish countryside tour. Hmmm. Oh, I have new pictures up. I'm going to go ahead and apologize for not taking more. I'm out of form.
I made it! I'm here! It took many, many long hours of travel. And I got busted for my swiss army knife. But the plane landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule and I found my hostel. I'm in a room by myself. Which probably won't last long but for right now its great. I'm about to take the "Walking Tour of Dublin" straight out of my guidebook. Thanks Let's Go. I like Dublin already. I mean .. they speak English here. I can talk to anybody. Even the bus driver. Of course I didn't take advantage of this out of habit. And simply said "One, please" and sticking out my finger in case he didn't get it. I haven't been in an a native English speaking country in close to three months. I got another stamp on my passport. I may come out looking well travelled after all. Okay, I'm off to look for fourleaf clovers, Lucky Charms, and other Irish stuff.