woensdag 18 juli 2012

July 14th/15th: Last Minute To London, # 3

There was a big sign lit and it said “Marble Arch station closed, ask stewards for directions”
Oh nice, we didn’t even have a clue where to go, how can we ask stewards how to get there?
We quickly decided to go to Victoria Station, and not to Liverpool Station, as I seemed to remember the first one was open all night, or the busstation was open all night. I’ve been in London quite a few times during the years, but the last time has been 4 years ago already.
We didn’t want to go the airport because we feared it closed at night.(and our traintickets were for Sunday)
So we asked the stewards how to get to Victoria, and one said “you can walk, its 20 minutes that way” and he waved his hand towards Hyde Park.
Ah great, we didn’t have anything to do anyway, and as the rain stopped again, we decided to walk “that way”
I desperately tried to remember where Victoria was located compared with Hyde Park, but couldn’t make anything of it, and Alessio went to ask at least 3 times again before we left the park.
We took a little break and sat down on a bench. Felt so good. We realized we could have maybe stay in the park the whole night if it would have been better weather! Up again, every muscle hurt, onto Victoria. We reached the end of the park, and I started seeing nice things again. There was a big arch and the ports of the park were really pretty. I wanted to take a closer look, but couldn’t do that to the others, and just followed them. On the street again, I saw a map and as soon as I poined my fingers on it going “we’re here, and the station is there, so we have to go…” a guy, maybe a steward or one of the street sweepers I was standing next to, came to me and asked me where I wanted to go.
We told him, and he said “just that street, a good 15 minutes walk!”
Wait, ANOTHER 15??!!! Noooo… yes! Sigh. At least it wasn’t raining.
We crossed the street, very scary in London, looking to the right when you’re going to cross a street feels so unnatural, like you’re turning your head away while waiting for that car to hit you. I just kept looking right, left, right, left, right left, run for your life!!
Safely crossed the street, I kept looking around me, another desperate attempt to absorb as much of London as possible.
Then, just like that, A GREYHOUND BUS PASSED US!!!
I started screaming and pointing at it, the others acted like they didn’t knew me, hehe, accept for Robert who went “yep, I saw it too”
Still I think it was maybe a delirium, a GREYHOUND BUS in LONDON??? I know Robert saw it too, but maybe that was part of the delirium :-P
It was very confusing! I’ve been to London many times, but never ever saw a Greyhound bus!! Didn’t even know they operated there?
If you didn’t know yet, I love Greyhounds, just because, and everytime in America isn’t complete until the first Greyhound. But now we were in London. Weird!
We walked pass Grosvenor Place and we didn’t even knew we were this close to Buckingham Palace! (I just found out now) 

After a long walk, we reached the station, and we were so tired, we couldn even stand straight.
Plan was to find a MacDonalds that would be open all night, we found a Mac, but it was only open till 11. We went in, ordered something so we could SIT DOWN, the cute kid behind the counter talked me out of the chocolate Sunday to the chocolate toffee Sunday “because its better, because theres toffee in it, that’s why its better!” with the coolest London accent. He added extra chocolate and extra toffee and I still think he’s the best ever. I don’t think he realized how he put a smile on my face and in my heart the rest of the trip and how he was one of those little highlights you have when you go out on the road.

Sitting down with our snacks was another highlight.
We stayed until the place closed (=10 minutes) and went back to the trainstation again. All that icecream with choco and toffee gave me a sugar rush and I went to explore the station, while the others sat down. Also, I thought it was way to cold to sit down.
First thing I ran into was a CLOSED KRISPY KREMES!!!!!! booth!  And ever since when do they have KK’s in London??? Seems like I need to go back there soon.
I started to feel a bit like I was in New York, also because of the truckloads of weirdo’s that were running around there. Guys in dresses and such. Hey please go ahead if you feel like it, but don’t mind if I look twice! And lots of party people, half drunk girls in ultra short dresses and ultra high heels, with extreme make up. I felt like a hillbilly looking at all those people :-D
Crowds of people covered in mud and wearing springsteen shirts ran into the station, and we still didn’t know what to do.
Wouldn’t the station be packed with REAL strange people in the middle of the night??? Would we be safe here? We wouldn’t be warm here for sure.
If it wasn’t raining outside we could maybe walking around, but we didn’t know what the neighbourhood would be like at night, and it was raining, and we were too tired to walk around.
I slightly got the idea how homeless people must feel, but at least we kept stuffing ourself with snacks and food.

