May 30, 2018

England Day 10-York to London

Ah the last morning in York. Which meant our last B&B breakfast. THE SECOND B IN THE NAME. WHICH MEANS IT'S CRUCIAL.

It was diggity. I mean duh, full english, and all the orange juice. I stole a croissant and banana for later. Because I like to live on the edge of the kitchen chair.

We finished breakfast, checked the train times, and proceeded to check out of the b&b. I handed them a wad of cash and felt significantly light headed, but still breathing. I tried to negotiate a deal with the lady of the house but she wouldn't give me a deal. However, she did knock of 15 pounds since I didn't know you had to let them know (which I had) ahead of time to receive the discount. Oh well.

With 15 pounds in my pocket (joke), we rolled our bags down the leaf covered sidewalks, every then and again getting leaves stuck in the wheels of our suitcases. Luckily it wasn't raining. We just had to dodge pedestrians and little children. But we made it to the train station. And we were golden.

We were extremely unsure if we were catching the correct train since it was sleek and black and it didn't look like the other trains. But everyone seemed to board it just fine. So after my sister asking 4 different times and checking multiple times, we boarded the train. We sat in a quieter part of the train with, what I can only assume was school children. I checked our ticket seven hundred times to make sure we wouldn't be thrown off the train, and when the lady came around to check our tickets, nothing happened. So we worried for nothing, as per usual.

We arrived back in London, and raced back to our friend's place. We had to wash our clothes and make sure we cleaned his place before he came back that night from Japan. We are psychos/real good humans so we like to make sure people's homes look lovely. Therefore it was the fastest and most efficient wash and dry, and cleaning we had done. We completed all our laundry, and cleaning of the place and even made it to and from the store in 5 hours. We were exhausted. But clean.

I had been texting my mom throughout the day whenever we had service. See, this was the 4th of October. Which meant the next morning we were going to Paris for the day to celebrate my sister's 30th birthday, but it was a surprise. When we made it back to our friend's place I asked my mom if I could give my sister her card, or if they wanted me to video call them. They did. So after cleaning and chilling, I gave my sister the card, and my parents just sat by the Eiffel Tower with their friends, and wine, and cheese, and bread. She opened the card and was so confused because it said we were going to Paris in the morning. She had no clue what was going on and it was hilarious. Then we had to explain the plan to her three times over and she got really excited. Then we discussed options for the day and the fact that we had to be out the door at 5 AM to catch the early morning train. We were excited to see our parents and to just casually go to Paris for a day. Couldn't wait!

----A while later, after talking to mom and dad, our friend let us know he was about 30 minutes away.------

We hid when he came home. He had been texting us to give us his ETA. So when we heard the door jingle, we hid and when he walked through the door he goes, "Darlings, I'm home." We stayed hidden. We don't know how to greet people.

After a bit, we shouted WELCOME BACK! And then the three of us hugged and laughed and then quickly left for dinner. But this time closer to 7PM. Because we wanted to fit in. It was a good thing I gave my sister the surprise trip card, because our friend, who I had told the surprise to months ago, asked her if she was excited to go to Paris. He said he forgot it was surprise, but all was good since she knew already. She was still confounded that we had pulled a surprise off.

We headed to Duke's for dinner. It was a pub close to our friend's place and he was a regular there. We had been there before and I had also googled the menu before hand since I have dietary issues and hate having to pick and peruse menus being all indecisive. My sister on the other hand, she takes so long to decide you'd think she was being asked to choose between sleeping or music. We ordered drinks, and when it came time to order food our friend says to the waiter "I'll have_________, and these two will panic order." Yep. That is what happened. A true friend.

After dinner, we opened the wine which my sister and I bought to welcome our friend back. We had some wine, caught up while ballads were playing on the stereo. And then my sister and our friend started singing some Moulin Rouge, followed by Wicked. And my goodness I felt like I was at a broadway show.....

I don't think I slept much that night because I really missed my parents. And also baguettes.

England Day Nine-York

On our last full day in York, we kept it pretty chilled. I was feeling like a cold was on it's way due to the fact that my sister had been ill and she's real good about keeping germs to herself. And so I stayed in bed after breakfast and she went to York Minster to have a tour ( I had already done this tour when I visited with my parents in 2014.) I went back to bed and slept for a little bit, while she toured. When she returned we did this stuff....Instead of going to see these gardens that my sister desperately wanted to go to (they were closed due to the day of the week), we decided to visit the Yorkshire Museum. It's smallish and hold loads of artifacts. We spent a good chunk of time there. My sister obviously felt the urge to try on the viking costumes which had me in laughing fits for the majority of her dress-up. It was a bit colder that day, and overcast so after the museum we went back to our b&b, grabbed a cup of tea and biscuits and headed back out to walk the York wall.

