european misadventures 2010

I have decided to keep an account of all the occasions my parents and I come off like ugly Americans!  Blogging will give me something to do when we retire to the hotel room at 9pm due to my mom’s fear of muggings, and also, we’ve been hideously ugly so far.  I’ll be updating throughout the seven more days we have left here, so enjoy!

Day 1
I blow up the electric voltage converter.  My computer’s apparently too strong for the thing.  Then we realize that half the lights in the hotel room, plus the TV, have shut off and won’t turn on again; Dad and I go downstairs and explain to the attractive guy at the reception desk that I tripped a circuit breaker.  After Dad goes upstairs I stay to ask more perfectly legitimate questions about electricity/smile inanely/try to pass off almost starting a fire and blowing up my computer as an endearing and hilarious mishap, rather than ignorant and embarrassing.  Almost offer the guy my name, then decide against it.

We go out to a local pub for dinner and Mom, like me, orders the fish and chips, only she squicks out when she realizes that A) it’s a whole fish and B) has skin on it.  She then proceeds to launch a surgical skin-removal operation with her knife and fork.  When I find a tiny, tiny bone in mine, I wait until she’s not looking to draw it out of my mouth and hide it on the plate.

Dad finds the one American channel on TV, starts watching immediately.  It’s playing a war movie.

Day 2
We break the lift.  More accurately, the people who get on the lift after us look at the NO MORE THAN 4 PEOPLE sign, say, “Eh, get on, let’s risk it” and they break it.  Still, when the hotel staff have to haul down the lift and manually pry open the doors, I can tell they blame us, as we are the (stereotypically overweight) Americans who blew up their room yesterday and the other people are a statesque European couple who look like they go hiking on weekends.  Realize the attractive guy from reception is there, feel mortified immediately that I’m still wearing what I slept in (namely, a Save Ginny T-shirt and gym shorts).  Am incredibly thankful I didn’t give him my name.

At breakfast, post-lift debacle, I discover that during my jet-nap yesterday Dad called someone up from reception because he couldn’t get the window to shut in his room.  Find out that this was the same guy from reception!  It becomes increasingly clear that even if I possessed powers of seduction, there is no way they would work on this dude.

Mom hates the tube and wants to take buses everywhere, but I only know how to get places by Underground.  We get lost in the bus system once, confused and tired by the bus system approximately thrice.

We buy a new electric adaptor –– though the old one didn’t start smoking, just the converter, we’re still afraid to use it –– and Mom tries plugging my power strip into it, then her curling iron into the power strip, but the power strip is only a 125V deal and we argue over whether that’s a good idea (it’s not).  Dad takes the power strip and goes to ask reception, returns to confirm that it won’t work and will wreak havoc, not like we haven’t with the electronics enough already.  (But my computer charger has a built-in conversion capacity, lucky me!)  “The guy who never sleeps told me,” he says.  “Who’s that?” I ask and Dad, as I expected, describes the attractive guy.

Day 3
I take the stairs in fear that the lift will break.

We go to the West End and don’t get lost among the buses, not even once!  In an effort to become more cultured I’ve decided we should get tickets for Les Miserables, as it is frankly shocking that none of us have ever seen it, and we trek over to TKTS in Leicester Square.  They are setting up for something big, and surprise!  Tonight is the Sex and the City 2 premiere.  Mom is terribly excited.  “This is where it’s all happening!” she says, like she’s Penny Lane.  “This is so cool!”  We nab kickass tickets for Les Mis and eat at a chain restaurant, where I have mediocre tikka masala because my dad won’t let us go for Indian food.  We explore Covent Garden and Mom falls in love with every busker there, one of whom calls me out on being American because “a real Brit wouldn’t wear that shirt!  You’re American, aren’t you?” and makes me a pistol out of a skinny black balloon.  (Seriously.)

Anyway, we shop a whole bunch and check out the SATC2 premiere because we’re starstruck consumerists, and I get to see that Cynthia Nixon and Simon Pegg are in the same place as I am, which gets me all hopped up on endorphins.  Then we mosey over to Les Mis, despite my parents’ protestations –– Dad because it’s not Wicked, Mom because it’s a tearjerker –– and have a freighter’s worth of feelings.  Mom cries during both the actual performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” and, later, at the thought of Susan Boyle peforming “I Dreamed a Dream” for The X Factor.  Dad has a great time and says he likes Jean Valjean the best, though when he says this he calls him “the one who was a criminal but broke out of jail to become a good guy,” and I have to tell Dad what that guy’s name is.  I get goosebumps but do not actually cry, probably because I have no heart.

Day 4
When I first got to London two Septembers ago it felt immediately like home, as if I [had always] belonged there.  This time it feels like exactly what it is, a place I am visiting, and I feel like a tourist.  Sometimes this causes me to get frustrated and act like a jerk.

In other news, we took an open-top bus tour and went to my old school (!).  As important, I find out that our hotel is down the street from where Oscar Wilde married Constance.  OMFG.

Day 5
We eat in the crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which is not as spooky as it sounds.  Mom and I have afternoon tea.  Dad has coffee and a sandwich he doesn’t like.  Then we go to the National Portrait Gallery and check out paintings of Paul McC (for Mom) and Byron (for me); ol’ By looks like an arrogant douche in his portrait, but that seems accurate enough.  The McCartney portrait was done by a friend of his brother’s, so it’s called Mike’s Brother.  I like you, Mike’s friend!  That’s funny!

We go to Oxford Street and get completely lost, on my accord, and it’s cold/rainy.  For dinner we end up at our third Italian restaurant in as many days, almost solely because it’s the closest Dad can get to “regular food” (read: American).  Apparently every other restaurant in London has “weird food” (read: Indian, vegetarian, Lebanese, Thai, etc).  So I suggest Eat or Pret-a-Manger but he won’t eat premade stuff either.  It’s a little frustrating.

For the bad-news segment of this evening, I may (or may not? perhaps? hopefully?) be falling ill, if you count chills, an earache, a sore-ish throat, a cough, sniffles, and some fatigue as symptomatic of illness.  I’ve taken to bed early tonight in hopes that it’ll clear up by morning.  We have so much left to see already.

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6 Comments

Filed under Heather

6 responses to “european misadventures 2010

  1. emma

    this is painful.

    • emma

      p.s where are you staying? your parents should have brought me along, too.

      • Heather

        we’re staying at a lovely hotel in Paddington! one of many, as our street seems to have only hotels on it.

        I’m sorry you’re in pain. Heather and Emma, European Vacay 20__: It Shall Be Awesome.

  2. Peter

    Ah, hard to get. I like it.

  3. andrew

    This encapsulates all of my family vacations. Ever. Except, in my version, everyone wears matching fanny-packs and neon colored shorts.

  4. Rachel

    “Mom cries during both the actual performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” and, later, at the thought of Susan Boyle performing “I Dreamed a Dream” for The X Factor. ”

    this was the only thing that has made me laugh all day. props to your mom.

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