Friday, August 5, 2016

Europe Adventure: Day Twelve, Part Two- Cardiff to London

After the Enterprise employee dropped us off at the train station we bought our tickets for the train from Cardiff to London Paddington Station. 
We had to wait for a short time on the platform and then we were soon struggling to get our luggage onto the train. 
Two gentlemen helped us on and we thought that was so nice. 
They were both sitting behind us once we were on the train. 
I settled in to read my book and enjoy the scenery...

The train ride would take a few hours so we had plenty of time to relax. 

But this ride did not end up being relaxing. 
One of the men behind us got off the train at a stop along the way and a woman that had been sitting across the row from us got off at the same stop. 
As soon as they were both gone the other man (he had helped me with my bags) moved to the row across from us.
At first he kept to himself but then he began to strike up a conversation with my mom. 
He was friendly. He told us he was from Egypt and was on holiday in the U.K. and headed to London for a few days before going back home. I wasn't talking to him much but my mom kept up the conversation because she is so nice and didn't want to hurt his feelings by not talking to him.
At this point he just seemed like a nice guy that wanted to talk. 
But then I started to have really bad feelings. 
He asked about my book and then started talking about some other books and said I was too young to have read them. I said I was older than I look. (somewhat annoyed that he would think that anyway...) He said I couldn't be older than 25. I told him I was 39. He seemed shocked. 
Then he told me I was beautiful. 
I said thank you but this made me a bit uncomfortable because he kept saying it and I had just been talking about my husband and children. I brought them up again. 
Then he asked us if he could have a selfie with us. He stood up and my mom and I both thought he was going to just stand in the aisle and get one with my mom while she was standing and me while I was sitting but as soon as she stood up he jumped into her seat and put his arm around me. 
He rested his hand on my right upper chest area so he wasn't touching anything but it still felt very inappropriate. I leaned forward to shake him off. Then he stood up and got next to my mom for a picture. I watched to see if he would put his hand in the same area and he did not so that made me feel even weirder about the whole thing. 
I took a picture with him in the background at one point but I have blurred him out.

After this he got quiet for a little while and I was so grateful for that as I was feeling really uncomfortable. 
He was on his phone a bit. 
Then he looked up and asked me for my facebook profile so we could keep in touch. 
I lied and told him that I did not have a facebook. He asked for my twitter. Again, I lied and told him I did not have one. 
I was also on my phone texting with Doug during this time asking him to pray for us that nothing would go wrong with this guy as I was having a really bad feeling. Doug was worried as well. 
Then he moved to the row behind us again. 

After a few minutes of not being able to concentrate on my book I decided to go back and put it in my bag. Our luggage was in the storage area just two rows behind us. I got up and began to walk back there. As soon as I stood up, he stood up and began moving toward the aisle. I put my book away and then made my way back to my chair. 
He bumped into me, his arm touching my chest. I felt like it was on purpose. I am sure it was on purpose. And then he sat back down. He had not done anything while standing up except bump into me. 
My gut feeling was that he thought I was heading back to the bathroom and was going to follow me. I will never know if that is true or not. But that is the feeling that came over me. 
Not only did that scare me but I also felt so violated. 
I sat in my chair and was looking out the window and had tears come to my eyes. 
I began praying that we would be protected. 
I was so thankful that it was daytime and that we weren't the only ones in our train car.
I whispered to my mom about what had happened and how I was feeling. She admitted that she had been feeling weird too. I told her that I wanted to wait until he got off the train before we got off. 
She agreed. 
We pulled into Paddington and we busied ourselves with gathering water bottles, etc and not looking at him. He took a few minutes but got off the train. We waited while a few more people from the car were getting their stuff and then got off. I was so glad he was gone. 
Then, suddenly, he was back on. He started grabbing our bags and taking them off. 
I told him we were fine and could get them off but he still took them. 
Then he asked if we could share a car, if we could tour London together.
He kept saying he would love to hang out with us while in London. 
I told him a car from our hotel was picking us up and I couldn't remember the name of our hotel. 
If he believed me he must have thought I was so stupid. 
Then I told him I didn't know what we would be doing for sure and that we were there to spend time together but thanks anyway. He seemed very disappointed. We thanked him for his help and said goodbye and stood there fiddling with our things until he began to walk away. 
Then we started through the station. 
He stopped and got behind us again. 
I told my mom we were going to stop and not go anywhere until I saw him leave the station. 
So that is what we did. We stood close to security in the middle of the station until we saw him go out onto the road and then we made our way to the taxi area to get a ride to our hotel. 
Now, he may have just been a normal guy. He may have just been helpful and friendly. 
But with the way I was feeling my gut tells me he wasn't. 
It was the scariest time of our entire trip and I was a little paranoid the entire time we were in London that we would run into him. Luckily we didn't. 
Doug was freaking out the entire time saying we were living the plot from Taken. 
He was so glad when I let him know we were in our taxi on our way to the hotel.

