Saturday, January 14, 2012
10:51 AM (GMT!!)
And so I made it to London safe and sound. It has been a sort of whirlwind the past few days, and today I have decided to take it easy this morning so I finally have time to sit down and write out how my first few days here have actually been.I was very pleased with my flight overall. I flew with British Airways and found the staff (all British, of course) incredibly friendly. The food was pretty good and they gave you quite a lot of it, as well as complimentary drinks (including alcohol, although my red wine tasted like cough syrup!). The flight was pretty quiet even with some kids, and there was hardly any turbulence! What a win.
After the flight, we landed in Heathrow at 7:35 AM, and then I had to go through the longest customs line ever. It took an hour and a half. After that hellish line was through, I figured out how to get to central London from the airport and had a nice time talking to an American family (I found it funny that I was in London less than 2 hours and I was already being mistaken for an American!) and a Brit on the ride.
So far I have found taking the Tube really easy, and generally more enjoyable than Ottawa’s OC Transpo. After getting off the Tube I discovered that my hostel was difficult to find, so by the time I finally got there I was exhausted from not sleeping on the plane, as well as carrying my heavy luggage around cobblestone streets. If I ever do go backpacking I will be purchasing the appropriate bag and storing my luggage here!
I spent my first day pretty low-key; I mostly hung out with a girl from Toronto and forced myself to stay awake until an appropriate bedtime. The hostel isn’t fantastic but I have no real complaints thus far, it’s clean and functions but I already miss my privacy and a real shower. On Friday I had Things To Do, so I made it over to the BUNAC office for 10:30 for my orientation and met some people and did errands, like purchasing the most old school Nokia mobile phone, and making an appointment for setting up a bank account.
I bought the London A-Z guide and I am already grateful that I did so! I am enjoying figuring out the city and the Tube system on my own, I have to say. I certainly have Crazy Bus Lady genes! (This is a running joke with some of my family, because a few of us like the challenge of figuring out a new transit system. I have noticed that I like it when I don’t have anywhere important to be, but I lose my excitement once the transit becomes routine.)
Last night I met up with some other SWAPPERs (Canadians) and we went to Covent Garden and had dinner at a good tapas place. It was nice having people to hang out with already! One thing I couldn’t get over is how damn packed the Tube was at 10 PM on a Friday night. It was craaazy, and not even as packed as it gets in the morning. I’m really going to have to put my politeness away or else I’ll never make it onto the trains.
My first thoughts about living in London (versus visiting, which I did about 5 years ago), is that it’s similar to any big city, but it’s just much bigger. It hasn’t been as drastically different yet, at least. So far any locals I’ve run into have been really nice and helpful. The man at the bank was so excited that I was from Canada and he kept asking me questions about winter and all of that, which I love.
I am really looking forward to getting my shit together and finding a job and a place to live, though. The hostel isn’t horrible and for my first two nights I’ve had really respectful roommates (mostly Australians and last night some girls from Denmark), but I hate the shower and can’t wait to be able to cook my own food and store food instead of buying so much! I’ve purchased some oatmeal and sultanas (tangerines) but I realised today I do not have a bowl and so I need to probably buy one… I think I might also get myself a feather pillow and hair straightener. I’ve decided that I am probably going to cab to whatever flat I end up getting because I might die if I have to carry my things up the stairs on the Tube.
I am missing my family and friends, but so far I haven’t felt the need to breakdown and cry, which I figured I would have! I think things are still too new and I am too distracted with the tasks on my plate. I am looking forward to Skyping with them tomorrow, however.
Lastly, I am worried I am already coming down with something! I need to flush it out with all of the water in the world. I am thinking of taking it easy today, even though I purchased a 7 Day Pass, because if I don’t, I will get sick. I will just have to explore the crap out of everywhere starting tomorrow.
Obviously there is one thing that has been missing from my experience, and that is that I haven’t been taking nearly enough pictures. I haven’t really had time to just take a walk around and take pictures, so I am going to just keep my camera on myself and I’ll be forced to snap some shots. And then I will remember my camera when I am writing blog posts so I can upload them to break up some text!