nocertaintyonlyadventure

She was there. All pink and gold and glittery.

Your journey has molded you for your greater good. And it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.

I was going to hold off on writing this update because I wanted to be able to include my adventures with Rafael Nadal, however, fate was not on my side for this one and unfortunately, he was knocked out of Wimbledon last night in the second round by a man no one has heard of.  I don’t want to talk about it.

What I WILL talk about though, is the first week of Wimbledon.  I thought the title for this entry was pretty fitting, seeing as how the Wimbledon experience I was expecting is not the Wimbledon experience I am getting, but it is the one I was meant to have.  As you know, I was hired to run lifts in various areas of the grounds.  I was assigned to the debentures area, which would have meant 16-hour days surrounded by only the wealthiest and most important guests imaginable.  However, that all changed when my supervisor got word from the University of Westminster saying that because I am working on my dissertation, I am still a full-time student and unable to work more than 20 hours a week as per my student visa.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to rotate 20 hours per week into a job where I was meant to work 16 of those house in one day.  So, this meant that my boss needed to find a new position for me.  Turns out, the only position that could easily accommodate 20 hours a week was signing employees in and out. As a volunteer. 

Gone were my days of being surrounded by VIP guests.  Gone were my chances of networking my way to the top.  And gone was the $3,000 dollars I was expecting to have made by the end of the 2 weeks.  However, never one to give up an experience, I took the job.  And how thankful I am to have made that decision.  Although I am not getting paid, I finish work by 10:15am and am then free to use my badge as a ticket for the matches.  The public is not allowed into the grounds until 10:30am.  So I am able to choose which match I’d like to see, grab a seat and wait for the massive crowd to be set loose.  

I applied for a job at Wimbledon because I wanted the experience to be a part of the most prestigious (and arguably most well-known) sporting event ever.  While my comrades are stuck in a 4 x 4 space for 16 hours a day, I am out getting a tan and sitting courtside at some of the most exciting matches Wimbledon has ever seen.  I’ve even sweet talked my way into Centre Court (strictly a ticketed area) so that I could see Roger Federer play on grass.  My plan was to do the same for Rafael Nadal tomorrow, but unfortunately that is the one thing that has not worked according to plan.

We’re halfway through the event and it has been an experience.  I’ve yet to try the famous strawberries and cream, but it is on my list of things to do for the second week of Champs.  

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Fernando Verdasco

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Feliciano Lopez

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Ana Ivanovic

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Roger Federer

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Obviously none of my adventures would be complete without seeing my future in-laws.  Prince Charles and Camilla were kind enough to visit me at work on Wednesday.

In other news, today I will say good-bye to Tom.  Tomorrow afternoon he heads back to the States to begin a new adventure- the real world.  One that I am able to put off for another 2 months.  I will not tell you how much having him here has meant to me, as that is something shared simply between he and I, and I am sure you can draw your own conclusions.  However, it has brought light to the fact that I have 2 months left to make the most of my remaining time on the other side of the Atlantic.  But don’t worry- I’ve got plenty planned.

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I hope that you too will choose to have a journey instead of just a life. Actually, I hope it’s a full-on expedition.

There are certain adventures in life that we would be foolish to let pass by. For me, those adventures are anything involving the royal family (read: my future husband, Harry).

Today was the annual Trooping of the Colour event, which is a parade marking the birthday of Her Majesty. Although June is not her birth month, it is held over the summer in the hopes that Britain will enjoy warmer weather. This year, not so much.

As fate should have it, I was planning on heading into Piccadilly to get some new white jeans. I’m currently so thankful for those jeans because they put me right in the neighborhood of the royals once again. The RAF fly past was scheduled for 1pm and by the time I arrived in Central London I had 45 minutes to go. I decided the jeans could wait and headed off through Trafalgar Square towards The Mall. Unfortunately I missed the actual parade through Horse Guards Parade, so I rerouted myself to Buckingham Palace. After deciding I was fed up with the crowds, I thought I’d just head back to Trafalgar Square and watch the fly past from the steps of the National Gallery. But then I remembered who I am- I am not someone who gives up because of a little crowd. So instead of a right back towards the square, I restarted my mission and headed left through Green Park towards the queen.

