The first thing I said when I got off the plane in London’s Heathrow airport was: “Wow. It’s muggy.”
Not very eloquent for an English major, one excited to be in a new city bursting with opportunity. Granted, we’d just spent 10.5 hours in cramped economy seating aboard a chilly 777. But if we thought we were exhausted then (and we were, seeing as how neither of us slept more than 2 hours, if that), it’s nothing compared to how we felt later at our Airbnb. For new users, London’s rail/tube system can be pretty confusing. So when we grabbed our 30 pound, bigger-than-we-are backpacks and finally made our way to a taxi, only to be told it would be £50 to get to Twickenham, I wasn’t excited to have to figure out the transportation system right away.
But figure it out we did. One bus and two trains later, followed by a 20 minute walk in muggy weather as we dripped sweat, we arrived on the doorstep of the cutest English family. The father was away on business, but we got to meet Ashrita and her two children Hazel (7) and Duncan (5). We loved them immediately, along with their quaint home and beds just waiting to be fallen into. After eating banana bread for dinner and passing some time watching Orange is the New Black (I’m now on Season 2 guys!) we fell quickly asleep.
When I was 13, I went to Germany for 2 weeks with my grandmother and aunt. Our first night, we fell asleep easily, but all 3 of us woke up at 5am the next morning. We talked for 2 hours until we felt it was acceptable to get up. Before our flight to London, I joked that the same thing would happen to me.
I jinxed myself.
What did I think was going to happen when I set my alarm for 9? That I’d wake up then, bright eyed and bushy tailed? Yeah, NO. I woke up promptly at 5:36am. I looked at my phone, thinking that it was AT LEAST 8:30 due to the bright light streaming in through the windows. I almost couldn’t believe what time it actually was, but I immediately tried to go back to sleep, with no luck. A bird with a piercing “caw” was right outside, the light was too bright, and to be honest the bed was hard. There was no going back, so I read my book (Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozie Achidie) until 7:30. I’d call that a partial assimilation to London time.
After a great breakfast by our gracious host (seriously, shoutout to Ashrita) we spent the morning resting up and repacking our bulging backpacks. Ash gave us a ride to the train stop, and we took a rail to a tube stop WHERE WE TOOK THE TUBE. And yes, it was pretty cool. After screwing up the day before, we took the tube to Oxford Circus, a stop near our hostel in Soho. We checked in with no problem, and since we booked a 4 person dorm we found that there are two girls already staying in there, but they’ve been out all day and we haven’t met yet. Our first meal in London was met with success when we tried a tiny pizza place across the street, and we found they use a wood fire oven (the kind I worked with at Blast 825). Afterwards, we walked up and down Oxford Street where a young British man came out of the bank he worked at to ask me why I was taking a picture of this building:
He proceeded to inform me that there were many more beautiful buildings in London, and when I said, “Well, we don’t have this in the States,” he seemed interested to hear that we didn’t have buildings where we live. Happy to see Londoners have a sense of humor.
Well, we’re off to go find some more food (and maybe a pint?) Tomorrow we plan on going on a free walking tour, which should provide some hilarity. Stay tuned.