Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Off to London town

It's been a busy few days! Newcastle was alot of fun! We woke up at about 6 on Sunday morning to drive from Carlisle to Newcastle so Steve could run his half marathon. It was a massive event! We got there early and ate breakfast before he had to go. It was a rainy kind of miserable day but cool enough so that was good for running. His sister and I walked to see him off and I couldn't believe how many people were there! Olympic athletes and other celebrities were also competing it in the run. (We heard that Johnny Depp was there... but i didn't see him) Once he was off Sheree and I went shopping! I was pretty excited to check out the shopping and styles in England. Since i was mostly with Steve whenever we'd go anywhere i didn't want to drag him through shops while i had a look. I was also on a mission for boots! I've seen all the girls wearing boots since i got here and felt rather out of place wearing my runners with jeans every day. (I looked especially cute when i wore my skinny jeans. Just the worst style! I may be backpacking but i don't have to look like it!) I was being very practical while packing and decided on only bringing two pairs of shoes... runners and flip flops. I quickly learned that my flip flops will probably only be good for hostel showers with this kind of weather. After a couple hours and much frusteration trying to find boots for my infant feet i was successful! Just in time for us to go back and meet Steve after his run.

The next day i headed off to the train station to catch the next train to Durham all on my own. I'm proud to say that i made it just fine! I caught the right train, got off at the right stop, found the bus i needed, and found the statue (the giant man riding the horse with the really ugly hat) that Dan told me he'd meet me under at the right time. How all of that worked out was total luck! They speak English here but i only truly understand every other word so asking for directions is a bit confusing.

Seeing Dan was really nice! He told me that I didn't grow at all but that i seem more calm and sure of myself. I told him that he looks more hairy and happy than he used to be. I'd say that both of us were correct.
Since i had no expectations for Durham it was a really nice surprise! It's a very small town with a massive cathedral and very old buildings with alot of history. Dan was a great tour guide with a wealth of knowledge about the town and how things have changed over the years.  The first day i got there we grabbed lunch at a cute cafe, then took a walk along the river that runs through Durham. It was a shockingly beautiful day! My jacket was hanging over my arm for most of it and i could have gotten away with wearing sunglasses because the sky was so beautiful and clear.

The town is mainly a university town and classes start next week so it was very quiet. I think i preferred it that way since i don't really like crowds of people very much anyways. It was kind of nice to take pictures and not have any people in the way. The cathedral was beautiful! I wasn't allowed to take pictures but i made a special case to remember as many details as possible. By the way, Dan informed me that the cathedral is where Harry Potter was filmed - Trac and Cait, that little tidbit was for you. We were walking down one of the halls and Dan spotted a little bat on the wall. I don't think i've ever examined a bat so closely before but it's wings were really cool! Then we saw another bat just doing laps up and around the hallways. I think they were confused because it was the middle of the day and a very sunny one at that! I thought they were supposed to be creepy little nocturnal creatures!

For dinner he took me to this really nice restaurant called zen. It was the first actual service i've experienced since being in England. Also, the first time that the servers didn't look like they hated their lives and would rather be doing anything else other than talking to me. Kind of refreshing! I had a really nice pad thai which made me very very happy since i've been craving thai food since i got here. Since i only have a couple days left i really need to find an indian restaurant to eat at. Jordan's mom told me before i left that the indian food was excellent so i guess i better try it out!

While i'm on the topic of food, one thing i found very untrue since i've been here is the myth that all English food is bland. So far it's been alright! I've mainly tried to eat traditional english breakfast as much as possible but everything else i've had i've really enjoyed! I'm so happy that i'm not a picky eater... makes life so much easier. A few days ago when Steve and i went for breakfast i apparently made a very difficult request - I asked for my eggs to be done over hard. The man taking my order looked at me with raised eyebrows and just stared at me for a while. I then asked if i was allowed to order my eggs any other way than just fried... had to explain to him what over hard meant and he told me he'd see if they could do that for me. I guess i was being a high maintenance, diva customer but i really don't like my eggs runny!! They managed to make them right and as far as i know it didn't kill anyone so i was very happy with my breakfast! :)

Also, i love love love the coffee! I'm not totally sure why i find it so much better than home but i can't say that i've had a bad cup my whole time here. It's also very cheap for Starbucks type fancy drinks... baristas are everywhere! Tim Hortons?? What's that?!

At the moment i'm on the train for a 3 hour journey to London. So far, no one has painted a very great picture of London for me so my expectations are super low. It's probably best because then i'm sure i will love it even more. Everything is such a novelty to me and i've really enjoyed seeing the variety of places I've been to in England. Steve has arranged for me to stay with one of his friends while i'm in London which is very nice of him! I spoke to him the other day and he said he would be more than happy to show me around and see all the big sights. I really have been lucky so far on my trip with my own personal tour guides and a more local view of England! So i'm not quite sure what's on the agenda for tomorrow but i know Buckingham Palace is definitely on the list! Lets just hope i have nice weather like i have the last couple of days. I woudln't mind if England made everyone a liar about it's rainy reputation. I've think i've seen enough rain so far and am ready for a little bit more sunshine. I think my tan has literally left my body running and screaming since I left my Canadian summer. I feel like i look a bit sick but im definitely blending in even more now with the rest of the country - boots and pale skin! Next all i need is to turn into one of the crusty English girls i've seen who wear 10 layers of makeup on their face and horrible fake eyelashes coated in way too many layers of mascara with dirty messy hair. (haha i wish i was exaggerating!) Meh! To each their own i guess??

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