London, England

The best way I can describe London is using my new British vocabulary.  In one word: Posh.  The buildings were beautiful and the women clad in fancy furs and dresses clattering on the sidewalk with tall stilettos beside men in button-ups and expensive-looking dress jackets and pants with perfectly polished shoes.  These people slid inside Lamborghinis and Ferraris which zipped from one stoplight to the next beside more “common” model cars like Lexus, Mercedes, and Volvo.

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The US Embassy

Our London views were cut short though because it was around this time that I realized I needed to pee.  Like really pee.  The perplexing aspect though was that I swear I had told him many times but he continued to sight-see.  I made one final effort.  “Did I say already I have to go to the bathroom?” “No you didn’t, but you did now,” Andy answered and kept walking, unphased.  What I learned was that when I thought I had told him fifteen times earlier, I had actually just told myself mentally.  The unfortunate part was that I was beyond ready to use the bathroom and apparently it was not acceptable to traipse into an English bar or restaurant solely to use their latrine, though I would beg to say the owners of such establishments should prefer me to go in without an order to keep me from peeing in front of their door.  Which is what was about to happen.  And I told Andy so.  His response was something about “Why can’t you be like a normal adult?  Why are you like a child when it comes to weeing?  Why do you wait so long?  You are.  You are just like a child sometimes.”  Looking back, that was a kinda mean thing to say to someone that has a bladder the size of a single rice grain but I’ll let it go.  Only because I put him through hell on the flight to England.

Regardless, he was walking faster.  If there is one thing my hiking partner learned about me it is that when I need to pee, I need to pee.
Me: “This is dire, Andy.  This is d-i-r-e.”  It had gotten to the point that I was scouting out trees, pacing in patches of grass like I learned to do hiking.
Andy stopped walking: “Can you do six minutes?”
Me: “SIX MINUTES?!?!?!?!  ARE YOU CRAZY!?!??!  ANDY, I’M LOOKING FOR TREES RIGHT NOW!!!  TREES!!!  IN THE MIDDLE OF LONDON, A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE QUEEN’S HOME!!!  Americans will truly be displaying how we are proper heathens, but truly — SIX MINUTES?!?!?  I CANNOT EVEN MAKE IT TWO!!!”  I was screaming.  On the sidewalk.  As fancy London people walked by me, looking at me like I carried the Black Plague.
Andy: “I don’t know what to tell you.  You’re going to have to wait.”
Me: “ANDREW!!!  I NEED A TAXI AND I NEED A TAXI RIGHT NOW!!!”  I think my eyes began filling up with tears, causing Andy to grab my hand and race off, literally dragging me behind him through the city, past six minutes until finally — God BLESS, finally — we made it to a public bathroom . . . which was a floor below ground.  He pointed and I ran . . . ran to metal bars, like the ones at train stations, blocking entrances except it blocked the damned entrance to the toilets.  WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND DOES THAT?!  I pushed, I shoved, I screamed, I wailed; the bar wouldn’t move.

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I’m pretty sure it is not ideal custom to take pictures of the loo but sorry.  I had to have proof that people have to pay an entire euro to relieve themselves.

In that moment I debated a few things: One, I could jump the bar and if I was caught, I would have no problem explaining how dire the situation was.  Two, I could just pop-a-squat outside of the bar in a silent (but not so silent) sign of protest at making people pay for toilets.  Or three, I could cry and scream and wail loud enough for Andy to hear and find me.  Which is what I did as I ran halfway up the stairs, bumping into him on the way down.  “ANDY!!!  YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR BATHROOMS HERE!!!  WHAT TYPE OF TORTURE COUNTRY IS THIS?!?!” I shrieked while he was already pulling change from his pocket (I had no English currency).  “Here,” he said, about to hand me whatever amount he thought I needed which terrified me because if he was wrong, I wouldn’t make it — would. not. make. it — up those stairs again.  This was the moment of all moments.  Our life thus far together had built up to this, built up to whether or not Andy would be awarded “Best Boyfriend in the World” recognition when I asked: “Andy.  PLEASE come with me.  COME WITH ME TO THE WOMEN’S BATHROOM!!!  I don’t CARE that it’s female BATHROOMS!!!  COME WITH ME, please!!!  I’m about to pee right here — I cannot risk something going wrong and me not getting in.”  He protested — a lot — but ultimately I won over when I grabbed his hand and drug him down the stairs.  He slipped in the change, the bar slid back, and I cheered, truly cheered as loudly as I could muster while unzipping my pants before I even entered the stall.  “THANK YOU!!!” I screamed behind the closed door as he disappeared back up the stairs.

In the end, I celebrated by taking a picture of my enemy bathroom and Andy then took a picture of me, the happy traveler again.
IMG_0200.JPGAndy though wanted to prevent this from happening in the future (as if I had a purposeful desire to repeat that horrendous, scary situation again).  “Next time,” he told me, “give me more time, like fifteen minutes.”
Me: “Is that like ‘Fifteen minutes, check and see?'”
Andy, unamused: “No.  That’s like ‘Fifteen minutes, check and pee.'”  Clearly, after holding my hand to literally guide me to the female’s bathroom, he was in no humorous mood.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t have been happier!  Not only that but I dug into my satchel half a second later and found these English candies: Fruit Pastilles.  They are addictive.  Picture crack but waaay more serious, people.  The rest of my England trip absolutely was based on where I could eat more Fruit Pastilles.
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Onward we continued, in my bright and bubbly state, to see the queen!
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img_0235Of course, we couldn’t really see the queen but seeing where she lived — in gorgeous Buckingham Palace — was enough.  One thing that surprised me was that the palace is literally in the middle of London’s busy streets and her front yard was made up entirely of little brown pebbles.  Andy said she has large gardens in the back, but I guess I thought a queen would want to have major landscaping and not rocks in her front yard.

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Overall, the building, the doors, the gate — All were gorgeous and amazingly intricate.

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At the top of the columns at the gate were large stone unicorns because I mean, why would they be anything other than fancy unicorns?

After, we went to venture into the heart of London.  On the way, we passed monuments to remember those lost in World War One.  Andy told me people put poppy wreaths out in honor of those who passed because that blood-red flower was the first to come up on the battlefield.  Now, poppies signify not only World War One but all wars the British empire was involved in and all the lives lost.img_0202img_0270
Then, there was a beautiful park . . .img_0239img_0250img_0251img_0243IMG_0247.JPG20161123_142404.jpgimg_0257IMG_0253.JPGHorse Guard Parade, the site where the changing of the guard takes place,
img_0260img_0266IMG_0273.JPGand in the heart of London, we found stunning Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, London Eye, and Westminster Abbey.20161123_151024-2412614013-1538823599304.jpgIMG_0288.JPGimg_0274img_0279.jpgimg_027620161123_150817img_0291Overall, London held many over-the-top delights and boasted of everything from modern fast cars to elegant historic buildings.  I didn’t think I would be charmed by London as I’m not much of a city girl, but I was won over.  She’s a flirty city that draws you in and keeps you intrigued.  Yet, what I loved most was exploring all she offered with Andy.  Time seemed to expand and we were able absorb each moment, appreciate where we were together and enjoy that time so much so that that night, I went to bed full — not of food this time but of love.

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