An outspoken pudgy taxi driver insisted his price to the station was only £6, so we agreed to use his services. He asked where we were from and we replied Canada. "VANCOUVER... Is where I'll be going next year," was his response. Okay (awkward pause) who is this guy, we thought. Upon settling into our seats, Willie reached down and found a £5 note... Being honest, he held it out to our driver and asked if it was his money that had fallen down. "Ah no, it would cost one more quid for ya," he shot back. I told Willie to just hold on to it and we fell silent for the rest of the short ride. Getting out of the taxi we quickly paid the guy, however we didn't have any accessible change to tip him... "What?! No tip? Do they not tip in Canada?! In America it's tip for this, for this, for this, and for that. I'm fed up!" Yikes. By this point we didn't know if he was still talking about us or not. I ended up handing over the small Euro change I had in my pocket as a tip. Little did he know, we ended up paying him with his own £5 note... Harsh on our part—and we still kind of feel bad about it—but we also felt he deserved it for his abrupt manners! It was a weird situation that we obviously laugh about now.
Anyway, we hit the tracks and made it to Cambridge later that night. We were fortunate enough to stay with our cousin and his wife for the next little while, which ended up being a much needed relaxing 5 days in total. They are both working on their Ph.D's and were quite busy but still made the time to host us. They were amazing hosts, taking us to their favourite pubs and spots to eat/have a drink. They gave us tours of the many colleges, told us where to go punting, and laughed along at all our quirky travel stories.
Punting is a legendary boating tradition amongst Cambridge and Oxford students, in which a person stands on the back of a narrow boat and uses a long wooden or metal pole to push off the river's bottom, propelling the boat along. It felt legendary. We got the hang of it and luckily didn't end up with our pole stuck in the water's muddy floor, which would result in one of us clinging on for dear dry life, alone with no boat beneath. This was my cousin's fate earlier this summer, but he didn't mind walking back through his college drenched to the bone while waving to his laughing onlookers.
Saturday rolled around and we were off to the North Eastern coast of Sunderland. Spurs and the Black Cats were facing off in what turned out to be a thrilling contest. It was a dream of mine to witness a Premier League football match, and now I can say I have. Our seats were fantastic, and we learned later on that we were visible back home to our parents watching on TV. Our wide grinning faces were permanent for those 90 minutes of game play. Two goals in the first few minutes made for quite the opening, giving a fast paced counter attacking style to us fans straight from the get-go. In the end, a 2-2 draw was a little disappointing for us Spurs supporters, but the action and increasing aggravation/excitement from the fans was definitely invigorating.
England has been quite the highlight of our travels. From our amazing cousins to our exciting experience at the game, we felt at home in Cambridge and it was tough to leave. But we must, and we're now off to pay homage to our fallen Canadians in Normandy. I look out the window as I type and see the crashing waves of the English channel, imagining what it must have been like in the moments before storming one of the nearing beaches in WWII France.
Until then, here are some pictures from this last leg of our travels:
Platform 9&3/4s in King's Cross Station