The wall was built a zillion years ago, and since my sister likes to read me facts out of Rick Steves tour guide book I was thoroughly day dreaming about other things such as tea, and outfits that I'd like to buy someday.
I got a bit loopy on the wall, my sister and I were some of the only people walking the wall therefore, I found it a perfect opportunity to make another video of different ways to walk. My sister joined in on the fun and we were beside ourselves with how hilarious and clever we were. When strangers would pass by we would act "normal". We walked the wall for a long time, so long that I felt like we were in another town when we came off the wall. We were not.

We walked through a part of the city I had not been over to, we took loads of photos, found plaques and little gardens. Ogled over old churches and buildings (which is really ridiculously easy to do in England because everything is worthy of ogling.) We ended our walk by locating as many stores along the way to see if they had caramel digestives or aero candy for our sister. The best thing about going north from London is the cost difference. SO. MUCH. CHEAPER.

We filled our bags with our purchased goodies, and then argued over where to eat for dinner. I wanted a pub, but not. Annie did not want a pub, but wanted something like pub food. This is why our walk was so long post-wall. We couldn't agree upon a place to eat. We passed by a Primark and I had had enough of pulling my jeans up over and over again, so I bought an XL belt since I was desperate and the other belts looked cheap. Bought a belt. Saved my head from constantly being annoyed. And we walked back outside to still not decide on an option for dinner.

We decided on Pizza Express after 832 hours.

When we eat out we like to separate ourselves from the locals and eat dinner at a very cool hour of 5/6 PM. Yeah, the dining hall was empty. But our food came fast. BEST DECISION FOR DINNER, PIZZAAAAAAAAA. And wine. Obviously.

We went back to our B&B to have an earlier night for packing purposes, and to binge watch First Dates. Excellent choice. Oh and then we facetimed our parents for an hour, they were in France and heading back to Paris the following day, we were heading back to London the next day.

We were all packed and ready for bed by about 10, and off to slumber land we went.

January 2, 2018

England, Day Eight-York

On our second day in York, and our first full day to explore, we decided to tour the city. We first filled our stomachs full with the ever so wonderful english breakfast and tea. We stole two croissants for later (and by stole, we just took them off our plates). We then headed back to our room to finish getting ready.

We had to layer up quite a bit as York was having a particularly blustery day, but the sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful blue. We did the local tour where locals guide you through the city, filling you with information about the history of York. It was almost a 3 hour tour..completely outside but absolutely enjoyable. My parents and I did the same tour 3 years ago, but we went when it was during rain and windy, let's just say the tour was much much shorter. So I learned a lot more this time around. And we even went into a middle age church that had the original box pews. It was beautiful in an eerie yet wonderful way.

After the tour, my sister and I decided to find somewhere to eat. We wandered the shambles and tried to not run into the loads of people that were everywhere. We walked and walked and walked and couldn't decide on where to eat, that was until we passed a small tea room that no tourists were in. So we stopped there, ate tea cakes and drank tea. We tried to warm up a bit since it was slightly chilly outside. After lunch, we had planned on visiting the viking museum as it was recommended and my sister and I are extremely into Viking stuff (thanks The Last Kingdom). It was a bit tricky to find, but we located it, and were greeted by several viking dressed men, who scared me a bit (thanks The Last Kingdom). The museum was awesome, it had a ton of relics, and then you get on a ride to tour the "Viking Village" that used to be in York. It was like riding a child's ride at the fair, very slow, and very calm. But a great way to get off our feet and learn about the vikings that once lived in York. The ride drops you on the other side of the museum where you can view skeletons (my personal favorite). We even got to hold some viking relics. SO COOL. It was super fun!

Once out of the museum, we wandered around the town again. I think we were looking for something, but not sure what we were looking for. We ended up in a Tesco Express because we needed more snacks and wanted to find caramel digestives as we were finding it tricky to locate them. I think we ended up buying waters, candy, and more digestives. Then, outside we went. We still had daylight and some time before our dinner plans. The train museum (as it's free and super cool) was next on the list. It was a bit of a walk to get there, and Annie didn't believe I knew where I was going, but I knew. What did she know though, she had never been there before and I had...basically we found it.

