It is good to be back! I have been a very busy girl, and am already falling behind on blog posts – terrible, I know. I made the notes for this particular post while sitting in Pret a Manger, after talking to a particularly beautiful Slovak man. I was in the cafe waiting for Craig, who I would shortly meet up with. It occurs to me that this might be Craig’s debut mention in the blog (welcome!). He’s a Kiwi lad I met in around May, after an introduction from Nastya. Like me, he’s a traveller, professional sort, writer – and as I discovered when at dinner with Nastya and Stephen in Cardiff the other night, apparently they were hoping romance would spark. Lol. Long-distance match-making – face-palm! They were a little disappointed to discover they’d failed in their endeavours.
I was beyond stoked to spend as much time as I did with Nastya. When I was arranging to come down to Cardiff, she said she’d have time for lunch or something, so I didn’t expect much – then I ended up having dinner with the two of them (and meeting their adorable 2-week-old baby Charles), and spending most of the next day with Nastya and their kid. I swear, you would not believe that Nastya had a baby a couple of weeks ago – she looks totally normal. Not to mention the fact she was on facebook three and a half hours after giving birth – Russians are a different breed!
After breakfasting with an Argentine girl from my Cardiff hostel, I went for a wander and found myself in the castle in the centre of town. It was a pretty cool castle tbh, and the weather was perfect: nice and cool, but with warm, penetrating sunshine. I verged on throwing a mini-tanty however: I really am sick of doing this all by myself. But it was nice, and then I headed back to the hostel to meet up with Nastya and Charles.
We spent the next few hours walking around the town centre, eating Welsh cakes and having a solid catch-up. Who’d have thunk, 18 months ago when we last hung out, that the next time we saw each other I’d be moving to Belgium and she’d be married with a kid? Bizarre. Haha at one point I said how the guys in Cardiff were much better-looking/better-groomed etc than what I’m used to in the UK (certainly Up North), and Nastya laughed. “And compared to Russian men?” Eugh. Monobrows and mullets. I said as much, and Nastya responded saying how to a Russian man, taking care of his appearance means that he’s ‘gay’. “Sure,” I replied – “because making yourself look better so that you can have more sex with women is *totally* gay.”
In the evening I headed off to London, where I would be crashing at my friend Tom’s house. The thing is though, I’ve got rather a lot of stuff – not just my normal mega-suitcase, but my snowboard and all associated gear. Between that and my back, I really can’t take on stairs. Somewhat inconveniently, London’s public transport system doesn’t really believe in lifts, so I had no idea how I was going to *get* to Tom’s place.
Happily, I had wireless on the train from Cardiff, so I was using the Transport for London website to try and figure out a step-free way to get to Tom’s via public transport. It honestly wasn’t looking great. So I had a look at the taxi fare, and it said it would be around 50 pounds. FIFTY FREAKING POUNDS! I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do, when suddenly Uber popped into my head. I’ve been aware of the service for quite a while, as they were offering free rides at a couple of the Vice parties I’ve been to. I’d never actually used them, but I looked into it and downloaded the app. However, I decided it wasn’t feasible, as I needed to have internet access wherever I was actually being picked up from – and the middle of Paddington Station was hardly a road.
Arriving at the station, I wandered over to the entrance to the Tube, looked at the stairs, and just about cried. “No, no, no,” was pretty much my response, and I decided to head out into night-time London and figure it all out. So here I am, phone in hand, wandering determinedly down the street with all of my gear, looking for someone’s wi-fi to use. Finally, I managed to log on outside a McDonald’s, and summoned an uber driver. It was freaking *magical*!!! It arrived super quickly, and the guy took me the whole way to Tom’s (>30 minutes) – and thanks to the 10 pounds’ credit I had applied when signing up, the whole trip only cost me 11 pounds. How ridiculous is that?! Ridiculously *awesome* is what. Haha and if I’ve sold the service to you and you want to sign up, download the app and please apply my referral code (uberexplaura) – you’ll get ten pounds/twenty dollars’ credit, and so will I. So you’ll be funding my travels, and I will love you forever.
My gosh though. It’s so, so good to be back home in Europe.
(Written 31/12 and backdated… because you wouldn’t want two posts on the same day, now would you?)