When we got to the taxi area we weren't exactly sure how it worked so we stood off to the side for a few minutes to watch and then we approached a taxi. We asked if he took credit cards and he didn't and waved us to someone else. That taxi did. 
I am so glad we got the one we did anyway because the other taxi didn't look cool but this one was the quintessential London black taxi cab and our driver was awesome.

He drove us to the hotel, we paid and tipped him, and then I had to get a picture as he was about to drive away. 

We were staying at the Best Western Phoenix Hotel in Kensington.
This hotel was recommended by Leigh Ann Wilkes at Your Home Based Mom- one of my favorite  blogs and a place I scoured for information from her blog posts about London and Paris. She was even kind enough to send me an itinerary with places they ate and stayed. 
I also had a Dis board friend stay here just a few weeks before we did. She didn't have as good of an experience as Leigh Ann did or as we did but it was still good to be able to ask her a few questions before our arrival. 
I enjoyed this hotel for a few reasons. 
One was that when I made our reservations it was over a year in advance. I accidentally put in my dates for 2015. I didn't realize this until I got an email from them saying they were looking forward to our stay. Because of the time difference, by the time I got the email it was too late to cancel. I called them immediately and told them what had happened. I figured that they would charge me for all of the stay since the second night was less than 24 hours away but they only charged me for the one night that I was booked and didn't show and then used the money I had paid for the other two nights toward our 2016 dates. 
I thought that was nice.
Then when we checked in, their front desk guys were very nice. The one I worked with looked just like the guy that Mary ends up with in Downton Abbey. I told him we needed a car to take us to the ferry in a few days, really early in the morning. He called the service they usually work with but then he told me the price and said, "I think that is too much. I am sure I can get you a better deal."
Then he gave us our key and while we were settling into our room and then exploring the city, he called a bunch of places and found the one that he thought was best and then booked it for us.

It was great. 
As for the hotel, it was beautiful. 
The hallways were so small that we had to take a picture of them. This is leading up to our room. 

When we got into our room, it was also pretty small. But it was nice. And that was all we cared about. 
This was the view from our window.

We reserved a twin room so we had two twin beds that were very comfortable. 

It also had a little desk area. 

 This is the outside of the hotel...

We settled in, rested a bit, and then went out to explore a bit. 
Next post: Notting Hill, Harrods, and getting lost.


LeShel said...

That is a terrifying experience! I'm deeply thankful that you recognized your feelings and let them speak to you. Of course, you don't know for sure anything but better to listen to your warnings inside than to not and find out something terrible. I'm glad you could pray to Heavenly Father and be led to know what steps to take! Hooray for your saftey and also for so many beautiful experiences (even this scary/negative one) that have filled your trip and given gifts of understanding.

Seth and Julie said...

Oh my gosh! I was reading this and thinking the same thing Doug said. It is totally like that creep in Taken. Are you creeped out that he has a picture of you? We went into someones home on my mission who kept taking pictures of me and I didn't know what to do. Of course I wanted to say no, but I was also scared and trying to think of how to get out of there without provoking a worse situation. Thank goodness I had two companions and thank heavens your mom was with you. Good thinking standing by security until he was long gone. I am glad you got away from him without any further incident, but ick! It is awful to be put in such a vulnerable position.

cheryl said...

I am SO creeped out that he has a picture of me Julie. Yes, hopefully he was just a friendly, lonely guy but still. It was super scary and I am so thankful that we were kept safe in this and throughout the whole trip.