"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Rainy Day In London

Wow...where do I even begin?

First things first, I am feeling a bit better about the recent passing away of my grandmother. Yesterday was an exhausting day of getting up at 430 am, not eating right, waiting in airports, flying for seven hours, and then finding out your grandmother died on top of all that. My original plan was to stay up once I got home to fight jet lag, and wait til bed time to sleep. But considering the circumstances, I showered and climbed into bed, slept for four hours, got up and ate dinner, and climbed into bed again for the next 12 hours. I couldn't think clearly and cried at every attempt to talk, and sleeping was just a way to escape my thoughts. 

I didn't dream last night, and slept right through. I desperately needed that sleep.

Through talking with relatives on that side of the family, I have felt much better. I have had feelings of guilt for having fun in Europe while my loved ones were suffering at home, but I can now see that my Grandmother would not have wanted me to feel upset and that she was so happy I was finally able to go to Europe. I guess I just wish I could have said Goodbye...

I have never had a death before of someone close to me. I have always tried to prepare myself for what its like, because I knew my grandparents were reaching that age, and also- friends or anyone can die at any time from any cause- So I knew I had to be ready....but you can never be ready. You can never prepare for that moment.

I have been able to think more clearly today because it doesn't even feel real. I still feel like I'm going to see her next time I make a trip down to North Carolina. I keep expecting her to comment on something on my Facebook wall with her witty humor. It doesn't feel real, and I guess thats making it easier to get over, but in no way does it make it complete. She is still constantly on my mind and going down to NC in July is going to bring back all these tears once more.

From here on, I just pray for the survivors, my Grandfather and all his children. I pray for my other Grandmother, so delicate and yet so strong fighting cancer in Long Island. I love her more than words can express and wish desperately that she lives a long, long time more. I pray for my parents, sister and friends...

On to a happier note and what you are all excited to hear about (Well, some of you!)...London! Let me think back to where I left off....Ah, my birthday in Paris. The next morning, we got up exceedingly bright and early to catch our train to London. We took the Eurostar...I was really excited to take this because for *some odd reason* I thought it would be like the Harry Potter train where you get separate compartments and even the candy cart comes around and you can buy chocolate frogs that come to life and show pictures of Dumbledore.....Ok, just kidding. I didn't expect the chocolate frog. But I really did think this train had separate compartments. But it was just a regular train. That went very fast and went under water.

Arriving into London was....funny? On the train I was pressed up against the window like a little kid, waiting to see London. Waiting for the magic to happen that I've waited for my entire life. Waiting for the soundtrack to play in my head. Waiting for sparkles or something spectacular. After every tunnel we came out of (there was strangely a lot of tunnels) I kept thinking, Is THIS london? No? What about this? Are we in London now?...I was very impatient.

Arriving into the train station was also pretty comical. All of our suitcases (all 42) were piled on top of one another and had moved during the ride, and we all stood in a clump outside the train, figuring out how to move the first one without them all crumbling down on top of us. How many college students does it take to move suitcases? Apparently 42.

The first thing I LOVED about London was that everyone spoke English and it was perfectly acceptable and normal! It was such a relief after struggling in every country! It felt abnormal and strange that I could just go up to ANYONE and ask them any question. It was a huge relief. I could read signs again! I can watch tv If I wanted! I could overhear conversations! I could order things off menus! It was good times. I kept seeing signs in English and thinking that it was abnormal, because I was used to everything not being in English. I find it greatly astounding and I am grateful that the Fates decided to make me sick and therefore I had no voice (well, a very squeaky voice), because this prevented me from doing an English Accent the whole time. I assure you, I promise I would have done a British accent the whole time if I had my normal voice. But I tried it in my squeaky raspy voice and I sort of just sounded like a sick turtle-duck smoker combination and it was not acceptable so I just shut up and that was so much better. If I had done an English accent the whole time I would have just made a huge ass of myself, guaranteed. Look for example later...

