International Travel

A bit of American Invasion

Hola, hola. Lots has happened this past week!  I headed to London on Friday during their winter storm of the season.  After landing in the afternoon, I headed through Customs. I didn’t think I would have any troubles getting into London.  I was wrong. I was detained in London Stansted for 3 hours. I waited over an hour before I was fingerprinted, had a photograph taken of my face, and went through an extensive interview.  Turns out, I’ve overstayed my time in Europe. Being an American citizen definitely has some unfortunate consequences, not being allowed to stay in Europe for more than 90 days at a time. Being a citizen of the EU would be much easier.  Finally after three draining hours, the woman interviewing me let me go and actually felt bad that I was detained for so long over something so minimal. I had my flight details to go back to the United States, so that had me in the clear.  But, now I’m in the UK Government system…

After that chaos, I was headed into the center of London.  I checked into my hostel and treated myself to a pint of Chicago’s own Goose Island IPA.  The hostel had a great social atmosphere and a bar in the basement. I instantly made some friends within the hostel, but as we were all tired, we just stayed in the hostel bar and had a few (too many) drinks.  I had a busy weekend coming up anyway!

I woke up the next morning feeling great and ready to explore!  I went with my two new friends to the main “tourist” area of London and saw the covered up Big Ben, as it was being renovated.  I then walked off on my own as I wanted to explore the city as much as possible in very little time. I didn’t want to do the main tourist stuff.  Though, I shortly found myself on Oxford Street, the main shopping area. I walked on it for 10 minutes but then felt super overwhelmed and had to get off the street, where I walked up to Regent’s Park and then to Primrose Hill.  Unfortunately, the weather was cold and the sidewalks were full of slush. But that didn’t take away from the beauty of the parks. I must go back in the Spring or Summertime. It seems like the perfect place to have a picnic and read a book.  I had messaged my friend Agne, that lives in London however she was moving this same weekend I was there. She moved to the Camden area, and I was within walking distance to her. After my visit to the parks, I walked to the Camden Market and explored that lively area for the first time since 2015.  It was CROWDED with people, everywhere. After 30 minutes, I was content. I got myself a slice of veggie pizza and walked my way to Agne’s. I arrived at her new flat, and instantly became jealous of her prime location and spacious bedroom. She was exhausted from moving all the boxes, so we just talked over some tea.  It was great to catch up and we had dinner plans for later that night. I went back to my hostel to rest a bit, before getting ready for dinner and drinks. Agne, her two friends- Louis and Chee, and I all met up at Salt n Pepper, a Pakistani fusion restaurant. We all ordered curry dishes with rice and naan. We shared it all.  It was amazing and I truly miss the spicy-ness. Spain hates spice. Following the dinner, we went out to a bar in the SoHo area of London. Always a good time getting down to the hip hop from the early 2000’s! I also have another friend, Theo, who works at Bar SoHo, the bar right next door from where we were! I had met Theo in Manchester on my weekend trip in October.  Of course I was determined to say hi to him. Theo let us in on the guest list and it was good fun too! So nice to see another traveler at work 🙂

Sunday was my last full day in London.  Upsetting, but I will be back there, no doubt.  I got up early and headed to the London Bridge tube stop.  I explored that whole area down by the river, and walked across London Bridge. I then walked to the Brick Lane market, which is one of my highlights of the trip.  I wish I would’ve spent more time at this market. I breezed through it as I had to make it to lunch with Agne far from where I was. I got really frustrated when I couldn’t figure out the tube as there were many cancelled tube lines. FINALLY.  I made it to the right place, and Agne and I had the traditional English Breakfast. We wandered around a bit in the neighborhood before heading to Tate Britain Art Museum to check out the exhibition. Following the wicked art, we were exhausted.  I headed back to my hostel and Agne headed back home. On my way home I got a doner kebab and ate in in my hostel while chatting with new people and enjoying their company. I truly love hostels.

Monday morning I left the hostel at 6am.  I had to take an hour train to the airport.  I got to the airport in a breeze for my 9:45am flight.  Though, the flight was delayed a bit. But I made it back to Spain easy.  I didn’t get questioned at Customs at all.

It feels good to be back “home” in Spain.  However, I also realize that I need to start organizing my time here in Spain.  Because in reality, I don’t have much time left! One month from today I am flying to Scotland where I will spend 5 days before flying back home.  Also within this month I’m taking a 3 night trip to Madrid, followed by a camping trip with the familia.

This weekend I’ll be staying here embracing the time with the family as a true member of the Catalan life.

Stay tuned 🙂

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