In an effort to avoid some crowds, I opted to avoid crossing through the palace gates and instead, remained on the outskirts of the park. I wasn’t surrounded by anyone and I had a perfect, full view of the infamous balcony. At 12:57 the queen opened the doors and stepped out with her beloved Philip. I could see her perfectly with the naked eye, but unfortunately the camera on my iPad could not do much more than pick them up as yellow and red blobs, respectively. Following their entrance on the balcony, the rest of the royals processed out. And there he was in the flesh again- Prince Harry. Admittedly, I am not one of those girls who swoons over a man in uniform, but I was swooning away this afternoon. Maybe it has something to do with a PRINCE in a uniform.

You will hardly be able to make him out in the picture below, but he is the black blob to the right. And the most attractive black blob I’ve ever seen, at that. The second picture from left to right shows: Charles, Camilla, Philip, Her Majesty, William, Kate, Harry, Beatrice and Eugenie. At 1 the fly past began and was as much a spectacle the second time as it was the first. I captured some video again but I will leave the link out of this post, as the planes are mostly hidden behind trees.

Although I wasn’t any closer this time than last, I have now seen the royal family twice. And things happen in threes, so that tells me that the third time I see Harry, I will capture his attention and you will patiently be waiting by the mailbox for your wedding invitation.

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I’ll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it.

I’ll warn you now, this post has A LOT of pictures and video.  However, it is the most important (and interesting) update I’ve posted thus far, at least in my opinion and I think after you’ve read it, you will agree.

It’s no secret that I’ve got a bit of a fascination with the British royal family.  I’ve got a stack of books that chronicle the life of Princess Diana and a stack of love for Prince Harry that goes even higher.  I woke up at 4am EST last April for the royal wedding, dressed to the nines in my “country club” dress and English hat.  I can still remember waking up equally as early with my mom in 1997 to mourn the loss of Princess Diana on the day of her funeral.  A few years ago, Prince Charles and Camilla were in Philadelphia celebrating…something.  I happened to be in Philadelphia the same day looking at colleges.  (Pure coincidence, I swear.)  But once I found out, I dragged my dad to Olde City so I could catch a glimpse.  Not only did I catch a glimpse, but Prince Charles came right over and said “hello” and “good morning”.

This weekend was another big event for the royals, but this time, they were so fortunate to have me here to celebrate with them.  I’m sure my official invitation to the festivities just got lost somewhere in the post.  It is a very busy time, after all.  This weekend marked the sixtieth year that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has reigned as monarch.  Saturday was the first of a four-day celebration.  Sunday I planned to head to the river to see the Jubilee pageant on the Thames, however, my partner in crime woke up feeling ill and it was extremely cold and rainy so I decided to sit it out.  I only felt a minor hint of jealousy when I found out some other friends had gone and seen the entire royal family.  But no matter, it only made me more determined to have my own day of glory.

Last night, Monday, was the Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace.  I was not lucky enough to have scored any tickets from the lottery I entered, but I still went to St. James’s Park (surrounds the palace) with Tom to catch the event on the big screens.  What a cool experience.  Everyone was dancing and waving their Union Jack’s around.  I managed to snap a few pictures of the performances on the big screen, but it still didn’t satisfy my need to see the royals in the flesh.  Nor did the fact that Prince Harry and I watched the same fireworks after the show.  Technically, that means we watched them together.

