Today I woke up for my first real day in London. I swear I’ve been meaning to keep everyone up to date, but you know how things like errands, packing, and plane flights get in the way. Just to keep you abreast of my travels, I’ll start from the beginning.
Last week was comprised of non-stop errand-running and shopping for my trip. I bought these two ginormous suitcases with four rolling wheels because obviously I can pack like 8,000 pounds of clothing and wheel them around like I own Gatwick Airport (more about this later). In addition, I bought quite a few long-sleeved shirts because I think I owned two shirts that extended past my deltoid muscles. Oh, and after forty-five minutes in the Ross shoe department, I found a pair of nude Steve Madden heels marked down to $15 from well over $100, which is seriously one of my greatest accomplishments to date.
Friday I spent with my parents who came up to spend a day with me before I left, which left me packing Saturday and Sunday–the two days I planned to spend with my boyfriend. I spent some time with him, but not as much as I would have liked now that I’m 4,000+ miles away.
Anyway, once I finished packing, my bags weighed 82 pounds and 50.5 pounds respectively. Yes, I fit more than 80 pounds of clothing and shoes into a single suitcase. No, I do not have a problem. I also had a quilt, a towel, hats, and scarves in there, too!
So Monday rolls around and we eventually make our way to the Jacksonville airport to see me off. We being my boyfriend, sister, and parents. Everything was great. Parents paid for the overweight bag, we all had a late lunch at Sam Sneads in the airport, and took some pictures. But as soon as it came time for me to say goodbye and make my way through security, the waterworks come on. By that I mean my mom starts bawling because she’s so proud of me. Jill takes one look at her and starts crying, too. I’m an easy crier, but I force them to go get composed and keep my cool while I give a nice goodbye to the boyfriend.
I get through security, take a bathroom break, head to the gate and board the plane. No big deal, except that I’m terrified of flying and this flight was awful. I don’t mean to say I feared for my life, except that the plane shook the entire time as it cut through rain clouds and some door/mysterious plane piece was rattling in the back. Being in the second-to-last row, I was absolutely convinced the back of the plane was going to tear off like that first scene in “Dark Knight Rises.” Thankfully this terror lasts only and hour and I land in Charlotte with just a stomach ache. I get a beer (because clearly I need one) and board the second flight an hour later.
The flight to London was great except for a few choice moments/decisions:
- The flights gets delayed an hour and a half because of rain
- I have to pee like four times while we’re waiting because of the beer
- The first time I use the plane’s bathroom, I don’t lock it properly, the door opens, and the people in the row right behind the door see me lifting up my dress and exposing my pink polka dot granny underwear
- I take an Advil PM in an attempt to sleep, but the seats are so uncomfortable that I can’t get one wink and instead end up groggy the whole flight/next day
- I have a dry throat a few hours later (again because of the beer) and attempt to open my Sprite Zero at a high altitude, thus spraying myself and all my pillows in a lemon-lime shower
- I finish the 100+ pages of the book I downloaded on my Nook (which I find is mysteriously scratched right in the center of the screen)
- I ate the muffin and drank the coffee in the morning against my better judgment because they both taste like they came from a Racetrack gas station.
But as for the ride, it was very calm and soothing, including the take-off and landing, which almost never happens. The sights were also beautiful. England looked very peaceful and agrarian and had me excited to get to the city.
Fast-forwarding to baggage claim: Both my bags are two of the first ones out of the plane. I manage to pull them off the conveyor belt, but then I realize how bad of an idea it is to pack a combined 113.5 pounds into two bags. One bag seems to only want to roll to the left and the other to the right. Not to mention that I can barely push the two anywhere.
I see rows of trolleys, but can’t manage to separate them. One says it will take a US quarter, but of course it’s lying. I exchange £5 for one-pound coins and finally get a trolley. Of course, I’m struggling to get these heifer bags onto the trolley and being absolutely ridiculous, contorting my scrawny arms in weird ways to finagle the 82-er onto the trolley first. Mind you, I’m doing this in the middle of the airport and people are just staring at me like I’m a lunatic for packing 113 pounds of clothing, which of course I’m realizing I am.
The 50.5-er gets on easy enough and I make my way to the train station, where it takes me about 45 minutes to first go to the wrong ticket seller, then fail at the self-service ticket dispenser, and finally get through the line to the proper ticket seller. Despite all this, I’m not stressing out. Maybe it’s because I’m tired or maybe it’s because I know I’m not in a rush to unpack these two bags. For the rest of the way, I have a little bit of help getting my bags onto and off of the train and finding a taxi.
One thing I’ve noticed is that everyone appears to be very friendly. Although, I’m not sure whether it’s part of the culture or whether it’s because I’m so obviously lost and pathetic. So I get a taxi with a cab driver who looks and sounds like Michael Caine and manages to get me to my flat for about £6 and carries my 82-er up the front steps. I get into the flat building and don’t see an elevator, so I climb the four flights of stairs with my carry-on, which I failed to mention is about 20 pounds (no joke). Naturally I only discover “the lift” once I’m at the top of the stairs, but regardless, I’m elated because I was already starting to pity myself for having to carry those bags up four flights of stairs.
I get in, unpack, and spend some time walking around my neighborhood of Borough. It’s nice, but I’m f***ing freezing. It has to be around 60 degrees and my jazzy dark red rain coat is just not cutting it. Also, I’m starving. But of course I’m only getting food after all the restaurants’ kitchens have shut down. “Oh well,” I tell myself and walk into a restaurant to order a plate of pita bread, hummus (or “houmous”–the English love their Us), and salad, and watch the Olympics for a bit. I leave, hit up a Tesco and bring some cereal and toilet paper back to the flat. I make some phone calls and decide to make my way to an O2 shop to get a British sim card for my phone.
So I walk to this area called Elephant & Castle, which has a giant shopping center and I get lost… twice… OK, three times. The trip should have been about 45 minutes there and back, but of course it’s taken me about an hour and a half to find the place and get there. By this time, my feet are in so much pain that I swear I can feel every pebble I step on. Eventually I make it back home and talk to my friend Alex on the phone. I decide that while I’m not very hungry, I should get some food anyway because I would rather not wake up starving in the middle of the night. Mind you, I’ve been awake for almost 32 hours.
I know it’s colder than it was earlier, so I grab my wool coat and a scarf and head out. I run into my flatmate in the hall, and exchange a hug and few quick words. Before I leave she says, “You know, it’s really not that cold out.” I laugh and explain that I’m from Florida and freezing my ass off.
I pop into Tesco, grab a wrap, and get back home. After eating and a shower, I feel a thousand times better. I talk to my boyfriend on the phone for a bit, take some Aleeve for my aching body, and pass out… for 14 hours.
In summary, my first day in London was spent walking around like a zombie and getting lost (surely, these two things are connected). And so far, my second day has consisted of recounting the embarrassing tale. Hopefully once I get out of the house, I’ll have more mortifying stories about getting lost in translation and coin confusion (there are
six seven and none of them make any visual sense to me).
Today’s goal: Successfully use public transportation.