Friday September 11th 2015
For the first time in Europe, we got to sleep in! Don’t worry; that’s not the highlight of my story. But having our day start a little later than the usual time was nice. Our usual departure time of 8:00 slipped to 10:30 so we had some time to enjoy a last breakfast in Paris.
This was the first and last time I used the really cool coffee machine and made a little white chocolate latte. (I think that’s what it was…) It was kind of like a fountain drink dispenser where the coffee pours out into your cup. We need one in the office.
We took a short bus ride to the Eurotunnel to catch our train to London. Our big group took it in turns to ride up little glass elevators- luggage held snug inside the crammed space.
When we made it up to the landing that overlooked the train tracks, we scribbled names on luggage tags and filled out some last-minute papers. A pen-shortage created extra bonding moments as we shuffled papers down the line.
Passports out, everyone!
We rushed though customs, had our passports stamped, and literally ran the track looking for our boarding section. The sun was shining and it truly was a gorgeous day for anyone not wearing a sweater and boots… After walking to the end and back to the middle, we eventually found our place, crammed our suitcases in, and sat down. I was already exhausted.
Snug in my big striped seat, I listened as they made announcements in French and then English before our departure. I gazed out the window as we pulled away from the station with the glass roof. Sunshine filled every space in that building! I gazed outside as we made our way into the country-my back facing our destination-and quickly fell asleep. I woke up a few times to see cement walls surrounding us as we traveled under water. Truly an amazing concept.
When we arrived in London, I noticed the announcement languages swapped order. They welcomed us to London in English and followed it with French.
After we got off the train and huddled around our luggage pile, the people who weren’t going on the Harry Potter tour took pictures at Platform 9 3/4. Then we loaded the luggage onto the bus and sent them to the hostel- where they unloaded it all and put it in our rooms. Thank you guys, again for doing that!
Meanwhile, us H.P. fanatics were whisked out of the station and into the London air for a Harry Potter walking tour. The first stop was Platform 9 3/4 for photos. Then we were off to run around London and see places where they shot scenes from the movies.
As we walked around, our guide asked us trivia questions about the series. I won the game for our Ravenclaw team. The prize was different gummy candies that we passed around for the rest of the afternoon. We literally ran all over the place and I was still pretty tired from the day before. But it was cool to see places that inspired the Harry Potter films.
Our tour ended at the Millennium Bridge, (a.k.a. the Wobbly Bridge or the Harry Potter Bridge because it was in the Deathly Hallows film), which is actually really close to where Daniel Radcliffe went to elementary school.
When it was over, I departed from my group for the first time ever! I planned to meet up with my good friend Claire at St. Paul’s around 4:30. So I waved goodbye to the group as the boarded a bus to the hostel. (Some of them were going to a concert that night and had to get ready).
(For the next bit, keep in mind I was running off about 5 hours of sleep and only had breakfast and some gummy candy in my stomach. Wifi was the only way to connect with anyone).
Claire wasn’t at St. Paul’s at 4:30.
I still hadn’t exchanged my Euros for pounds. I was a little emotional, stressed, and hungry. I walked around the area for half an hour before panicking a little bit.
She wasn’t there at 5:00.
Worried something happened to her and desperate for WiFi, I wandered back to the bridge where I saw a sign for a cafe. I walked into a glass building, pretty eager to do whatever it took to get a hold of Claire. The nicest man could see I was freaking out a bit- on the verge of tears (b/c EXHAUSTED and HUNGRY). He kindly offered me their password and told me I could sit and wait as long as I needed. Turns out I had stumbled into a Salvation Army building.
I messaged Claire and waited a bit. She didn’t respond so I figured she didn’t have internet access herself. I made my way out of the building to sort some priorities.
First thing’s first: food. In order to get food, I still needed to exchange my Euros. I wandered back to an information center I passed a trillion times and gave them all my cash. Then I walked into the nearest burger place and ordered food. Alas! They had WiFi!
The battery on my phone was close to dying but I sent Claire a message telling her where I was. She got it and within 10 minutes, found me. Then everything was okay.
What a thrill it was to see such a familiar face in this other world! She ordered food as well, and pulled out her phone charger so I could charge my phone. I devoured that burger. It was so good.
For the next 4 hours, the two of us talked and wandered around the area. It was way too short, but lovely. We wandered over the Wobbly Bridge, down to the theatre district.
We passed the Globe Theatre and took selfies by the water. It had been a long time since I’d seen her in person (she’d been living in Dublin for the past year) and was great to just catch up on things.
We found a Caffè Nero by a pirate ship (not kidding) and had tea, a mango smoothie, and a lemon tart. Just sitting upstairs in that place, I felt at home. (It was like a Starbucks).
Eventually, it grew dark and we made our way to my hostel- which is probably my favorite one our group stayed in. The room had 3 bunk beds with curtains, personal lights, and oh yeah… everything was purple! I sadly said goodbye to Claire, took a shower, and crawled up into my bunk.
Slowly my roommates came in and I listened to them talk about their evenings. Emily went to see Wicked and met the two leads in the musical. Julianna went to a concert. Eventually Jordan and Nadia came in, but I was already asleep.