Wow, well today was the definition of bittersweet.
I had the time of my life in Germany, and I’m so thankful that I was able to get a glimpse of Mara’s world and for our friendship to grow, just as we have individually over the course of the five years since she lived with me. It’s also enlightening to meet friends of friends, and in this case humbling, as all of her friends are also in med school. On top of that, they are med students speaking to me in their second language and were still able to have incredibly thought-provoking conversations with me. Yet, they’re also super fun, and taught me some German slang (in case you were wondering, their word for horny is synonymous with awesome, so everything in Germany is horny). Last night as I thought about leaving for London, I found myself not ready to go because it was so fun and I have grown comfortable there. Nevertheless, I’m obviously super pumped to be in London! For any of my new German friends reading this, I’ll miss you and thank you for sharing your world with me – it was so “geil” 😉 Tschüss!
A train ride later and I was at the Hanover airport. I was a bit confused at first, but then realized I needed to take the elevator up to get to the gates. I must’ve been looking up because, next thing I know, my boot and suitcase have made friends with a pile of poop. I’m hoping it belonged to a dog, but I’m not sure why a dog would be flying. It was a crappy start to my travel, pun intended.
The plane ride was uneventful, but the London Heathrow airport presented new surprises (though not as smelly). I passed the time in the incredibly long passport check line talking to a man from Arizona who travels the world judging equestrian shows. I know I was just talking about how great it was to get to know people from other cultures, but I must admit it was comforting to talk to someone in my same dialect.
Getting my passport checked left me feeling a little tense and feeling like I was going to get in trouble. It’s like when a parent yells your name and all of a sudden you think, “Oh my goodness, what did I do? I don’t remember doing anything…” There was absolutely no reason why I wouldn’t have been allowed through, yet the poker face from the woman checking my passport was not the Midwest hospitality that I’m used to, and that left me feeling a bit uneasy.
After retrieving my luggage, I searched for where my hotel shuttle would pick me up, but didn’t see anything except a Hilton. I asked a woman at a Hotel Reservation Information desk, and she said my hotel doesn’t have a regularly scheduled shuttle, but I could call from a pay phone. Yes, I used a pay phone. Unfortunately, turns out my hotel doesn’t have a shuttle at all, so the receptionist offered to call a taxi. I asked if there were any other options because that sounded expensive, so she gave me instructions for the underground.
I awkwardly made my way through the underground, after needing assistance scanning my ticket and figuring out which direction I needed to go. Once again, this trip is incredibly humbling. Luckily, everything is in English now. Once I got off at the directed spot, I left the underground and suddenly had this sinking realization that even though the receptionist told me where to get off the underground, I had no further instructions. My phone usage is limited to when I have a Wifi connection, so I was calm on the outside (I think), but slightly beginning to panic on the inside.
Luckily, I remembered what people did before smart phones — human interaction! The man who worked the convenience counter at the station gave me directions and offered to call a taxi to pick me up. I asked how much it would be, and he called to find out, only to report it would be 8 pounds and they wouldn’t be there for 20 minutes. He said that the hotel was on that same street, so I just decided to be a true European and walk. I’m really glad I saved those 8 pounds.
My hotel room wasn’t ready when I checked in, so I sat in the lobby for about 10 minutes whilst eating a complimentary apple. All of a sudden it hit — HANGRY SAMANTHA! It was around 2 London time, which meant 3 in Germany. I left my luggage with the front desk in search of a kebab place, per recommendation of another person waiting for a room. Wow, human interaction is amazing.
Finally I was settled and full of a delicious chicken doner wrap and indulged in a few episodes of Big Bang Theory to recover from my crazy day.
By 4 I decided I should explore, and I found a park within walking distance to get some fresh air. I spent about two hours walking around, enjoying nature and some alone time before I take on a brand new city and group of people tomorrow. I’ll let the following photos speak for themselves:
Yes, today was bittersweet, but when baking sometimes you use bittersweet chocolate to balance the sweetness of the rest of the dessert. Today was the balance because everything has just been so great.
Tomorrow I’ll walk back to the underground station, say hello to my new friend at the convenience counter, and go back to the airport terminal to meet my Theatre Academy London group. The next step of my European adventure is about to begin!