All of this thinking and anticipating a new trip has got me thinking about the past ones that I’ve taken. That thinking has got me thinking that I should get back to my project of sharing my travel diaries here with you all on WordPress. When we left off, my 19 year old self had just been to Australia.
I was going to Santa Monica College with my twin sister Mel and our good friend Jill. We all had most classes together and carpooled, and started to run out of things to talk about. While poking around in a map and travel shop in Santa Monica, on a whim we purchased a copy of Let’s Go! Europe and started planning a trip. That gave us plenty to talk about. It wasn’t long before our other friend Sara jumped on board. The four of us, known as Le Quad, had been inseperable since high school and had taken smaller trips together before. But this was going to be different. This was going to be huge. This was what every college student needs to do: the quintessential backpacking trip, seven weeks through nine different countries.
I wrote this in the beginning of my journal. I was so little and cute back then!
“Viaggiare e vivere”
– To travel is to live
JFK International Airport, New York City, about to take off for Gatwick Airport, United Kingdom
Friday 30/3/2007 19:42
I’m really, really tired. Cheap student tickets are cheap for a reason: Delta sucks, the seats are in the back of the plane, you get red-eye flights, and you get lovely 12 + hour layovers between LA and the UK. But it’s an adventure, and will continue to be so for the next 7 weeks as this is my Europe extravaganza with Mel, Jill and Sara.
Highlights thus far: scary Delta check-in at LAX with long lines, security people who bark orders at you and herd you through like sheep, and the lovely ominous sound of those drug-sniffing dogs in the distance: “Woof! Woof!!! Drugs! We found drugs!!!” Then we walked down this long white hall in the bowels of the terminal and a guy on one of those cart things gave us a ride. It felt like being stoned and carted off to a mental institution.
The flight was uneventful. Zac made me a plane mixed cd which was very good and wrote a poem for me which was . . . startling (we hadn’t begun dating at the time and the fact that someone thought I was cool enough to write a poem for scared the crap out of me! Ah to be 19 again with not a clue). We landed, and bumped along the subway with some very bitchy New Yorkers into the city.
It was very surreal to be in New York just for one day. Like a dream only real. It’s odd, New York was always a place I loved, but being there just made me realize how much I love LA. Strange, how one changes without knowing it. It was hard to take the city in, with the jet lag and one hour of crappy sleep and stuff. But we met up with Tess, Solange, and Rachel (more high school friends) at Tess’s lovely NYU dorm in SOHO. SOHO was such a cute, fun, laid-back part of town. We had lunch and went shopping. I bought a vintage-feeling dress that I can’t wait to wear in Europe. Then another long, crowded subway ride in which I stood most of the way and dozed against the pole thing. Jill, Mel and I checked in, which literally involved us traipsing around the entire terminal. We met up with Sara, who had a different flight from LA but the same connector to the UK. I hope dinner doesn’t suck to much and that I get some sleep so I stop feeling like a zombie.
Sutton, Surrey, United Kingdom
Saturday 31/3/2007 22:30
So dinner on the plane didn’t suck too much and I did sleep, but was still slightly zombie-ish today. The plane ride mildly sucked due to turbulence and a shaky take-off, but we are in England now!
We are staying with our third-cousins, the Huttons. They have been great to us thus far, with us taking over their living room and feeding us and ferreting us to train and tube stations and such. Their house is tiny but lovely. Sutton is very English; blustery, slow, and quaint. Very suburban as well. We had jacket potatoes with Heinz baked beans in a cafe (I love the British way of eating baked potatoes with yummy things piled on top) and took a long, breezy walk through some nice roads and parks with ponds. Some crazy English schoolgirls were wading in a river with their clothes on, and it was cold enough outside the river. The weather doesn’t seem like it will be too bad actually. I was expecting much worse.
It’s nice to see family and comforting to start off the trip with them. Tilly is 12 and hardly changed since we last saw her, and very talkative. Ben is 18 and looks different, but still doesn’t talk much. He has a girlfriend of a year. I peeked into his room, and it’s like a shrine to her. Pictures and sappy cards everywhere. We went to an Italian restaurant in Banstead called Ciao Italia after a long nap. Good food, surprisingly traditional considering we are in England. Mel and I split the fetticini carbonara and had a side salad. The fetticini had bacon in it. I used to hate bacon but now am under the impression that it makes things better. I’m still very tense right now from all the travel, but I hope in a few days time I start finding the inspiration and freedom and awakening that I seek.
Sunday 1/4/2007 20:35
Oddly enough, American Idol is on. In England. I’m such a bad multi-tasker that I think I will write later. They have their own version called “The X-Factor”, but my cousins like American Idol better.
Good Luck and Happy Travels,
Ps- I apologize for the lack of photos accompanying this post. On this trip I took black and white film photos, and my rationing of film was such that I don’t have any for this post. I must work on grabbing some digitals from my fellow travelers (I’m looking at you, Mel, Jill, and Sara!)