Tuesday, November 20, 2012

You Are A Very Beautiful: London, Day 1

My other posts about Europe won't be nearly so long.  This one is from day one of our trip, so I felt it fitting to give a little more background. Let me start by saying that this trip was pretty well perfect, and we had an amazing time. I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity. I'd love to go back.

Now, day one:
On my way to the airport...thanks for the lift, Whitney. 

Getting to London was easy enough, although getting to my first stop, Boston, felt the longest. I don't know what it was, but it felt like 10 hours. It was only 4. I was excited to go to Europe for my first time. But more than anything, I was tickled when I landed in Boston for my two and half hour layover and listened to THOSE accents for a while. Over the intercom: "Chowdah," "Aimsterdam,"... brilliant.

The election followed us wherever we went on this trip. They made the announcement about President Obama winning while I was flying over the ocean on my way to London. Half the flight booed and the other half cheered. It was 4am. The guy next to me was despondent. The election was even more highly covered in the UK it seemed. Every newspaper and television program discussed it. Anyone who found out I was American for the next two days asked me what I thought about the election.

I slept about 45 minutes on the plane to London, but was supposed to try and sleep the whole time. It was 6:00am London time when I arrived, and Tom was sweet and picked me up at the airport, even though he had to film all day and was exhausted from his previous days of filming.

He took the tube all the way to Heathrow to make sure my 'first time' wasn't a lonely experience. We had spent about two weeks apart. It was a nice reunion.

We bought me my Oyster pass and got on the tube, heading for northwest London. I was already most interested in the fact that people don't talk on the tubes there. Seriously, people get on the tube, and even if they're with someone they know, it seemed like not a word was spoken. Ah, but then the Americans. Wonderful Americans. You could always hear an American before you heard their accent, merely because they were the talking ones, and usually smacking their chewing gum loudly. I adored this, and didn't see it as a bad thing in the least.

If Europeans call us loud, have they ever considered that they might be very quiet? Don't know. Every time I tried to say anything to Tom on that ride it seemed like the whole of London stared at me. It wasn't like I was yelling. But still, seemed like I didn't get the memo: WE DON'T TALK ON THE TUBE! SAVVY?! I almost took to signing to Tom.

Tom was going to be late for his call time, so we ended up having to ditch the tube around Kensington station and took a cab the rest of the way to the hotel. It was bone chilling cold that morning, but beautiful and sunny, and it was a very fast look at what London had to offer. We drove past Hyde Park and through about 1 million roundabouts (hate them here, hate them there) and as for my first experience driving on the other side of the road, I kept flinching while the cab driver wove through the city. I just looked at Tom and shook my head in that 'I'm seconds from exploding' way that I've perfected. He just laughed in his, "I know you're freaking out, calm down" way that he's perfected. 

When we got to the hotel, I looked at the room for about five seconds, said goodbye to Tom and made him a promise that I would only sleep for only two hours and then be on my way, to see London, by myself, with no context for knowing how to get around except that I had this Oyster pass and a London map book that my sister Ashley gave me, that I now lovingly call my other husband. I would marry this book.

Annnnnnd, the next thing I remember is hearing the sound of construction outside of my window and my alarm clock blaring across the room. It had been going off for hours, completely escaping my notice. It was now 12:30pm. I had fallen asleep around 8am. The day was half over and I started to half-consciously bash around the room until I could get my bearings. Then, with no idea where I was going, I left the hotel...

 Jet lagged and groggy, but I was on my way...
I immediately got lost in a strange, sketchy part of town for about an hour, where I was the only woman for what must have been miles. An African man tried to sell me frankincense. I'm glad that's not a joke, and that experience is one I'll cherish forever. A stranger in a strange land...sorta. 

I finally found the tube station I was looking for and headed towards....I didn't know? So I looked down at Ashley's map and deciphered where the Bakerloo line takes you, and decided that Baker Street seemed good. I got off and saw this statue of some dude smoking a pipe....

I went to the Sherlock Holmes museum shortly after this. Saw the royal cricket grounds. Ate at some little pub-ish place. It was lovely. Spent my first pounds. Felt cheesily proud of myself for being independent in another country. Walked, and walked and walked, and then walked more. I have now officially taken up walking as a hobby. I ended up getting back on the tube and saw Piccadilly and Leicester Square, which was fun, and touristy and reminded me of Times Square, just, you know, cleaner and with more classical architecture.

 Jet lag sets in again on the tube

 Saw this happening but didn't stick around long enough to see Colin Firth and Allen Rickman...

When I finally got myself home that night, I soaked my feet and took a shower, and watched some British television while I waited for Tom to come back. They have what seems to be about a 5 minute commercial with Kevin Bacon in it.

When Tom arrived that night, he took me to Leicester Square to an Italian place he had enjoyed, we had a lovely dinner, but I was wondering why I couldn't have more ice in my drink. Ice. Something I didn't realize I love as much as I do, until I got to Europe, where two cubes were carefully counted and placed into each and every drink. Tedious and not nearly cold enough.

Couldn't fall asleep that night til about 2am. Not good for getting out in the morning, but I managed. All in all, had a good first day, but wanted to feel a little more confident the next day and see much more...

That I did. That I did.

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