The crowd in St. James’s Park watching the concert

Elton John performing (very quick because I didn’t want to use all of my camera memory up in one go.  You will have to copy and paste the link, I cannot embed right now for some reason): http://youtu.be/jZQlIZS8dPY

I decided yesterday afternoon while at the park that I could not miss the celebratory parade that happened this afternoon.  So, I woke up at 4:45am (after having gone to bed at 1:00am) and caught the first tube at 5:32am into Central London.  I wasn’t the only one with this idea and when I showed up at the park entrance I thought my chances of getting a glimpse of the family were gone.  After all, there were loads of us waiting at the entrance and the people who spent the night in the park were already inside claiming their positions.  There was no way I was going to get a front row seat.  This is why I have learned to never err on the side of pessimism.  Once they opened the gates and let us in, I calmly walked down the steps (unlike the others) and headed towards The Mall (the road leading straight to Buckingham Palace).  I ended up getting a prime spot- right in front.  I was elated.

At 10:15am, the royals began processing out, heading towards St. Paul’s for a mass of thanksgiving in honour of the Queen.  In the first car was Princess Anne, followed by Prince Charles and Camilla, who were then followed by Will and Kate and finally, Queen Elizabeth. In all of the excitement I realised I had not noticed Prince Harry anywhere and he was my main mission of the day.  The motorcade was a bit difficult anyway because they are all in cars and it is very hard to see inside the windows with the reflections.  All I could do was pray that the weather would hold off so that they didn’t have to use the covered coaches.  Thankfully, it did up until they made their balcony appearance.

This is what security looks like in London.

Here is a video of Queen Elizabeth leaving Buckingham Palace for St. Paul’s: http://youtu.be/uwVpSpsrUXk

At 2:20pm they started the 21 gun salute.  The first shot was so close it scared the crap out of everyone and the poor old lady next to me basically ended up in my arms.  Because of our proximity to the guns, it sounded more like cannon fire.  Next, some of the palace guards processed in on their horses.  Before I could even realise what was really happening, Queen Elizabeth was right in front of me in her coach, accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla to her left.

The horses were moving at an astounding speed, so I’m thankful I was quick with the camera.  What happened next though, was the moment I’ve been waiting for since I knew Prince Harry existed.  He was directly in front of me, one hundred percent real and in person. Wearing a top hat and a morning coat.  If I wasn’t completely smitten before, I definitely was then.  Just looking at the picture still makes me excited.  I’m confident as they went past I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face.  (I also have so much love and admiration for Kate as well, so the fact that they were together was just icing on the cake.  Will is directly to her left.)

Following the procession was the famous balcony scene, which was the moment I really wanted to see.  I was pretty convinced that I would not stay for that though.  I was so far down The Mall that I was certain I wouldn’t get a good spot.  Again, why I never err on the side of pessimism.  The Metropolitan police informed us that our section would be the first section relieved of the barricades.  This meant we were headed down The Mall first.  We were finally let loose and I was off.  If you have ever been in a crowd with me, you know how I move through people.  It’s a talent, really.  I’m never as quick and as nimble than when I’m surrounded by thousands of other people.  I managed to blow by huge numbers of spectators, even getting interviewed by a television reporter.  Hope he didn’t mind the on-the-go chat, but I brake for no one.  When I got to the top of The Mall, I had the perfect view of the balcony.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I got even closer though.  So close that the palace gates were too high to take pictures over.  So, in most of the balcony pictures, the royals are blurry because the lens focused on the gates rather than on them.  However, I got lucky with a few.

Will is situated just behind the rung between the Queen and Kate

The whole gang

He’s telling her he’s spotted me in the crowd and that he needs to marry me.

There are no words for how much I adore these two.

If I could BE her, I would.

The whole event was bookmarked by the RAF fly-over, which I also happened to catch a video of.  I apologise for the shakiness in the middle, but I had to turn around to catch the rest of the flight.

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And finally, no royal event would be complete without three cheers for Her Majesty:

http://youtu.be/g13OtPndc5U

We’re here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so that death will tremble to take us

It’s been another week full of celebrities here in London.  Last Saturday Tom and I went to a taping of “The Voice”.  We were meant to have seats but because the priority guests entered first, they were all taken by the time we got inside the studio.  So, we ended up in the dancing section, which meant we were leaning right against the stage.  I have not watched the entire episode, but we are featured here in this group performance video:

The Voice

-At 0:14, there is a guy in a plaid shirt to the left of the frame.  I am directly to his right (only the top of my head is visible) and Tom is directly to my right in a blue baseball hat.

