Monday, August 31, 2015

I Can't Stay Away from You, England

It had been almost a year since my last business trip to England, so off my manager and I went.And this time, it was to a whole new customer which meant whole new cities.

This time, we were based in Southampton, so in our first bit of free time for exploring, we drove toward the coast and just wandered around.

My boss likes old architecture and history bits, so he directed us that way.

Towards crumbling churches,

and the remnants of the former town wall,

and the ports, where the Titanic sailed from.

This was all well and good, but I made sure to swing by a Superdrug to stock up on all of the British only products I had been missing. I even used part of that bath bomb bar during my hotel stay to take a nice bath after a long night of work.

Because we actually worked overnight on this trip, there was a lot more time to go exploring. I was a zombie from exhaustion for the majority of it, but still. We got to see a lot.

The second day of exploring, one of my coworkers who is based in Germany came with us and he really wanted to see the preserved boats of Portsmouth. So off we headed to a slightly different coastline.

At the end of the day, we had dinner in one of Jamie Oliver's restaurants, which was a first for me. Who knows? Maybe it's the English equivalent of Olive Garden, but it was damn yummy. Only downside was that he hovered over me in book form for the whole meal. A little creepy.

On this trip, I finally talked my boss into going in to London. We boarded a train from Southampton and spent the morning at the Natural History Museum.

Do you know what the Natural History Museum has? Dinosaurs! So many dinosaurs!!!!

From there, we grabbed lunch at Pret A Manger and spent the afternoon taking in the touristy sites of the city. Like Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament,

and Trafalgar Square,

and the British Museum. Unfortunately, the museum closed about 20 minutes after we arrived, so it was a mad scramble to see as much as possible. I'd visited it before with Dan, so I wasn't heartbroken, but I did get to see some of my favs.

For the first time since my first trip to England when I was 15, I saw the Tower of London. I mean, I didn't want to go in and the crown jewels and stuff, but the outside was cool. We walked to entire perimeter, strolled the river by Tower Bridge, and then went and finished up the day with a big (veggie) burger dinner.

So, after a very long day, we took the subway back to Waterloo station to catch a train back to Southampton. If you're a newbie to their train system, it can be quite overwhelming, staring up at all the boards of train lines and schedules, trying to find the train that will get you home right now. After a few minutes, we had figured it out, gotten through the turnstile, and were hustling toward the train.

Apparently, the train was about to leave, so my boss ran up to it and hopped on. However, he hopped on a first class carriage, so I shouted at him to wait because we didn't have first class tickets and so we should go down the train in get in one of the other cars. But as soon as he jumped onto the train, the door slammed shut behind him and I was left standing on the platform alone.

Now, maybe there was a way to delay the train and get him off of it or get me onto it, but that really wasn't clear at the time. So I just stood there as the train rolled away.

What followed was about 20 minutes of me figuring out how to get back through the turnstile, finding another train to take, and just general panicking. Fortunately, I figured it out and headed back to the hotel. Here's my evidence of my solo train trip, with the conductor checking tickets. My train had fewer stops than his so I ended up at the station about five minutes after him.

It was a hell of a trip. A tiring, draining trip that, although fun, has put me off traveling for a while. At least traveling with people, I suppose...

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