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note: We left on Thursday, arrived on Friday, and I finished writing this on Saturday.
Perhaps I should start with how our journey began instead of the final destination. I woke up around 7:30 this morning, took a shower, etc. Got to school before anyone else had even shown up. Mom had volunteered to drive so that my car would not be left in an empty parking lot for days and days. Mom is obsessing about this trip a hundred times worse than me.
Anyway, I thought I saw Kate’s mom’s car, but instead it was Miss Hill* driving a white BMW. Since when do school employees drive foreign cars? She must be a drug dealer, I suppose.
Eventually everyone showed up (except for Ariel) and we loaded all the luggage into the back of Danny E.’s mom’s van. Mr. Allison drove Danny E.’s mom’s other car, and poor Mrs. Allison was stuck between Danny E. and Danny L. for the entire four hour trip to O’Hare in Chicago. We all felt so bad for her.
The traffic was horrible. Mr. Allison drove at least 80mph along the shoulder to avoid bumper-to-bumper congestion, and we lost two more cars on the way to McDonald’s. But we all arrived at the airport eventually. Not that getting there really mattered; we waited in a stagnant line that occasionally worked up the momentum to move a few feet. There were a bunch of Spanish-speaking people with fifteen suitcases (I counted), all of which were absolutely gigantic. We were all trying to guess why they had so many and finally decided they must be moving to Cleveland. Mr. Allison complained because we had been waiting in a practically dead stand-still line for two hours, and our plane was taking off in less than 45 minutes. The airport people opened another line for us, but two men with briefcases cut in front of us without apology. We cursed then to no end.
But we eventually made it through the line with a few minutes to spare, and couldn’t help but wonder why another line hadn’t been opened two hours ago. Our gate was E4, which was a relatively short walk when one considers the vastness of that particular airport.
On the flight from Chicago to Cleveland I was sitting between Kate and Danny E. He kept talking the entire time. It would have been understandable if he had been trying to make polite conversation, but I had headphones on and was reading a book.
We made it to Ohio just fine, and I lost my stomach a few times on the way down to land due to turbulence. It was exciting. People around me were getting sick, but I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. Too many rollercoasters, I guess. I am immune. Had an hour and a half layover between flights, so I bought myself some cheese pizza from Sbarro’s. Ended up sitting next to Aunt Sue (she’s really only Stef’s aunt, but everyone calls her that) on the way to [London. I tried to sleep but wasn’t very successful. In fact, I have been awake for well over 24 hours now. I spent most of the flight eating airplane food, keeping my elbows out of the aisle to avoid injury, and reading. The stewardesses are vicious with those big metal carts. Dozed a little, but only enough to twitch violently awake after a few minutes of unrestful half-dreaming.
Aunt Sue told me that my neck pillow thing was officially called a Bucky. I didn’t really believe her, but after a while I was convinced. Those pillows made from a single cotton ball that the airline provides its coach passengers with are insufficient for my comfort needs, so I planned ahead. Most people hadn’t.
We arrived in England around 6:55am their time. Everyone was dead. I still am.
Sixteen people in a bad mood is no fun for anyone. Mr. And Mrs. Allison, Aunt Sue, Mrs. Valdo, Jenn L., Kristen C., Kate S., Danny L., Danny E., Ariel N., Stef E., Mike F., Kelli F., Gwen H., and Angie V., and Katie too. We are associated with CHA, the tour group, and every single one of us has decided CHA sucks. Our tour guide’s name is Ruth. I’m guessing she’s about 55, a rather large girl, and she never lacks in irrelevant excessive knowledge which she never hesitates to share with everyone.
We were all loaded onto a tour bus with several other groups participating in the CHA thing. The group who is supposed to be travling with us over the next few weeks speaks mostly Spanish and not much as (as far as we can tell). They’re all from Huston, TX, and of the “old money,” Stef tells us. Whatever that means.
We had a very long ride from Gatwick to London, with Ruth droning on and on without end. Ariel, Mike, Kate and I were searching for ghetto cars the entire way there since it seems like every car here in England would be considered a luxury car back home. There are Mercedes-Benz cement trucks! Absolute craziness.
When we got to the hotel, the Royal Eagle, everyone was surprised by how nice it was. I was sitting out on the steps in front when all of a sudden a Jamaican man wearing a green, red, and yellow floppy hat grabbed my hands in his, smiled wide as could be, and never broke stride or stopped singing his music. It was weird, but a nice welcome I guess.
We went down to the Underground and rode the subway thing around. Something about a Circle Line. Ended up in a huge square with a statue of Nelson-something-or-other on top of a huge pedestal. The statue looked tiny in comparison to the height of the column, but it was really 17 feet tall, according to Ruth. The rest of the square was gorgeous. There were huge black lions on the four corners of the base of the Nelson monument, as well as a huge fountain with beautiful blue water. But then we noticed the naked man standing in it. I had already taken a picture of the fountain without realizing Naked Man was there. Oops. He was holding a sign that said something along the lines of “God created man without clothes.” After a short while, the police shut the water off and asked the man to move. The police didn’t even seem that interested or offended or upset. In fact, the man simply sat down on the edge of the fountain with his feet still in the water and had a lengthy conversation with the police, naked as the day he was born. And that was my first adventure of the trip.
We were set free for the day after this event. Kate, Jenn, Mike, Kristen, Ariel and I went off to get some money exchanged. We mostly wandered. I bought the journal in which I am currently writing after we had lunch at an Italian restaurant. We had to be back at the hotel for dinner at six, so I didn’t eat much.
For dinner we went to a restaurant that put us way up by the roof where I could touch the ceiling without even raising my hands all the way above my head. We were served some rather buckis chicken Kiev that squirted grease with every bite, although I seemed to be the only one who didn’t care for it. I’m just too picky.
Went to bed immediately after we got back to the hotel. And that was my first day (days, technically) in Europe!
* : Miss Hill is the assistant principle for the eleventh grade class. She has a reputation for being extremely absentminded and completely empty in the mental department.
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