I'm not the type of person who sits down and cries, but if i were, i would have done so a number of times on Friday.
The short version is: There is something wrong with the fact that i left Oxford around 7am and arrived at Canterbury Cathedral around 5pm.
So, i thought it would be a good idea to check into Millennium Lodge in the morning because then i could go to Canterbury, maybe have dinner in London, and not worry about checking in (i had already booked online).
It's about 2 hours to London from Oxford on the bus i took. And it drops you off on the side of the road somewhere. Millennium Lodge says, "call for a free pick-up from Victoria train, bus or coach station" so i just called, not looking to see where i was. The driver -- who was very nice -- knew the coach station, so he told me to get directions to Elizabeth Street and he would meet me at the station there. I got some horrible directions and a lot of "This is my first day on the job...." I eventually found the coach station (oh and pretty much right after i left the phone booth i learned that i was on Bressenden Place), probably well after the driver had left, and the phone there wouldn't work. I found the rail station, called from there, same deal. (I would get through all the calling card procedures, but after i dialled my number it would give me dead air and weird noise.) So i took the underground to Kensal Green (which is quite a ways out). I check in, learn that my room literally contains a shower stall -- full door and everything, but nowhere to change out of view of one's cohabitants -- and that the bathrooms (which have no instruments with which to dry your hands) overlook a cemetery (prompting me to think they got the land real cheap because of that and thus can charge low room rates, though later i think about expanding cemeteries in Norwood and think that any active cemetery would be unlikely to sell off any land it owned). I ask for a shuttle to Victoria coach station, am told that it just dropped some people in Victoria and will probably stay there until it brings some people back -- that's how it operates apparently -- and i'll probably have to wait about an hour. If i'm in a hurry, the nice man gives me bus directions. This involves 2 buses and ends up costing me £1.70 total (underground is £1.60). I wait in line forever (duh, Friday afternoon, lots of people traveling -- this didn't occur to me until i was in line, though) at the coach station and around 1:45 have a ticket for a 2:30 to Canterbury. We crossed the Thames, and it reminded me so much of the muddy Mississippi. I saw some people in horse-drawn carriage being escorted by bobbies on horses, and i regretted not taking a picture, but i was hot and tired and feeling a bit ill (on the bus ride to London i was cold; on the bus ride to Canterbury i was hot; i was wondering if i really was getting ill or if the buses were just weird). When i arrive at Canterbury (another 2 hour bus ride) the nice lady gives me directions to the Cathedral.
Margot said Canterbury Cathedral is awesome, and i suppose she's right, but i'm not sure i would say it's worth the 2 hour trek out from London. The ceilings are amazingly high, and the crypt below goes on impressively far -- i especially liked all the side chapels -- and the grounds surrounding the cathedral are spacious and lovely.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,(Looking at the Latin and English versions of the Grace while standing in line for dinner here one day, i learned that "Amen" actually has a translation.)
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I got a little lost getting back to the station, but actually i knew what i was doing better than i thought i did, which was comforting.
On the bus back to London i was feeling very frustrated, though. It wasn't really a big deal that i'd spent all day traveling, because i didn't have any other plans for the day, and the money i spent traveling between Kensal Green and Victoria came to little more than the difference between my Millennium Lodge price and that of nearer hostels. I was feeling frustrated, though. I just wanted to get back, but i didn't like Millennium Lodge that much, so really i wanted to be back at Oxford, but it would be really nice to be back at real home (my hair always feels sticky like i didn't get all the shampoo out, and there's nothing like having only a half a dozen of your favorite shirts to choose from to make you hate them) but what is real home? Smith is the closest i have, but that involves schoolwork, which is part of what's currently wearying me about Oxford. I've actually missed my parents a couple times since i've been at Oxford (and haven't missed the library -- what is wrong with me?), and been annoyed that with a 5-hour time difference i can't just randomly call, but Norwood has long since ceased being home. I really don't have a home. I look forward to the time when i'll have all my stuff in one place, all settled in -- none of this partially packaged due to frequent traveling stuff. Recently i'd been thinking that people like Caroline seem to have a good group of friends here but are still homesick, whereas i don't really have any solid friends here but haven't really been homesick. On the bus, though, i was lamenting the fact that i have no real group of friends to hang out with anywhere. I have so many wonderful friends that it hardly seems right to complain, but i definitely cried on the bus. I know so many people who have serious problems, but you know what, i'm allowed to get bent out of shape over my problems sometimes, too, especially after a long day.
Let your love cover me,I found my way to the rail station fairly easily from the coach station and thanked God that despite everything, i still had a reasonable handle on what i was doing and that i was still safe and that i knew i was well-loved and all that. And when i got outside after my underground trip the weather was so beautiful and it just felt like a moment of grace.
Like a pair of angel wings,
You are my family,
You are my family.
The child who played with the moon and stars,
Waves a snatch of hay in a common barn,
In the lonely house of Adam's fall
Lies a child, it's just a child that's all, crying
Let your love cover me,
Like a pair of angel wings,
You are my family,
You are my family.
I slept well, managed a morning shower, got free toast for breakfast, and wrote a lot (something i hadn't done yet that particular travel excursion) waiting for the shuttle, which got stuck in some insane traffic (I asked around 8:20; it was expected at 9; it arrived around 11.) and the nice Millennium Lodge guy was really nice and embarrassed/apologetic. Maybe i got it all out of my system yesterday, but i was very blasé about the whole thing, and everything ended up working out fine.
I saw some of the changing of the guard. And honestly, it's pretty boring. Is it cooler if you see the beginning? because i came in around the middle, watched for about 5 minutes, and then moved on.
Boston can get away with bad streets and few signs because it's relatively small, but London reminds me of NYC only no grid and few signs (endemic of all England). It's funny; sometimes there are street signs on nearly every corner, and there are lots of those black arrows to places of interest, and other times it's very fend for yourself territory. I managed to find both Sir John Soane's House Museum and the Tate without too much trouble, though, and i've definitely gotten the hang of the Underground. I was underwhelmed by both and am glad to be back "home." [The first room i walked into was the Making British History room, and that was the best. Waterhouse's Lady of Shallot. Sargent's Lady Macbeth. Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (which i could have sworn the MFA had) was somewhere else, but that was also a highlight. There was some really great stuff in some of the other rooms, but generally, like i said, underwhelmed. The title of the Wolfgang Tillmans exhibit -- If One Thing Matters, Everything Matters -- makes me want to check it out, but every time i view modern art i am reminded that i much prefer the "classic" painters (Monet, Sargent, etc.). And £4?]
I've taken a good amount of pictures and will probably take more, but it was occurring to me that i took almost no pictures in London and why that is. People take pictures as remembrances of where they've been as well as to tell the story of their travels. The classic pictures can be found in any book and say nothing about my trip. What's important to me and unique to my trip is the stories. That's why every time i start thinking about the scrapbook i want to do it's full of text and not so many pictures.