Sunday, July 17, 2011

ships ahoy!

There's not a lot to report about the Gatwick Express, except that it seamlessly takes you from Gatwick to Victoria station, and everybody falls asleep on it. It's a smooth ride and you are only disturbed once by the ticket taker, who, in this particular case, was the skinniest, creepiest Filipino on record. I made it safely to Manson Place - my third year staying here - and set up my space in Flat 2. I've stayed in this flat before - it has a very Hobbit kitchen.

I was preceded in London by Daniel Whiting, Casey Price, Jaron Hermanson, Robbie Pierce, and Heather Murdock. They were eagerly awaiting me next door in Flat 15. And by eager I mean their eyes were closed and they were in bed. But eventually Daniel roused them for a day of adventure. My goal is always to fight jetlag by staying constantly busy. It's an uphill battle. We didn't have anything planned so I presented three options:

1. We could go see Pericles in the park.
2. We could go look at some shops I read about where you can buy stuffed zebras and grand pianos. In the same shop! Real zebras!
3. We could go to Greenwich.

Everybody picked Greenwich. I was fine with that, since it has been over five years since I've been there, and I've always wondered why it wasn't very exciting the first time. But first we stopped at the Kensington Creperie, since it's the best creperie of all time and I'm not exaggerating. And we had some amazing food and some awkward service, but you always do there. They do not split checks, fyi, unless you want to split it for them. And you have to use your cell phone because they do not have a calculator. But you don't care about the hassle of the bill, because man - those crepes are amazing. We headed next to Westminster and jumped on the riverboat. I suspected it might be one of those giant floating barges packed with tourists and a guy telling canned jokes with a portable microphone. I was correct! But what I didn't know was that it would also be a Poseidon Adventure! A major storm hit just as we embarked and we feared a) capsizing and b) brief hail. While the rest of the tourists stampeded down below for shelter, the six of crammed under four umbrellas and toughed it out. Possibly the hardest I have laughed in a long time. Something else we weathered was this belligerent Russian man who wore a yellow poncho and found his way into many of our pictures:

90 minutes later we hit Greenwich and disembarked with our sea legs. The weather had cleared and we hit the outdoor market. Mostly it just made us all hungry, but luckily we found the local Greggs - a shop that sells fresh baked goods until they sell out, at which time they just close up shop. We ate baguettes and some donuts called "Yum Yums" under nearby St. Alfege church. Then we headed up a tree-lined walkway to the Greenwich Royal Observatory, a place that Dan claimed was "where time was invented." There's a median line there where you can put one foot in the eastern hemisphere and one in the western hemisphere. It's great, except you have to pay to do that. But then we found ANOTHER secret line which you don't have to pay for. It's less fancy. So it's basically the meridian line for poor people. We then visited the Queen's House and the National Maritime Museum. Here's a photo of me enjoying myself there:When we returned to the boat it had mysteriously already set sail, even though we were right on time. We were not the only ones in that predicament. There were probably about one hundred other people, including a really grouchy lady named Roberta, but we were the only smart ones who ran to get refunds from the ticket booth before they ran out of cash to give back. Thus began an adventure wherein we took a bus. Here's Jaron and me really enjoying that bus ride:

But with the refunds we got from the HMS Titanic we had money to go to Wagamamas, which you better believe we did! And then we walked through town, snapping pictures at and above Trafalgar Square, and riding in a swanky elevator that felt like a nightclub.