That Time I Gained 10 Pounds Then Lost 100: Part Two

By Unknown - December 17, 2015

On losing 100: ...We were originally supposed to leave at 8pm and get into London at 5:50 am, so I figured since we left late, we'd get in late - a good thing, because what were we supposed to do in London at 6am? But, as we would eventually learn, that was not the case. Also, I was an idiot and decided I would wait until a semi-normal time to fall asleep, like 1am. NO. Sleep as soon as you get on that damn bus (like Anna) because, apparently, when you get to the chunnel, at 2am, you have to get off the bus and go through French border control, then get back on the bus, then get back off the bus and go through British border control, then get back on the bus and drive into a train within the chunnel and sit in the brightest lights ever and listen to some evil woman scream instructions over the loudspeaker at you in ten different languages. Like, I think if anything were to happen to us within a bus, within a train, within a tunnel under the ocean, we'd be done for before we could figure out how to escape the two foot thick metal gate holding us in our train car.
bus in train in chunnel
I eventually did fall asleep again, only to be awoken at what I thought was 5:30, by our arrival in some dark empty neighborhood in London. But, no, London is one hour earlier, so it was actually 4:30. I was this close to begging our driver to just keep driving for another two hours because roaming an unknown city at 4:30 in the morning on two hours of sleep with my ten pound backpack was pretty much the last thing I wanted to be doing. But, Anna and I sucked it up, heaved on our backpacks, and set off in what we decided would be a good direction. After wandering, we came across a sketchy train station and decided sure, why not? We settled in between the homeless and the drunks and commenced our staring at the clock and watching people get arrested, while drunk twenty-somethings ran around barefoot with their BEC's. 

I searched on my phone for a Starbucks that opened early or any other place besides this forsaken train station. Eventually, at 6am, we peaced out of there as fast as possible, grabbed 100 pounds, and made our way to a Starbucks, where I indulged in a toffee latté or something like that - I was too out of it to know that it was anything but caffeinated heaven. We then commenced another two hours of sitting, looking almost as homeless as the people at the train station, and I had a shot of espresso to keep me awake once my latté-induced energy wore out. Finally, 8:30, a somewhat normal hour, came around and we began our TREK. We started out heading towards Buckingham Palace, which was pretty empty as it wasn't even 9am, waved to the Queen, then decided we would walk ALL THE WAY to our Airbnb in Notting Hill. If you aren't familiar with London, look at a map, it's more than a 5K, semi uphill. We walked through Hyde Park, the biggest park in existence, and I looked wistfully at every bench as my back felt like it was about to snap in half and my eyelids felt like they were about to snap closed. Keeping my pride, I carried on, huffing and puffing, and realizing this one hike was more training than all of the dry-land ski team training Anna and I did in four years of high school.
could've used a selfie stick, honestly
After an hour's walk, we dragged ourselves into our Airbnb at 10am, only to drop off our bags as our real check-in time wasn't until 3pm. Still in the previous day's outfits, makeup, and filth, we left the Airbnb and headed over to the Portobello Road Market. We checked out the tents of basically anything and everything you could ever want, and eventually found a tiny café below a jewelry store where we made fast friends with the amazingly flamboyant waiter. After filling ourselves with chili con carne, rice, and each others' travel stories we headed off towards Kensington Palace, explored around the gardens, and then down into the area of Kensington. We found an Urban, promptly plopped ourselves on the couch inside and commenced a 20 minute power-sit while enjoying the free wifi and wishing 1 pound was the same as 1 dollar. Then, we decided we should move before we got kicked out so we went to yet another café and promptly sat there for another hour or two, too tired to make conversation, move, or do anything besides drink our fourth caffeinated beverage of the day and share our giant meringue.
'sup Victoria
Fiiiiiinally 3pm came around and we huffed our way back to the Airbnb, arriving at 3pm on the dot. Our hosts welcomed us, we chatted for a bit and then I made a run for it to take what was probably the second best shower of my life. It was rejuvenating, seriously. After feeling human again, and laying in bed for a bit, we met Anna's friend, Nina for dinner at Nando's, and then went off to explore the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It was insane, my god, Brits seriously love Christmas. If you imagine a giant Christmas market mixed with an amusement park that's basically it (@mom: basically your worst nightmare). We got a lost a bit/a lot, drank some mulled wine, enjoyed some good food, and retired early so we were able to fit in twelve hours of hibernation sleep. 
cheers, London
madness
The next morning we met Nina at Borough Market for what we become the most touristy ~london-y~ day ever. It wasn't off to the best start when we realized Borough Market is closed on Sundays, but we got coffee and persevered. We walked along the Thames, to the Millennial Bridge, found yet another Christmas market, I did touristy thing #1 of the day and enjoyed my first fish and chips: not bad, not bad. Then, we continued along to Big Ben, took our phone booth pic, walked by Westminster Abbey, then allllllll the way to Harrod's (did I mention we walked 20 miles in two days?? #athletes) and inside. Wow. I thought stores in the city went all out but Harrod's had a "Christmas World." It was some new level stuff, but also soooo packed, so we came, we saw, we skedaddled.
@ shakespeare: I still don't like you
fish & eh
Harrod's 

Annie & Hallie
We worked our way to Sketch, the insta-famous tea parlor with the pink room and incredibly cool bathroom. Apparently you have to be somebody (aka make reservations) to sit in the pink room so we ended up in a not quite as cool side room, but anyone can visit the bathroom, which I did...multiple times. Really, there is nothing like peeing in a pod in a room with rainbow colored ceiling tiles, trust trust. But, yeah, the tea was good too!
when you just want to be @songofstyle
tea for three
~mirror pics~
We stayed until we legitimately got thrown out for a private party, then roamed the streets of Covent Garden, peeking into various stores, until we finally found our destiny: half priced happy hour. I enjoyed an...aptly named martini for an amazing deal of 4 pounds....aka a normal drink price in America, and we again stayed until we legitimately got thrown out for yet another private party. We continued roaming, passed the National Gallery and some big squares and statues of fingers (idk), and then went to dinner at this amazing Indian place and ate an incredible amount for a incredibly small (it's all relative in London) amount of pounds. Before we knew it, our time in London was over and we Uber'd back to our Airbnb for some rest before I left the next morning for a flight straight to Tours (#PRAISE) and Anna left in the afternoon back to Prague.
all you need to know: BRITS LOVE CHRISTMAS
To Ans - thank you for putting up with my hangry and/or tired self at all hours of the day and night...props to you I think you're the only person who can handle me for five days straight and I wish I was kidding.

It's so crazy that this was my last trip in Europe (and that I go home tomorrow, but let's take one sad thing at a time here) but I'd say it was definitely one of the most memorable. 

À bientôt, America!

Joanna





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