4:45 on Wednesday, March 14th
Subject awakes with a start.
Thanks to my loving alarm clock’s batteries lasting the entire night and alerting me that it was indeed the day to begin Emily’s Tour of the World. The journey began with my meeting the Alpy bus guy out front in the driveway, the inexpensive shuttle service that will magically transport anyone from doorstep to airport so they don’t have to rollerblade my way across Europe with an overstuffed suitcase. The driver claims he sent me an email stating that he was coming 15 minutes earlier than originally planned, though I still do have proof of this email, and I feel like it definitely should have gotten here by now. Needless to say, I was late, and probably the cause of someone missing pre-flight cigarette or breakfast sandwich before boarding. Together, we carried his stressed out self down the mountain, into the still sleeping Chamonix to pick up more passengers. Chamonix was still dead to the world in a deep slumber by the time it hit 7am. Every winding street we went down, not a single coffee shop appealing to the bleary eyed, hurried business men…no 24-hour convenience stores here, and not even an early morning Happy Meal from Mcdonald’s. Little did I know, I would soon be exposed to cities great and small, awake and asleep, bustling and bumbling. As I make like Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat Pray Love for my own little amateur rendition and unedited New York Times’ Bestseller. I have yet to come up with the title for this journey yet, although I am sure it will come to me after. I’m seizing the day for the good chance to get away for a couple days, say that I saw a bit of Europe, and come up with something cool to talk about at dinner parties….not that I get invited to any dinner parties, but in the off chance that I do.
First stop, England. Well, that is, if they let me on the plane because my bag was too full…I managed to talk them into it by sitting on the bag and precariously hiding my second carry-on under my shirt. Then I had to talk my way out of the 20 questions we were playing at the customs gate. “Dudes, I know I look suspicious, but honestly…you simply must grant me access to your land. Wanna hear my best imitation of your English accent!?” My friends Chris and Jamie live here in the land of Anglo-Saxons and cross their hearts hope to die here as well. Not any time soon, but you get the point.
After a not-so-warm-welcome from the customs gate, I crunched into my friend’s tiny car (again, the problem was not so much the car but the size of my “handbag”) and sped off to the city of Milton Keynes, just outside of London. I wasn’t about to tell him that he was driving on the wrong side of the road, because it looked like everyone was doing the same thing. I don’t know how they got so many people on board to go against the grain like that…really bold moves.
While in England, I felt like I was in the United States because finally people were speaking English to me! Granted, it was a more accentuated (no pun intended), less grammatically correct, yet simultanesouly more proper form of English. Other than people driving on the wrong side of the road and having roundabouts rather than intersections. I wanted to hop on the bus that said “Peterborough” and have it take me home. I literally felt like I was in a giant US shopping mall. This place has been described as the test grounds for evolution, a culture where they are trying out the latest and greatest in new technologies on their citizens. They even had an INDOOR ski place. Yes, inside the mall; downhill skiing. I know they came first and so really Americans are the ones who have it all backwards and roundabout and such, but it must just perpetuate my American-ness because I think we have some things going right for us.
Even though going there made me realize that England isn’t exactly MY cup of tea, I did get to finally have a decent cup of one (there isn’t the best tea in France, but I suppose they can’t have EVERYTHING going for them). I also got a great idea to write a weight loss book and title it: Losing Lbs in London because I lost about 5 pounds with all the walking that we did in London, and the COLD air, and cold showers, and eating infrequent meals, and just plain old steering clear of culinary disasters like “pig’s blood pudding”. The highlight of my trip was that I got to pee in the toilet in a real, honest-to-goodness castle, and got an amazing chiropractic adjustment at ML Chiropractic in London. I also got to see some great modern art at the Tate Modern and watched a seriously messed up movie in a cinema about a group of out of control high school students from Pasadena, California.
I noticed the English have a love for their land animals; all of their authentic pubs and shops have animals in the title of them, “Ye Olde Swan” “The White Horse” (though that could have been referring to something else rather than just drinks and edibles) “The Cock” “The Bull”. I was trying to think of whether or not we do anything similar to that in the States. But my mind drew a blank; actually…my mind drew a blank for a good portion of the trip as I was trying to wrap it around the fact that clicking my heels three times would STILL not get me to Kansas. There is so much to learn about in this world, my brain runneth over with knowledge after just a few days! By the time I left, I really was “Minding my Head”.
Sticking with the theme, the lessons I learned on this short trip came to me in a rather roundabout way. All in all, I was happy to arrive, and happy to depart. The sign of a successful venture.
“Don’t give into your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” –Paul Coelho (The Alchemist)
Prochain arret: Barcelona!!!
Although, I have to sort out which language I am speaking before I get there….