Tuesday, May 7, 2013

London Part II: Dope Day

A continuation of the London story, as promised....

Based on our initial plans, day two in London was expected to be the most exciting, but we never anticipated it would turn out to be as incredible as it was.

The plan was to get up early and be at Caravan by 10am for the famous crumpets that we missed the day before, but we got a bit of a late start and ended up 45 minutes behind schedule.  I'm not sure if I can fully explain the kind of joy that our soy lattes and fresh crumpets brought us, but just trust me when I say that if the food was all we had received at Caravan that morning, we would have left more than content.  However fate had other plans, and we were about to get much, much more than food.

Sinead got up from the table to use the restroom, as Victoria and I sipped on the remainder of our lattes and chatted across the table.  After a few minutes, Sinead returned to her seat in between us.  As soon as she sat down, she took a death grip on each of our shoulders, gasped and stared directly ahead. "Sinead, what? What's going on?" I was afraid to turn my head to the right and look at whatever she was staring at, I thought maybe something was going on outside, I didn't know whether to be scared or what.  Then, with her gaze stilled locked straight ahead, she said, "EMMA. WATSON. Is in front of me."

I turned to my right and saw, not fifteen feet away, a girl in a simple black top sitting across from an older man at a table by the window, casually chatting, smiling and nodding.  For a split-second I thought, "Wow, that girl really does look like Emma Watson."  And then I heard her voice, and I have no words to explain the kind of emotions that swept over me in that moment.  The three of us just looked at each other like, "Holy crap, guys that's really her.  Emma Watson is sitting right there.  What do we do?  WHAT DO WE DO!?"

We sat there for probably half an hour trying to regain control of our emotions and deciding if it would be better to just leave her alone or if it would be rude to try to talk to her.  The waitress that we met the day before came by to fill up our water glasses, and when we asked if she knew Emma Watson was sitting right there she said, "Yeah, I had to go downstairs and cry for a bit. This is my second day of work, and I went over to serve her and I was like, 'I can't do it, I can't do it.'"  After she told us that, we felt a little less ridiculous for reacting the way did, or at least that it was warranted.

After MUCH deliberation, we came to the conclusion that Sinead should go ask her if she would mind taking a photo with us.  The conversation went something like this, "But we should say, 'So sorry to interrupt' and 'We totally understand if you don't want to' and 'We're huge fans' And it should only be one of us so it's not a big scene. Should we wait until she's done talking to him? We don't have time! Maybe we should just go. We can't just go without doing anything!"

So eventually, Sinead walked over and asked, she told her she was trying to keep a low-profile and offered to sign something for us instead.  As we searched our purses for paper and a pen, I remembered that I still had the pen that I paid 1.50 euro for at the Vatican when I went to the post office there and they had no pens to fill out the postcards.  I never thought I would be glad that I spent almost two US dollars on a single pen, but it turned out to be worth every penny.  Sinead brought over our receipt and Emma Watson used my Vatican pen to sign three autographs, one for each of us.  As we left, all I could say was, "Thanks so much!" and she just smiled and said it was no problem.

They say you should never meet your heroes, but 'they' were definitely wrong.  She was every bit as classy, and gracious as you would imagine.  It was a really strange sensation, meeting someone who has been a role model since I saw the Sorcerer's Stone when I was nine years old.  I definitely had trouble wrapping my head around the fact that we ended up in a random coffee shop in London on the same day, at the same time as Emma Watson, that our lives had crossed paths for an hour.  Seriously, what were the chances?  Life, man.

Once we were about a block away, we had a mini-freakout, group hugged, shed some tears, and then attempted to continue with our day, not to mention our lives.  We were fully prepared for the rest of the trip to be downhill from there, I mean, can you really top that?  But if anything, it was just an indication of how awesome the rest of the day would be.

Post-Emma photo

We took the tube to Buckingham palace, walked through Green Park, and then stopped outside a building where the Queen's Guards were on duty.  Victoria proceeded to perform a significant chunk of the Single Ladies dance, which provoked a smile from one of the guards.  Checking that off the list, we continued to Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and on to Topshop (famous London store, think Urban Outfitters mixed with Nordstrom.)


