Hey everybody. It's been an eventful week or so since I last posted. We're in England again, and we've found a cute flat in Enfield. Right now, we're in Dover, camping and seeing the sights. It's been quite a trip, though.
We arrived in London on Thursday morning. The flight over was okay, but it wasn't the same service as our first flight over, and since it was an overnighter, I couldn't sleep and was exhausted when we arrived. We gathered all our luggage (we maxed out the luggage allowance so we could start moving our stuff over in batches) and staggered to the train, then hauled everything on trains and tubes and buses to a storage unit in Enfield. Hellish, but done. Except, when we got there, we found out that, due to antiterrorism laws, you can't rent a storage unit without a valid UK address and utility bills to prove residence. We needed to store our stuff so we could find a place to live, but we couldn't store it until we had a place to live. Fantastic. So we had to haul all our stuff back to town on another bus (keep in mind the no-sleep factor here and the approximately 250 pounds of luggage we were dealing with). We got back into Enfield town (apparently "town" means London; "Enfield town" means downtown Enfield) at a complete loss and sat in the train station trying to figure out what to do. Camping was right out, with all that luggage, but hotels were too expensive, and we needed to find some storage option so we wouldn't have to drag everything around for 8 days and back on the plane. Andrew scurried around looking for a hotel while I watched our stuff, and I met a very nice gentleman who offered to help and gave me a Christian pamphlet. I smiled and thanked him, but I felt a bit weird about it. He went on his way and Andrew came back with no luck. We couldn't even think, we were so tired and sore from carrying the luggage, so we broke down and booked a room at the only nearby hotel for £65 a night. Yikes. Oh, and it was raining, of course, and I slipped and hurt my wrist. Fabulous. But we got to the hotel, dragged our luggage upstairs, and collapsed on the bed and fell asleep immediately. A few hours later, things were looking much better and we went to the library to check email. I was sitting in a chair at a second computer while Andrew was checking his email, and a gentleman walked up and asked if he could have the chair to use the other computer. He saw that we were Americans and introduced himself as Tony. He was very friendly and full af local information and advice, and he gave us his contact information. We were pleased at the friendliness of our new neighbors and went to find some dinner before crashing for the night.
The next day, we went back to the library and got a newspaper and did some research on flats in the area. Andrew had discovered the previous day that it might be very difficult to get a flat without previous rental and banking history in the UK. This did, in fact, turn out to be the case. We'll probably have to pay for 6 months in advance, which, coupled with the crappy exchange rate and the fact that we haven't yet started earning pounds, is a very expensive prospect. But I guess we should have expected it to be difficult, moving to another country. At any rate, we found that flats were not only expensive but also rare. We went from office to office asking for the same sort of flats, only to find that they had all been rented out the day before. We started to get nervous about it but forged on. Finally we got to an office that had a flat to show us, and it was great, available, and not too expensive. We almost took it on the spot but held off to try one more office. They had another one to show us that was awful and more expensive, so we rushed back to the other one to see if it was still available, and, thank goodness, it still was, so we snatched it up and we now have a place to live in Enfield! Hooray! We celebrated with a nice Indian meal and a bottle of wine. Ahhh...
The next day, we were filled with out flat-finding success, but we still had all the luggage to deal with. We couldn't move in to the flat until September 8. We asked at Barclays if we could store it there, but no luck. The flat-rental office also couldn't take it. We couldn't get our friend Courtney on the phone. So I called Tony from the library to ask for advice. He turned out to be our Enfield hero. He let us store our stuff in his garage in a very nice neighborhood not too far from our flat, he made us tea, he drove us to a nearby campsite (the hotel was too expensive for another night), and he even joined us for dinner and a movie later on. And what a fascinating guy. He's lived and traveled all over the world and had great stories and strong opinions. Obviously, he's extraordinarily friendly, too. So we got rid of our stuff and made a good friend already. Success. Yesterday we took the train down from London and camped near Dover. Now we're off to see the castle and the cliffs, and tomorrow we'll head up to Canterbury to see the cathedral. It's good to be traveling again, and it's good to know that this is our home turf now. We're really excited, and I'll post a thorough description of the new flat and its special challenges later on. Cheers!