January 2nd- January 3rd
About fifteen minutes before debarking on my one month adventure in London, I finished packing- and weighing- my massive new SWISSGEAR suitcase that was essentially the size of a small child. After lugging everything out to Peter’s too small car for all of my stuff, we were off to Philly airport.
Once we arrived, it began to sink in that I actually had to say good-bye for four and a half weeks, surviving only on limited texting and the occasional FaceTime or Skype call. Despite knowing it would be hard to be away from everyone, I knew what was waiting for me would be so fulfilling and possibly life-changing. Check-in went relatively smoothly as did waiting for the plane. I found a small Mediterranean place to eat while watching the beginnings of the Rose Bowl. The seven hour flight was not as bad as one would typically expect as I found myself lost in the words of Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World. I managed to get about a hour of really bad sleep according to my FitBit, even with the limited seat I was too excited for my exhaustion to hit me.
I arrived at the London-Heathrow airport and stood watching the suitcases spin around and around the luggage carriage for what seemed like forever as I held my breath waiting for mine to appear. Once it did I took a deep breath of relief and headed towards the “Underground Transportation” signs, preparing to just wing-it and try to find my way to my hotel. The first real sign I saw was for the Heathrow Express that would take me to Paddington for twenty-some pounds. That seemed relatively reasonable so I just went for it. I double-checked with the man at the platform that I was getting onto the correct train. The ride took about fifteen minutes, which was incredibly convenient. I then had to take two different lines on the Tube to reach the Tottenham Court Road station, which was a couple minute walk from the hotel.
When I reached the hotel I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the hotel. The staff was incredibly friendly, and despite my room not being ready yet- considering it was about 11:00 AM and check-in was not until 3:00 PM- they took my bags for me and offered to get me a taxi if I so desired. I opted to just sit in the lobby and get my bearings before heading out to explore. I met my roommate and a couple of the other people on the trip. I look forward to meeting new people while here, but my objective is mostly just exploring the city and learning more about myself along the way.
After sitting in the hotel until about noon, we decided to go out and walk around. I walked with three other students until seeing a cute little cafe and deciding that would be a good time to break-off. The shop was called Second Cup Coffee Shop. I took a seat at the bar and ordered my go-to Chai Latte and a lemon muffin that was much needed, considering airplane food isn’t exactly the most filling. I opened up my laptop and headed into a zone, planning tours and preparing my blog for its new “travel blog” aesthetic. Around 2:30 PM I decided to head back to the hotel in hopes of my room being ready a mere thirty minutes early, but sadly it was not. Actually, it wasn’t ready until 3:30 PM.
We entered the room and were confronted with the classic European-style closet-sized room. Instead of being upset by such a lack of space, we decided it simply forced us to explore the city more. The view outside our hotel room was inspiration enough to get outside though.
While unpacking I realized that I forgot to pack my bag of bags inside of my bag. That was slightly confusing so let me break it down a bit. I had my giant suitcase and then inside of that suitcase I had a smaller Nike duffle bag and then inside of THAT I had a larger purse and a smaller cross-body purse. Since I kind of needed these things to walk around and not have to lug my massive backpack I decided to go shopping. I wandered around and probably got lost about ten times, but I eventually found what I needed and got a list of places to go to that looked interesting.
When I returned I finished unpacking and then we had to go to the lobby to meet our group. That did not take long and then everyone went out for dinner. I started walking with a group and then suddenly I hit a wall. No worries, just a hypothetical wall of exhaustion, but it actually still kind of hurt in a even more painful way. As I backed away from the wall I found myself looking at a Five Guys. Although I hate to admit it, I spent my first dinner in London getting a Little Bacon Cheeseburger that I ate from my hotel room- I promise I’ll do better tomorrow!
Right before going to sleep (it wasn’t even late, it was probably only like 9:30 PM) I realized that there had been a mistake when we were booking trips to Edinburgh and Paris. My long weekend here I was supposed to go to Paris, but we booked the apartment and train tickets for the following weekend. Although this caused a momentary major panic on my part, I soon realized this was for the better because I was now able to spend an extended period of time in Edinburgh- the city I was more excited to see.
After working all of this out I crawled into bed and was dead asleep within maybe three minutes tops.