Monday, June 23, 2008

England (Part I)

After I left Galway at 6:00 in the morning, I traveled by bus all the way across Ireland back to Dublin. I think I got to Dublin at about 4:00 PM. It was the longest bus ride of my life. Then I hopped on the ferry and rode across the Irish Sea over to Wales. This was the only point in all my voyages that I was ever in Wales. It became a running joke between my friends and I. We would be discussing weekend trip plans, and someone would suggest Wales. Then there would be a pause. Then someone else would say, "Let's go to Italy." Then the joke became "Let's go to Wales." "No one goes to Wales!" Maybe you had to be there. Where was I? Right, in the ferry. So I got off the ferry in Wales, and interestingly did not have to go through any sort of customs-type area. So I don't have a stamp in my passport for the first time I entered Great Britain. Wacky.

So here's where things got really fun. I couldn't check into my summer session in Brighton until the next day, and it was about 6:00 or 7:00 PM and I was in Wales. All two of the hostels anywhere near the station I was in were completely full. Maybe it was even as late as 8:00 PM. I ended up catching the last train out of Wales to London. When I arrived in London, it was to Euston Station, which is ghetto as hell. Like, creepy ghetto. So I took a bus over to Victoria Station, which is where I needed to go to get a train to Brighton anyway. This whole thing was way more dramatic at the time. I was constantly on the phone with Mama, and we were both freaking each other out about where I was and what I was doing. As usual, she was much more freaked out than me. So anyway. I took a double-decker bus across London.

I'm glad that the first time I did that it was dark out or I may have had a panic attack. So I got to Victoria Station at I don't even know what time. Late. Very very late. Or early, depending on how you view time. I asked around and discovered that there were not many hostels in Brighton, and the chances of me finding a bed in one at that hour were exactly zero. As far as staying somewhere in London, the only places with vacancies were fancy hotels, which I couldn't even begin to afford. So I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I was stuck at the train station until the next morning. After traveling alone for two weeks already, I wasn't too fazed about sleeping on train station chairs. Then I had a bit of a rude awakening. It turns out that Victoria Station has a huge problem with vagrants, so they kick everyone who is not getting on a train right now out of the station at night. So I spent my first night in London here:

(Obviously we went back later to document the place) There were lots of other folks out there with me, stuck in the same situation, and there was a guard monitoring the gate literally three feet away from me. But still. Major suckage. The entire city of London becomes a wind tunnel at like 3:00 AM. It was freezing cold. I kept pulling various articles of clothing out of my backpack and putting them on. Finally it was morning and time to get on yet another train, this time to Brighton. It may have had something to do with sleep deprivation, but I was not paying attention to the stops for the train. Instead of getting off at the station that is literally across the street from Sussex University (where I had summer session), I took the train all the way into Brighton itself. Then I had to take about three buses back to the university, and I still ended up walking a long, long way. Finally, after over twenty-four hours of straight traveling, I arrived at Sussex University and my very own flat:

I nearly wept with joy.

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