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Day 32: Closing ceremony pour moi

4 Aug

London day 3 – the return
It was a slower morning, checkout at 10:30am then off to explore before my train at 3:30.
My plan was to go to Wimbledon today and snap a few pics for my bro and perhaps get a t-shirt, but it’s SUPER far from where I’m staying (like I may have missed my train) and there was a good chance the museum was closed on Sunday. Typical Europe.
Because I hadn’t done the “touristy” things, I took the tube to Westminster Abbey.
It was really beautiful down there, as soon as I left the metro, Big Ben was staring right back at me.
I walk down the street and ask this lovely Asian daughter and father to take my picture and see the London Eye in the background.
This place is a monument heaven. Everywhere you turn, something.
I walk down and see St. Margret’s church. Totally forgot it was Sunday or I would have dressed to go to a service.
Across the street from Big Ben was this structure full of different flags from countries all over.

American pride.
The lovely ladies who took my photo were from Vancouver (Shout out to Court 1!)
There are a surprising amount of tourists from Canada here. I’ve met people from Vancouver, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
After scoping out Westminster Abbey, I walked a few blocks over through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace.
It seemed to be lacking life (guessing William and Kate were busy at the Olympics) but was buzzing with people.
It started to rain so I headed back to the hotel to get my stuff before the Eurostar train.
Picked up my luggage and got on the bus that headed straight to the train station.
Looked everywhere for After Eights but couldn’t find them. SO SAD.
Got onto the train where my neighbors were from, you guessed it, Canada.
And I took a nap.

Back in France Paris Nord was bopping and I decided to take the metro home. WORST DECISION EVER.
Totally should have opted for RER.
It took awhile but I made it back to the Au Pair household safe and sound – lacking a mobile phone.
What a wonderful trip.
Just a weekend and SO much happened.
Traveling is such a great thing, it really helps for one to be open-minded, gain inner strength, and just to know oneself better.
I’m so grateful, appreciative and blessed to be on this trip. And to be able to take it.
Part of the reason I’m writing this blog is selfish, I want to share my trip with others but it’s a great reminder for months/years to come.
If you have the opportunity, travel. If you’re scared, give it a try, go outside your comfort zone.
The aftermath is totally worth it. I feel like I’ve run a proverbial marathon, achieving something I never thought I could do.
I went into another country for a weekend, by myself, payed for it myself and managed to come back alive.
There’s a kind of independent freedom that comes through experiences likes this one.
Best trip ever. I love London.


Day 31: Theatre Geek Day

3 Aug
Day 2 in London.
I finally figured out that the air in my hotel doesn’t work  (no wonder I was so hot) and cracked open a window.
I got up early to get my complimentary breakfast and hop on the tube early to get tickets for Matilda.
For College aged individuals there are seats for only 5 pounds – a steal.
Headed to Seven Dials around 8:45am (got a tad lost) and ran into these beautiful people
Ooph. Guess I’m not getting those 5 pound tickets.
No matter.
After a little while of sitting down I noticed a coffee place nearby.
In London “Caffé Nero” is everywhere. It’s more popular than Starbucks so I wanted to try it!
Well I mostly wanted to try because up until this point I thought the place was called “Caffé Nerd” (which is still a better name than ‘Nero’ in my opinion)
As I was looking at my very tall and cinnamon-y cup of Chai Latte I realized that was a O and not a D.
It was very good! The added cinnamon wasn’t the best choice but I couldn’t hear what the male barista was saying.
Apparently “Here or Take Away?” sounds a lot like “Do you want cinnamon?” in a thick Italian accent.
*Culture note* In Europe it’s never “to go” it’s “take away” or in France “à emporter”
So I bought an Olympic special edition paper and read while waiting for the ticket office to open.
These wonderful girls from South Africa got in line behind me and we were chatting.
They just came from NY and went to an arts school in South Africa. They wanted to see what acting life was elsewhere.
We ended up finally getting to the start of the line to find out the cheapest available seats were 62 quid. Ugh.
Guess I’m skipping lunch… And dinner. For the rest of my time in London.Now that I had the ticket I rushed to get a watch (because my cellphone/only source of the time had broken the day before)
I found one that was super cute and more pounds than I hoped to spend on a temporary watch. Where’s a Meijer when you need one?
I sucked it up and decided to make this purchase a long-term one rather than temporary.Took the tube to the Globe Theatre but first stopped by St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Across the way was the path to the Millennium Bridge which had speakers on either side and storytellers/poets recite their work.
For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you may recognize this photo. I love it. What a great day.The Millennium Bride took us right to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre!
I was SOOO excited to tour the Globe. Being an avid Shakespeare fan for many years, (Yeah I took Honors Shakespeare in high school, didn’t you?) It was excited to sit in the theatre. Next time I go back I’d love to see a show.
Paired with the tour there was this exhibition. It was so incredibly detailed down to talking about the makeup Shakespeare’s Men used and why. I literally arrived about 45min before my tour started and barely had time to get through 1/4 of it. You could spend HOURS in that Shakespeare museum. It was marvelous.
Now back to the theatre, here was my first look at the beautiful globe.

