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Josh’s European Adventure: Day 7 – London, England

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Day 7 – London – New Years Eve

After packing up all my stuff which had exploded from my bags once I arrived at Harriet’s I decided that it was imperative I get some fish and chips before I left London.  So I set off for the bus and headed down to Kings Cross Station.  Apparently fish and chips isn’t as common as everyone back home things it is.  Go figure.  Anyway, after I found a place that didn’t take credit card, I got out some money and went back.  The fish and chips was everything I expected them to be.  I chilled out there for a while and took it slow, tonight was New Year’s Eve!

Once I got back to Harriet’s, I showered up and got ready for tonight’s festivities which included some drinks at the Quigley residence before we all went our separate ways.  So we all had some bubbly, nibbles and at around 815PM, Harriet and I met her old friend Tom who would be joining us tonight.  Tonight we decided to try and see the fireworks down by the Thames River, which are set off from the London Eye along the Southbank.

So Tom, Harriet and I set off from the bus stop where we picked Tom up for the first pub of the night.  Even though the pub didn’t charge to get in, there was no place to sit inside the pub.  So we took our drinks outside the pub to their garden and sat in the freezing cold.  Since I was wearing a sweater, fleece and jacket I wasn’t that cold initially, but after a while my neck began to really get cold.  After a while we moved inside, finishing up our drinks and went to pub 2.  At pub 2, they weren’t charging for admittance and after a while we did get a seat.  It was also a more user friendly pub with younger adults there and good drinks on tap.  For some reason I had decided to make this a cyder night, go figure, that was probably a bad move considering how much sugar are in each of them and how much your stomach hurts at the end of the night, but that was the choice I made before I took the first sip.

From pub 2 at around 1030pm after having some real interesting debate about socialized medicine (which I am personally against in any country whose population is greater than 10 million), we attempted to get down to the river and see the fireworks at midnight.  Well apparently us 3 weren’t the only ones who had this idea.  There were about 500,000 other people who had the same one as us, who would have thought!

We decided that taking the tube would be best.  Once we got on the tube it became crowded and crowded fast. Well the first tube we took wasn’t but once we transferred to the line that was going to take us to Waterloo station (picadilly line from the northern line), it became very crowded.  That was the train to take since other stations were closed.  After getting out from Waterloo station the line began.  All three of us after going through the main line were all looking for shortcuts to get us to the Eye the quickest.  I eventually found a route that would take us pretty close and with thousands of others, we all rang in the new year!  It was awesome.

So all in all it took us about an hour and half to experience something that lasted 5 minutes, and I definitely thought it was worth it.  Getting home was a completely other story.  Since the police had closed off streets and created barracades so that the general public could only walk certain ways, our choices were quite limited and we ended up having to wait a really long time to get back to the tube station.  But on the way, we took a few seconds to absorb all that was going around us, including saying Happy New Year to the Constables and random people.  I got a few photos of myself in the crowd and even managed to let the security at Kings College of London to use their bathroom (boy was that clutch and just in the nick of time too).

Eventually Harriet and I got home around 2am.  It took us about 2 hours to do so, which included long waits, crowded tubes and a 25 minute walk back to her house from Euston underground station.

Josh’s European Adventure: Day 6 – London, England

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Today for some strange reason I got up at 830AM.  Not sure why considering I went to bed late.  I guess the jetlag has worn off.  I really wanted to go back to sleep, but I just couldn’t manage to do so.  So I laid in bed, updated my blog, watched some movies and eventually made my way down to the kitchen for some breakfast.

Today was also the day I was meant to meet up with my long time friend John Messer.  John and I met in New Zealand, while I was studying abroad in Australia in 2004 and he was doing his gap year traveling around the world himself.  This was my third time visiting him in the UK and he has yet to come to New York.  He says when I get married he will come for the wedding, I am holding him to that promise.

After showering up and getting ready, I made my way down to Kings Cross Station to get on the tube.  John lived in Southeast London, directly diagonally from where I was staying so it was going to take some time to get to his flat.  He lives in the Hammersmith/Fulham area for those who are familiar with London.  After getting off the 91 bus, which has become a bus I am quite familiar with, I got off at Kings Cross and made my way to the Picadilly Line (dark blue).  I quickly realized that I did not have enough money on my oyster card (like a metro card) to get to John’s so I had to find a place to top up.  Well since this is probably the busiest train station in all of the UK, the line to top up was huge.  I am talking like a hundred people deep, and I was certainly not waiting on that line.