I kept looking for King's Cross, to see Platform 9 3/4, but apparently it wasn't at that train station, and we didn't have time anyway. Bummer.

un-occupied. So off we set for downtown London.. Our hotel was in the outskirts, but we were still able to take the "tube" in, even if the tube was a 35 minute ride (no joke!). AH! The first thing I noticed about downtown was that everyone drove on the opposite side of the road and car! I forgot about this! It was the weirdest thing! I guess London got used to having a lot of pedestrian-tourist accidents because of this, so on each street crossing they have written on the road, "Look Left", or "Look Right". Its sad that I actually relied on these reminders and it helped a lot to prevent me from dying at least 8 times.

The "tube"! Hehe.

London had SO MANY Book Ads everywhere, particularly at every tube station. I found this amazing because in America, you don't see ads for books....you see ads for movies, video games, no smoking, more video games, t.v., more movies, and oh....the big one? Food.

I also wanted to read this book one day so I took a picture :)

We first took a mini walking tour, but our tour director ended early because she was too fed up with how CROWDED London was, and we were all tired and grumpy and complaining and weren't sticking together, so she sent us all of on our own. With this newfound free time, me and a couple friends walked to Buckingham Palace. So pretty! Even just the walk down was extremely pretty. We were BLESSED with a gorgeous day in London, which apparently happens rarely.

A stranger looking into Buckingham palace.... :) I couldn't resist.

EVERYONE seems to love this photo!! I guess its a nice photo!

my only shot of Big Ben! :( Long unnecessary story.

After visiting the palace and walking through the gardens and picking up a sandwich for dinner, we head back to the National Gallery fountain and dipped our feet in the large fountain. This was heaven, as it was a really hot day. The fountain/ Gallery area was PACKED as it was such a nice day. Kids everywhere dipping their feet in and playing in the water...couples sitting together eating ice cream on the fountain, singles reading books or the paper....it was just adorable.

After our lovely feet-dipping excursion, we went back to the hotel to shower and refresh. Then a select few (About 13) of us pre-signed up to go to a Haunted Ghost Walk of London.  This was really fun! This was one of the things I was looking forward to the most before the trip even started, because, well....I like Ghosts, and I like London. We met just as night was approaching, and it got really windy, and it was the perfect ghostly-atmosphere. Our new ghostly-tour guide took us around some of the most-known haunted locations in London, and it was indeed pretty spooky. London has been through so much and is far older than anything in the United States, and has been through many odd deaths and disasters, causing many understandable angry ghosts. We saw this one cemetery that was about 5 feet higher than the surrounding ground. I didn't think anything of it until he said it used to be ground level until they had to stack body upon body over the years in the burials.....creepy! We stopped midway for a special cider drink very popular in London, (I didn't like it it was too beerish, but it was actually very strong and that part was...funny). Overall this was very fun because I was with some of my best friends on the tour, we became closer and shared lots of spooks and laughs together before calling it a night.

The next morning, was a completely free day. My tour director left it up to us what we wanted to do on our very last day, and was leaving us the option to sleep in. Despite being in my favorite city in probably the whole world and what I have waited for my whole life, I decided to sleep in a little. The night before I was extremely sickly again (common cold) and was very deficient on sleep. I needed the extra hour, and was fine with spending the day in London alone because of it. But it didn't work out that way.

I woke up at 930, ate breakfast (the wrong way, and got yelled at, Long story. Too long for this post), and got ready to leave by 11. I knew that since the tube was such a long ride in, that I would be staying in downtown London until dinner time with my tour group, so I had to pack enough to last all day.  Despite being the kind of sick where you just want to stay under your covers all day, I knew I would hate myself forever if I did that. Forever. I had to just get out there and see London, and pay for it later. Before I left, I remembered that the museum I so longed to see- Florence Nightingale- Was here in London but I had no address for it, and no Internet. I tried finding it on map but no such luck. I tried texting "chacha" and they sent me an address in Texas. No luck. This upset me greatly but I let it go since I had plenty else to see and I did not have enough mentality to suffer through being disappointed about the museum.

