Cheers from London!

Ahoy from the other side of the pond!

I made it here all in one (sleepy) piece, including all my luggage.  My flights were easy and somewhat boring – Icelandair is not a fan of free things and hence only had paid food both times, though I was riding for more than 8 hours.  (A little rude if you ask me!)  Here’s hoping that Turkish Airlines has a better deal on the way home, but I’m not really worried about that yet.

Mostly because I’m having a BLAST here.  In the second half of day one, I unpacked every so slightly, then decided to prove to myself that I was really here by seeing a local (no, national… no, international) landmark with my two eyes, so I walked all the way to Big Ben.  It was even better than I remembered – this tower is quickly becoming my favorite thing in the city, now that I’ve seen it in all weather (helloooo London fall!).
IMG_5472I also wandered around Westminster a bit, trying not to get hit by a car.  More on that later…

Today, I did even more.  I started my day with the local tapas bar’s version of a vegetarian English breakfast – all for £4.10, including the coffee (and the required British side dish of secondhand smoke – coughcoughcough).  Still, it was delicious, though I don’t think I need to eat mushrooms for breakfast every single day.
IMG_5509Then I walked around my ‘hood a bit to see what was up. I discovered that Oval “park” is a cricket pitch, not a place I can sit and read a book.  Good thing there are enough other places that meet that criteria!

In the afternoon, I explored Covent Garden, Charing Cross, etc. taking in the sights and trying to stay out of the rain when possible.  No matter where I went, it was just so good to be back in this weird and wonderful land.  And then the ride home was incredible, as it took me past Big Ben.  I don’t know if I’ll ever take the Underground if I can help it, the bus is so great!IMG_5510Finally, because it was Mountain Day, I met up with some MoHos for ice cream and college reminiscing.  Perfection!

So far, everything is great, but there are definitely challenges ahead:

  1. Not walking too much – I logged 16,000 steps today aka 7.5 miles!  Great, but also could be extremely exhausting on days when I actually have to do something, so I need to find some activities that don’t all involve walking or standing.
  2. Remembering to eat – I got so excited today that I kind of forgot to eat for way too long, which doesn’t go well with #1 and resulted in getting a bit lost.  Snacks all the way, and just generally eating good food when I find it.
  3. Not spending all my money – I WANT EVERYTHING!  Seriously, everything.  I didn’t even stop walking at Jubilee Hall because I knew if I did, I would spend all my money.  I have a while to be here, so I have to remember to pace myself.
  4. Not getting hit by a car – this one is non-negotiable, and it’s slowing me down but I’m never crossing without a light because the traffic here is making my head spin.  Sidewalk – sorry, pavement – traffic is rough enough, but the streets are out of control.  I saw a grown man almost get hit by a bus but his friends pulled him out of the way by his backpack just in time.  Not I – I would rather be the silly person waiting at every light while others run just to be on the safe side (literally).

I think if I can do those four things (and maybe also remember to sleep), this adventure will be top notch.  It’s certainly off to a smashing start! Stay tuned for a few more updates this week!

(All photos are my own)

Top 10 reasons I would lose at Survivor

My name is Sally and I’m addicted to Survivor.  It started when I was training for my half marathon and always did my long runs on Wednesday nights at the gym. Watching their crazy challenges inspired me to keep running because my workout wasn’t nearly as strenuous as what those contestants were going through. (Ironic, no, because I was training this race as a cancer survivor?)

The 29th season, “Blood vs. Water” starts tonight.  To prepare/fill the immunity idol-shaped hole in my heart during the off season, I’ve been watching lots of old episodes.  As I did so, I’ve realized that I would be TERRIBLE at Survivor.  Here are the top ten reasons why I should never go on Survivor:

  1. hate snakes.  I can’t even look when they’re on the screen, and they’re a required accessory for every Survivor island.
  2. I get really grumpy when I’m cold.
  3. I’m a leader and since I’m a woman, people would probably label me “bossy” and vote me out quickly.
  4. I have the world’s WORST poker face. Don’t ever play poker with me. Or do, but make sure we’re not on the same team.  I wouldn’t be able to lie to anyone.  (This alone immediately disqualifies me from being on Big Brother.)
  5. Did I mention how much I hate snakes?
  6. I also hate spiders. And scorpions (but does anyone like them?).
  7. I would immediately get a headache from all that sun (and I believe sunglasses are banned for cinematic reasons).
  8. I would burn to a crisp on day 1, and never stop worrying about it.
  9. I am the worst at slide puzzles. If my life depended on it, I would probably keep working on it until I died with it still unfinished.
  10. I would quit the game over a jar of peanut butter.  I’m in love with peanut butter here, where there are unlimited quantities to be had.  Put me on an island and I’ll sell you my buff in return for a spoonful.

I also have my talents.  I know the basics of building a shelter, I’m a good swimmer, I can start a fire (though I’d need to learn how to use flint).  But I think those other items will keep me from sending Jeff Probst my application.  Instead, I’m content to have civilized adventures and see how this drama unfolds from my couch.

Do you think you could win the title of Sole Survivor?

One week more

One week – 168 hours, or 10,080 minutes – is all that separates me from adventures across the pond.

In this last week, people keep asking: are you ready?

The answer: as ready as I’ll ever be.

I’ve already packed my bag twice “just to see if stuff fits”.  My list has been made for months.  I have my passport next to my bed, my peanut butter stowed away in my suitcase (American > British), my itinerary printed and confirmed with my hosts.  I’ve joined my alumnae organization’s London network on Facebook and confirmed that the exchange rate is where I budgeted for it to be.

I’m trying to be realistic while keeping my usual optimism about – sure, I’ll be tired when I get off the plane at Heathrow.  Sure, I’m going to miss being around my Boston friends on my birthday. Yes, I’m positive I will get sick of these clothes.  But all this planning and dreaming has put me in a place where I’m so ready for this adventure, no matter what shape it takes.

Keep following my blog to see what happens next – I’ll be posting at least every few days while I’m in London!