Today was the day that the rest of the girls arrived! The plan was to meet at Tim’s to drop off our luggage (thank you Tim!) and then head to Stonehenge. Despite all the misgivings by friends who had been, we had to go to see it and cross it off our bucket list.
Jenna and Lane met up at the apartment around 10:30AM using the map and texting when they found wifi. Lindsey was set to land around 10:30, and we told her to just meet us at the tour office for our 1:00PM tour.
The London Tube is very easy to use, but the stops are also deceivingly far away from each other, meaning traveling from place-to-place took a lot longer than anticipated. Even with our lead-time, we barely made it to the Golden Tours office around 1PM given the confusion caused by all of the construction around the Victoria station.
Luckily, the tour guides put us on camp-time, so they had no plans to leave at 1, but after being instructed to board the bus around 1:30PM we started getting nervous when we still didn’t see Lindsey. We feverously began texting her to get an ETA, seriously worried that she wouldn’t make the tour. She said she was 4 stops away… Then 3… Then finally out of the Victoria train station. We begged the bus driver to give us a few minutes for her to arrive, and then Jenna sprinted out of the bus towards the train station to find Lindsey among the disorienting construction. At 1:45, both came running up, luggage in hand and out of breath, but they made it!
Jetlagged, we all napped intermittently during the 2 hour-long drive through the rolling green hills and meadows that you’d imagine the typical English countryside to look like. The day was cloudy and gray, and despite the drizzle of rain outside and our sleepiness, we were all excited when we finally pulled up to the Stonehenge visitors center. We had to catch a shuttle from the visitors center, and Lane being Lane, she naturally made friends with a tour guide from another group, who offered to find her a husband should she ever visit Taiwan.
When we finally got up next to Stonehenge, it truly was a sight to see – the stones themselves were MASSIVE. Each stone weighed a couple tons, and even though the fence around them kept visitors about 20 feet back from them, that didn’t detract from how impressive they looked against the surrounding farmland. Just last Christmas I watched an hour-long documentary about Stonehenge, and parts of it I was starting to remember as we walked around them listening to the audio tour.
The tour bus was scheduled to leave back to the city at 4, but that didn’t mean our travel day was over. The person whom we rented our Airbnb from in Shoreditch (northwest of where Tim’s place was) had told us we needed to grab the keys from a convenience store clerk before he closed up shop at 9PM. However, we still had to take the 2-hour bus ride back AND pick up our luggage from Tim’s. We decided the best approach would be to divide and conquer. Having figured out how to use the Tube, I went with Jenna to locate the apartment keys while Lane took Lindsey to Tim’s.
Jenna and I set off as quickly as possible, running between stops and right up until 8:50 when we found the convenience store off the Old Street stop in Shoreditch. The guy had been waiting outside for us, and smugly asked if we needed keys. Relieved we picked up the keys and began walking towards the apartment based off the description given in the Airbnb email. The only problem was that the host did not clearly list the actual apartment number. Instead, he gave directions like you would a treasure map: go to the apartment entrance after 2 metal bins, up to the third floor, turn left and it will be the 2nd door down. Easy enough, or so we thought.
We followed the directions and went to the darkened apartment door and tried unsuccessfully to open with the set of skeleton keys we had been provided. All of a sudden, the door opened abruptly making Jenna and I jump back and yell and the short guy inside to start yelling at us to go away. Completely startled, we fumbled to explain that we were lost, and needed help. The guy told us “No! Go the fuck away you’re trying to break in!” And after a few more fumbled attempts of our explanation, he realized we were completely harmless and let us know we were on the 2nd floor. In London, the “first” floor is always floor 0. Shaken up, we thanked him for his help and approached cautiously to the 3rd floor apartment a floor above, this time knocking on the door just in case we scared someone else. Turns out, this was also the wrong apartment, but this time the girl was a little more helpful in letting us know there were multiple entrances to the apt further down the block. We finally made it and found our Airbnb apartment but felt like wound up balls of nerves after the whole incident. We couldn’t curse the Airbnb host enough.
We finally made it back to Tim’s and were able to laugh about the whole situation when re-telling the story to everyone. We took an uber back to Shoreditch to drop off our luggage and snag a late-night dinner at 11:30PM of chicken donar (i.e. the English version of Halal) and exhausted from the day finally got to sleep.