London part dos
After dropping off our friends and family at the airport in Faro, Pablo and I drove all the way up to where our Portugal road trip began, in Porto, to drop off the car. Why would we do this? Because it’s cheaper dropping off a car where we rent it from and we found cheaper plane tickets from Porto to our next destination, London, where we would have yet another awesome road trip. It might have not been the best planning for us to have two long road trips back to back, but of course we still had fun. Granted, I didn’t want to sit in a car for a very long time, but luckily we didn’t have to for a while after.
From Portugal we flew into London where we would stay with some friends and then rent a car from there to drive through Wales. Upon coming and leaving the London airport I experienced the worst treatment from security and customs that I’ve had in my entire experience flying (which at this point I would say is a lot). While Pablo passed through immigrations after a couple simple questions from the officer, the chap I was lucky to encounter grilled and ridiculed me for petty little things and seemed very annoyed at all my stamps in my passport.
With permission, Pablo came over to help and that only seemed to infuriate the man even more. He finally waved us away seeming perturbed and I wanted to ask him, “what’s going on in your life to make you act this way?” We shook off the experience, assuming he’s holding a grudge against Americans, but I internally wondered for a while after why people choose to act like that. Our moods were brightened when we walked out of the airport and it was snowing! It was the first snow we’d seen since last winter, and for Utahns I’d say that’s too long.
We got to our friend’s apartment and my faith in humanity was restored. Let me explain how we made friends with them in the first place. Our neighbors in Utah are related to this couple and referred us to them when we were traveling in London for the first time and needed a place to stay. I contacted the couple and without even knowing what we looked like they offered us to stay at their small apartment for the duration of our trip. This couple that had become our friends were completely giving people, they didn’t take money when we offered for staying with them, they cooked for us, gave us advice and made our stay all the better.
On our second time to London we asked them again if we could stay with them for a couple of nights. They quickly agreed and again made dinner one of the nights and brought home treats from their bakery on several occasions. They weren’t the first people on our adventure who had taken us in and given us a place to stay without anything in return. It made me and Pablo think about how willing would we be to welcome people we hardly know into our home? We’re so quick to be worried about what difficulties we might come across when helping people that we don’t realize the opportunities we could be missing, like building new friendships, or just helping someone in need.
Since we had another shot at seeing the museums that we missed last time, we headed out to the Museum of Natural History. We got there and there was a line to go inside. I’ve never been to a museum that had a line, but I’ll tell you what, London is doing something right with their museums. Despite not being big museum goers, we really did enjoy being there.
We took our friends out for dinner one of the nights because there was no way we were going to cook a meal for them (one of them is a very good chef). There are so many different types of places to eat out in London, which was lucky for us because on a Saturday night every place had a waiting list. We ate at a ramen place (which at first I thought was a place that just cooked top ramen), and my chopstick skills were brutally tested. Afterwards we stopped at a gelato shop and walked to places we missed last time as well as revisit our favorite spots.
On our way out of London we were going through security and everyone’s bags were being thoroughly searched. Literally though, the bags went through the scanner and then security would pull all the items out of the bag. The lady who searched my bag did so rather carelessly and managed to open my hygiene bag and somehow fling my retainer case out of it. The case went flying to the ground and out popped my retainer onto the airport floor. The airport floor. EW. EW. EW. I’m thinking I’ll let it soak in mouthwash for a couple weeks and maybe I can get past that mental image of what’s been growing on that floor.
London was one of the few spots that we will have gone back to during this trip, and it was really interesting how relaxing it was because we’d already seen a lot of the tourists spots on our previous run through. Our perspective of places are based on our experiences with people as much as they are with the things we’ve seen, and London wasn’t the first place we’ve had quite a mixture of good and bad experiences. It’s a good thing we’ve been so inspired by positive people along the way that the good experiences out-way the bad.
Have you ever met someone on your travels who’s inspired you?