Playing tour guide (it’s hard when you’re foreign)

I should be packing my things to head back to Ohio on a plane tomorrow (sighs, mixed with happy?) but I’ve been thrown into a bit of a depression with this whole leaving-my-dude-behind-for-the-next-year-and-a-half thing, so I decided to spend my whole morning watching videos on Youtube of The Smiths/Morrissey, then some Nylon TV. And now I’ll do some blogging about the rest of Marisa’s visit. That’ll be good, and keep me from starting to cry again, like a big whiny baby.

So.

Marisa was here for only 5 days, and it was a whirlwind 5 days, let me tell ya. We wandered around Lindfield, which is so lovely and picturesque, and Marisa loved it, just like I do. We did some jumping on the Common, some walking around, ate some curry. It was nice.

We took the train down to Brighton to hang out by the pier and enjoy a night out. Upon getting off the train we came across a free wine tasting, so we (of course) hit that up. All the wine-selling people were so nice and informative!

This guy was awesome.

Then on to the water!

Our day (and night) in Brighton was super fun and surprisingly enough, we woke up nice and early on Sunday morning with plenty of time to get the train home, wash up and get back on another train, this time bound for London.

Someone was sleeeeeepy.

Unfortunately, my camera battery died after day one, so part two of Marisa and Ashley’s London adventure (and the day which we navigated all by our lonesome, as Jon went back to HH on Sunday night to work the next day) has no photo documentation. But day one was fun! We took M for her first pub lunch, visited the Queen at Buckingham palace, did more jumping in some London parks,  went to Harrod’s, sat for a bit in Trafalgar Square watching a crazy little boy squirt water at pigeons….

Pub lunch?? What?

Mermaid impressions

Then Jon tried to throw me in the fountain. That’s love.

We stayed in the worst hotel ever, on the planet. More like a hostel, where people get murdered and dark goings-on happen on the regular. Thanks a lot for scheduling that one Juan. “It’s so cheap!” he says. Well, it’s cheap for a reason dude, and Marisa and I had to get a little bit drunk just to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep in that creepy, filthy room directly across from King’s Cross Station. Moving on, the next day Marisa and I managed not to get too lost. We visited the London Dungeons, which was scary and awesome, but mostly scary. We went to the Tower of London, got caught in a rain storm, and spent far too little time in the Natural History Museum (BEST MUSEUM EVER). We were exhausted by the time we got home Monday night. And Tuesday evening, after a full day of laying around and re-packing M’s things, she was off once again, this time to Deutschland for a month. We are attempting to schedule another reunion-this time in Ohio, with football, in November-so fingers crossed that’s it not too long before I see my favorite Canadian again!

Favorite picture from the weekend :

Flying leap over Jon!

Twilight movie premiere, and the rest of my first day in London (it was an accident!)

Currently getting into the 4th of July spirit by listening to the tunes of one of my favorite America legends, Mr. Johnny Cash.  Here, why don’t you listen too?

I feel like I am seriously wasting my days. Or more likely, I have one really productive day, then the next is useless. I need to get a little more done up in here. For example-I finished my main TEFL course two months ago. However, I also signed up for several smaller courses, including a pretty intense grammar module. And I have a LOT of work to do on it, but I only have 8 days to finish it now. F. The point is, girlfriend needs to get some work done.

But I’m not here to talk about my homework-you don’t care about that! You may be more interested in my first (of several/many, I’m sure) trip to London day before yesterday. I had fun, at least, and it’s far more interesting than English grammar.

It was another incredibly hot day on Thursday. We had plans to meet my friend Dez for lunch in London. She’s doing a teacher assistant thing for law school and stopped to tourist-up the city for the week before making her way to the program in Vienna next week, so it was the perfect time to take the train and do some exploring. Jon also gave his friend Colin a call-he works as a senior policy analyst (or something equally fancy sounding) around Parliament-so we all met for lunch, which btw, was an entire 11 inch pizza each, freshly made, for 4 pounds. So cheap! And ultra confusing for me at first, since I thought I was paying for an individual (expensive!) piece of pizza, not an entire pie. Score. We each took our boxes of pizza, wandered over to St. James Park and chowed down.

Two short loud blonde girls from Ohio found their way to London. And ate some pizza.

Then Dez and her friend went on their way, and Jon, Colin and I moseyed over to check out Buckingham Palace. While it’s definitely grandiose in size, I was expecting something a bit more out of the architecture. But oh well-the Queen lives there, not me, so that’s her business huh?

If I was the Queen, I'd be a little sad.

I very much liked the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben (although it’s not as big as you’d think!). Now THAT’S some architecture. So intricate, delicate and imposing all at the same time.

A great English thing that really made me happy-as we were walking around Parliament to go sit by the Thames for a little bit, one of the guards opened up a gate and a cheery older guy in a suit and  his helmet on rode his bike out and away from the area. As we watched him go, Jon turned to me and said “that’s one of the MPs (Members of Parliament). Essentially, we’d just watched someone on par with a U.S. Senator ride his bike down the street on his lunch break. Can you imagine that ever happening on Capitol Hill? Hell to the no.

A smattering of post-lunch activities:

-Checking out the London Eye, which I have no plans to get on.

-Westminster Abbey. It is pretty and very, very large.

-Taking phone booth photos for Miss Marisa. I had to!

ring a ling a ling

-Shopping (not too much though!)

-Riding the Tube for the first time. It is very narrow, and the seats are a little weird.

-Sweating a lot and getting a sunburn. Again.

And the three most outstanding parts of the day-all unexpected, all very delightful.

1. Giant Canada Day in London celebration in Trafalgar Square. It was fun! Sooo many Canadians, decked out in their native colors, with a hockey rink set up in the Square, poutine (for those not familiar, as I was, poutine is french fries drenched in cheese and gravy) and  beer to buy, trivia games in the crowd…it looked like a good time. Everyone was so happy!

2. We accidentally came across the London premiere of the new Twilight movie in Leicester Square! It was crazy. Screaming chicks (and some dudes) everywhere, shirtless “werewolves” climbing on things, red carpet, the whole thing. It was intense. We hung out for awhile-I didn’t want to miss my chance to see a legitimate famous person at a legitimate movie premiere, but alas-no Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, or Rob Pattison. The masses were NOT happy about that. I definitely think it was a bit of a let down. Imagine waiting for 3,4, 5 or more hours to see these people and then the big stars don’t even come to the premiere!

3. Finally, the highlight of my day. KOREAN FOOD.  We found an amazing Korean restaurant, right down the street from the movie premiere. Jon and I stuffed our faces and got a little tipsy on good ol’ soju. Galbi, bibimbap, kimchi (which we had to order separately? what??), japchae…we ate it all till we could barely move. It was so good. I’m drooling now, thinking about it.

gumbay!

I was exhausted by the time we got the train home. It was a great day of wandering, seeing good friends and getting a taste of the city. There’s still a lot I want to do-for example, a bunch of great shows are playing in the West End, and I really want to see either Les Miz or Wicked before the summer’s out. And we didn’t have the chance to see the Tower of London either, which is at the tippity top of my to-do list. Next time!

So there you have it. Tomorrow is the 4th of July. I will be baking one of those American flag cakes with strawberry/blueberry topping,  purchasing a mini keg, dressing up in red, white and blue, and making Jon’s family run while I yell “The redcoats are coming! The redcoats are coming!” throughout the day. I’m really looking forward to it. God bless the USA~!