Like most people with an internet connection and who briefly lived through the Myspace era (or, the Livejournal age, if anyone still remembers that), I have decided to start a blog. It's going to be weekly, (or bi-weekly, depending on how I feel about it) and focused on my experiences as an American living for a year here in the United Kingdom. More specifically, York.
My reasons for moving over here and how I got here are a little convoluted. Those of you reading this blog by following my links on Twitter or DeviantArt already know the tribulations of my time as an undergraduate English major at UCSB. For those of you new to my particular flavor of ramblings, I'll give you the short version. I've been a long time Medieval enthusiast and my time at UCSB only strengthened that. I decided to make that my major as a Masters student and started looking at colleges. One of my profs recommended looking abroad so I applied to several schools and, after much frustration and a few meltdowns, I got into all three schools in the U.K. that I'd applied to. I was ecstatic about this and ended up choosing to study in York. The program was amazing and, after the headache that is the visa application process, I was set to come over ad be a part of it.
My flight to Heathrow, London was last week. My mom was going to come with me to help me get settled in, which I was profoundly grateful for because, at the very least, I'd have someone with me who was just as lost as I was. We were packed, we had a plan to get to the airport (my aunt in the area was giving us a lift to the San Francisco airport), everything was awesome. Of course, this was the point that my chronic bad luck decided he hadn't gut punched me in a while and decided to do so in the form of a flat tire on my Aunt's car.
We were stuck on a stretch of freeway with no buildings, one sign that was supremely unhelpful in telling us just where the hell we were and near no exits. My aunt called my uncle to get us a taxi to the airport and then called Triple A. Neither could find us, but fortunately after 5-10 minutes of my mom slowly and quietly panicking, a nice gent on a Harley Davidson pulled off and helped us out. We got the airport on time, amazingly, when we ran into another problem.
I don't know how many readers here have flown Virgin Atlantic before (this was my first time), but they assign you seating and somehow my mom and I were like three seats away from each other. It turned out that they couldn't fix it when we were checking in, so we went through the rigamarole of going through security knowing we'd probably spend the flight trying to talk to each other over some dude's sweaty fat rolls. However, another nice guy working the check-in got us seats together.
With two major problems righting themselves, I foolishly figured the rest of the flight would be jake. Unfortunately, my record of having some of the worst travel luck ever decided to hold out and we got suck around some truly assholish people who kept talking/laughing/ walking around the plane as noisily as humanly possible. This made the possibility of actually, you know, getting SLEEP on the flight pretty much impossible. Luckily, I had the foresight to load Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition and The Oregon Trail on my mom's iPod touch (as well as Tales of Monkey Island on the lappy), which kept me from strangling the jerks. Not that I would have regretted it much beyond the fact that the murder charges would have kept me from making it through customs.
Speaking of customs, it was pretty easy. Of course, I have no criminal record and haven't ever been out of the states, so that helped a ton. However, given they tell you to expect an hour or so with Customs, I was extremely pleased to be out of there so quickly.
After some glazey-eyed wandering around, my mom and I found the entrance to the tube system in London. We bickered for a bit before we figured out which line we needed to get on, and did so. The ride itself was pretty boring beyond making sure somebody didn't step on our three 50 pound pieces of luggage.
We got off at King's Cross, wandered some more, then figured out we had to take three different elevators to get up to the National Rail level. That sounds a little annoying for most people, but when you've gotten zero sleep, spent 24 hours in the same clothes and have just spent the last hour hauling around ridiculously heavy pieces of luggage, it fills you with an urge to just stop and beat your head against a wall.
Luckily there was a fairly nice guy (either that or he pitied the rather pathetic looking pair of Americans who looked close to a meltdown) working the counter who directed us to the right line and helped my mom get set up for her return later.
A pretty calm train ride to York and a short cab ride later, we were at our bed and breakfast, The Tree Tops. It was a super nice place, problem was, we were stupid and requested the Minster view room which was on the third floor. It was a special sort of hell getting all our luggage up there. However, we were in York and come the next day we could start getting used to the place.
But food and sleep came first. On the recommendation of the woman running our B&B (who was completely awesome by the way, I should make note of that) we went to The Bay Horse pub. Nice little place with a great menu. The best meals I've had so far here in York have been there. Also, they have fantastic beers on draft and make a mean Gin and Tonic, which makes them winners in my book.
It may have just been that food was such utter shit on the plane (I won't bother making an airline food joke because everyone and their mom's dog has already done so), but that meal on the first night in York was the greatest thing ever. I honestly wish I had a picture of it to share with you guys, but my camera had been with my luggage and, to be honest, I devoured it pretty damn quick.
Thus ended my trip getting to York.