09 June 2016

It's the Smell - England Day One

Note: There are no pictures as of yet.  I am hoping to add pictures to my posts at some point, but it will not be this time.  Sorry!

Whenever I travel somewhere different, I like to hunt for that moment when I know that I'm in a new place.  When I went to Canada in high school, it was buying a Subway sandwich using different change.  When I went to Mexico, it was the lunatic street drivers and road signs I hadn't the faintest idea of how to follow.

This time it was the smell of the Tube.  You know the one.  If you've been to London, you know that there's a distinct (not necessarily bad, just definite) smell to the Underground.  I'd forgotten all about it until I was standing in the queue to get my Oyster card (pre-paid train pass card) and there it was.  England.

Admittedly, after that, there hasn't been much.  We've been on a slew of trains today in an attempt to make it to Salisbury (which, if you are reading this, we did.  Finally.)  The customs in Heathrow were horrid - the worst I've ever seen, and we missed our hoped for train.  This meant a round about travel on smaller commuter trains to get to quaint, cathedral be-decked Salisbury, south and west of London.

As romantic as I always imagined train travel to be before I actually did it, it is distinctly not, especially when you are jet-lagged, hauling all of your luggage, and hungry.  Also not when the bulk of your view consists of trees that are planted to protect homeowners from staring at trains all the time and train riders from having any kind of view.  I remember being in Germany and training from town to town past houses with their flower boxes and through the mountains and being in awe.  Today's train rides have left much to be desired.  I can't read - if I do I'll fall asleep and I'm not allowed to do that for another several hours.

I started making note of everything I thought in my pocket notebook in a mad attempt to keep my brain active.  I also got my hands on a copy of the Metro - a free (mostly gossipy/trashy) newspaper that, at the very least, has Sudoku and a crossword now.  Here are my jet-lagged thoughts:

The US needs to take note from Europeans and fix public bathrooms.  I'm not talking about any political issue here.  I'm talking about the doors.  Stalls in America have gaps big enough for anyone to peek through.  In Europe, the doors close and you're in your own little room with no gaps.  No one can peek in on you doing your business.  Why is this so hard.  I am looking forward to several weeks of happy public loo usage.  (I warned you these were jet-lagged.)

Money in Britain is squat and fat and money in America is long and lean.  Not sure what that symbolizes (nothing), but I feel like if I were still taking Creative Non Fiction writing classes in my prime while in college (ahem. University) I could find a way to make that symbolize the very essence of life.

I listened to a man on the train talk about "jacket spuds", which I'm assuming are baked potatoes.  I could have misheard.  I could also be totally wrong on what it refers to.  All the same, all baked potatoes should henceforth be known as "jacket spuds", because it just sounds so much cooler.

The Metro newspaper had some super awesome new updates.  A "hook up" section for travelers to leave notes for the hotties they saw but didn't talk to (ew), a brief story about a man who swears he's, err, "done it" with a ghost (EW), and a story about a town somewhere in the area where a large inflatable poo was stolen.  Inquiries are being made - said inflatable poo was meant to teach people to pick up their dog's waste in the park (I love the English.)

Other anecdotes:

My "trtl" pillow was the best.  I actually slept on the flight.  I haven't done that since I was lucky enough to get on a flight that was empty.  Next time you fly, look it up.  You won't regret it.

We got traditional pasties at the train station in. . .Ealing?  I think.  They were disappointing.

Our hotel has Galaxy Hot Chocolate and I about died of happiness.  I think Greg and Nicole (my travel companions) are a little bewildered by my glee over this.  I'm a little bewildered, truth be told, but I'm also tired, and being tired makes me excited over silly things (like hot chocolate in a room that's only cooled by a ceiling fan.

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