We decided to go to the busstation to see if it was warmer there, it was raining again, and being there felt very familiar. If you go to London by bus you end up at Victoria, but even if you don’t go by bus you end up at Victoria, and this wasn’t the first time that happened! The busstation was nice and warm, but there were also some creepy people. We looked around for a safe place to sit and sat down near the gate for the bus to Leeds.
I realised we could have easily booked the nightbus to Amsterdam, but we didnt think of that when we booked and we didnt know by then that we would be in time to make it. Just the thought that we could have been warm, safe, and moving towards home at the same time, made me a bit grumpy.
The bus waiting for the gate at the end said “Glasgow” and “over night sleeper” or something and we thought “ef it, lets go to Glasgow”
I kept staring at it for a long time and when it was about to leave, the driver came inside and yelled “Glasgow! Glasgow! Passengers for the overnight sleeper to Glasgow!”
His Scottish accent was so fantastic and thick, it almost made me cry. Hell yeah we were in the United Kingdom, and not in New York! I just loved everytime he came back to yell “Glasgow!”
Well, he left without us. Alessio went online and looked for cheap hotels in the neighbourhood, but all he could find was 80 pound a room, and we didn’t have that, and we already spent quite a lot.
We just sat there not knowing what to do, and getting out of mood quick.
You can guess what happened at 12 o clock, after all the buses left? Yeah, the station closed, and we had to leave.

We went back to the trainstation and we assumed this would close too. I saw a map of the neighbourhood and it had some info about and a small picture of the Westminster Cathedral on it. (Westminster is the district in London where we were) It looked like it was just around the corner of the station and I REALLY wanted to take a look, we didn’t have anything better to do anyway!? The building was beautifull (if you didn’t know, I like churchbuildings just as much as Greyhound busses ;-) I never saw a church like that before.
I didn’t say anything to the others though, and we started talking about what to do again. I was pretty sure the airport was closed, but we decided to go back to Liverpool Station at least and see. And maybe it was open all night. We went to the Underground station, and found out our last train to the Liverpool station was about to leave right now, so we flew downstairs with me in the back going “we’re never going to make it! We’re never going to make it!” Thinking about it, I don’t have much faith in catching trains. I kept on yelling this the whole time everytime we had to catch a train. But we did make it, the Circle Line back to Liverpoolstreet.
In the subway I noticed on a map, that Liverpool street station would be more or less close to a good and cheap hotel we knew. But we didn’t know if they had rooms. If we went there without checking, and we couldn’t get a room, we would be stuck in that nasty neighbourhood, and if we went online first to check, we would miss the last train there.

On Liverpoolstreet station we checked the timetables for the airport, and the first train in the morning was only at 7 something. It was not even 1 o clock now, and if the trainstation closed, it would mean that we had to spend 6 hours in the rain on the streets of a neighbourhood we didn’t know. We were getting desperate, and irritating.
A man in uniform heard us shout and walked up to us and asked if we needed assistance finding our train, as he was going to … close the station.
We looked at eachother, Fogerty was far away, I felt like I could cry.
Out of curiosity, I looked at the LAST train, that was going to Southend, and it was leaving at 0.50.
“what time is it, the last train leaves at 0.50”
“IT IS 0.50!!!!!” panic, panic, as we didn’t have any other options, though I thought the airport would be closed, as we were desperate, we started screaming at eachother, and running around looking for the platform. Alessio found it, we were passed by running people, I was screaming “we’re never going to make it!!! And the airport will be closed!!”
More screaming to eachother, and the final decision to take the train, or at least try to take it. We just didnt have ANY other options left. We started running like crazy, and only because of some drunken bimbo’s standing in the door, we made it. We all dove in it at the moment the signal went. The doors closed behind us and the train left within 5 seconds we were in it.
The drunken bimbo’s were still screaming at eachother and I yelled at them “hou je bek!!!” geezz glad they didn’t respond to that! Smart move.
Other drunken bimbos were stretched out over 4 seats, so we were forced to stand, causing slight irritations. I was so annoyed that I didn’t even wanna go over and ask if we could sit there (maybe they were just to drunk to realize they were taking up all the space) because I didnt want to sit next to them. Anne was about to start a riot, but was way to exhausted to get over there.

