Sunday, December 30, 2007

London (are we there yet?)

Jube and I are still in France, but I finally have time to start writing about our trip! It has been full of activities, so that Sunday morning is the only time I have had to sit down in front of the computer to catch up.

On Saturday evening we caught our flight to Marseille. As I'm sure you remember, we had a long layover in London which required us to switch airports and amuse ourselves for 8 hours or so. To pass the time, we decided to spend the day at the Tower of London.

As you can see, the London fog really gave us the impression that we had gone back in time. It was impossible to see any modern buildings while touring the Tower of London. While the weather wasn't the best for my recovering cold or photos of the city, we had a good time taking the tube and touring a bit of the city.

The fog didn't lift all day; the closest we came to seeing the sun was when we emerged from the left luggage counter at King's Cross Station. We did not capture photographic evidence of this amazing moment.

Funnily enough, it seemed to us that most of the tourists we encountered were French. They must have taken advantage of the beginning of the school holiday to spend a long weekend in London. Every time we heard another French-speaking group of vacationers we were reminded of our final destination.

After all of that, it was time for us to take the train to Gatwick. British Air has a new option of printing out your boarding pass in advance; all you have to do is drop off your checked luggage and you can go on in. We used this option in Washington, which was great! We used the "preferred passenger" check-in line and were out in at least half the time of the normal people. However, we ran into two problems at Gatwick: everyone there seemed to have printed out their tickets in advance; and I threw away our boarding passes before getting to the check-in station.

Luckily I knew which trash can they were in, so I ran downstairs and pulled them out (in front of a couple of disgusted passengers). The line for the checked baggage was a quite a bit longer than in Washington, but we made it through. At least half of the flights leaving from Gatwick that day had been cancelled due to the fog. Luckily our plane was only delayed by an hour, which we used to try to stay awake.

We finally arrived in Marseille at midnight. My left ear was completely clogged and I was ready for bed, so when we walked out of customs to find le Parisien and Jube's Marseillais cousin with cameras flashing in our faces, I was less than thrilled. Jube was very happy to see everyone, and was in a much better mood. We finally fell asleep at around 2am French time, with Jube assuring everyone that he would be up and about by 9am. We woke around noon the next day...

Thursday, December 20, 2007


You may be wondering where I've been for the past month or so. You may not have been wondering. But if you were, wonder no longer! For I will tell you exactly where I have been and what I've been doing!

First, I had to live through exam week. I had reading, papers, exams, work... But now it's done. I have my final grades and I'm ready for vacation.

My mom came down to Norfolk last Friday to pick me up. I have more vacation than Jube does, so I decided that she could take me to spend this week in Northern Virginia with my family. Jube is still in Norfolk.

On Friday we took Mom to the Pagoda restaurant for dinner. When it came time to pay, she realized she had forgotten her purse. No problem, I can pay, right? Well, since I had recently made a purchase in the UK with my credit card (remember those 12 hours in London? I have to buy things like tube passes), my card company blocked it. I usually only carry around one credit card, in case my wallet is stolen. It didn't work out for me that night!

Jube pulled out his credit card to pay, but unfortunately it is the same account. Which was blocked, remember? So I figured I would walk a couple of blocks to an ATM where I would withdraw the money. However, since I was so frazzled from the credit card fiasco, I couldn't remember the correct PIN for my card! I entered the PIN from the card I used throughout college, Spain, and France. I lost my new ATM card in the machine. So we had no way to pay for dinner!

Let me recommend the Pagoda Teahouse. The ambiance is amazing, the food is inexpensive, and the waiters let you leave without paying if you promise to come back the next day with your *working* credit card.

I was expecting a relaxing week at home, but I caught a cold, so I've been spending my "extra" week of vacation sticking q-tips up my nose (it's supposed to get you over your cold faster... I'm waiting!), popping pills, and reading. I really hope to be over my cold by the time I get on the plane Saturday.

Vacation, I'm still waiting!