I’m in a half living room half kitchen at the table, alone, sipping on tea that is still, after five minutes, too hot for my tongue. The harsh, beautiful light from the bay window is filling the kitchen counter and a portion of the empty wicker chair in front of me. I hear the two Spanish women talking outside the door, as expected, the rattling of keys lets me know I should stop staring out the glass. It was right before they walked in when I thought, how the hell did I end up here?
I should go back, like back before my last post about Glasgow. We need to go to England, February 2nd.
I had just passed up 7.5 hours of sleep on the overnight plane out of Toronto, CAN for a lovely conversation with a Brit from Southampton. It was by this point I knew Italian customs was holding my FedEx package in Rome.
Side note: Don’t send things to yourself in a different country having marked it worth more than two handfuls of small bills. There is no protocol to taxing you, which they have to, so you just don’t get your package-ever. Another side note, I’d like to thank my hero of a mother for spending days figuring out with FedEx how to get it back to America (love you mum).
I liked this British bird, and not just for her accent, but this isn’t a piece for “People” so we’ll fast forward to border patrol.
Border Patrol. You need to be able to see my face right now for full effect.
And that’s all about them since I already wrote about that situation in THIS post. I just wanted to express my small hatred for the over-protective lady that almost ruined my entire trip. Be a little more like Sherlock and a little less like Trump, yeah? Just sayin’
I’m dead tired, and luckily for me I have to put 15 pounds on my shoulders before entering a place that I have heard equally negative and positive things about.
I see a Café Nero as I take a right out of the station top steps. There was a small inner dialogue about whether or not I should be sitting down, because sitting down could very possibly lead to sleep (it has happened).
I go in anyway.
Couchsurfing didn’t pan out so well, something I’d find out weeks later is because these hosts get hundreds of requests a week. London. So I’m sitting at this wooden table in Café Nero, with a plain green tea that got me my first weird look in the UK, looking on my laptop for a place to sleep, hoping, praying to whatever god of “HostelWorld” exists to get me a room I can check in at before 2pm.
They don’t exist.
So, I pay the ten quid, look up directions to this place and throw the 15 around my back, right then left. I guess my friends were sound about packing everything then taking half out before the big trip. This thing was a bag of bricks and only about 2/3 of my belongings for the journey (the package).
Google told me it would be a 1.5 hour walk. I didn’t have any pence yet, and when you’re in this realm of tired you don’t quite have thoughts like, “I can just buy a muffin that is sitting ten feet away from me and get some (do they call it change or pence?) back. “
I make it to the Hostel, about two hours later than I should have.
It’s not worth the hassle, not right now, so I confirm with this crazy cool dude in Liverpool I had been chatting with online that he’s down to host me still, get some sleep, go through the hilarious process of acquiring a 16-25 rail card (having to take a selfie on the ground while sitting up against a white wall since the Photo Booth was conveniently “Out of Order” and find a way to print that selfie in a Boots store at a photo kiosk that only prints three sizes-all far too large for the pass-trick, use borders to bring up the “zoom out” option) buy a train ticket to Liverpool and find the nearest Starbucks to message my mum about the insane Italian customs FedEx situation as it unfolded since the Wi-Fi in the station also conveniently didn’t work-anywhere.
That was confusing, I know. Don’t be embarrassed to read it again.
I got to Liverpool.
Adam was a champ, something I can appreciate even more having stayed with him over a week. I didn’t have a phone number, or What’sApp, so I had to rely on him checking the CS message center, which he did, even though he has a dumb phone and can only check it when at a computer.
I got lucky.
He says, “I’ll be at West Kirby station at 22:30 to meet you! We’re going straight to a bar.” Could it get more cliché than that? I have a funny exchange with two young birds on the train after staring at one of them through the space in between the seats because of her amazing scouse accent. Two stops later I step off with the second one and see what looks to be Adam (the hair gave it away). “Ronan!” I had waited days to be able to say that, I think the bird was impressed I had friends here already.
Fast forward to nine days later and some crazy experiences with locals, traveling French, German and American people, past the Indian man who explained to me the connection between festival goers and finding Buddhism, to a small conversation with Adam. I had received my EuRail in the mail and was reminded it was only valid for three months of travel. My flight out of Dublin wasn’t until the second week of June, which makes things a little more interesting.
Adam asks me if I had planned to go to Scotland. I hadn’t, so he explained why I might want to change that.
Two days later I’m in Glasgow, which you can read about HERE, on my way to Dundee. I spend two lovely days with Katy, the stage manager for Scottish Dance Theater. Our CS messages a few days earlier brought us to this fact and that the company would be traveling to Edinburgh to perform two shows in the city centre.
I’m standing with a glass of red I continued to get fed for free, Katy to my right, and an assortment of other crew members forming a circle with us. The show was insane, like actually insane because the first piece was cackling funny and the second piece was a mix of an acid trip and foreplay. For all the dance people out there, they got Sharon Ely to choreograph what they would call, “Process Day.” I love talking with crew because they always talk about everything that went wrong. There’s a comic relief to it, I could never get into the highbrow “I absolutely adored the first grand allegro, what a way to start the piece with such a profound and graceful jump” kind of stuff. Edinburgh had been nice. It was a little too big city for me but you could see the local and tradition hiding, sometimes in plain sight.
It had been weeks and I had only visited two places. As much as that should scare me, it further affirmed what I first had thought. This typical American 20’s something Euro trip wasn’t to see as much as possible in a short amount of time, go home say it changed me and the way I looked at life, then mosey on with my capitalist-centered life. No, this was different, just as I had hoped it would be. This was about feeling comfortable in a city. This was finding my favorite place to have tea or my favorite streets to walk down. This was about meeting locals and becoming a part of their routines.
This was about finding myself, after four days in Bristol, bowling with a Spaniard, an Italian, and two Bristolians.
You can’t get this in hotels, hostels, or even Airbnb’s. You don’t get this by showing up to a city and having a departure train.
I have no clue what happens next, and it feels pretty damn great. Let’s just hope I get out of the UK-everyone is sick here.