Green Park. Dubs up.

Green Park sittin'

Outside of Buckingham, Big Ben peeking out from behind the trees in the background there.

Security wouldn't let me ride the lion. That's my sad face.

Making an important call

It's just so ANGLO!

Piccadilly Circus

On our way there, we joked, "This day couldn't possibly get better. Watch, Topshop will be having a sale! Haha yeah right!"  We turned the corner onto Oxford Street, and a giant pink banner in the window proclaimed, "MIDSEASON SALE."  We looked at each other, "You've gotta be joking, what is going on with this day?!"  Unless my memory fails me, I believe we brought it in for a group hug again before Victoria said she needed to find an ATM.  I looked to the left and there were two ATMs with "Free Cash Withdrawl" signs directly across the street from Topshop.  Literally everything was going our way.

The promised land

Two hours of shopping yielded new outfits for everyone, and a loss of desire to shop at any other store for the rest of our lives (if we had that kind of budget.)  But we had to be on our way back to the hostel to prepare for the night we had planned.  We planned on going to a small concert put on by The Intermission Project, a band Victoria found on youtube, and from there we were going to make our way to Fabric nightclub.

First of all, I have to explain that about a week before we left, this band posted on their Facebook page that they would be playing an acoustic set in London at a little bar not two miles from the club that we already had tickets to that night.  Victoria had sent me their videos before and I had fallen in musical love, so we decided we had to go, it was just too coincidental.  Naturally, we were all really excited to see them perform, because it would be a small show and we would probably be able to talk to them afterwards.

Fast-forward back to that night.  We got back to our hostel, stuffed some food in our mouths, put on our new Topshop outfits, fixed our hair and makeup, and were on the tube by 7:45.  Based on Google's calculations, we were supposed to be there by 8:20, we figured they might be starting a bit late anyway.  But Google was wrong, and as we sat on the tube checking our watches we thought we might catch the very tail-end of the performance.  "Unless they start 45 minutes late! HA! Yeah right."  I thought, "Ah well, it's been a great enough day already, there's no way this crazy streak of luck can continue."

We got off the tube and literally ran through the streets of the Islington borough of London, trying to find "Tolpuddle Road."  A few u-turns later, at 8:59pm, we spotted the bar, walked in, and found another band playing on stage, but I saw the band we had wanted to see sitting at a table listening to the current performance.  We had an hour or two to kill, so we ordered some hard cider and sat down in front of the stage just as the current band finished.

During the show, so much happiness.
The two guys from The Intermission Project got up and picked up their cases, but instead of carrying them out the door, as we fully expected, they opened them up and started plugging in amps and mics.  For the third time that day, we exchanged one of those "no way, you've got to be kidding" looks.  We had arrived a full hour after they were slated to play, and they started an hour and ten minutes late, everything was working out so unbelievably, fantastically, ridiculously well.

There were only about twenty people at the bar, so after their set (which they killed, by the way), we got to talk to them and took a photo.  When we explained that we're from Seattle, studying in Spain, and just in London for the long weekend, they asked, a little perplexed, "How did you hear about us?"  Youtube, man.  The internet is a great thing, isn't it?  They were super friendly and just all-around adorable--props to Victoria for the youtube discovery.

We ended the day at London's famous club, Fabric.  All that needs to be said about that is that there were far too many ridiculous things going on to even begin to explain.  Almost seven hours of drum and bass, cap-sac theft-prevention, Sinead's American charm, an insane French girl, and my personal highlight of the night, a dancing teddy bear.  We hopped on the tube when it opened around 6am, got back to our hostel, and climbed into bed just as our roommates alarm clocks were going off.

There you have it, Dope Day, close to 24 consecutive hours of ridiculously good luck, or karma, or something.  Whatever it was, it was dope.

(Day 3 post coming soon...)

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