Sunday, July 20, 2008

First Day in Europe

Disclaimer: this post has been copied from a Microsoft Word file - we couldn't get Internet without having to pay for it was written before hand...and I was typing super fast so I wouldn't leave anything out. The grammar is awful and there are a zillion run-on sentences...but we are paying for Internet by the hour so I am going to upload this post and then save it...hopefully you can decipher my thoughts. :) Basically - we are here...we are tired....we are having fun...but we are going to bed. ASAP. Love Love Love to all. Oh yes, and we don't have a way to upload pictures hang tight...maybe tomorrow. :)

We started our journey in style. J Papa Cass won a limo ride in a raffle a few weekends ago – so we rode in a stretch excursion to the airport. Totally awesome! We flew for over six hours and here is the blog from the first day.

Well, we made it! It took forever and a day – literally – but we made it. After a long 6.5 hours in flight, we landed at approximately 6:20am local time (1:20am Jacksonville time) exhausted and ready for nothing more than a nap.

As soon as the plane landed the pilot encouraged everyone to “secure their belongings – as it is very difficult to re-enter the plane if you were to leave anything behind.” Since we were rows 4,5,and 6 from the back of the plane (Boeing 777) we had PLENTY of time to get our things together and exit. However, upon exiting and getting in line at the exchange station to buy some “pounds” –Brandon realized he left his vampire book on the plane and starts to flip out. Now – if you know Brandon, vampires are a pretty big deal – he’s totally into that kind of thing – but what was even a bigger deal was the fact that he had “disguised” the fact that he was carrying money –by placing it all throughout his book – instead of in his wallet – approximate value of the paper vampire book: $400. Nice. So, the rest of us left to make our way through customs (leaving Brandon and Mr. Cass to try to sweet talk their way back onto the plane) I assured Brandon (in my most charming English accent) that it might be his lucky day- because the cute little English girl who went back to search for his book might just be his ticket to a little European romance. (He was really not thrilled and could care less) Anyway, the book turned up – thank goodness – and we made it through customs!

We were greeted by Anderson (our taxi bus driver) after collecting our luggage –and he took us down the completely crowded streets of London at rapid speeds on the wrong side of the street – completely nerve racking. Anderson had the personality of roadkill – and hardly understood a word we were saying. For example my question to him – “So Anderson, how long have you been driving a taxi here?” was answered by “uhhh…to da hotel…bout twenty minutes”…nice. Oh well – Nate found common ground talking about ‘futbol’ and Mr. Cass kept bringing up the British Open – and Anderson acted like he knew what it was – but he wasn’t fooling any of us – British Open and golf…..we might as well have been speaking Greek….errr actually that might have been better :)

We arrived at our hotel – and our worst fears were confirmed. We were discussing the fact that most hotels will not let you check in until the afternoon – and here it was 7am ish. ….Since the hotel was booked we were informed that we could leave our bags in the guest lounge and go out for the day…..and we “ should not be afraid – we trust our guests….and no one never steal from this hotel before”. Well, needless to say, we were not doing that at all – so we decided to sit around and see if we could get into at least one room to leave our bags and freshen up so that we could go explore. Not happening. So, as Amanda and Brandon napped, Mama Cass was journaling – Nate and I took Papa Cass and started down the street in search of something to eat (hopefully a pastry). :)

We located a small little shop called Morish and boy – was it amazing! Nathan and I both had flaky homemade croissants stuffed with ham and bubbly hot cheese!! Totally awesome! After picking up some other things for the ones we left at the hotel – we headed back to see if we could get into a room. Nope. Still no room. That’s when it all becomes a little hazy for me – it was about 9am and I sat down in a chair curled up with my pillow and conked out – apparently at some point I even stood up and made my way to the couch to spread out….I do not remember this at all. BUT sometime around 1pm we were woken up by the front desk receptionist telling us that our rooms were ready. Thank goodness – for a nap AND a room – I could not WAIT to shower off and brush my teeth.

