Sunday, December 30, 2012


London is just as fantastic as I remember it. We awoke this morning at 7:30, and though I would have liked to have stalled and stare wistfully out of the window, I was forced to rush downstairs to the breakfast room. My parents ordered the full Welsh breakfast (they gave me their blood pudding) while I ordered the smoked haddock with poached egg. My mouth still waters at the mere thought of it. The waiters and waitresses were all extremely kind, offering smiles wishing safe travels in their lovely Welsh accent, which I believe could make even the cruelest of words sound delightful. My father and I decided to stretch our legs before the long car ride, so we went and explored some of the trails neighboring the ocean, and along the way we stumbled across a quaint little light house. The little lighthouse was rather short, but still offered some stunning views of the water and the very edge of Borth-Y Gest. Near the end of our little excursion I found a way to the small tower that I had seen the night before, but unfortunately I couldn't go inside (of course this was discovered only after climbing the treacherously rocky hill). When we returned to the hotel my father settled our room at the front desk (leaving a hefty tip), while my mother and I quickly finished our last minute packing up in the room. Yesterday a kind Welsh woman recommended that we find a way to go to Black Rock Sands beach, and so as I packed I was under the excited impression that we would be going there. The farewells were quite sad as we waved and shook hands with all of the amazing people we had met, yet there was also the bitter sweet thrill of heading to London. As we were opening the doors to the car my parents told me that we would not in fact be going to Black Rock Sands, which was a great disappointment. My parents chatted cheerfully as we left Portmeirion, but as we drove farther and farther away from our little new-found Utopia I sunk lower and lower in my seat, both in exhaustion, and in sadness. While I was certainly excited to be going to London, I was heartbroken to be leaving Wales, as suddenly the inevitable end of our trip seemed hauntingly near.
I slept for a good portion of our six hour car ride to Heathrow airport, though I do know we stopped three times: twice for gas and once for a loo break. We managed to not become completely lost as we made our way back to the car rental place, though indeed we all gave a collective sigh of relief when we pulled in under the green "rental returns" sign. All seemed to be going well until the severe inspector was examining our car and found a scratch on the back left wheel. My father had to pay a 30 pound fee, and then an absurd fee for having to pay a needless to say he was furious. My family and I then boarded a shuttle to take us to Heathrow airport so that we could take the Paddington express into London, only to find that the Paddington Express had been renamed the Heathrow Express. Then of course, because it is a vacation of the Kinley's and bad luck seems to follow us no matter where in the globe we attempt to hide in, we were told that the new Heathrow Express was not operating. After standing for a moment or two in the center of the airport station my Father cursed under his breath and made the executive decision to take the underground to Russel Square, so we ventured over to buy our tickets. the ticket machines weren't working quite right however and so we needed the help of a very quick ticketing lady. From that point everything seemed to be going swimmingly, that is until we reached the underground gates. It was there that we discovered from an Indian man that many of the train drivers were on strike, and that Russel Square was not operating. Why the ticketing lady didn't tell us this when were were actually buying the tickets, we don't know. My Father began to panic, but the Indian man remained calm and recommended we take the western line to Hyde park and then a taxi to our hotel. Faced with no other alternative (the tickets that cost 15 pounds expired today) we did.
On the train my father grew increasingly concerned as to the amount of people that would be inevitably getting off at Hyde Park, and so I suggested that we get of the train a station earlier at Knightsbridge. Surprisingly he agreed. We rode the train for about an hour (standing the entire time) until finally we reached Knightsbridge and hobbled up the stairs and escalators into the street. Once again my father panicked slightly and my mother had to try and calm him down. There in the hullaballoo of the street we walked blindly through the throngs of endless crowds in the faint hopes of hailing a taxi. It took us a few minutes but finally one came gallantly to our rescue. in the back of the taxi we drove through London, which is one of my favorite feelings on the planet. There is nothing better to me than to sit in the spacious black back and gaze out the window at all of the bustling people and shining lights and cozy restaurants. The emotion that swells within me is one of absolute joy and comfort, a fantastic pang of feeling like I'm home. The cabby was excellent and took several shortcuts to our hotel, taking us down new side streets and showing off a side of London different than what I had noticed in the past.
Our hotel is quite large, while our room is quite small. On top of that you have to pay 60 pounds for five days of wifi, or 15 pounds for one night, which is ridiculous and I refuse to do.
After relaxing for a brief while in the hotel room we decided to walk towards Bloomsbury Park Hotel and the small Indian restaurant next to it that we adore. We walked through the streets, surrounded by the lights and smells and wide sidewalks and raucous sounds, and everything that I love about London suddenly hit me like a car crash. I was happy. Dinner was absolutely fantastic and perhaps even better than I remember it being...we ordered samosas as an appetizer, Lamb curry as my meal, and finally trufuto (tartufo) for dessert.  Paying was a bit of an adventure and my father was embarrassing in how he handled his annoyance with the system of paying, but when we finally were able to leave we went to the Brunswick shopping center to make sure that Carluccio's (one of our favorite restaurants)  was still there. It was. My mother made herself comfortable in the hotel, but my father and I were restless and so we flung our coats back on and took an absolutely delightful stroll.
When we came back to our room we relax for a while until both of my parents went to bed and I took a long, hot, shower. I now lay in bed listening to the muted sounds of London outside my window, combined with the wheezy snoring of both of my parents. I can hear the bells of a nearby church, and the flashes of whirring sirens, mixed with the constant undertone of rain against the window panes.  I am in London, and I am blissfully happy. Everything that I obsess and worry about is an eternity away, completely incomprehensible to this moment.

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