We ended up getting there 30 minutes before close, so the viewing was speedy and brief. But we saw a load of trains, and they were the same as the one's I had seen before, obviously. We left the museum 5 minutes before they closed. We walked back to York and decided to go to The House of Trembling Madness for dinner. IT IS THE COOLEST PUB EVER. I had been before, which is how I knew where to locate it since it's hidden and not a ton of tourists know about it. Basically you walk into a liquor store, past the till and up the stairs. And then you are taken back into this other world. It's like medieval ages all over again. You have to be aggressive with your table choice. No one will greet you and no one seats you. So if you see someone moving, GRAB THE TABLE! We ended up in the snug after an hour of waiting and another couple stealing the table (they came in well after we had been there). We ordered our food and drinks. Then waited, what seemed like another hour, for our meal. But it was soooo worth it. I ordered the beef and lamb stew complete with hearty bread and a glass of wine. I can't remember what Annie ordered but we were both full to the brim and ready for sleeping forever. I began to not feel super great by the end of the evening, so we called it a night and after a shower, I climbed into bed to watch another episode of The Great British Bake Off and Come Dine With Me. Annie decided she would head out that night to go to the pub for their music night. I stayed in bed and tried to sleep.

She came home about 11 PM and said she had an awesome time at the pub, which I was relieved because I was playing visions of her being kidnapped or feeling alone the whole time she was gone. So phewwwwww.

And I still didn't feel too great.

December 23, 2017

England, Day Seven-York

Ah the York day.

We woke up a bit tired and a bit sluggish, but we had a train to catch and no time to doddle. We made a quick breakfast and skeedoodled out the door with luggage in hand. We caught the tube, to the train, caught the train, and sat down relieved that we had made all the right transportation options.
The train was a bit rocky and we ate our food immediately, but other than that it was a great train trip. The countryside was absolutely gorgeous. Annie read up on some Rick Steves travel stuff while I listened to my music and stared out at the sheep and cathedrals gracing the hillsides.

Two hours later we arrived in York. And I knew it would be much colder than London, as previous experience 3 years prior (I was wearing a dress and had to do a quick change in the restroom.). We bundled up a little more and headed out to find our b&b. It always feels awkward dragging one's luggage through the streets and trying to navigate your way past slow and fast walkers. But we managed, through chattering teeth, we managed.

Once we made it to the b&b, and had a slight awkward interaction with the employee, we put our bags down, had a cup of tea, grabbed another layer of clothing and decided to go wander the town. I believe we went to the shambles, and just walked around taking loads of photos. We had 3 nights in York so we felt less pressure to see everything, plus I had been there before, so I had a slight handle on what we needed to see.

After wandering for a while, we went to York Minster for the evensong service. Which we were late to. But it's okay, we just had to wait for everyone to enter the church (choir and leaders) and then we climbed into the back of the church. We sang beautiful hymns and just took it all in. It was absolutely wonderful.

After the service, we were absolutely starving. We couldn't decide where to eat, but we ended up finding a pub on the way back to our b&b. Funny thing, we stumbled into the exact same pub that my parents and I had stumbled into on our first night too. We grabbed a table, and ordered some fabulous food. I ordered a curry dish, Annie ordered something else (I can't remember). We each ordered from the bar as well, cheers ourselves and continued with announcing loudly and as often as we could that we were sisters. The bartender was massively attractive. And then I realized he looked exactly like a guy I dated and I was like, oh that's why I think you are attractive. Cool. But wait, YOU'RE BRITISH. EVEN BETTER.

After dinner, we headed home, stopping off at Sainsburys to get some nibblets and peruse the aisles. We didn't find much but we found some stuff. After that, we headed home and watched some classic british television, facetimed our parents who were in France, and then we hit the hay. We had a busy day planned for the next day. But the first day in York was a success.

Love that beautiful city.

December 18, 2017

England, Day Six-Salisbury to London

This was our last morning in Salisbury. We had to catch an earlier train back to London as we had plans to see our friend that night and the following day we were headed to York. But here's what the day looked like...

