Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 2... London Calling

I've been going back and forth from having the Clash's "London Calling" and "I'm So Bored With the USA" in my head the past two days. 

Brianne and I slept not so soundly but landed safely in London yesterday morning around 9am. Due to some underground delays, however, we didn't get from Heathrow to our Hostel until about 2pm. We then decided that since we only had less than half a day in London (we needed to get up and head off to the airport for France in the morning) that we would buy passes for the Hop on/Hop off Double-decker bus tour around London. We went for a long walk to Piccadilly Circus to catch a bus and headed off on a three hour tour. A three hour tour. Because it was so late, though, we just got as many pictures as we could and didn't really get off anywhere... also because my stupid ticket blew away off the bus so if we did get off somewhere I would have had to pay another 22£ again!

So to deal with jet-lag I just decided to truck on through the day without taking any kind of nap (although, anytime we stopped for more than 2 minutes, Brianne was out). So we kept ourselves busy until bed time. After disembarking a few blocks from our hostel we found a cool looking British pub and had dinner. 

We both decided that we ought to get Fish 'n Chips (yes, mom, I thought of you and dad). When ordering, after a slight hesitation, I decided to go ahead and ask for something non-alcoholic to drink... After a pause she mentioned some unknown names of juices. We each tried one... but midway through the HUGE meal Brianne went back to the barmaid (hee hee) and requested some tap water with ice. She got kind of a weird look, but she also got some water. That was the last tap water we drank. We sat in the little pub watching the Simpsons on a huge TV (with British subtitles--"tyres" vs "tires" etc.) watched the Londoners around us get smashed, and stared at the large green piles of "food?" on our plates suspiciously... For one crazy moment, as the waitress brought our plates out I got excited thinking it might be guacamole... I know. It had been a long day. Anyway, it turned out to be peas. "Smushed peas." Yep. Brianne was digging in and between bites said, "Hmm, what is this?" Remembering what it said on the menu I told her. "Ah. Yep, that's it." And she was off again. She's a much braver eater than I am. I did taste them though. Euhghhugeshugh.

So, there was one moment in the pub when I experienced my first real wave of homesickness/culture shock. Thinking back on that moment I have realized that the thing it came down to, that the central cause of that moment of depression was centered around food. More specifically Dr Pepper. WHERE IS ALL THE DR PEPPER?!?! Is it illegal here or what? Ugh! I'm sooooo thirsty! 

Well, then we went home and crashed in our cute little bunk beds and woke up 10 hours later to discover 4 Asian girls in the other beds. It was like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" except it was more like "Four Asian Girls and the Two Americans"... wait a second... did I just make us the bears? 

Moving on... Uh... the end. 

I'll put this leg of pictures up next.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 1... Beginnings: Seattle to JFK

It’s interesting the silly mistakes you make while traveling. Today has been no exception. In all fairness to me, handling logistics for this trip has been a little more involved than my typical hopper flight from Salt Lake City to Portland every Christmas. So, it’s no big surprise that there have already been situations that could’ve been avoided or handled better. What is interesting, however, is that the mishandled situations are really basic things and I really should’ve known better.

First: As Corinne drove us to the Seattle Airport from Portland, I sat in my seat debating whether or not I should sleep and 

feel better throughout the day or not sleep and maybe get a little jump on the inevitable jetlag when I realize with an incredulous laugh that Brianne and I didn’t check-in to our flights and print off our boarding passes! “I thought that’s what you were doing last night!” Corinne says. Well, kind of. We checked-in to our flight from London to France (you can check in with that airline about a month ahead of time if you wish) but didn’t even pause to think about our Seattle-JFK and JFK-Heathrow flights the following day! “Well, I guess we’ll just do it old school, right?” Right.

Second: Once we had been dropped off and said our goodbyes, Brianne were checking in old school feeling pretty good about things—despite traffic and inclement weather we were doing just fine on time—until I hefted my suitcase onto the scale. The very nice airline employee was pretty straightforward: “You’ve gotta shave off 11lbs or pay 50 bucks.” Sure, shave off 11lbs. That’s nothing. 

Only… where is it gonna go? Do I throw away the two French text books, my triple combination from seminary, and my yoga mat in some airport trash can?! Enter the cell phone. Seriously—what DID we do before these things were around? After some quick calls to mom trying to get a hold of Corinne, we had her turned around and headed back my way.  So Brianne and I proceed to ruthlessly trim things down as I think to myself “you idiot—why didn’t you weigh this before you left and repacked last night?!” I wait in line to check on the weight, praying we’re somewhat close. The little red digits shift around uncannily similar to a Biggest Loser weigh-in. Lost: 11lbs. For a total weight loss of 11lbs!!! Congratulations Paige’s suitcase, you have lost 18% of your original weight. This keeps you above the blue line, saving you from elimination and allowing you to continue on in your quest to become an internationally traveled suitcase.

And third: To pee or not to pee? After a bit of a drawn out passage through security due to an excess of liquids in Brianne’s backpack combined with the delay at check-in due to an excess of weight in Paige’s suitcase, we suddenly found ourselves cutting things a little closer than we had planned. Heading towards our distant gate Brianne declares that she needs to use the restroom. That’s fine. I’ve caused too much trouble to grudge Brianne her basic human rights but all I can think about is this last weeks’ episode of the Amazing Race. (Yes, I watched a lot of reality TV at my parents house this past week!) If there is any lesson I learned from that episode it is: WAIT TO USE THE BATHROOM UNTIL ALL DEADLINES ARE MET!!

Not to leave you on a cliffhanger—we made our flight just fine. Which then landed safely at JFK despite a lot of turbulence and nausea.

We were lucky enough to fly over Scranton, PA.