Saturday, July 31, 2010

Learning to Travel

Well, we're here! We made it to London, England in one piece despite Tom's heart palpitations. We are all extremely tired right now but I thought it was worth sharing the highlights of the trip. The flight was uneventful. We waited in the looong line until we arrived at customs. I'd just like it noted how lovely our airport in Vancouver is, especially the customs area. Gatwick Airport has the distinct feel of a prison, with off white cement block walls in a low ceilinged rectangular box of a room. We had to be shuffled to another agent as the first one couldn't understand why we were traveling for one year. The second agent asked lots of questions and took copious notes. Finally satisfied, she waved us through. We were in.

Gatwick Airport was a crush of humanity. We felt new energy now that we were actually moving. We found the signs to the Gatwick Express and decided to stop off at the bathroom before getting on the train to the city. That was when I realized I was missing my purse. Yes, 10 minutes into England and disaster had already occurred. We asked at information and were told to head to the Air Transat gates. We asked someone else where the gates were and they pointed us in the right direction. We hurried to Zone B as best we could with the crowds getting thicker as we approached. By the time we reached the check-in gates, Zone A, C, D and E were clearly in view. Zone B seemingly did not exist. Then we saw it; across a sea of people all lined up in forever lines. We found a narrow pathway through to the other side but once again lost the trail. We asked an employee nearby who pointed us towards a small ramp next to a door that had a guard seated at it. Hmmm. The guard or the ramp? Apparently, the ramp to nowhere was the correct choice but who knew? We raced down the narrow ramp, coming upon yet another line of people waiting to check in but still no Air Transat. Then I noticed a single unmarked doorway at the end of the room and saw the Air Transat sign through it. Who designed this place; BF Skinner? By now rather panicky, I raced through and explained the situation to the security guard. He raced to a counter, shoving the people in line aside. I liked him. After several conversations I couldn't hear but must have included many references to my blonde hair, another lady approached us to say that they had found my purse and would bring it to us in half an hour. We waited, feeling grateful. Okay, I waited feeling grateful. The rest of my family made a humourous film of the event. The best part was as we were leaving, we asked a lady how to get back. She pointed to an elevator we were sitting near and we got on. The doors opened and we were back at the washrooms where I had first noticed my purse missing. Really?

Still amiable, we got on the Gatwick Express and then got off as it was first class. We crossed to another train and got on. Then got off as it was not Gatwick Express. We crossed back to the first train and found a new compartment that suited our less than first class appearance. All four of us now agreed we were on the correct train. We arrived at Victoria Station and OMG, could there be more people? I think all of London was with us in that station. We needed to get our tube passes but the line-ups looked horrendous. We chose one that had a human at the end and waited for 45 long, boring minutes listening to Rhys lament the lack of food in London. We finally got to the window to be told we were in the wrong place and needed to go to a different spot. The human helpfully waved in the general direction across the never-ending waves of tourists. We fought our way through the bog eventually coming upon the tourist travel information centre where we lined up in a long line. Rhys had faded to the ground at this point and sat looking pale and miserable with Julia looking not much perkier beside him.

The good news is that we eventually got everything we needed and even managed to find our apartment. It was very cool getting off the tube and recognizing the road from the Google Streetview. I had walked it virtually at home in Langley and now I was doing it for real. Our apartment has a view to die for. It very nearly did kill Tom as he had to climb five flights of stairs with our heavy packs. He felt somehow personally responsible for all of our bags and none of the rest of us disabused him of the notion. Now that we are here, it is an oasis of tranquility. We are just waiting for the dinner hour so we can sleeeeeeeepppp.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Julia leaving home

We are leaving home to go to Europe for a year, and I am exited as well as scared. The excitement is mostly towered Greece and the beaches. I am scared of things we are leaving behind us. The chances we are going to take are huge, but we will always be together. So I stand by my first statement I am exited, but that doesn’t mean I’m not scared. This is why I am too scared to leave and too exited to stay.

I have seen in my head what England will be like. I have thought about stepping off the plane, and seeing my whole year before me. Looking at the small stores lining the streets, and the people wearing the latest fashions. Seeing the tall, majestic horses pulling the carriage behind it. To me England is an old fashioned town, that’s what I think it is going to be like; a big museum.

There are things I want to do when we get to London. I want to look around and explore the unknown. I want to go shopping and look at how fashion is diffrent in London. I also want to go on the London eye, because that’s what London is famous for. And I want to watch the stars come out on the other side of the world. This is what I would like to happen in London.