So with Zaak arriving in the UK on Saturday after three long flights I felt it only reasonable to take him to the airport bar and buy him is first legal alcoholic drink before we packed and headed down to England. A quick catch-up, a brief time-period where both of us struggling to understand the game of rugby (I guess he has an excuse and I don’t considering my nationality) and two Disaronno’s and Pepsi later (having tasted greatly like Dr. Pepper) we headed home to get our cases in order for the adventures to London interspersed with a trip to an Indian takeaway for some dinner. Saturday was by in large just some chill time and getting prepared for our travels.
On Sunday morning we headed to the Virgin Atlantic platform at Glasgow Central for our 09:37 train to Preston. After a delayed train boarding, travelling through 4 seasons in three hours and numerous great scenery views we arrived in Preston’s central train station to meet up with Gee, Eilis and Megan DeMoss aka ‘DeBoss’. Carrying on with the trip tradition of delayed train service we endured a 30-minute wait for a train to Liverpool before it was bizarrely cancelled, as there was no train conductor. In light of this we headed to Starbucks since I was getting a little groggy, as I hadn’t yet had my morning coffee. Then after a rather over enlarged Cappuccino it was time to chance our luck in catching another train, which this time turned out would proceed, although on St Patrick’s day, a two carriage train on the way to Liverpool (one of the biggest St Patrick’s day celebrating cities in the UK) combined with the previous 2 hours having no trains travelling, soon turned out to be a rather over crowded experience which coincided with my strong love for the liverpudlian accent (……extreme sarcasm!).
We eventually arrived in Liverpool, and after a brief taxi ride to Ciaran’s apartment and some difficulty trying to get through the gate to his apartment block, we were all reunited as a camp family on British soil. We hung out for a bit and done some catching up before getting changed out of our travel clothes and headed out in town for some food and a few (…or more than a few drinks) to celebrate my middle name or so I thought. Turns out it was to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. I guess that works too. We spent most of our night in a smallish sized bar called Hannah’s in which a live band played Irish hits alongside Mumford & Sons and Jason Mraz. I also decided since it was a day for the Irish that I would stick to the good old Irish drinks. Magners and Baileys are a gift from the Heavens but I’m adamant that Guinness is not in the same league. Once we had danced some and the night got on a bit we settled for some chicken from a takeaway across the street to satisfy the food cravings before moving on to a nightclub and eventually retiring to bed.
The next day we awoke early to head on to London for sight seeing adventures and to have tea with the Queen. The train was once again delayed slightly. No surprise there, since it was becoming a consistent feature of our trip. Eventually we boarded and after 3 hours on the train, a detour across England and some crammed spooning in a double seat with Gee we arrived in London Euston station at 5.15pm, bang on time for the rush hour tube experience (Wow London just Wow). We then got checked in to our apartment and headed out for some food to our beloved Nandos. Having spent £19 on chicken I soon developed a food baby alongside the rest of the gang so we decided to just hang out an reminisce about old camp tails before heading back for some much needed rest.
Tuesday was a day of much sight seeing but not before Eilis and I decided that it only fitting to start our day off with some American Doughnuts and a coffee from Krispy Kreme in Victoria Train Station. Buckingham Palace, the Changing of the Royal Guards, Trafalgar Square, Lunch with Ciaran and Maria before Downing Street, Big Ben, Parliament and the traditional Johnny Cupcakes visit were all on the agenda. After expiring our to do list we headed out to Brick Lane for some thrift shopping inspired by Mackelmore’s Top 40 hit ironically titled ‘Thrift Shop’. Thrift shopping is an experience I certainly will never forget. After concluding our thrift shopping adventures we quickly checked out the box park pop up mall before heading to Harrods Department Store (yeah I know I sound American, lay off), to which we were all amazed with some of the crazy yet awesome things that they sold including a £3000 gold-plated iPhone, instant snow to which you just add water, Segway’s, the thinnest TV ever priced at £10,000 and complete spyware outfits and gadgets alongside a tonne of other cool things. I personally was amazed at the collection of top class Canon DSLR’s that they had in store. Yeah I know what you’re thinking: ‘What a geek!’ I thought the exact same thing too. Eventually after the store closing time approached we retired for some Italian food for dinner across the road and some more hanging out together before once again having to say goodbye, which sucks as always. Zaak and I then made a frantic dash to the train station to catch a bus back to Scotland. Yeah we had lost all patience with the trains by this point. 9 hours later we are back in Scotland safe and sound.
That about sums up Part 1 of Operation Scotland Yard. Part 2 to follow later in the week, stay tuned!