Turning 25 was unlike any other birthday I’ve had in the past, and that was exactly the way I had wanted it to be. There’s a stigma against turning 25 in our modern day culture, it feels ‘old’ and it’s like society expects us to have our life together by this point.
Well society – I have a full-time job, I’m paying my student loans that you (forced) upon me when I was 18, and I’m traveling the world with some of my best friends. I’d say my life is exactly the way I want it to be at this point AND I’m still young so don’t try to tell me otherwise.
Anyway, that was a long and pointless introduction to this incredible story about how I spent my 25th birthday – exploring London with two of my best friends who I have now been friends with for more than half of my lifetime.
Every unforgettable trip has to start out with a bang and I think our’s had several. The first happened before even getting on the plane in Logan Airport and I blame the engineer with the genius idea to use an escalator instead of a ramp to board the plane.
Have you ever went to board a plane and the line went so smoothly that there was never a moment where you had to stop for several seconds or minutes? I haven’t, and this time was no different.
Actually, it was different because the line stopped moving and the escalator didn’t. So, what happens when you’re moving down an escalator into a continuously growing crowd with no where to go?
First, you attempt to walk upwards on the escalator which is moving downwards while the crowds on both sides of you are slowly getting closer and closer.. Second, you make eye contact with the guy in front of you at the bottom of the escalator and you both brace for impact.
Thank you to whoever was smart enough to finally press the emergency stop button.
Five and a half hours later we touch down at London Gatwick Airport and instead of heading directly into London, we wanted to spend some time that morning exploring Brighton so we bought a train ticket online and went over to the station.
Every train to Brighton was delayed until further notice due to some issue with signaling on the tracks. Delays could be expected until 1500 (that’s 3pm for you Americans) .. and it was currently 0900 (9am). I guess our first piece of luck was that we only had to wait until 1030 for our train.
We spent a good couple hours exploring the seaside town of Brighton and when it was time to head into London we realized how much we would be struggling without working phones. We couldn’t order an Uber, look at Google Maps for directions, or download the bus app which we needed if we wanted to pay for bus fare.
We ended up stopping in a pub looking for free Wifi and instead got free shots, free directions, and free information on where the best parties would be in London that night.
An hour long train ride into London meant an hour long nap for us, and our arrival into the city signaled our next ‘bang,’ or series of ‘bangs’ rather. Haley’s debit card was gone – either dropped somewhere in Brighton or on the train – and that was her only source of money for the trip. On top of that, we were now in the London Underground and had no idea how to get to where we needed to be.
Someone directed us on where to go and we were able to get to the general vicinity of the hotel. Just in time for Samantha’s phone to die, my phone didn’t work internationally, and Haley had cancelled her card so we couldn’t use her Uber app to get a ride.
But wait, there’s more.. It was dark by the time we found our hotel, only to realize this was just an Airbnb-type property that just so happened to be listed on Expedia. There was no front desk or lobby area. We had to call internationally to be told we were supposed to plan a meeting time ahead of arrival (thanks for letting me know that??) and we were told to sit outside for an hour and wait for the owner to come and let us in.
By the time we got in and settled we were absolutely exhausted and more naps were required before we decided to head out for dinner and drinks.
Turning 25 was different than any other birthday I’ve had in the past where I’ve been focused on going out and getting as drunk as possible. This year the adventure was the traveling and I think I’ll make a habit of that. (Side note: there was still plenty of liquor involved)
If you’ve read this entire thing you’re probably either my mom or a crazy person – if you’re a crazy person send me a smiley face in the comments 🙂