I Have Arrived!
Hello from…Muswell Hill, London!!
It has been a long and tiring journey since I departed Chicago, and the United States. My flight was ok at times, but 8 hours in those small coach seats aren’t particularly comfortable. I sat next to a 17-year-old British girl who has the craziest life story I’ve ever heard. Let’s just say she was talking about herself for at least an hour and a half, and I was still baffled by her story. Across the aisle from me was a young English mom going home with her 6-month-old daughter. I quickly became instant friends with the baby. I have never seen a baby that smiles and laughs as much as this baby did. According to her mom, she was born laughing! This baby had the biggest eyes and was a model for a lot of parenting magazines. My flight wasn’t dull to say the least, but I wish I would have been able to sleep for more than an hour.
I touched down at London’s Heathrow at 11 am local time, and it was hard keeping my heart rate down from all the excitement. Once I got a lovely stamp on my passport and cleared immigration, and I was on my way to the baggage claim and freedom.
I took the London Underground, Picadilly Line from Heathrow to Bounds Green. About halfway through the tube ride through central London, my tube car was jam packed with people. Luckily I had a seat! After arriving at Bounds Green, I walked a short distance to the bus stop. I had to cross the street, but I got much needed help from the sidewalk, which said to “Look Right” (I still looked left first of course). Having the cars drive on the opposite side of the street is something I’m going to have to get used too. Something I noticed that is different from the States is their parking. Cars can park on both sides of the street and not have to face in the direction of travel. Sometimes cars are facing each other on the same side of the street! By this point, it was already 1 pm and I couldn’t wait to just sit down arrive at my cousins’ house. A red double decker bus was approaching and I stepped on the bus, only to find out my Oyster card (the tube and bus fare card) was out of money! Of course I looked like a tourist by getting off the bus with all my luggage and asking the driver where I could “top off” my card (topping off means putting money in the card). I had to go back to the tube station and insert more money. After adding £5, I went back to the bus stop where another bus was approaching (at least I didn’t have to wait long). I got off at “St. Andrew’s Church,” walked 2 blocks, and finally arrived at the Alpert house!
The whole rest of the day was a challenge not to fall asleep. I drank a lot of coffee on the plane before we arrived, so I was somewhat zombiefied on coffee. It felt like finals week all over: tons of coffee and caffeine without sleep. My younger cousins Caitlin, 5, and Sophie, 3, made sure I was wide-awake; they needed a playmate of course.
I finally fell asleep about 10 pm GMT (fyi I’m 6 hours ahead of Chicago’s central time). I did pretty well for myself waking up at around 7 am. I got to see a wonderful London sunrise that will jump start my fantastic adventure here in the United Kingdom. Today’s plan: getting a cell phone and buying an electric toothbrush and blow dryer. I might have another family day, and tomorrow will be designed for 100% sight-seeing.
British word of the entry: Chav. It’s trashy people that knows they’re trash, but they still try to present themselves as better than others. Big puffy silver coats and tracksuits are some examples that person is a chav. Apparently they’re easy to spot (if you’re a local Brit), but I’m still having a hard time distinguishing a chav in a crowd of people. Jenni and Jon are helping me through this process.