After five hours of driving from Skye to Edinburgh in the sunshine, we dropped off the car and it promptly began to rain. We took a bus back to the city center and ducked into a pub to have breakfast for dinner. The Scottish (or English) breakfast is a thing of beauty. There are always slight variations on the contents depending on where you are, but the bottom line is that it always contains a shit-ton of food. The most amazing thing is the variety of food on the plate. Ours had eggs, toast, hash browns, sausage (the real stuff, not those shriveled up breakfast sausages), beans, mushrooms, and grilled tomato. Denny’s could never hope to compete with such a wonder as this. It took me several minutes just to decide which items I was going to eat together—always a difficult choice.
At the bus station we encountered the girl who would be the bane of our existence for the next ten hours. She was probably around 20 and was the perfect example of someone who has traveled a lot and learned absolutely nothing. I know that she has traveled a lot because even from her far away seat in the station I could hear her regaling the people around her with her previous travel gaffes. I tried to tune her out, but every few minutes I would hear a punchline such as, “I had no idea I was supposed to use the bucket!”
I prayed to Zeus that she wouldn’t be on our bus, but, of course, she was. She talked non-stop the entire bus ride from Edinburgh to London. If I hadn’t wanted to kill her, I would have congratulated her on her stamina. She was oblivious to the fact that people take overnight buses so that they can sleep on them and that generally they are silent. We all took turns glaring at her, but she kept right on jabbering about her life, her travels, her family, and her opinions on everything. By the time we got to London she was outlining the hunting habits of her cats. The most irritating thing about her besides her lack of an inside voice, was that she was one of those girls who raises her pitch at the end of a sentence? So that everything she says sounds like a question? I. Hate. That.
After our nine hour bus ride to London, we hopped right onto a bus for Dover. We drove through Canterbury on the way and both of us thought that it looked like a nifty little town to stop in. However, there was an apartment in the Alps waiting for us, so Canterbury would have to be put on the “next time” list. When we got to the cliffs of Dover they were not as impressive as I had hoped up close, but once we could see them from afar they seemed much more majestic. I tried to recite “Dover Beach,” but I could only get as far as “The sea is calm tonight/the tide is full,” which wasn’t any help because it was the middle of the day.
Upon our arrival in Calais, France, I quickly took stock of all of the French that I had at my disposal. All I could think of? Some numbers, various animals, the basic hello/thank you/goodbye/ stuff, and three ridiculous things that Rachelle taught me. I then realized that there was only one possible conversation that I could have in French:
French person: Hello
Me: I would like 9 sheep.
F.P.: Would you also like 10 butterflies?
Me: No, but I would like a monkey.
F.P.: There is a monkey on the branch in the Luxembourg Gardens.
Me: Very good.
F.P.: Also, there is a lady with two adorable dogs.
Me: Yes. Thank you my little cabbage!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t even remember the correct order of the words to say, “I don’t speak French,” although to screw up saying that really drives the point home, I think.