Hi, GT! I'm home!
And now I will share the highlights of my trip, and photographs, just for you, Ubertrout. ;) This first photo is the Cardiff Castle keep.
My mom hasn't flown since 1987. She didn't know you were supposed to put liquids in a plastic bag, and she was shocked by the size of the plane windows ("They used to be so much bigger! You can barely see out of them!"). She got hit on in the airport and it was really cute. I think I accidentally cockblocked her by being worried about missing boarding, though. She kept asking people about how much money it cost to live in Britain, which I thought was sort of awkward, and generally acted like the most oblivious tourist in the universe. But I think she had fun, and she got to go an entire week without having to talk to my dad. I also haven't spent that much one-on-one time with her in about 9 years. And that was good. We did have a few really awkward conversations about religion, and it was a bit stressful at times, but overall I think it was good for us.
I underestimated jet lag. Like, really badly. I kept waking up at 3 am and not being able to go back to sleep.
People in Britain park their cars in the strangest places: on sidewalks, in the middle of the road, on balconies.... (I'll leave you to guess if I'm being serious about that last one.) And their roads are SO narrow. So here I'm driving down this road in the middle of the country and here comes this giant truck and it is seriously about to clip my bumper. And I'm driving a Fiat 500, which drives like a Geo and is barely bigger than a SmartCar, but the road is still so narrow there's barely room for two cars, let alone a truck. So I'm like, okay, don't panic, but there's no shoulder, so I'm 2 inches from the edge of the pavement going 20 miles an hour hyperventilating and the cars behind me are all honking and swerving because I'm driving like a little old granny. Then I finally get into a more populated area and there are like 15 roundabouts in a row, one every half mile, and each one has between 4 and 8 exits off it and some of them aren't signed very well. So I just go around the roundabout like 4 times before I figure out which exit to take. And in the city, street names aren't always signed, and when they are signed, half the time the signs are on the sides of buildings. And of course my mother is useless at navigation, like she can't even find her way around the city I live in and she lived there herself in undergrad, so everything from walking around London to using the Underground and the buses to using the GPS was all on me. But I did not wreck the car!
My first day there I killed my hair straightener. I didn't realize Britain has higher voltage outlets than us and I put the converter on the "high" setting. It made the weirdest humming noise and then wouldn't turn on. So the photos from the first couple days feature me with my bangs curling in 5 different directions.
But we also saw so many cool things! The Tower of London is basically everything I ever hoped a castle would be, complete with detailed graffiti left by prisoners and instruments of torture and Henry VIII's armor, which, unsurprisingly, features a very prominent codpiece. It was thrilling to see the original copy of Beowulf (although I was sad that the British Library wasn't displaying the Lindisfarne Gospels). The Roman baths in Bath were really cool. I got within a few feet of Stonehenge, but I wish I could have touched it! We took a boat trip up the canals from Little Venice to Camden Locke, went to Portobello Road Market, wandered around downtown London and discovered a bunch of little churches, and went to a production of All's Well that Ends Well in Stratford-Upon-Avon. (I forgot how horribly misogynistic that play is! But the guy who played Bertram was really cute....) I loved the Cotswolds - they were like something out of a novel. I would have liked to have stayed there longer.
This is the hedge maze at Blenheim Palace.
Oh, and I met JennyApples! She's pretty cool in real life, you guys. I didn't get to meet Applet, but I saw a photo and he is adorable.