Last night, I couldn’t sleep. As I replayed all the amazing sights and people I met in London, I was wide awake with excitement. Plus, I think my body is still very confused about the time difference as well, which doesn’t help. A proper British Bbq with lovely people left me sad to leave the city. I felt as if I had known these friends for much longer than 48 hours, that’s how well we all clicked. I feel very grateful to have had such a nice experience–don’t worry, we took ‘family style’ portraits, so when I get around to uploading photos, you will see what a sweet group of people they are. When I finally drifted to sleep, I was woken by a sudden clap and rush of sound. It took me several minutes to figure out what the noise was, but soon figured it out when I felt rain drops blowing in the open window onto the bed. It was a complete downpour! I worried for a few minutes about how I was going to make the trek to the downtown coach station in the rain, just a few hours later, but the sound was so soothing, I was soon snoring.
Thankfully, the rain stopped by the morning and the streets had been washed clean, making my trek a little bit more comfortable…that is as comfortable as it can be carrying a heavy back digging into my hips and shoulders, as I try my hardest not to get hit crossing the street. Once in the underground tube station, I realized that it was morning rush hour, and I had to practically dive onto the tube and elbow my way through the mass in order to make it on. Everyone was really kind to me though, awkward as I was with my backpack and tube map in hand. One man even cleared a path for me to get off, and thank god he did, otherwise I might have been swept way off course and missed my stop.
Finally I made it to the Victoria Coach Station, loaded my luggage and found a seat. The driver then announced that the toilet on board is broken and so is the air conditioning. Great. I only have a 7 1/2 hr trip to make!! Also, England is humid and unusually hot this summer, so it is definitely not an ideal situation to have a lack of air flow in an enclosed space. :p About three hours into the trip, we were given 10 minutes to dash to the toilet at a station and get back on board. It cost 30p to go pee and there was no toilet paper! I’ll save you the details, but it was humorous for sure.
At the next stop, a robust Romanian man named Valentin sat down next to me. The driver reminded us to put on our seat belts so we buckled up while he walked past us down the aisle. As soon as the coach pulled out though, we looked at each other and unbuckled our belts at the same time. “It’s better,” he said in his thick accent with a grin, patting his belly. About fifteen minutes later, I started feeling a bit squished in my seat and looked over to see my seat partner nodding off, swaying danerous close to my head. Pretty soon, all his weight was leaning on me and he was sound asleep against my side. There was nowhere for me to go, pinned as I was between him and the window. I had a good laugh and thought to myself, well this is a memory I won’t forget! I could have waked him, but instead I told myself he was a brother and let him snooze. Eventually he woke and we had a great conversation for an hour until his stop. He was really quite sweet and told me about his mom and dad, Romania and his dreams in life. He said he was inspired by my traveling alone and that even he is afraid to do that, being a brawny man. I told him he should do it and to come visit Oregon!
Now I’m visiting a good friend from home in New Castle. I am happy to be here and look forward to exploring the city tomorrow. We are going to go to a club to see a live Cuban band. Until next time…xxoo