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London Calling

I loved this slightly off-kilter and bizarrely blue entrance to Green Park
After three days of au pairing (I know, my job is so hard) upon returning from Portugal, that Saturday I was off again, but this time to a much more familiar location, and to see some much more familiar and beloved faces.

 

 

I spent a week and a half in London after finishing my study abroad program in December 2013, so sightseeing wasn’t much of a priority for me. This trip was for the sole purpose of having all four members of my family back together for the first time since August, before my brother went back to school. For his spring break, he and Mom were doing a Eurotrip that covered London, Paris and Amsterdam, and my dad managed to coordinate a business trip that would put him in London at the same time. So Saturday morning I hopped on a Eurostar heading north to join them.

 

 

The way I phrase that makes it sound so easy; in fact it was some of the most tumultuous traveling I’ve ever done. London itself was lovely as per usual, but I was on the metro heading to Gare du Nord on Saturday morning when I realized I’d forgotten my passport. After wondering for a brief moment if they would accept my US ID card to let me on (hint: no way), I jumped off the metro and ran to find a taxi, explaining breathlessly to the driver that I had roughly 35 minutes and needed him to take me home to get my passport and then to Gare du Nord as quickly as possible. Fortunately, he was sympathetic, and after good-naturedly berating me for forgetting my passport- “C’est la chose la plus importante de ne pas oublier!”– he quickly and efficiently got me to the station on time to make my train. Phew! That was a conversation I would NOT have wanted to had with my mother- “uh, hey Mom, listen, I kind of missed the train…”

 

Did you know Big Ben is not the name of the clock tower, but of the bell inside?
After a sadly brief 20 hours with my father before he left for the next stop on his multinational business trip, my mom, brother and I went for the river cruise that came with the Big Bus Tour tickets Mom had gotten for us to allow my brother to see as much of the city as possible in the short time we were there. Of course the one time it really truly poured was during said cruise, so we were forced to watch the lights on the water from the safety of the boat’s interior, rather than on the roof where the view would be better. It stopped as we pulled into the pier by Westminster, fortunately, and we walked up towards Trafalgar Square to find a pub and indulge in a real fish-and-chips dinner. My brother even got to order his own beer without them bothering to ID him- obviously not a big deal to a Londoner but quite cool for a 19 year old American.

 

Trafalgar Square by night!
The next day we went to catch our morning Eurostar to Paris so I would be back in time to pick the girls up from school. We boarded the train… and five hours later left the station. In a turn of events that proved to be both incredibly tragic and seriously inconvenient, someone jumped from a bridge onto the high speed line and was hit and killed by the train ahead of ours. We were forced to wait while the police investigated and cleaned up the scene, so instead of the trip back to Paris taking two and a half hours like normal, it wasn’t until eight hours later that we disembarked in the City of Light. My host mom was none too pleased, but fortunately was understanding (this trip had been planned for months and clearly we didn’t plan for tragedy to strike that day).
My next few posts will be about Paris, I promise! In spite of how long it’s been since I’ve posted about it, I do indeed still live here…

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