Saturday felt like our first true day abroad. We went to a rugby match with Brett and his roommate at Twickenham Stadium. It was called the Rugby Sevens, and a lot of teams from around the world come to play each other. It was kind of like a tournament. The USA was there! We went 1-1 for the day. We never got a chance to truly watch them though; we were out of our seats walking around for most of the time. We went on a 2-hour journey for beer with some fish & chips.
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But we met a lot of people. It was the first time we felt immersed into English society. The rugby match was “safari” themed and everyone had some kind of costume. Except us. Way to blend in, huh? The best costume we saw were some dancing shrimp. Or maybe a guy petting a horse, in a horse costume. There were some costumes completely unrelated to safari too, like superheroes and cows.
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Everyone was fascinated with our “accents” and asked us a ton of questions. Some of the best conversations were about:

-A man dressed as a lion: “How many people do you have in your basement?” (This was after we told him we were from Ohio. The news about the Cleveland kidnapping travels far.)

– Our education system. They think its amazing and found it very fascinating. We just told them its extremely expensive and a lot of students are in debt right now…

– They always asked what the weather was like. We told them it wasn’t as shitty as theirs, but for the most part, Ohio weather can be unpredictable and rainy, too.

– A zebra asked us about our beer. They assume we only drink Bud Light and Coors Light. We informed that there are far better beers that don’t taste like warm piss. But those who tried the Bud Light said they liked it. I think they thought it was our national beer, which I guess to other people it may seem like it.

– They assumed college is exactly how it is portrayed in “American Pie”.

– We were asked if we were cheerleaders because we were blonde. That was a new one.

– A pair of crocodiles thought we were 20.

– Two guys dressed as Waldo asked us if we like cider and if we played beer pong.

– Along with fish and chips, we also had our first meat pie. It wasn’t anything either of us would ever eat again. But the fish and chips were amazing! Or we just had the drunk munchies…

The crowd at the rugby game felt like similar to a crow at UC’s Homecoming game. Everyone was drunk and happy. The bathrooms were in a pretty disgusting state and the beer lines were long. It rained for most of the game but we were lucky enough to be under cover for a majority of the game. We even saw some streakers during the Canada vs. Kenya game. I think that was the loudest the crowd had been. Everyone always rooted against France, New Zealand and Australia.

After the game, we took the train back to London and posted up around town for some free wi-fi.

Turns out there is blue sky and sun in London! We found it on Sunday.

We bought an all-day underground pass which really paid for itself. We visited the British Library (looks like the Hamilton County Library), the British Museum and from there walked to Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens. 20130513-144707.jpg
The Kensington Palace was nothing to brag about. We walked past it a few times because we didn’t think it was actually the palace, it wasn’t impressive. We even walked through the front yard of it and still had no idea it was the Palace. We did manage to snap one decent photo from the side where the gardens were.

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But honestly, Buckingham wasn’t anything spectacular either. They look like government buildings, and there are far more beautiful buildings in London.

We visited a rooftop garden in Kensington, with flamingos (quite a life, right? Living on a roof in London…), beautiful water features, trees and flowers. But it started raining when we got up there (surprise!), and it was technically closed for dining to set-up for an evening event.

We took cover in a pub called The Goat Tavern. It was established in 1692, and was the oldest pub in Kensington. The fish and chips didn’t even hold a candle to the fish and chips at the rugby match, but the bangers and mash were pretty good. They also serve mushy peas, pickled onions (which Cori didn’t try) and shrimp scampi (which Cori couldn’t eat either). There is a sauce there called HP Sauce, its like a tangy barbecue sauce made with ketchup and malt vinegar. And they serve their “chips” (fries) with barbecue sauce which is yummy.
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A few observations we noticed while walking around on Sunday:

– The telephone booths are now port-o-potties. Jordan went in one for an obligatory photo op. She shared a booth with two styrofoam cups of pee.

– They have a true appreciation for typography and literature. Also, their Underground is branded really well. Not to mention its the largest system in Europe, according to Brett. It was really easy for us to navigate, too bad we don’t have anything like it back home.
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– If you just order a black coffee, its called an Americano. Cori kept running into this problem. The English prefer their lattes and gourmet options. Jordan also had black tea and it was delicious. The English know tea. Obviously.

– Children ride on three-wheeled scooters, usually tied by a leash and being pulled by their parents, to keep up with them.

– Trash cans are few and far between. They have a huge recycling effort, but we actively saw people littering everywhere.

– Beyonce is everywhere. Every street corner had a half-naked Beyonce adorned in an H&M swimsuit.

– In tight squeezes, spiral stairs circle clockwise. We learned that this is because, in the olden days, a defender could wield his sword in his right hand.

– Something that could be confusing for the average tourist: Most people pass on the left, so the sidewalks were always a mix of people walking on both sides in both directions. We learned that the English use the left side because of the tradition of jousting.

– The measurement of 12 inches for one foot originated from a statue’s foot at the base of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

When we returned to Brett’s to retrieve our bags, we headed back out into the rain and, unbeknownst to us, a total mayhem of a Sunday night. We’d consider this our first travel hiccup.

Long story short, the night ferry was full. Keep in mind, the ferry is as large as a cruise ship, so we thought there wouldn’t be any problem getting on. When we arrived after a 2-hour train ride to Harwich International Port, we had to turn around and make the same trip home. We went to bed around 2:45 a.m. and woke up at 5:45 a.m. to head back to Harwich via the same train. We’ll consider the night before a dry run… The English countryside was really pretty. But that was about it. We ran into an older American couple and a Canadian couple that were making the same journey as us.

We’re on the ferry now! The English Channel looks like the ocean, as expected. But it looks cold. We’ll be in Amsterdam later this evening. We’re looking forward to our stay here!

Love you all.

Always craving spontaneity (even with a few road bumps),
C&J

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