Because our intensive classes ended last Tuesday and the official University classes did not begin until yesterday, most of our group took advantage of the break by jet setting off to various cities in Europe. I went with three friends to London and had an incredible weekend.
If you were thinking about going to London and staying in the Astor Victoria hostel, don’t. We showed up and were greeted by a receptionist with pink eyebrows and jewelry in places I didn’t know could be pierced. They charged us for everything. We had to pay to use towels, as well as give a down payment for a hairdryer, unless it was used in the lobby in front of all of the other backpackers from Taiwan and Germany, who were just as wacky as the receptionist. None of us would touch our bare feet to the carpet in the room (which was the size of a closet) or the showers because they were so gross. We literally only slept there and avoided going back at all costs. The flight was not much better, or at least on the trip there. I think it’d be fair to say that Ryan Air is the Astor Victoria of airlines – they give you the bare minimum and charge you an arm and a leg for anything more. When we landed in Stansted, everyone started wildly applauding. I was convinced that it was because they were all so relieved that we had made it there alive, but apparently this is a common thing in Europe.
I kept telling myself that all of this was just “part of the experience.” It’s so true though – I would (and will) do it again in a heartbeat because we had the most amazing weekend and could spend our money on other things. In 2 days, we saw the Parliament buildings and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, a performance of Phantom of the Opera in West End, the London Eye, London Tower and Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Soho and Oxford Street, Covent Gardens, and more.
We were so exhausted every night when we got home that the discolored sheets and phantom noises coming from the radiator didn’t seem so terrible anymore. I got to celebrate my birthday downtown and meet up with a couple more Bucknellians abroad. The best part of all might have just been speaking nothing but English for 5 days straight. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love learning Spanish and improving everyday, but it was so refreshing – exhilarating almost – to be able to meet someone new and have a fluid conversation with them.
Despite the incredible trip, we are all genuinely excited to be back in Granada. I said to one of my friends that I couldn’t wait to get home, and then caught myself because I realized that I had just called Spain my home. I remember feeling the same way a few weeks into my freshman year at Bucknell – I was talking to my mom on the phone and said something like, “oh okay, well I’m on my way home now I have to go.” I had to stop myself because I never thought that I’d call any other place home other than where I grew up.
Cheers to a wonderful weekend trip and many more to come!