We had packed our bags the night before, so there was only a short amount of rummage and bed checking before checking out of the b&B. BUT FIRST BREAKFAST! We signed up for an earlier time to eat since my sister desperately wanted to visit the Saturday morning market. We devoured our breakfast, chatted with the other guests at the table, and then checked out of the b&b. They kindly allowed us to leave our bags as we meandered through the town. It was bit colder that morning and so our walk around the market was quick. We didn't end up buying anything but we did enjoy people watching. We headed back to the b&b after an hour, said our goodbyes to the hosts who then told us, "You were such kind girls, your mother would be so proud." I love b&b hosts so much! We thanked them, and off we went to the train station, this time a bit more confident in the direction we needed to head and much more aware of traffic patterns...always look right then left.

Once we arrived at the station we weaseled our way to our platform where there was a very large crowd of people waiting, we had no where to sit and had about 45 minutes to wait. A lovely couple moved their stuff over and offered us a seat (I feel like this is a rarity in England, like people are wonderful and much more manner oriented but still I appreciate the gestures greatly). Our train arrived sooner than we expected and on we went. We found a table seat (WOO WOO) and put our luggage on the rack. YAY! Let's go to LONDON BAYBAY!

After 2 stops, the train was jam-packed. I forgot it was Saturday, and that well we were headed into London with the rest of the Southern folks. It was unreal how crowded it was. Two elderly women got aboard and my sister very kindly offered them our seats. This was after about 10 minutes of her whispering to me "Should we give them our seats? I think we should. Should I go ask them?" I retorted with, "Yes we should, but wait until they've moved down a bit as you cannot get their attention. It'll be fine we still have another hour to London." Eventually we caught their attention and they were ever so grateful. I was ever so grateful not to sit across from teenagers who looked annoyed the whole train ride. So there my sister and I stood for the next hour. Our bodies wobbling back and forth, being squished into men and women. Grabbing seats or anything to help hold me steady. One stop before the London stop nearly 1/2 the passengers disembarked. Which was such a relief. We snagged two seats and felt less wobbly. 10 minutes later we arrived at Waterloo.

The traffic and chaos at the station on a Saturday was very undesirable. We lost each other for a second and then regrouped at the underground. Unfortunately, the line we thought we would be taking was closed, hence the mass crowds and annoyed faces. We found a different route, a much longer, a transfer loaded route, but it would have to be the option since we had a long journey anyways. We survived it, and luckily made it back to our friend's flat in one piece, sweaty and tired piece albeit but a piece nonetheless.

We were absolutely exhausted from traveling and so we made ourselves a cup of tea and toast and settled down to watch The Crown. We also cleaned up a bit, removed items from our suitcases but didn't entirely unpack as we were heading to York in the morning. We just had some down time. It's very likely we did something else, but I think we decided to lay low since we hadn't really done that at all. We made plans with our friend David, to meet in Shoreditch after his acting class. Since we didn't have service outside of wifi we had to make sure we had all the plans set before setting out for the evening. We got dressed (as shoreditchy/londony as we could), put some face on and looked much more human. And off we went!

I hadn't seen David since my study abroad days 3 years prior, and my sister hadn't seen him since 2012 when we went to England and stayed with him in Cambridge. Here's the thing about David, he's an absolute gem. Like hilarious, but also like a little brother who just likes to be the trouble maker/annoying one. He's basically my sister in male form. So obviously once we met 5 years ago, we were like uh yeah this'll do. We adore him and could not wait to see him.

We waited outside the studio for what seemed like ages. It's all good, except a man came up and hit on us and we couldn't not look at him I mean he was in our face, but we tried our best to brush him off. We also realized we would NEVER be cool enough for Shoreditch. Like people are ridiculously cool, hipster, homeless, 90's grunge mixed with 60's vibes up in there. Nevertheless, we were there. David eventually came outside, we nearly leaped across the road, hugged and then immediately started in on the sarcastic remarks and laughter.

We headed to Wagamamas for dinz. We all ordered the exact same thing because we are identical. Chicken Katsu Curry obv. We chatted for ages, finished our meal and then it was on to a night out. Annie and I had not gone out in London yet this trip, so we were thrilled to be back in it again. David wanted to take us to a cool rooftop bar. We knew it would be pricey, but we were also like "When in Rome." Plus the view was stellar. And then it rained. So after about 45 minutes of sitting in the small drizzle and freezing, we decided to head inside. And then we decided to leave. Because 28 pounds for two drinks is not worth the view.

We found a random bar for the evening where there was loads of young folks like us and a jam packed bar. It was a blast and a half. We played foosball, had some drinks, laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. Until about 1 AM, to which we decided we should catch an uber and head home. And so we did. It was a hilarious evening and such a great catch up with our friend!