I had an idea to walk to another tube stop, top up there and then get transfer to the right tube line to get to John’s.  So after asking a Constable (police officer), where the next tube stop was, and after him telling me it was merely 5 minutes down the road, I thought about it for a second, but then realized there must be another place in the station to top up and surely there was.  This time the line was not nearly as long and I barely waited to top up my card, and even better I was able to go straight to John’s stop without transferring.
The ride on the tube took about 25 minutes, and then I had to walk about 15 minutes from the tube, to get to his apartment.  I got directions by using google maps (what a fantastic travel tool).  He lived on the third floor of a really old building with really old doors to each flat.  There was a place for the mail labeled “letters” and the door knob was at my waist.  He met me at the door and we embraced one another in a very manly way; hearty handshake.

He gave me the quick tour of his rather nice three bedroom flat.  Him and his roommates really weren’t paying a whole lot for the place and it had a really nice common area (which could have become a 4th bedroom and wireless internet).  After catching up for a bit, I tried to help John set up the wireless internet connection on his laptop but to no avail.  He needed a new usb connector for his rather old computer.

I also had the honor of meeting one of his roommates, Russell.  Russell went to Cambridge with John and was a little snobby, but very funny and animated at the same time.  I liked him and bet he would be fun to drink and go out with.  Tonight though would not be the night as John and his friends were taking a 7am train to Edinburgh tomorrow for New Year’s Eve, which should be a blast and since he had to get up real early, he wasn’t going out.

At around 6pm I decided to head back to Harriet’s.  It was freezing out and I didn’t have my winter coat, but did have my fleece, hat and gloves, which held me over on my journey back to the tube.  Once I got off the tube I was hungry and wasn’t sure if Harriet and the girls would be cooking, so I went to a rather nice and extremely Authentic Italian Restaurant.  It was reasonably priced and I enjoyed the meal.  As it turned out though the girls had cooked back home and I was persuaded to finish the last slice of this gourmet omelet that was absolutely delightful.

After dinner Harriet, I and the girls just chatted for a few hours until it was time to get to bed.  I stayed up to try and watch the Syracuse Men’s Basketball game against Seton Hall, and while I managed to stay awake, the feed that I use online wasn’t working!  I was so mad,  but luckily someone posted a link to a radio feed.  In the end I was able to listen to the game but was really tired and only managed to get through the first 8 minutes before I turned off my computer.  Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, not sure of my plans yet, Harriet and I discussed going down to the Thames to watch the fireworks, but it is supposed to be cloudy so we will see.

I want to wish all of my dedicated and not-so-dedicated readers a Happy and healthy New Year!

Talk to you in 2009!

Josh’s European Adventure: Day 5 – London, England

Monday, December 29th, 2008
The first half of today was a lazy day.  While Harriet was off getting her passport from her apartment in Newcastle, I chilled out and relaxed.  At about 2PM Martha (harriet’s youngest sister) and I went out for a walk ... [Continue reading this entry]

Josh’s European Adventure: Day 4 – London, England

Sunday, December 28th, 2008
I woke up at 1230PM after a night of tossing and turning.  The Sunday morning church bells from across the street woke me up briefly, but I found myself dozing off back to sleep shortly after they finished ringing.  Today ... [Continue reading this entry]

Josh’s European Adventure: Day 3 – London, England

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
Even though I retired to my living quarters at 10PM, I couldn’t fall asleep until about 1AM.  To pass the time I watched one and a half movies from the selection I brought with me.  I’m glad I brought them ... [Continue reading this entry]

Josh’s European Adventure: Day 2- London, England

Friday, December 26th, 2008
I awoke from my very uncomfortable nap to some useless public address announcement and was not happy.  We landed at approximately 630AM and I raced to the immigration line.  Since none of the workers there wanted to actually work, it ... [Continue reading this entry]

Josh’s European Adventure: Day 1- Great Neck, NY to London England

Thursday, December 25th, 2008
My trip started just like any other in the past; screaming, shouting, running all around.  Even though I had packed two weeks in advance for this trip to Europe things always seem to go wrong at the last minute.  For ... [Continue reading this entry]