03.07.2011 - 03.07.2011 75 °F
Yesterday morning we sadly departed Stratford-upon-Avon and headed south toward Portsmouth. I was very excited to see what the day would hold for my 25th birthday in England. It was Tammy’s turn to drive and she successfully navigated us to The Great Hall and Round Table in Winchester. I was wearing my giant “Birthday Girl” button that Tammy had purchased for me from Poundland, and I received many happy birthday wishes as we walked through the streets. At the Great Hall we found many King Arthur and Medieval supplies and our day seemed to be going great, but boy were we wrong!
At about 2 p.m., we checked into the Ibis Portsmouth, got on the lift with our luggage, walked down the hall to our assigned room, opened the door, and immediately knew that this was no “home-sweet-home.” The room was all of about 50 square feet, including the bathroom which was maybe 10 on its own. Oh and the beds were as hard as a rock, no exaggeration! We tried to turn on the A/C but discovered there was none, so we opened the window as wide as we could and ventured out to find the Dickens’ Birthplace Museum.
On foot, hotel city map in hand, at about 2:25 p.m., we began traveling the direction toward the museum, or so we thought…
15 minutes into the trek, we soon realized that the hotel map was complete bullocks! We found ourselves literally RUNNING in circles in an effort to make the 3:00 reading of Charles Dickens’ literature. Arriving at 3:01, panting and sweating, we asked if we had missed the start of the reading. They said, “You’re just in time,” so we paid the admission fee and were quickly ushered up 3 flights of stairs. We walked into the reading room and unfortunately the only seats left available were on a bench next to the window, so we rushed in, sat down, and the reading began.
Exhausted, dripping in sweat, and roasting in the sun light coming in from the window, we did our best to stay alert as our host read a passage from Great Expectations. About 45 minutes later, the reading ended and we proceeded to tour the museum. The most intriguing part was the couch where Dickens’ died.
At about 4:30, we slowly ambled back to our crummy hotel and began to get ready for my birthday dinner celebration. Tammy and I got all dressed up and decided to walk to the Gunwharf Quays since it was only about a mile away. As we began walking, we soon realized that the neighborhood resembled the quality of our hotel, and although we had mace with us, I had left my Taser in Texas. So, the creepy yahoos roaming the streets forced us to return to the hotel for the rental car. I put the address into the GPS and Tammy drove us to the wharf. We pulled into what looked like a public parking lot and went to dinner.
When we returned to the car a couple of hours later, Tammy went to the driver’s side to get in and…
FREAKED and UPSET, we walked to a local restaurant to use their phone to call to have the boot removed. When the man arrived, he explained that we had to pay 200 pounds for the ticket and boot removal fee. We could tell that he felt really bad after hearing our situation and seeing that it was my birthday, but there was nothing that he could do about it. He told us to write an appeal to get our money back, which would take up to 28 days. So, we are still waiting and hoping that our appeal is accepted, and that England takes pity on our ignorance of how England displays their no parking signs. Needless to say, I will never forget my 25th birthday in England.