Day 1: London
I have survived my first day! Not that I doubted myself (that much) but anything was possible yesterday.
I left YYT on the 10pm redeye flight to LHR (Heathrow) and it was the best flight I’ve ever taken. By some miracle, I ended up in a row all to myself, and I actually got to go to sleep. All the passengers around me were travelling with friends or family, so no one wanted the extra seat! They gave us as many blankets as we wanted and pillows, so I slept as much as I could between meals. I like sleeping, but I will never sleep through a meal. And the food was good.
When I got to Heathrow, everything went smoothly. I was able to get free wifi the second I got into the terminal and I was able to contact home. I even managed to snag a SIM card at the airport that gave me unlimited data in the UK and 3 other countries I’m travelling to. I love this place.
I also didn’t die during my hike from the airport to the hostel. Let’s face it, some of you were worried that I’d physically be able to do this (and so was I). I don’t exercise. My job is fairly sedentary and when I’m home from my day job, my freelancing projects keep me glued to the couch. I’m pretty much a sloth. Much better looking than a sloth, but let’s face it, I’m pretty physically lazy. But the trek from the tube to the hostel, up many stairs, did not induce a heart attack. I might have been a little short of breath because I had the straps of my pack done up too tight (excuses), but that’s understandable.
Now, I’m not superman. My feet ARE KILLING ME. I’m sitting here in my hostel’s cafe eating breakfast at the moment and my feet feel like they have their own heart beat. I think that call that throbbing. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I walked almost 25,000 steps/18 km yesterday when I normally struggle to reach my daily goal of 6000 steps. So needless to say, I’m going to be looking for more comfortable footwear today.
On another note, my hostel, YHA London (St. Pancras) is lovely. It has it’s own cafe/bar where I’m currently enjoying a breakfast of coffee and Nutella croissants. It’s crazy clean. A lady just dropped an apple on the floor and within seconds, a lady was mopping up the area. I’m really impressed. The rooms are also good. I ended up in a top bunk in a room with three other girls and we have a washroom in our room! There’s a locker and closet just for me 🙂 The only downfall is that there isn’t access to an outlet from my bunk, so I have to charge my phone before I sleep. Only a minor inconvenience.
I spent the day exploring my favourite parts of London with my friend Sara from home. Sara and I met 10 years ago when we were roommates in Harlow, so it was surreal to be able to hangout again where we first became friends. Sara lives here now, so we don’t get to see each other much and it was really the perfect start to my trip. We walked around the Southbank, Soho, Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Oxford Street. We also took the London Overground (a first for me) Wapping, the area of London where she used to live and had supper and Wild Berry cider at The Prospect of Whitby. It’s considered one of the oldest pubs in London and it sits on the Thames River, so it seemed like we were eating in the captains squares of an old ship on the water. It was amazing.
But the most memorable experience we had yesterday was stumbling upon the VE 70th anniversary celebrations along Whitehall. The entire area around Big Ben, Westminster and Whitehall was closed off for the parade and the streets were packed with Brits and tourists alike. And it was such a moving experience. Neither of my grandfathers were involved in the war effort, so seeing all the elderly Vets parade in front of us literally brought me to tears. I imagined them doing that 70 years ago as younger men and women, returning home victorious. There numbers were drastically reduced yesterday, but the smiles of pride said it all. It was such a profound moment to witness.
Today I’m off on a few errands. I figure it’s easier to buy sim cards and the last travel essentials while I’m still in an English speaking country. I’m also going to try to explore and area of London that’s new to me.
SEE MY FACEBOOK PAGE FOR PHOTOS! (They are too big to upload from my hostel’s wifi)