It’s been four days since I got back from the most epic trip of my life, hopping across Europe in a tour bus with a bunch of strangers, many of whom became great friends and who I already miss dearly. And every one of those days I’ve been contemplating my “Europe Trip” blog posts, because I know how desperately so many of you want to hear about my trip, and each day that goes by I feel more guilty for not providing you every detail of my amazing journey.
I’ve arrived at the end of the thinking and the guilt-tripping and my computer is open on my lap and I’m furiously typing this out. I will apologize in advance if this/these post(s) are too detailed, or not detailed enough, or too personal, or not personal enough. I will do my best to tell you about my trip and what it meant for me, but as anyone who has had an epic experience knows, “you just had to be there.” If you have a burning desire for a particular story you feel I’ve left out and you know me in person, please give me a call and I’ll regale you with the details.
My journey began at the bus stop where I met Anna. Anna is a civil engineering graduate who I’d seen in passing but had never met until that morning. I had posted on the trip Facebook page asking if anyone was taking the airport bus service from East Lansing to Detroit and she said she would. So we booked our tickets online and met in front of the bus that morning at 7:30 a.m. We boarded the first of many, many bus rides we would share over the next three weeks.
We met most of our trip-mates at the gate, exchanged hellos and boarded our flight for what would continue our solid 24 hours of travel. After a short layover in Chicago, we boarded our flight to London. I tried to sleep. I might have gotten one or two hour-long bursts. I watched the sun go down outside the airplane window, roll along the horizon, and then come back up. We touched down around 6 a.m. London time (1 a.m. Michigan time), got our bags, met our tour guide and headed for the airport coffee shop to wait for a few more trip-mates with a flight arriving an hour later. A fun-filled bus ride through London rush-hour traffic got us to our hotel around 9 or 10 a.m. where we loaded our bags to the ceiling in their tiny luggage room and set off, zombie-like, to tour Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and various museums until the 2 p.m. check-in time.
I’ve never been awake for 24 hours before. I didn’t know it was possible for me, the person who is completely useless on less than 6 hours of sleep per night. But there I was, walking through London, awake. It started to rain in Kensington Garden and I didn’t have my umbrella. I stopped under a tree and stubbornly decided to stay there until the rain stopped. The trip-mates I was with continued on. Which was fine with me. A tired Steph is not a social Steph.
I walked through the Natural History Museum, and then the Science Museum. I looked at rocks. I looked at steam engines. I took an escalator through a giant model of the earth’s crust. I walked back out. I found a public restroom on the edge of Hyde Park and a kindly lady with a dog gave me 50 pence to use it since I didn’t have the correct change (oh how I have learned to adore free restrooms in the U.S.). I continued through Hyde Park, blearily taking photos and trying to ward off the feeling of an imminent black-out wherein I would surely crack my skull on the pavement. I arrived at the hotel at 1 p.m. and thankfully my room was ready.
My roommate was already in our teensy-tiny little room. Oh, how cute the European hotel rooms are. Two twin beds, about twelve inches apart (twelve inches! – what a luxury…more on European hotel rooms later). A bathroom with a little pedestal sink and a shower you might be able to turn around in if you kept your arms flat at your sides. Charming! No, really, it was adorable. But tiny. I crawled into my little bed and passed out immediately.
Well here I am at almost 800 words. I managed the travel story. Okay, I guess this series will be about 15 posts. I’m just kidding. I would not do that to you. Check back soon for London! and Paris! and Brussels! and…okay you get the idea.