Hello again lovely people of the internet.
I have been back at UNC Chapel Hill for about two weeks and I figured it was time to recap about my New Years adventure in London.
There is a lot I could say about how difficult my journey was to and fro Europe, but let’s save that for another time (at least some of the gory details).
My brother Alex, his girlfriend Crystal, and I all drove up to Philly from Charlotte, NC to catch a flight out to JFK the next day. Let me just say that the JFK airport in New York is probably my least favorite airport that I have ever encountered — and I’ve been to a lot of airports.
On the upside, I got to visit my sorority’s headquarters before we left Philly!
From JFK, we flew to Charles de Gaulle in Paris, and then to Dublin where I said goodbye to Alex and Crystal as they embarked to Amsterdam while I kept on to Manchester in England.
It was very nostalgic returning to Manchester airport as that was where I first flew in for my semester abroad in Sheffield. Upon landing, I was immediately greeted by the ever-charming Calum Ridley; thus increasing the nostalgia as he was the one to drop me off at the airport to head back to The States 10 months prior.
Off we went, driving almost three hours, to go from Manchester North to the Lake District. Here we drove through never-ending, winding roads to reach a lovely, cabin-like hotel. As I am terrible at sleeping on planes, and ZZQuil did not do it’s job, I proceeded to pass out by the hotel pool for a much needed nap.
When dinnertime rolled around, Cal and I took a taxi to the nearest town called Ambleside. I was giddy to learn that every name in the vast Lake District has fairytale-esque names. Once in Ambleside we ran into the problem that every pub seemed to have stopped serving food. It was so later than 8:30.
Thankfully, the final bar did not do us wrong and we feasted on fish and chips and beer (Cal) and great vegetable soup and cider (me). There are few words to describe how much I missed getting a pint of proper cider. The bar even had live American folk music– played by two Irishmen of course.
The following day, Calum’s lovely parents, Christine and Paul, joined us in the Lake District for a walk around Windermere Lake. Paul knows all 912 sq miles of the district like the back of his hand as he has hiked up every one of The Lake District’s peaks; so it’s safe to say I learned more than I ever would about the area. It was gorgeous. We even took some time to play on some wooden swings.
When it started to get dark, we drove another three hours to Cal’s childhood home in Middlesbrough to catch a train out to London for New Years Eve the following day.
As soon as we got into London, we met up with my very dear friend Zoe. I had spent last Christmas and New Years with Zoe’s family in Hamburg, Germany, so it seemed appropriate to meet up again to ring in another new year together.
Calum’s friend Joe graciously let the three of us use his empty apartment while we stayed in London. Yet, upon arrival we realized that the power was shut off and everything in the fridge was spoiling. So Cal trekked back into town to try to get the problem situated while Zoe and I drank wine in the dark.
Thankfully Cal came back successful and we were able to eat some pizza, get dressed, and head into town to meet up with our friend Hayley. Hayley was wonderful enough to get us tickets to watch the fireworks along the River Thames.
It was perfect. It was crowded, but not overwhelmingly so. There was good music, space to dance, and I was with some of my favorite people.
Also I may or may not have brought a bottle of wine in a water bottle in with me. **pictured below**
The fireworks were grand and when all was said and done, we made our way to a bar to wait out 2 more hours until the tube would start running again and we could all get home.
The next morning had excess of your typical British rain and overcast. While Calum went to meet up with friends, Zoe and I set off along the wet streets around King’s cross and Shoreditch. Somewhere along the way I got a rather awful stomach bug and spent most of the day and night nauseous and shivering.
The night was recovered when we met back up with Cal and wandered around Convent Garden and in and out of pubs (not that my stomach allowed me to eat or drink much of anything). The lights were so lovely.
As 11:30 p.m. rolled around it was time for us to catch the tube back to King’s Cross station where Zoe and I had checked in our bags earlier in the day. The difficulty was that we had to make it there no later than midnight to retrieve our bags. If not, we would not be able to get our bags til 6 a.m. the next day.
That would have been all fine and dandy if Zoe and I weren’t soon due to catch a bus to take us to the airport and head to our designated locations (her back to Germany, myself to Portugal).
So here we are, hitting delayed tube after delayed tube, pacing frantically trying to get our bags in time. The second the tube doors slid open, we launched a quick goodbye at Calum and sprinted. And I mean SPRINTED out of the tube station and through Kings Cross. It was 11:58 p.m.
The luggage storage place had it’s lights off, but I ran in and the lone guy working let me retrieve our bags. He’s a saint. Zoe and I sat outside the storage place and just keeled over laughing for ages. Nothing had been so ridiculously humorous. My body was screaming at me, but the universe was thankfully on our side (if not for just a moment).
We then hopped on a bus, got to the the airport, and curled up on the cold floor for three hours until security guards kicked us all awake and we were allowed to go through security.
Here we are smiling through the cold in the wee hours of the morning.
Then we waited. And waited some more. Her flight was at 8 a.m. (or so we thought) and mine was at 10 a.m.
We bid our goodbyes. My flight got delayed. I got on the plane. Waited another two hours. Switched planes because of a supposed “crack in one of the windows”, and then finally, finally, took off.
And landed into a very rainy Lisboa, Portugal.
Until then xx