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06 April 2005

what the hell was i thinking?

the full impact of my decision to travel the world for a year finally hit me yesterday as sarah and i were driving to the airport. i liken the feeling to riding a roller coaster that is just moments away from plunging down the first hill. i don't think i had time to consider the implications of my decision before that moment because i was too busy running around trying to get everything ready and tie up all of the loose ends. what the hell was i thinking? what have i gotten myself into? i just quit my job, moved out of my apartment, left my car... and most importantly left my sweet girlfriend behind for an entire year... what caused this radical change? i couldn't get these thoughts out of my head.

and then the roller coaster plunged over the top of the first hill and i'm heading full speed ahead... and i'm trying to soak in everything. i want to notice every little bit of difference that this trip brings... the metric label on the coke can and the way the coke tasted slightly more like fruit than american coke... my first siting of cars driving on the opposite sides of the road and my first siting of european electrical outlets... all tiny inconsequential things, but they're all firsts and differents. as the plane took off from boston, i had a feeling i was onto something big. i'm excited.

i wasn't able to get a final weight for my pack because we'd already packed the scale, but i'm positive the pack is over 25 pounds. i'd guess it's closer to 40 pounds. i'll try to get a determinative weight as soon as the opportunity presents itself. as it turned out, aer lingus (the airline on which i was flying) has very different restrictions than jetblue about sizes of carry-on bags... my pack far exceeded their limitations and i was forced to check it.

my flights were fairly uneventful... well, fairly, i had a layover in shannon, ireland, for a few hours early this morning and arrived in london, england, at approximately 10:40am gmt. my pack unfortunately didn't arrive with me... in fact, it stayed aboard the first plane in shannon and decided it would like to see dublin for an hour or two. bad pack! after taking a ride to dublin, my pack arrived when it was good and ready when that first plane made its way to heathrow airport. thank you packie.

i had been concerned about arriving in the uk with a one-way ticket, but as i stated in my previous post, i didn't have to pass through uk customs/immigration and so didn't have a problem at all. it was fairly strange... i kept waiting for the customs checkpoint as i walked through the corridors leading away from the arrival gate. the corridors eventually just led to heathrow's main lobby... i went as far as asking a woman at an airport information booth about the lack of an immigration checkpoint. she said it's not uncommon for passengers coming from ireland to pass right into england without being questioned by customs officials. okay.

i'll be staying with my girlfriend's sister's brother-in-law, sam, in london. sam had sent me a very detailed and helpful document outlining the best ways to travel from the airport to his flat (that's right, i wrote 'flat'... i can hang) as well as some other key tips for getting around in london... i was very grateful to have this information. the cheapeast alternative was london's subway system (er, 'the tube'... maybe i can't hang). after withdrawing 100 pounds sterling (quid, if you will... yep, hang) from an atm in heathrow, i purchased a one-way train ticket for 3.80 pounds (not slick enough yet to get the pounds character in there... nope, can't hang) and was on my way to london bridge station, the closest tube stop to my destination. i arrived at sam's at about 4:40pm gmt.

everything has been going great so far. i'm still incredibly tired and have only slept an hour, but i hope to be back to full speed tomorrow and am going to take a long walk around the city. sam and his roommate (er, flatmate, right?) have been extremely hospitable... so glad this was my first stop.

coming up... exchange rates, stuff i packed, and hopefully lots of london pictures with my stupid head in them!

posted by paul on Wed 06 Apr 2005 at 19:15:17 est (-05:00)

comments

you dude, glad to hear you made it in ok.
yeah the soda sucks over there. not to mention it might cost you 7 dollars for a glass of coke in Italy....wanna fanta perhaps?
all free, and nothing but the world in front of you.......BAM! YOU HEAR ME? whooooop>> ..the world.. good luck!

posted by m on Thu 07 Apr 2005 at 03:22:52 est (-05:00)

Thought about you a lot the last couple of days. As I was on plane from Miami to Boston at 7pm it occurred to me - Paul is on his way! Reading the blog every day, very, very good travelogue. You finally did it - good for you. Work just isn't the same, but we're managing. What color pants?

posted by Cathy on Thu 07 Apr 2005 at 11:51:18 est (-05:00)

Congratulations! Like the metaphorical roller coaster there will be ups and downs, but I am sure it will be a great ride.

If you are having trouble hanging rent My Fair Lady and play it on endless loop til you can fake the accent. As a side effect all Americans will now think you are brilliant (or perhaps gay) when you speak with your affected accent.

posted by Jonathan on Thu 07 Apr 2005 at 17:39:41 est (-05:00)

glad you are enjoying yourself!!!! hope you take in all of the historical sites you possibly can because you may never be able to do this again. you will see more in one year than i have seen in a lifetime, so enjoy. bring me home a golf ball from ireland.

posted by george on Thu 07 Apr 2005 at 18:05:19 est (-05:00)

m: sam and his roommate seem to think the only different between american coke and european coke is the sugar. i'll do some research.

cathy: glad you're enjoying reading this. my pants are army green. HAA! actually, they're a little more greenish brown. they're brown. okay, well, they're not black.

jonathan: ha! i can fake the accent... just can't roll the expressions right now. give me a week.

george: thanks for posting! i'll pick up that golf ball for you... but wouldn't you prefer a ball from scotland?

posted by paul recon on Thu 07 Apr 2005 at 23:43:45 est (-05:00)

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