A short trip to London from Lille, United Kingdom
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It was way back in 2007. I was a fellowship student in Lille, France, along with three other colleagues from Oradea, Romania: Ioana, Csilla and Daniel. One day, at the end of March I think, we heard about a really interesting offer for a trip to London. The trip was organized by a nearby University (we were studying at ICAM, in Lille). The trip was for three days, and it was in the Easter Period, that year. I don’t want to be complete wrong, but as far I can remember the dates were 8th of April, 9th and 10th of the same month. The offer was something not to decline for anything in the world, mainly because of the cost: only 90 euros. It didn’t matter that we were about to stay 13 persons in a 16 bed room, and when I mean persons I mean boys and girls in the same room. We were so exited about this trip that we announce everybody about this opportunity. Adriana, a hostel colleague was the first to accept, and Samuel, a French colleague from university laboratory also was really pleased about the trip. So we bought 6 tickets for something that proved to be an everlasting experience.
The distance between Lille and London is smaller than we could first imagine: only 242 Km. We got up early, packed our bags and waited for the bus. The bus was packed with students mostly French, but also us Romanians and one guy from United States. We went with the bus to Calais, which is a harbor at the English Channel. There we had to stop because the border police needed to check our passports or ID’s. This was in almost all cases a routine job, except for one case. The American guy needed also a visa to go to Great Britain, so we had to wait quite a bit until the police checked all his papers. We Romanians were very lucky because just that year we joined European Union so the visas were no longer necessary. After all this checking, they gave us the green light to go. We crossed the English Channel by ferry, from Calais to Dover, on the other side of the channel. The journey lasted for an hour and a half, but it was worthy. The view on the ocean is spectacular. We walked on the ferry, inside and outside, because the bus parked along with other cars. From duty free shops, to the atmosphere inside the ferry (owned by SeaFrance), nothing reminded that this is only a simple crossing transport and not a cruise. The comfort was indeed at a high. After we arrived in Dover, the bus continued the ride, 123 km to London, with one specification: Britain drive on left and at that bus the steering wheel is on the left also. Not good. It’s really hard to drive like this, an affirmation that was confirmed by the accidents seen just outside the port’s exit (In the port, a section of the road is drivable on the right.). I was a bit scared about what I saw.
After another two hours, we arrived in London. The entrance in the city is awful: full of garbage thrown all over the street, or on the sidewalk. I said to myself that if the entire London is like this than I paid in vain the 90 euros. Fortunately, on the city center it’s another situation.
We were accommodated at a hostel situated just in the center, 2 minutes walk from Kings Cross Station. The Hostel name is Ashlee House and I think it’s one of the cheapest accommodation places in the London Center. The location is ideal to see all the center sights, because on the station is a ticket automate. We bought bus tickets for a day, that were the cheapest solution and also we got to travel with the famous London red busses. The beds were comfortable, with the remark that you should take the bottom bed. Not the top one like I did. But I don’t care nowJ. And, something really positive about this hostel is the breakfast. Really tasty and the chef is a genuine Englishman. If he’s still there you will see what I mean.
A really interesting story developed when we found out that on 8th of April is Csilla’s birthday. We didn’t know this and we desperately needed a gift. So we applied a strategy: without her noticing, we moved away from her (only Adriana, Ioana, Daniel and I, Samuel didn’t know the plan) and went to a nearby store and bought her a nice wine. Well the wine was pretty expensive (8 pounds, Csilla, hope you’re not reading this J), and we even had a little argue with Ioana, the only one who knew about Csilla’s B’Day. If she had told us earlier we could get a cheaper and tastier wine from France, the Land of Wine. But it’s meaningless now. Csilla and Samuel were worried; they didn’t know where we are and began to call us every minute. We didn’t answer. When we arrived she was so upset that almost beat us. But we didn’t say a word. Later, that evening, we shown her the gift and we gave a toast from that wine.
As a coincidence, the Easter was also in the 8th of April: another funny story. To celebrate in the Romanian tradition, Adriana brought boiled eggs, but because she couldn’t find paint for them, she just brought them like this. After we came back from the church (we went to Westminster Abbey, a new experience as it was the first time I saw an Anglican service) we took out our eggs and start to break them, following our tradition. The coincidence made that exactly then the other French roommates came to their room. Samuel knew about the tradition, but the others were just frightened: imagine, a bunch of persons knocking eggs and saying something that look like an evil ritual. Until we explained them the tradition, they just stayed there scared looking at us. It was a bit funny, well, not for them.After spending three marvelous days in the capital of Great Britain, we came home still with the ferry. Not without problems, because one person wasn’t able to return in time to the hostel, and he missed the departure. He was stuck in London. Luckily, things worked out for him, but if I were the trip leader I wouldn’t act like that leader. He seamed he didn’t care too much for the lost guy. We returned exhausted in Lille, but full of memories of a splendid trip to London.
Things about London you may be interested in
1. Apr 8, 2007 A short trip to London from Lille (London) ( 58)
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3. Apr 9, 2007 The Second Day of my London vacation (London) ( 213)
4. Apr 10, 2007 The third day of my London trip (London) ( 120)
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