I don’t know about you, but my imagination took a hold of me. I thought of everyone in Peasant costumes and looking to where the queen and her royal crowd would sit.Checking the time on my new watch, I had just enough time to by a pen and a bookmark from the store and head back to see the 2:30 matinee of Matilda.I met up with my South African friends (we had tickets next to each other) and we sat down. The set was beautiful! Glow-in-the-dark Scrabble tiles everywhere.
Now most of you know that I’m a tad obsessed with Matilda. It was my favorite childhood story growing up. I played Matilda both in a Middle School play and for my Forensics piece.
I have the entire movie memorized line-by-line. Even though I have read the book, I do not own it. (Upcoming birthday gift ideas, peanut gallery?)
Anyways, this musical was AMAZING. I would put it up there with the marvel that is Wicked. Seriously one of my top 5 favorite performances.
I can’t wait for it to come to NY and to see how they change it. I’d LOVE to see it again. I don’t think I would get bored of this show.
I HIGHLY recommend it. The South African girls loved it as well.
So worth the 62 pounds.

After seeing the musical of a lifetime, what does one do?
Wander around London aimlessly.
My Au Pair mom also wanted me to pick up some Olympic t-shirts for her nephews so I stumbled upon the Royal Opera House (One of the best places to stumble upon.)
They were letting people take pictures with the Olympic torch for free. Okay!

Sporting the new red watch, which is really cute and a totally great souvenir.
After I got the t-shirts I headed back to the hotel to chill then headed to the Prince Edward to try Fish and Chips.
Okay, this was a big struggle because I HATE fish. But this was an authentic London-ite dish.
So culture won out over personal tastes and it was wonderful! The people at the restaurant were incredibly nice as well.
I met a lovely family from Arizona and talked with them. The mom is a German professor at University and they were here for a week (I told them all about Matilda and the Globe.)
It was a great time and then I headed back to the quaint hotel.
Whew, I didn’t realize that was such a big day until typing this!
Tomorrow is my last day in London, wonder what’s on the agenda?

Day 30: London Calling!

2 Aug

I woke up early, had to drop Constantin off at school before leaving for my train to London.
A little nerve-wracking because I was not yet packed and still trying to figure out how to get to the train station.
When I finally arrived at Gare Paris Nord, the nerves began to leave.
I was leaving on Opening Day of the Olympics to arrive in London. Just outside of the games, yes, but you bet it was a madhouse.
It took awhile to get my passport checked and to fill out this paper confirming how long my stay is.
As soon as I went up to the London passport-checker lady, I got drilled with questions.
“Why are you coming to London?”
“There’s this awesome musical, Matilda at the Cambridge theater and I’m so excited to see it!”
“Why are you in France?”
“I’m an Au Pair.”
There were a million other questions but they came at me so fast I don’t remember them.
All I remember was her last phrase – “Oh, you’re only here for a short while.” She then handed me back my passport and I was free.
The backpackers behind me didn’t get questioned that harshly.
Dude. I was by myself. No one else.
A petite, blonde girl is a threat to the British government? Okay.

I finally made it to the train. There were two Swedish girls across the way (who spoke English) and they were incredibly nice.
I kind of wanted to nap, but it was great to have people to talk to.
Upon leaving the train, we were welcomed by 5 familiar multicolored rings

When I left the train, Buddy Joe was outside wearing his Hawaiian shirt!
He planned to take me to my hotel and then out to lunch – what a great guy!
So we took “the tube” (which is INCREDIBLY confusing by the way, I seriously feel like I can handle any metro system after London.)
And finally arrived at my beautiful hotel!
I dropped my bag off and we ate at a neighboring restaurant and he headed back to his hotel.
Now this was it.
I was in my hotel. By myself. No one else for this whole weekend. And I didn’t feel nervous at all.
My room was the cutest thing – here’s a photo 🙂
After lunch I got ready to go to Hyde Park (to see DURAN DURAN!)
but first, a nap.
I don’t know why, but I was EXHAUSTED. Well, I mentioned it before in my blog posts, so I guess I know why.
I hate naps. It makes me feel like a baby, but they’re so good.
When I woke up I was so out of sorts I LITERALLY said out loud, “Time to get up, Court.  ….Court?”
She wasn’t there. Because I wasn’t in Nice anymore. She was in Canada.
This was one of those “homesick moments” when a wave just smacks you in the face. But I ignored it. For the first time.
Oh right, duh Courtney. You’re here by yourself, let’s go out and explore.
On the way to Hyde Park I stopped by a small grocery store and picked up dinner (a sandwich to go, chips and a drink.)
Upon arriving at the cash register I saw this beautiful candy bar that was glowing. After Eight.

Courtney’s thoughts – Mint! They don’t have Yorks here, I’ll give it a try.
I never want a York again.
(Dear friends, please don’t ever stop giving me York Peppermint Patties. I will always find a home for them. In my tummy.)
This was AMAZING. I was full after like 2 bites, but finished the whole thing. Typical.

I ate this meal on the way to Hyde Park and found out it was 62 pounds to go inside and see Duran Duran +other artists where it was free to not see but listen to them crystal clear just outside the big green man-made barricade. Done. I sat under a tree and ate dinner by myself. Was in no particular rush until Duran Duran was finished.
I was totally content with being by myself. Something I never would have thought I would feel while being in another country. At least they spoke English.
After my meal I headed back to the hotel and continued to watch the Opening Ceremony from my cute little bed.
Tomorrow was a new day filled with Matilda tickets and the Globe theater. So pretty much it’s a theatre geek day.