I say this every summer-- but c'mon already, fall, bring on the cooler weather!
When I left for London two weeks ago, it was 100 degrees here, and I remember saying to my father as he dropped me off at the airport, "Well, at least it'll be cooler over there."
Ha! So wrong! As soon as I was on the plane (sandwiched between two very nice but very space-invading guys), the pilot announced the current time at our destination-- midnight-- and the current temperature-- 100 degrees. I turned to the guy on my left and said, "That can't be right."
Oh, but it was. England was undergoing a heat wave no one seemed particularly prepared for. Every few hours I would buy (1) a bottle of water and (2) a iced juice thing from one of the many coffee chains dotting the country (my favorite was Costa Coffee's Summer Berries). I dreamt of swimming every night. When I got to Portsmouth after two days in London, I was so excited to discover that my B&B was about a five minutes walk from the seafront. The first thing I did after unpacking was put on as little clothing as I could get away with. Then I walked down to the seafront promenade, where I seriously considered stripping down and diving into the sea even though it never crossed my mind to bring a bathing suit.
(I didn't strip down, unfortunately, because there were families enjoying their vacations everywhere. Instead, I rolled up my jeans, sat on a set of wide stairs that led into the water, and read for about two hours while the sea washed up against my feet. Mmmm, not swimming, but close enough.)
Here is what was good about the sun: I got a simply fantastic tan. (And I was finally responsible about wearing sunscreen-- thank you, Glamor, for freaking me about about skin cancer!)
Here is what I learned while I was away: The Tourist Information Center doesn't always know even the basic stuff about their city. Case in point-- I had no clue where the Bath youth hostel was, so I dragged my bag all the way to the Bath TIC and asked.
The (admittedly very nice) woman explained and said, "It's about a twenty-five minute walk."
I looked at her and said, "Uphill?"
(If you've ever been to Bath, you know why that's an extremely important question, as the city almost spirals out and up around its center.)
She replied, yes, it was uphill.
"Okay," I said, "is there a bus I can take there?"
Well, no, apparently not, because it was up around the university and in a "bad area." Fabulously encouraging!
I couldn't face a twenty-five minute uphill walk with my bag into a "bad area," especially as I had forgotten the directions as soon as the TIC woman had said them, so I did a little detective work myself. I went to the bus station and looked at all the bus schedules until I found a bus that not only went up Bathwick Hill but also had a stop right outside the hostel.
After I showered and changed (into as little as humanly possible but still decent yet again), I went back to the TIC, and they were actually very helpful in other ways, so I try not to judge them too harshly.