London Calling

15 Feb

One of the best things about studying abroad in Europe is that you can just jet off  to anywhere in Europe at the drop of a hat – like some juvenile delinquent who’s just trying to run away from their past and head for a brighter horizon.

As it turns out, I am a pretty sucky juvenile delinquent. I’m more like a toddler delinquent…cute but not very high-functioning. Goo goo. Ga ga.

Seriously, though, you’d think that someone who has traveled quite a bit would know how it works. But there are still some key aspects of voyaging that do not come easily to me.

Let’s start with the packing. Last Friday – two hours before we were supposed to leave for London – I decided to take a little siesta fall into a coma for exactly two hours.

But luckily, I had packed a week before and was all ready to go opted to save packing for the last minute because packing is like a fine, red wine – you have to give it time and space in order for it to be good.

(If this metaphor holds true, then my “packing process” equates to a box of rosé that you drunkenly found lying on the subway and decided to drink anyway because, um, you were drunk.)

Given all the givens, I’m sure you can tell that asking me to pack a *small travel bag* when I’m dealing with post-nap delirium will inevitably result in a bag that looks like a misshapen potato, and a room that looks like Filene’s Basement after a Christmas sale.

What was ironic about my “chic yet practical ‘grab n’ go’ suitcase” was that I packed and re-packed it THREE TIMES so as to really “pair down.”

I had to let go of so many wonderful things…

And yet, I still left for the airport carrying a misshapen potato.

When I got to the airport, my friends just thought I’d “accidentally over-packed” when they saw my suitcase. Probably because I pretended that I really just had nooo idea how my bag had become so full!

It was an Oscar-winning performance on my part. In reality, I knew that I’d packed some highly unnecessary and superfluous things. 

For example, did I need a pair of running sneakers and a full urban-athletic wardrobe? No. Did I need an eye mask, a week’s supply of earplugs, and some mystery vitamins that I found in my desk drawer? Debatable. What about my extra comfy socks with the red frills, my hardcover romance novel, or my pillow that says “Born to Shop”? No. No I did not.


(Can I just mention that Selby had managed to pack four days worth of things – as well as her laptop – into a tiny handbag. I made fun of her at the time, but she ended up really pulling through for me in the end.)

My bag dilemma was just the first of a few travel maneuvers that were less than well planned and intelligent.

The second would come later, when Selby and I decided to go to a night club on our own, without working cell phones, without a set of keys to our apartment, and without any knowledge or understanding of London’s public transportation.

There is such a thing as “spontaneous fun,” but this was more like spontaneous stupidity. The club was great! But when we emerged, it was pouring rain and we had nothing but a hazy memory of a map we saw on her friend’s phone.

We walked up and down the street looking for the correct bus stop…which we conveniently passed THREE TIMES before realizing our error.

Luckily, there was a McDonald’s on the corner, so we could drown our sorrows in a Three Piece Chicken Select, some fries, and a McFlurry. (The McFlurry was kind of watered down by the rain and our tears. They really should put covers on those puppies.)

By the time we finally found our stop and made the long walk home toward the sketchy neighborhood of our residence, we were cold, wet, and sleepy.

And in need of a key, which we obtained after banging on the apartment door and waking up poor, sleeping Alex. 

The next day was bright and sunny! We spent a great deal of time in a market and ate about twelve servings of various free samples. It was a very rewarding experience.

The rest of our friends were due to arrive that evening.

Six o’clock rolled around…then 6:30pm. Then seven.

With no way of contacting our friends, we decided it would be best to just sit in the empty, sketchy apartment and wait it out…

…while drinking a plethora of hard cider and listening to the “What a Girl Wants” soundtrack to quell our irrational fears about kidnapping and train hijacking. 

When Matt and Caroline FINALLY got to the apartment, we were overjoyed! Mostly due to relief, but largely due to cider.

The rest of the weekend was super fun. On Saturday night, Dylan, Stephanie, Matt, Selby and I went to a hookah bar. Or, as the professionals – like myself – like to say, a “shisha” bar.

The art of  “shishing” is not for the weak. It is a pastime that hinges on focus, drive, and finesse.

Here is an example of successful “shishing”:


Just look at that technique. Well done, Dylan.

On the other side of the spectrum, there was Selby:


 A burst of giggles and lung pain.

 And then there was me:


A shameful display of confusion, pain, and embarrassment. I did not have skill. I did not have finesse.

I did, however, have drive and willpower. I continued to shish until I finally mastered this intense poker face:


Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is a shisher.

(As a side note: you know you’ve met some great friends when you yap on and on about “shishing” and make a million and one “shish” jokes, and they still accept you into their social circle.)

When we left for the airport the next day, I was sad to say goodbye to London. It is such a fun, beautiful city!

I was also slightly overwhelmed because the bag on my zipper broke, and the less-than friendly ticket-taking man at the airport told me I “couldn’t have a bag and a purse,” and that I would need to “consolidate.”

And guess who had room in her tiny bag? Selby. So, I shoved a shoe and some miscellaneous beauty products into it, and we were on our way.

I’d say our first spontaneous travel adventure was pretty successful.

Next time I decide to jet off? I’ll shove my stuff in a grocery bag and never look back…

…Unless I forget my “Born to Shop” pillow. In which case, I’ll just have to turn around.



3 Responses to “London Calling”

  1. Hima Rajana February 20, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    You have the funniest writing voice- love all of your sarcastic comments! I’m sorry your first night was so scary, but all’s well that ends well, right?

    Stopping by from the HCBN group of Facebook, hope you can come say hi too!
    xo, Hima
    Hima Hearts

    • sophpearl February 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

      Thank you so much, Hima! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ll definitely hop on over to your blog. It’s so fun to read new stuff!

    • sophpearl March 10, 2014 at 9:18 am #

      Thanks so much, Hima!! I’ll definitely stop by and check out your blog. So glad we can connect through HCBN. I look forward to reading your stuff!

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