AshleyWoods

Black Taxis, Cookie Crumble Galaxy Bars…and A Glimpse of Harrods

In Personal, Travels on September 8, 2011 at 10:59 PM

I never thought that the stories of  my life in England would actually ever start. And it would have been very easy to have it read like an idyllic Hollywood script….riding underneath the Tower Bridge to the beat of “London Calling” and hopping onto a Red Double Decker bus and getting to my flat in “true” British style. I don’t even know where my luggage fits into this story, oh wait, it didn’t….

Well as I hate to admit it, my parents were wrong about one thing-the amount of luggage that everyone was going to bring. Every person that I can think of on this trip paid for overage charges on their luggage-for both weight and numbers of bags. Yes, even the four boys, which contributed to the already cramped undercarriage of the coach that was booked for our group. The lack of luggage space on the first coach began the longest afternoon of my life. Terribly anxious to see the city that I had seen on television during the Royal Wedding and had idolized over for 6 months, this little bump in the road, became laughable to me. It was the tiredness and the excitement I’m sure, but I just could not help but burst out laughing. It was absolutely hilarious to me that this would already happen and we were not even in the country for 15 minutes! This is kind of stuff that you ask for secretly so that you have better stories to tell your grandchildren, but when you hope too hard they don’t happen.

I didn’t even have to try, because the story has kept unravelling for me from that very first day and throughout this entire trip. With the rain pouring down all around us, we made a roundabout and came back into the terminal, the wait seemed long, but it was a chance to really introduce ourselves to these “total strangers” that we were going to be around day and night for the next four months. Surrounded by the shops in the airport, we got a glimpse of a mini “Boots” chemists store-uhhh it is absolutely amazing, a little pricey, but CVS Pharmacy in the States cannot even compete with “Boots.” I really cannot wait to go to Paris at the end of September to see the French Pharmacies that Tessa has gotten me so obsessed with. And yes, they are indicated by a cross-like sign, which make them actually easy to find when you are craving a “Boots” spending splurge. (I will resist, I will resist)

A uniquely named “AMT Coffee” stood right next to it with banana and caramel frappuccino-like concoctions beckoning our names. There  also was a small convenience store where I officially purchased my very first item with the local currency. Any guesses? A BIG bottle of Evian water-which was relatively cheap, so I was quite shocked, (in hindsight, I should have realized this rare first exception that I encountered). Everything looked different to me: the celebrities on the front of the tabloids were almost unrecognizable and the food was packaged very differently from America. This is where the great Candy Bar excursion of London (with a point of no return)officially began. I was offered by the checkout clerk to try one of the Galaxy bars at a discounted prices. “What is a Galaxy bar?”  “What you have never tried a Galaxy bar before?!” My first purchase and I was already playing the part of the American yupee, but this was well worth it. One of the best candy bars that I have ever tried-the Cookie Crumble flavor. It rivals a Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme bar in the States! The water and that little bit of shared cookie crumble chocolate kept us content for a short amount of time as we finally pulled our luggage through the “car park” and got into our cabs. The best moment of the day was when we both piled into our cab and our driver got into the  “wrong” door, I was like what are you doing over there?! and then I just burst out laughing and it was really my first experience of true culture shock.

Not only did our little mishap give us an entirely new experience that was only shared among the 5 of us, plus one of Courtney’s bags (:, but it gave us our first experience of riding in a reserved taxis around London. We were all hoping for the black taxis, but these were so nice that me and Faith fell asleep at one point while we were riding into London in Thursday night rush hour traffic. The first taste of the city and I am still reminded of LA (I thought that I had sneakily escaped the horror of car traffic)! But the highlight of the first drive through London was all of the sites that we passed, “Here comes the sun” was definitely playing in my head throughout this entire afternoon. I realized just how close everything was and how easy it was going to be to get around London. It was so incredible to actually see what London looked like and get a glimpse of Knightsbridge and Harrods (!), Burberry, Topshop, Picadilly Circus, Hyde Park, the Marble Arch, Oxford Street and finally the entire area where we would be living. Breathtaking. I had held no expectations and that the probably the most incredible part because it looked like London, not like this place that I was expecting for it to be (although I have discovered that most of the places that I thought were close to each other in the movies are quite far apart!).

I was finally here, despite everything that had happened that afternoon, the hardest part was carrying my 70 pound bag up four flights of stairs. All those strength training workouts definitely came in handy at that point!

Then it was off to the pub for my first British refreshment and a taste of British pub food!

*Note: the nice iPhone quality photos that are posted here, it was raining and I didn’t want to ruin my camera already!

Yummy Cookie Crumble Galaxy Bar

The coach that never was

Heavy Cart FULL with my baggage!

The Group that Got "Left Behind" + Courtney's bag!

Faith, one of my new London flatmates

A Beauty Editor "Top Shelf" dedication to Tessa

Hopefully I will see His Majesty and Katherine at some point!

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