I got to London around 12, and walked around the National Gallery for an hour or so before meeting up with a free special London tour, the Harry Potter tour! This could brighten my day any day. The tour was a walking tour, taking us to all the locations used to film all 7 HP movies. SO COOL! We saw about 8 locations, including the ministry of Magic, the movie theater they walk under when flabbergasted after apparating into London in the most recent movies, Honeydukes, and most coolest of all....Diagon Alley! So neat. It was amazing standing in the same spots and streets that the beloved Daniel Radcliffe has stood!


Diagon Alley!

Ministry of magic....

Ron touched the wall over there!

During this tour I spent most of it with a girl from my tour and realized that we had almost everything in common, and we only realized it on our very last day on the tour! What are the chances!? :(  We made plans to spend the rest of the day together, but as we were looking at her map to make plans, what did I see on it but the Florence Nightingale museum! I politely told her that I HAD to go to this but that I would meet up with her later. So, off I set to the museum!

It was really cool, and definitely worth seeing, but nothing I didn't know before from nursing school. I guess I knew more about Florence than I thought. But the museum did a nice job of displaying the accurate image of nursing, the history of nursing, and the future of nursing. It was very nicely done and interesting. I was pleased. I also got a LOT of souvenirs here! :-) 

Unfortunately upon leaving the museum, the infamous London rain had finally set in. It was pouring, and I was on the outskirts of London again. Fortunately, the "London Film Museum" was very close by and I ducked in to avoid the rain. Upon paying for my ticket, I decided to throw in a little bit of an English accent, and I thought it was pretty darn believable. I think the (very cute) English guy may have even believed it. ...... Then I had to give my license to validate my credit card and what does my license say on it? New Jersey. Big. Idiot. Moment. Of. The. Day.  --_--

After this, I decided to walk to the next bus stop in order to get back into the center of the city. I had about 3 hours until I had to meet up with my group for dinner. Unfortunately this bus stop never came and I got really lost, in the pouring rain, sick, and with tired feet. I gave up on everything at this point and just walked wherever my feet decided to take me, for a good hour. After I got tired of that mindless pointless life choice, I ducked into a dry phone booth and got out my map and made a plan. At this point I had two hours left til dinner. I decided I was close enough to walk to dinner, but that I missed the bus tour that ran city-wide to all tourist attractions and shopping areas. So I had two hours to walk to dinner and stand outside the restaurant in the rain. So thats what I did.

So, I am disappointed in myself for not waking up earlier despite the sicklyness and seeing more. I feel like I barely saw anything of my favorite city and did not do any shopping. I wanted to buy many many souvenirs from London, being my favorite city, and I got none. Seeing every one Else's souvenirs at dinner, and hearing their awesome London stories of the day, I was extremely jealous.

But on the bright side, I got to do the Harry Potter tour, and saw the museum I so desperately wanted to see. Not getting to see much else only gives me a reason to go back one day! Right? :)

Overall, I liked London. I think London was my favorite City in terms of fitting my personality, but I had a better TIME in Paris. This is a big difference. I think the experience you have makes or breaks it, as well as the people you spend it with, or don't spend it with. London has been in my heart forever, and that just doesn't go away after one day.  I will always be in love with London I think, and I will go back, one day. I am mad London came last and therefore I was more likely to be exhausted and sick by then. But thats not Londons fault. And we were blessed enough to have had a Gorgeous after noon Saturday, too.

Tomorrow I have a whole "European Refection" blog and what I learned about myself on this trip. I will be pretty epic and exciting so look forward to it! Also, sometime this week I will go back and implant photos into all the blogs so look for them! :D


Thanks for reading everyone, it means so much to me! My mother passed along the message to me that my grandmother liked to read every entry and that means so much. Thank you for all of your kind messages and support, very much appreciated and loved. < 3

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