London, London, London. It seems we always end up here. It just has a knack for drawing us back in. I’ve been there about four times now and each time we find something new and exciting. I’m fairly confident I will end up in the U.K. again, but rather living in London instead of Exeter…a girl can dream right?
At the end of our semester abroad, the Brits have this lovely perk in their education system where you get a month vacation time to “study” and then come back to school for a week for exams. A.K.A. 1 month to travel! Armed with this information I booked James and I flights to hop around Europe over a span of 12 days! This whole shindig cost us roughly $600 ea. The countries included you ask? Poland, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Vatican City, Spain, Germany, France, and The Netherlands. That’s flights, food, accommodations, transportation, and attractions. (If you’d like to read about our money saving tactics click here) I swear if my life doesn’t pan out fallback plan #1 is a travel agent. I’ve gotten pretty handy with it!
Anyway, now that I’m done rambling I decided it would be best to depart for our trip from London as it’s a hub and flights are cheaper. Since we’ve been to London a handful of times (read about our most recent trip to London here) we opted for a different route – a more local route. One of my friends from primary school in Trinidad is actually studying in London, and after years of little to no communication, we reconnected all the way in London! Who would’ve thought two Trini girls would reconnect all the way in the U.K.? Krystal was kind enough to allow James, Jocelyn, Eli and I to stay at her apartment for a night so we could head to the airport the next morning with minimal travel. It was super helpful to us because Exeter is a 3-hour train ride from London, and then the airport London Stansted airport, was another hour or so from the city center. Had we not stayed at her place we would have traveled for up to 4 hours, prior to getting on a plane and doing more traveling!
So, Jocelyn, James and I managed to find a killer deal on Trainline for tickets costing about £15 Exeter to London – which is just insane. Typically tickets go for £40. On the contrast, Eli opted to take a bus from Exeter to London since he bought tickets after us and the bus tickets were significantly cheaper than the standard tickets. Thank goodness we managed to find a deal! The plan was we would get to London Friday night, and meet up with Krystal and her friends at a Roti shop(a traditional style T&T food place) in London. I was obviously ecstatic because it meant I got to try some food from the homeland, and introduce my friends to it. James had tried Trini food once before and enjoyed it. I was especially excited for Eli to try it since he is planning to visit Trinidad soon.
Unfortunately, Eli hit a road bump with his bus and there were basically a variety of issues that occurred that made him miss dinner. It was quite worrying because Eli doesn’t have data on his phone and only operates off wifi so we had no idea where he was. Fortunately, I knew he had Krystal’s address and worst case scenario I knew he would end up at her apartment at the end of the night if we lost track of him. However, on the plus side, Jocelyn, James, Krystal and I got some delicious Trini food. Orders of doubles, roti, aloo pie, stew chicken, macaroni pie and a few peanut punches were placed. Basically, we all scarfed our food down and mmm it was so good. Now it’s not the same as getting it homemade but it’s good enough when you haven’t had it in months. (If you’d like a breakdown of what Trini food is refer to this post).
Photo Credit: https://goo.gl/images/uKSUgU
After our dinner shindig, we hurried back to Krystal’s flat to wait for Eli and make sure we could get a hold of him. I just knew that if I knew Eli he would go to Krystal’s if he was lost and low and behold he was there! We got there maybe 10 minutes prior to him, and Krystal ran to the grocery quick to get some ice and he was there knocking at the door. Talk about timing.
That particular night was a rather interesting and fun night because Krystal’s friends were coming over to hang out.We spent the night hanging out, laughing and talking with Krystal over some wine James’s parents got us from Bilbao, Spain until her friends came over. Once her friends arrived it was such a taste of home for me because a lot of her friends were fellow Trini students studying in the U.K.They also really held true to the Trini spirit of loving KFC, aka they were all eating chicken and chips. It really brought me back to my roots. It was nice to be surrounded by my native tongue and culture for a night. Prior to that night I never realized how strong of an accent a Trini accent actually is. Seeing the stupefied faces Eli, James and Jocelyn had as we were all rambling I immediately switched to translator mode. James is somewhat familiar with the accent, especially because my mom has an accent when she speaks but he too felt lost and confused when Krystal and her friends were communicating at the speed they were. It was quite amusing for me, though. What was nice about the evening for me was that James was able to see the true ‘spirit’ of Trinis. Jokes and sarcasm yet delivered in a “friendly-Caribbean” way. (If you’d like to familiarize yourself with some Trini terms check out this post!)
James, Jocelyn, Eli and I retired early on in the night since we had to depart at 7:30 a.m. the next day to head to the airport. Since Krystal lived quite centrally in London we hopped on a tube to Liverpool station, and from there, we got on the Stansted Express that delivered us directly to Stansted Airport about an hour later. We bought our Stansted express tickets prior to the trip via a group save option online. Since we did the group save option we each saved about £4 ea on a ticket.
Once we got to Stansted Airport I was pleasantly surprised to see that this airport was very similar to Bristol airport in the sense that it was small, efficient and quick. Since we were flying Ryanair and had non-EU passports we went directly to the check-in desk to have our boarding passes stamped for passport control, and then we were off to security. About 15 minutes later we were strolling through duty-free to head to the waiting lounge for our gate information to be released for our first leg of our journey to Warsaw, Poland! As we were waiting I realized the little ball in my belly button ring had gotten lost somewhere between Exeter and Stansted Airport. What a way to start off our trip… James and I went searching through the random shops to find a belly button ring. We came across Accessorize where I bought a nose ring as a quick fix for the ring.
About 30 minutes later we were finally in our plane seats waiting patiently to start our adventures frolicking across Europe! Keep an eye for my next post detailing our adventures in Warsaw, Poland!
Total Cost for James and I: £73.80
- Pounds spent: £73.80
- Beginning balance of Euros: €800
- Ending balance of Euros: €800
Breakdown of costs:
- Train tickets Exeter to London: £15 ea, £30 total
- Tube tickets: £4.90 ea, £9.80 total
- Stansted Express Tickets for 4: £48, £12 ea, £24 for James and I.
- Food: £10
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