Karen arrived at the Gloucester Coach Station expecting to pick up her mum (whom I had joined back in London and we rode the bus together). So, when I came walking out of the bus station too, Karen burst into tears. It's not everyday that your best friend from Denver casually walks out of the Gloucester Coach Station on a sunny, Wednesday afternoon. And thus began my first, true vacation to the English "countryside." Let me explain the quotation marks:
London is a vain and self-centered city, quite simliar to New York City. The urban sprawl of New York City reaches its fingers in every direction, from New Jersey to Conneticut. Yet in my experience (I lived in Jersey for two years), New Yorkers believe that they live in "The City" and everywhere else is just...everywhere else. By the same logic, London is The City, and everywhere else in the country of England constitutes "the country," more or less. Besides the occasional daily jaunt to Stratford Upon Avon or Bath, my family rarely venetured out of The City, preferring to vacation in other parts of Europe. And so my arrival in Gloucester felt in many ways as if I'd taken a three hour bus ride from London and ended up in a foreign country, or at the very least a Jane Austen novel.
My observations about this foreign country:
- The English accent and vocabulary sounded much different
- There were chain superstores, including sister-stores of Wal-mart, Target, and many other retail monstrosities I'd never heard of
- The majority of the cars driving on the road resembled Micro Machines
- There were round-a-bouts every quarter mile and I had to be careful to look forward so the constant turning didn't make me car sick
- Like London, everything is made of brick. But unlike London, there are long gaps of the most exquisite green I've ever seen separating the urban neighborhoods of Gloucester and her neighboring towns!
On Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting some of Karen's friends, many of them who grew up in or around Gloucester. Again, how laid back and normal her friends seemed, compared to some of the more intense, eccentric acquaintances I'd made during my London days. (I am wondering if this comment is going to result in offended emails from my London friends. Trust me, if you're reading this blog, I'm not talking about you). Anyway, I left the party reminded that there are wonderful and fun people everywhere, and I hope to meet them all again some day!
|Gloucester Skyline photo credit|