She told us that our “double rooms” were ready and gave us our keys – explaining that the key has to be placed into this little socket thing on the wall for the lights to work (I guess to save energy) – because it is impossible to leave the lights on if you want to be able to unlock your door on your return. When we opened the rooms, we were quickly informed that “double” means ONE bed over here – not two – and TWIN means two beds. The rooms weren’t exactly what we were expecting at all – in fact in the words of Mama Cass “These sure looked a lot nicer on the internet.” They are so tiny – and there is no A/C…only a fan. The bathroom is so tiny you can hardly turn around ….and the towels smell like they were folded up soaking wet and left to dry. Definitely not the most appetizing smell of all – but you know what – compared to some placed I stayed over in Mexico- My Place Hotel is five star. J Besides – we will only be in the room to sleep – and we will be so tired it won’t matter anyway! Oh yeah – did I mention its like 60 degrees over here (it was 50something when we landed) and I only packed one pair of jeans – hopefully it will warm up!! However, with no A/C the temperatures being so low at night will definitely make us more comfortable in the room – I think it is supposed to be about 45 degrees tonight….Brrrr

After a quick shower and change of clothes – we met in the lobby to walk the streets and go visit Hyde Park. It is so funny here to see all of the cars that we consider luxury vehicles (BMW Audi and Mercedes) are the everyday cars – Ferraris are on every corner – something that tickles the boys pink – and I’m not gonna lie – they are pretty awesome! We have seen several Hondas and a couple of fords – but they don’t look like the American ones.

We stopped in for lunch at “Express Pizza” where a large pizza is about the size of an American Medium – and cost 7 pounds (about 14 dollars). Then – we ordered soft drinks – at 1.95 pounds each – which included one bottle of soda and no refills. (That sure makes the 2.25 fountain diet cokes with unlimited refills seem like a bargain!) We had two pizzas to split – a pepperoni and a cheese – they were SOO yummy – not like American pizza at all! It was a super thin crunchy crust with a splash of olive oil – the minimum amount of toppings but such FLAVOR! ( I think it was the sauce) and the pizza was grilled!! MMMMmmmm

After lunch we walked down the streets just watching the people – and seeing the sights. We took a TON of pictures – and spent about three hours in Hyde Park – looking at all the memorials for Princess Diana and different nobles. After a hundred or so pictures and well over five miles of walking we headed back to the hotel. (Amanda and Papa Cass were already back at the hotel since Amanda wasn’t feeling well). We stopped at Ben’s cookies on the way back to have a snack. After what they call a “cookie monster” (a homemade cookie and a scoop of ice-cream) we finished walking “home”.

Nate and I searched for a diet coke and free WI-Fi so we could update the blog. Everywhere requires payment for Internet and the only place we found with free Internet – we can’t connect. We have been sitting in the “pub” (a bar and grill) on the corner of the street so that I can go ahead and write everything down before I forget. I’m not sure when I’ll get to post this – and I'm sorry for mom and the girls who I know have probably been sitting around frantically checking for an update. Until we can locate a free connection – it looks like everything will be typed in Microsoft Word – 5 pounds for an hour (about 12 dollars) seems a bit ridiculous.
Anyway – looks like we might have to head across the street to pay for Internet since Nate has an anatomy quiz due at midnight….maybe I will post a mini post or at least try to upload a couple of pictures…..


Susan Harper said...

Sounds like your having fun!! I miss you and love you both. Don't feel like you have to break the bank just to blog to us people stuck here in the states. We will catch up when we can. Carrie - try to behave yourself, and Nate - try to keep her out of trouble. No telling how she will start acting if she doesn't get her daily quota of diet coke. Love Ya, Mom

candace michelle said...

and i am glad you are having fun eat a pastery for me please luv you!!! tell brandon he is very lucky he found his book luck like that dosn't come very often!!!