-At 0:53, you can see Tom’s head and once the camera pans a bit more, my head is visible.

We were in other shots as well but it was too dark to make us out, I think.  We ended up seeing recordings of two episodes- one live and one taped.  Entertaining as it was, I did not enjoy standing for 5 hours while they filmed.  And this was in addition to the 3 hours that we had to stand outside while we waited to get in.  And did I mention that once the studio doors were closed we could not use the bathroom? That is the business they call show.

In addition to all of the contestants, we got to see Will.I.Am (of the Black Eyed Peas), Jessie J, Sir Tom Jones, and Danny O’Donaghue (lead singer of The Script) and a performance from the Scissor Sisters.

A few days later, Tom and I spent the day in Central and I dragged him to the premiere of Snow White and the Hunstman.  It was a last minute decision so we did not get close, but I managed to see Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.

Because I can’t get enough, on Wednesday Tom and I went to the premiere of Men in Black 3.  This one we were prepared for.  After our warm-up marathon of standing at “The Voice”, we were well prepared for the 6 hours we stood in Leicester Square waiting for the celebs to arrive.  It paid off- we got front row spots and I was able to say hello to Alice Eve, Josh Brolin and Will Smith.  No, I did not get to tell him I’m from Philadelphia (nor did I get to let him know that the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song is the only reason people from Europe know where I’m from), but I did get to say hello.  The audience went wild when he walked by our section and the poor man had enough people screaming in his face.  I figured he didn’t need another.

Men in Black 3: Blue Carpet

Alice Eve

Josh Brolin

Will Smith

Finally, to top it off, last night while I was walking around Covent Garden with some friends, we saw Imelda Staunton, who played Professor Umbridge in the Harry Potter films.  And Monday night, I will be spending a few hours with Jay-Z and Kanye West at their Watch the Throne tour.  It’s a good week to be in London.

What the world needs is people who have come alive.

I have to apologise for the fact that this is WAY overdue, but April proved itself to be a very busy and eventul month.

The first week of April meant the last week of class.  Hard to believe that the reason I came here was for school and now that part of the adventure is over (save for my 15,000 word dissertation).  I have met some amazing people from all over the world and it’s comforting to know that wherever I travel next, it’s safe to say I will probably know someone from that part of the universe.  On the last day of class we celebrated like any good group of students would…a night out for dinner, drinks and debauchery.

The following week a miracle happened.  My mom got in a plane and travelled 7 hours over the Atlantic to see me.  I think I can speak for her when I say her first trip out of the country was a success.  I’ll admit, playing adventure guide is not easy, but I’m thrilled I was able to share London with my mom.  I don’t think we’ll ever witness that kind of miracle again, but I’m happy I got to see it happen once.

After I put my mom back on a plane, I got my stuff together and five days later, put myself back on a plane.  Unbeknownst to one of my closest friends, I was headed home for a two week visit, which happened to fall over her 21st birthday.  So in quite a dramatic fashion, I turned up to her birthday dinner.  I never thought Delaware would be a vacation, but it was nice to get out of the city for a bit.  But not too nice- I was thankful to be heading back to London.

Because there is no rest for the weary, I landed back in London on May 3, dropped off my suitcase and headed to Leavesden Studios with Jordan and Tom- the soundstage where they filmed Harry Potter.  What a day.  The sets are unreal, much smaller than one would believe.  But who am I kidding, the highlight of the day was getting to put on a Gryffindor robe and ride a hydraulic broom and then put on a Slytherin robe and get my photograph on the front of a newspaper from Hogwarts.  Sometimes it’s okay to act younger than your age.

The past week has been settling back in and starting to write my dissertation.  I don’t want to think about it, but if I write 1,000 words a day, in 15 days I won’t have to think about it.  As much as I’d love to put it off, it’s not possible.  I was offered a position at Wimbledon and once the 14-hour workdays start, everything else in my life stops.  But I’m happy to sign my life over for an invaluable experience.

Here’s hoping the past month has been as eventful for you as it has been for me.  And if not, like vicariously.

Girl, take a glorious bite out of the whole world.

I realised today that yesterday marked the sixth month since my move to London.  As a result, I’d like to reflect on my experiences thus far in the form of an open letter to my parents.  They are the two people most directly affected by my decision and it goes without saying that they deserve some recognition.  Those of you reading this deserve recognition as well- thanks for following my journey and thanks for being interested.  It’s a crazy life and it’s always great to have someone to share it with.  Pedey, thanks for being the middleman- you’re my lifeline to the States at all hours of the day and night and I love you for it.

Mom, Dad:

You know better than anyone that I’ve never been one to take the easy way out.  I enjoy a challenge and stick to my guns when I see that it’s fit for me to be stubborn.  I take into consideration how my decisions will affect others, but in the end, when something catches my eye and captures my attention, I go after it, no matter the consequences.  So, when I got back from Europe in September 2010, ranting about my love for London, I can only imagine you knew the beginning of a losing battle of parental guidance was looming.

I immediately began researching ways to get to London and I think it’s safe to say that you both owe any signs of hypertension to me.  London is expensive.  It’s far from home.  It’s void of any friends and family. Who could want to lose their daughter to a foreign country?  

The grad school arguments weren’t easy- they were endless and frustrating.  “Why not Delaware?”, you said. “London is expensive, Sarah.  You will have thousands of dollars of student loans to pay off.  You can find something here and go to London when you’ve made enough money to live comfortably.”  And still, I relented.  I applied and I got accepted and you knew the end of the battle had arrived.   I was moving to London- my stubborn nature had prevailed again.

It takes a certain person to pack up her life and move to a new place.  A place where I knew one person.  A place that is located across entire oceans.  I still don’t know what kind of person that is.  A risk taker?  An adventurer?  A mature individual?  I think it’s all of those things.  But it also takes a certain kind of person allow his or her daughter to pack up and head out.  And I thank God every day that you’ve been those people throughout this journey.

It has been no surprise to anyone that this is one of the best experiences of my life.  I wake up each morning and am continually surprised by what London offers me each day.  Every experience is one-of-a-kind.  They are experiences that some people only dream about and they are constantly handed to me.  

There is nothing else in order but a thank you.  Thank you for understanding that I had exhausted all opportunities in “the place to be somebody”.  Thank you for understanding that I had dreams too big for a small town.  Thank you for allowing those dreams to take me 3, 577 miles from home.  Thank you for allowing me to travel the world and for trusting that I will always make the right decisions.  

The journey I started 6 months ago is only the beginning.  I’m still waiting for the sign that’s going to tell me where to go next, but it’s reassuring to know that you’ll be there waiting to help me figure it all out.  I know your life would be simpler if I lived in a bubble and didn’t ever have to leave.  But the reality of the situation is that somewhere down the line of genetics, I picked up the gene for adventure.  It’s our greatest difference, but I see it as one of my better qualities and I hope you do too.  

Thank you for sharing these adventures with me.  Thank you for being proud.  Thanks for the love.  It’s all reciprocal.  3,577 miles isn’t enough to prevent that.

To everyone else: follow the things that make you happy.  I used to wake up knowing that I needed something more.  I had exhausted my efforts at home and a change was imminent.  If you aren’t one-hundred percent happy with your life, change it.  If there is one thing London has taught me it’s this: the opportunity for experience is so much greater when you expand the dimensions of your dreams.

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Among the most important things we learn is this: just because we argue doesn’t mean there is no love, and just because we aren’t related doesn’t mean we aren’t family.

Here is a minor example (and a little change of pace) of how we spend our free time in London:

You’ve got to embrace the chaos so that life astonishes you.

As most of you know, I applied about 4 or 5 months ago for a job at the Wimbledon championships.  The company that runs this event will also be running the Olympics this summer.  Because I applied for a job at the tennis centre, I was also automatically considered for a job at the Olympics.  I just received an e-mail this afternoon offering me a position at the Olympics.  So, starting mid-summer, I will be an official member of the London 2012 team.  I am still waiting to hear about Wimbledon, and won’t hear until April or May, but for now, I wanted to give you all a chance to share in my excitement.

Travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

Amsterdam- the city where [virtually] anything goes.  This past week was a reading week, meaning there were no classes, so Tom and I decided to pack up and take the train to Amsterdam.  We left London Wednesday morning and had a 2 hour layover in Brussels, Belgium.  I would have loved to have spent more time in Brussels, but such is the life of a traveller.

When we arrived in Amsterdam the only thing I could think was, “we are not in Kansas anymore”.  As soon as we left the train station and pulled out a map, we had hoards of people eager to help us get to our hotel.  Of course, they are looking for tips, but it’s hard to provide money when you’ve just gotten to a city with different currency.  So, for 50 cents, we were led to our hostel.  What a deal.

In an effort to see as much of Amsterdam as we could, we stayed right in the heart of the red light district.  I definitely could have come home a bit richer, as I was offered a window and a few inquired about how much I charged.  Sorry guys, I have way better taste than what you could offer.  So interesting though, to see guys wager with girls.  It is truly a whole different world out there.

Our hostel was surrounded on every side by the infamous coffee shops.  For those not so much in the know, the coffee shops are famous for selling marijuana.  You go in, look at the menu, pick your poison, and smoke until your heart’s content.  It’s amazing what people can get away with in this country.

Because not everything can be sex, drugs, and rock and roll, we also spent our days wandering Vondel Park, the Van Gogh museum (where I bought I print of a skeleton smoking a cigarette.  I don’t know why, but I found myself oddly attached to it), taking boat cruises and visiting Anne Frank’s house.  We also went to a cafe called Winkels where, after laughing hysterically at the name, we each got the best piece of apple pie we’ve ever had.  And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like apple pie.

EVERYONE RIDES BIKES HERE.  It’s amazing.  They are literally everywhere.  There are about 1.2 million bikes in the city and only 400,000 residents.  Obviously, if I lived in Amsterdam, this would be my ride.

I have to say, I’m sorry we couldn’t have recorded the entire trip for you to view.  It’s tough to put Tom and I in one place and not have it be pandemonium.  However, thankfully we made it back in one piece.  It was a close call at some points, particularly on the night Tom almost got run over by a vespa.  It happened so fast I didn’t even have time to react.  I would have had to watch it all happen.  After re-living the entire event, the only thing Tom had to say was, “if I had gotten hit by a vespa, I would have been so sad.  And probably would have hurt my elbow.”  It’s great to know that he can be so optimistic as far as thinking that if he had gotten hit by a vespa going 60, his elbow would have been the only thing injured. You’ve got to love him.

What I most wanted to do was travel more, without an end date or obligation in sight. I wanted to wander and feel free.

Ciao!

I’m certain I was just featured on an episode of The Amazing Race.  There’s no other reason to explain why, whenever I used public transportation this weekend, I had to sprint to catch it.

Tom, Jordan, Kristen and I took a weekend trip to Italy.  We stayed in Milan and I have to say I was incredibly unimpressed by this city.  I failed to heed everyone’s warnings about the city.  Being that it’s the fashion capital of the world I thought it might have a different sort of effect on me.  It didn’t.  I have never seen a city so underpopulated.  Ninety percent of the time I felt like we were the only four people left on Earth.  I think even the sun left us behind.  It was a steady, bone-chilling cold the entire time.

We landed in Milan Friday morning and dropped our stuff off at our five-star hotel (thank you, Groupon).  Hotels make life grand.  There’s no other way to put it.  The beds are amazing.  The showers are amazing.  We even had automatic blinds that went up and down at the press of a button.  This is first-class living, people.

Because everything we do is an adventure, the check-in process was where hilarity began to ensue.  We had two separate rooms- Kristen and Jordan in one and Tom and I in the other.  Here’s a little word of warning- when checking into a hotel in a country where the language is not your own, make sure you are paying complete attention to the receptionist.  She asked if he and I wanted the matrimonial suite.  I recognised what she asked just in the knick of time and politely declined.  But when we got to our room, the twin beds were pushed together and there was limited space to push them apart.  So, we stayed “married” for the weekend.  Here were are frolicking in the square in Venice:

We dropped our luggage and headed to the centre of town.  It took about five minutes to see the sights and then we succumbed to hunger. I’m not even ashamed to say we ate a whole pizza.  Each.  It was delicious.  After exploring a bit more, it was back to the hotel- there was a penthouse spa calling our names.  Tom and I put on our bathing suits, robes, flip flops and filled scotch glasses with water and then trekked to the pool like we owned the place.  My only regret is that we didn’t take a picture.

Following our stint in the pool and the steam room, it was out on the town.  We had dinner (and very inappropriately named) drinks at a tiny bar in the centre of town.  Milan has a much different nightlife than London, but that didn’t stop the bar from playing the best songs that the 90’s had to offer.

Saturday we took a day trip to Venice.  Thank god for Venice, because it turned my attitude towards Italy around.  An amazing city, and also where the race for public transportation began.  It’s a beautiful sight to see.  When it’s warm.  And you know how to get back to the train station.  We walked around all day, wandering through the alleyways and canals.  I ate more pizza and then we indulged in authentic Italian gelatto.  As the day gave way to night, we thought it best to head back to the train.  Easier said than done.  We asked three different people in three very different parts of the city how to get to the train station.  Their answer?  Cross the bridge, turn right and just walk straight.  Those directions would be great in a city that consists of one bridge.  Venice has no streets.  It’s a city under water- there are bridges everywhere.  After an hour, we gave up and took a water taxi back to the train station.  Good thing too- we had made it all the way to the opposite side of the city.  We made it with 6 minutes to spare before our train left the platform.

Back in Milan we grabbed dinner at a very popular Chinese-Italian buffet restaurant.  This is where the language barrier introduced itself.  No one spoke English.  Thankfully everything was self-serve so we didn’t have to play a game of charades to order our food.  Despite the linguistic issues, we made out very well.  Until we wanted to pay.  The waitress came over and we asked where we could pay for the buffet.  She thought we said cafe.  So when we went downstairs to the register, there were four coffees waiting for us.  I guess that mistranslation could have ended up a bit worse.

And this morning is where the Amazing Race begins.  Our flight?  8:05am.  We leave the hotel at 6:00am.  Get to the train station at 6:15am.  Look at the departure board for the airport express.  The first train to the airport doesn’t leave until 6:45am.  It’s a 30 minute ride.  If you’ve done the math, you’ll realise that we were expected to arrive at the airport 30 minutes before the flight leaves.  Fair enough.  I’m a naturally fast walker.  We remained optimistic.  Until we got the airport and found out we had to take a shuttle to our terminal.  It’s a ten-minute ride.  We get to the terminal with 20 minutes to spare.  Jordan and Kristen ran ahead to pass through security and let the crew know that Tom and I were on our way.  First, he and I had to tackle the baggage check line.  That was 80 people and 500 suitcases deep.  With one employee. The only thing separating Tom and I from carrying the bag onto the flight was my bag of hair products.  I looked at Tom, then at my suitcase, and then at the trashcan by the waiting area.  I tore my suitcase open and tossed my (beloved) hair products away.  (They were all brand new might I add, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make to avoid paying for a new plane ticket).  After tossing the offending objects, we sprinted through the airport.  We dressed and undressed at security faster than Superman in a phone booth and made it to the gate just in time.  The entire debacle lasted 10 minutes.  I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen and I’m optimistic by nature.

In the madness of rushing to catch a flight, a lost one of my treasured faux fur gloves.  So as a result, I give you a tribute to them.  RIP, gloves:

And now, here I sit.  Delirious with exhaustion, but in my room in London.  And that’s a good feeling.