Sunday, January 16, 2011

Me vs. The United Kindom: Part One

For someone like myself, who considers travel to be one of the most important things in life, I have only traveled outside of the country once. (I haven’t even been to Canada or Mexico.) But, I have been to over half of the States in the US, so don’t feel sorry for me.

Among my many, many future destinations are: Italy, Paris, Prague, Japan & Denmark. Oh, and can’t forget New Orleans, NYC and Austin.

Let me bring you back to 1997. I was 17. My parents took my brother and I to the UK, as a sort of trek through our family genealogy, on my Mom‘s side. Had it been my Dad’s side – we would have gone to Greece or Germany. But on our UK trip, we visited all the prominent places “we” were from: England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland. It was amazing.

Unfortunately, the trip was not very fun at the time due to several things:

*I was 17.

*It was 100 DEGREES. One zero zero. The UK was having a major, unforeseen, heat wave that we were not dressed for. And, you ever heard of ICE, people?

*I had just been dumped by my hot, model boyfriend – 3 days before we left.

*I was PMS-ing.

*I was 17.

And really, 2 weeks in a rental car + tiny inn rooms with your parents? Not too great.

But, I appreciate the chance that I had to even GO there & I can’t ever thank my parents enough. Seriously, I am beyond grateful (now.)

After the 17 hour flight, complete with screaming child on board and “It’s no Good” by Depeche Mode and “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison playing on repeat the entire time, we emerged into Gatwick Airport. Talk about a zoo. Once we left the airport, we boarded a train for like, another hour it seemed. OMG, would it ever end?! Then, Victoria Station in London. It was nearly everything I expected it to be. The streets of London look exactly like what you would think they do. And people drive like mad! We jumped into a little “taxi” and barely squeezed our luggage in – I’m sure they thought – “Wow, those Americans…they brought everything but the kitchen sink.” Our stay began at the Vanderbilt Hotel. I loved it but, not at first. All I wanted was a shower. Unfortunately, it was a wooden bathtub (?@!) which I promptly hit my toe on and sat on the floor, crying. I thought it was broken. My mom was all ready to go sight-seeing. Uh, no – I don’t think so. I crashed on the bed while my family did….something or other. I was having my first real experience with jet lag. Add to this, the heat was unbearable and they had NO air conditioning. We had to have fans brought up to our room.

The following day, I felt better. We spent the entire day riding a good ol’ double-decker all around London on a sight-seeing tour. We stopped at the Tower of London – did I mention the place was crawling with….ravens?! Definitely not my cup of tea (birds are a huge phobia of mine). Then came Piccadilly Circus, and a few more sights. I noticed that (unfortunately) all the guys there were not cute….at all. Major. Bummer. I fully expected them to be gorgeous British sexbombs but, nope. And all the girls were super skinny. Weird.

We decided to have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. I was elated! Our meal was fantastic (cheeseburgers and sodas….WITH ICE.) and we “oohed and ahhed” over all the pictures of rock stars. And yes, I knew who every single one was. They don’t call me the Trivia Queen for nothing! As we were leaving, I forgot that there were steps to get back to the main level and I fell…on my ass. I just sat there stunned in front of about 100 dinner guests. Scrambling up, I bolted out the door with my Mom laughing her butt off behind me. Not my best moment.

The next day we took a rental car through the English countryside. Of course, we hit Stonehenge.

I wish I’d enjoyed it more. But, I was pissy. And to give you some proof of how pissed off I was during this trip? Here’s the pic of me, my brother and my Mom. Note the pure indifference on my face? That was because my brother insisted on wearing his Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt on the same day I was wearing mine. Um, hello?! We look like freaking tourists!!! And I am pretty sure my mom was wearing a fanny pack. Uh – no comment.

Bath was our next stop and, my favorite. It was a little English town meant to look like Rome. It’s where the Roman Baths and the Bath Abbey are located. Most notably is that it is the site of Jane Austen‘s girlhood home, where she did much of her famous writing. The bed and breakfast we stayed in had an amazing view and I felt like I was in a British novel just staying there. However, I was majorly disappointed in the McDonald’s. It tasted nothing like the ones in America. Not even sure it was beef…

I could have very easily stayed in Bath the entire 2 weeks, but we had many more places to visit! If I ever decide to move to Europe and Paris doesn’t work out? Bath it is! However, I was embarrassed to see that in all the photos taken in Bath I am still glaring into the camera like I was to smash it. My only excuse? See my above reasons for being pissy….Haha!

Stay Tuned for PART TWO – which includes all our fun in Scotland, Wales and….Ireland!

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