This weekend our program split into two groups. Half of us decided to hike 10 mi through the night to camp out and touch the stones at Stonehenge. I've already done that minus the 10 mi hike, so I opted to go to London with the other half. I had a blast! It was Brian Kershisnik (the art prof) and his wife Suzanne and their two girls Eden and Leah, and Susan (welsh student, mom), Jennie (my roommate), Melissa (culture house), and George (Katy and Tom's nephew)--perfect size group. So once we got there we went to Portobello road, the huge open air market. I bought a cute jacket and had a great tomato and avocado sandwich for lunch. Then I went off on my own to the National Portrait Gallery. It's a small offshoot of the National Gallery and has tons of famous portraits. I loved it! I went nuts seeing portraits of Richard III and Sir Thomas Moore and Elizabeth I and Byron, Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, William Pitt, Dickens, George Eliot, John Donne, Edmund Burke, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Sir Isaac Newton...all the people I've read about and more. And they had these great little blurbs in each room so I kind of got to put the literature I know in the context of scientific, cultural and political history. It was so great! Then we went and had dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, Khan's (it was my third time It's SOOO good. If you guys come, we'll go).
That's when the fiasco happened. For this program we bought (meaning Tom bought with the program money) British Rain flex passes. It gives us 15 days of travel throughout the UK. We've been using them for non academic saturday trips and we go as a group (We have 18 tickets or so, and 9 tickets must travel together). This weekend we split them up so a group could hit Stonehenge, and the rest of us could go to London. Brian had the tickets, and when we got to Paddington Station to go back to Cardiff they were lost!! We don't know if they got left somewhere or if he was picked. I felt so bad! We spent the next few hours trying to find them. Brian and George went and backtracked through the day. Suzanne and I looked around Paddington--the ticket offices, the lost and found, etc, and tried to figure out how much it would be to get home. British people are so funny. Some of them were so super helpful. Others were less so. Suzanne went to talk to one of the ticket counters to see if anything had been turned in. She explained what happened and the man at the counter said "I don't think we would have anything like that turned in today." She opened her mouth to reply and he waived her on. Are you serious?! You don't think?? Well, I beg to differ!! It was so funny. Luckily the tickets are insured, so we can get them back eventually. However, we couldn't get on the train tonight w/o tickets. So, finally Brian and George come back to Paddington station (after encountering many more unhelpful people such as police men) and said that we needed to fill out a police report. So I asked around and found the Paddington police station. Of course it was closed. So I picked up the emergency phone by the door. No one answered. Emergencies are obviously a top priority in the largest train station in one of the world's largest cities. So George uses his cell phone to call this other number on the door. They talk to him for a second and then transfer him to voice mail. So I try, and they say that they'll send someone over. I wait for about 20 minutes. Suzanne goes to some lady at a counter and says " If I commit a crime will the police come?" The lady avoids the question. I laughed so hard. So we give up on that since we have about 20 minutes until the last train to Cardiff comes. HELLO! Terrorists? Are we no longer worried about those? Anyhow, we bought tickets (or rather, Brian bought tickets 210 GBS (ie around $400)) and came home and laughed the whole time.
Poor Brian. I felt bad for him--better him than me though. I bought him a Dr. Pepper. Anyhow, great times in London. I love that city.