Around 01.50 we arrived at the airports trainstation, and when we saw a guy laying on the floor sleeping next to his suitcase, all our hope went down the drain.
The stations ward (?) was waiting for us and welcomed us. Never saw anything like that. Only in the UK I guess! He started talking: “the airport will open at 4 o clock. You can stay here for the night, if you go upstairs it will be warmer, and if you don’t come near that door, it wont automatically open. I will close all other doors, but leave that one open so you can go to the bathroom if you want too. It also has warm water and drinking water. You will be safe here, cos I got you on camera”
He pointed to one of the many camera’s, and walked us back up stairs.
The only thing missing was that he didn’t come back to bring us hot tea!
There were no benches, but the floor was extremely clean, I’ve never seen such a clean floor on a trainstation before, I pulled on all my extra clothes, rested my head on Roberts leg, layed down, and thought “this isn’t bad at all, this is pretty good” and felt asleep, until I woke up completely frozen.

I think I slept maybe one hour, and after that I was so cold I couldn’t sleep anymore. The guy who had arrived with us, was sleeping like a little princess :-) in a sleeping bag, hmpf! Time can go so SLOW!! It took ages before it was finally, finally 4 o’clock. We stood upstairs looking at the airport, there were people waiting outside, 4am passed, nothing happened, was it maybe all a lie??
Then, the doors opened. Salvation!
The airport was warm, and clean too. We went upstairs and found a spot, I stretched myself out on the floor again, earplugs in, eyemask on, gone! Robert woke me up later to say there was a line of people standing next to me waiting for departures. Downstairs then, a bit colder, no cosy corners, just slept on the floor again, until a security guy came to check if I was still alive.
I gave up and sat on the bench with the others, and we all fell asleep on and off, with our heads bouncing in every direction.

In between I looked at what was going on on the airport.
Not much!
On our left was the coffeecorner with a young boy waiting for customers, in front of us two car rental desks with a man and a woman waiting for customers, and on our right a guy with a funny hairdo in a moneyexhange booth, waiting for customers and playing pacman on his computer (we assumed).

How can I ever describe the longest, most boring, most exhausting morning EVER??

Our flight was at 13.00 hrs (you don’t have that much choice last minute) and we still had hours and hours and hours to go, and there was nothing to see here exept for those 4 people.
Spectacle! The coffeecorner boy went to the money guy to change coins!
More spectacle! The money guy left his booth and sat down in the coffeecorner for breakfast!
We wondered if he’d ever get customers, especially because there was an ATM standing right next to his booth. Who exhanges money these days? We hoped he would ever get enough customers to get a haircut :-D
It might have been after 8 allready when the first customers for the car rental desks appeared. Fantastic, something to look at for at least 15 minutes!
Later a flock of people came in dressed very sunny; on to their flights to Spain. They all looked at us, as we looked like slobs, our shoes covered in mud and everything. I was in desperate need of a shower, but I expected to be able take one at home on Saturday. 

We collected our last coins and bought a lot of snacks and coffee in the coffeecorner, (the guy asked Robert why we were sitting there all the time) and finally people started walking in and the feeling that I was stuck in some weird movie ended. Went to the bathroom to clean myself a bit up, and finally, finally, finally, it was time to go upstairs and through security. We waved our newest best friends of coffeeshop, car rental, money booth farewell but they didn’t even look up :-(

I probably slept 2 minutes in the airplane and woke up just in time to see the costal line of the Netherlands. And a windmill park in the sea, pretty cool! 

Admit that this is one of the weirdest things you've ever seen :-D

I looked at the cities down there and tried to guess wich ones, and we were back in Schiphol airport already again.

Now as we were flying Easy Jet, the budget airline, we touched down on a runway closer to London then to Amsterdam!! Robert looked at his watch, we had to “roll” to the terminal for nearly TWENTY MINUTES!!
Ofcourse now it was beautifull weather, we collected our car and drove home. Fell asleep, try to never do that as I am the one next to the driver, but it was hopeless.
We got our stuff at Alessio’s mums house, quick visit to the supermarket and went home, where my mom waiting for us, she looked after the house during the tour.
Felt funny and good to be home again! I opened kitchen cabinets just to look at my collection of food and stared into the fridge for moments. You cant believe how much you’re going to appreciate those things when you’re on the road for a few weeks!!

Then my bed, my own, nice, warm, soft, clean, fantastic, comfy bed.

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten