On the road again…

Day 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

Today was the day I checked out of Swiss Cottage and made my way to Sue’s. My first destination though was King’s Cross which I honestly was quite excited to have a look at, for fairly obvious reasons. I caught the bus to Camden Town again as that tube station is on the King’s Cross line, and made my way there. If you’ve never seen it before, King’s Cross is fairly massive and constantly busy. Once you’ve found your way out (albeit fairly easily) of the underground station, you make your way up to the aboveground train services. There’s the main area filled with a huge display board, telling you when trains are, what company they’re with and whether  they’re on time. They won’t display the platform until 15 minutes prior to departure so it’s basically filled with people standing around waiting for their platform number to appear. I happened to get there quite early and despite trying to whittle away the time with a phone call no one I called seemed to be picking up. The time went quite slow but instead I was keen on waiting with Hedwig until our 11 o’clock train. I’m not joking my train was 11am. Haha alright 11:03am but damn well close enough. I found it ironic I had a massive suitcase (cough it’s a trunk cough) and an owl, while I was waiting at King’s Cross station for my roughly 11am train. I may possibly turn everything into something related to Harry Potter but that’s okay! It’s a lot of fun really.

The train trip was enjoyable actually; a lot of very stereotypical British countryside which although what you’d expect, it’s very, very cool to see what you expect when it’s so recognisable, if that makes any sense.  After a fairly short 45 minute train trip and more phone conversations, I arrived in Peterborough. Sue and Sam were of course there to greet me, Sue with a huge hug which I was looking forward to. We made it somehow to the car with my almost-30kg suitcase and then made our way to the town centre to meet with Sue’s eldest son Dan. We all walked around for a bit with Sue showing me the sites and including the local cathedral which was really nice and historical but the guys didn’t particularly appreciate, I think partly because it’s local and they’re so used to that type of architecture it’s just not interesting to them anymore. We ended up at a buffet place for lunch where there were all sorts of different types of cuisine from around the world that you could help yourself to. It was nice, but it was nicer being with the three of them and talking. I do enjoy talking it seems I am quite a social person after all.  After some interesting conversations and fruit covered in chocolate, Dan said goodbye to us and we also then headed back to Sue’s home in Walsoken, Wisbech. Mum always pronounced it Wish-beach, but then Dad and I would say “Where’s the ‘wish’ part!?” so we thought it was Wis-beck. Turns out, how the locals pronounce it is more like Wes-beach. Or at least that’s how my ears heard it. We went to a few stores on the way home and despite the rain I got taken on a little town tour in the car as a detour. It’s a very quaint little British town kind of near the coast, in Cambridgeshire. It’s nice, but quiet. We made it home and I met Scott, Sue’s husband who was also very nice. Lovely Suzie, she had made my room so pleasant, supplying me with face wipes, hand gel, water, tissues, and all sorts of simple little things to help me feel more adjusted. Oh, and let’s not forget the assortment of Australian plush toys including quite a few koalas and a painting of Fraser Island. Very nice touches I thought, and I loved that she’d gone to such effort to make me feel right at home. I really appreciated that. After a while we were all just talking in the lounge room and then it was 9:30. I can’t believe how late the sun stays up in England, but now that I’m starting to get used to it I really enjoy it. You can get so much more out of your day it’s quite awesome really. I suppose travelling on my own it means I don’t have to return to the hostels quite so early either, which I like. Travelling always makes me pretty tired so I ended up going to bed quite early… though on my entire trip so far I have never been to bed before 10pm, despite my intentions to get up early and get a good night’s rest. It just doesn’t happen.

The next morning we had intended to explore the local area, going looking at 99p and 1 pound shops, as well as going to the coast and seeing the ocean. But I ended up connecting to Sue’s internet (with some difficulty) and skyping Mum & Dad, and Seph. By the time I had skyped them all, it was about lunch time which was too late to go exploring, just because it would have taken so long to drive everywhere and properly see the sights. We decided a day at home was in order which was really nice I was able to just sort out my hundreds of photos, and there are hundreds. I also skyped with Seph a little longer which I felt I needed; having a decent headset is also really awesome to be able to keep in contact with everyone. Nothing really interesting happened at all that day, I just caught up with myself and tried to prepare for the next month and a half of travel. That day was the first day I had gotten to video call Mum and Dad, and Mum cried a few times during that phone call. I didn’t surprisingly, but if it had have been a few days later I’m sure I would have.  It’s not being alone so much that gets to me, but the change of routine, after being with someone for so long, for my entire life, not having my parents around me and seeing them at least once a week is an entirely new experience. Even when I move out I will visit them a lot, it’s just a given, I’m a very family orientated person. So this experience was one I think I’m still dealing with.

The next morning we went and did that exploring we were supposed to do the day before. We went to the coast, driving in and out of little villages which are so pretty, it’s unlike anything we have in Australia. It’s incomparable. I am sure that people thought I was stupid for taking lots of photos of things they would take for granted every day but if they went to Australia I think they’d either do the same thing, or understand why I found it so fascinating. It’s as if the towns had themes, perfectly little cottages, so many flowers everywhere. We stopped off at the beach just to get a look and I got the surprise of my life when I saw sand. It looked like an Australian beach, just not such white sand, and it was also lacking the warmer weather despite being summer. I really appreciated seeing that. Later on we went and saw a proper pebble beach, explored a seaside town which I can’t remember the name of, I think it was Hunstanton. It was really pretty; it was even more picturesque than the other towns we’d been through and we also saw a park which had wild baby ducklings everywhere which of course I loved. I did take lots of photos so to see just what I’m talking about I think I’ll have to accompany this post with those photos. It’s just too hard to put everything into words. A picture really does sum it up most of the time better than I could write it. Also on the way back we visited Sandringham, which is one of the many British Royal residences. We didn’t get to go in because we got there too late for entry but we were allowed to walk around the gardens and take a look at the Queen’s church (apparently she had been there the day before).  I don’t understand the royal hype, but it was quite interesting to know that the Queen herself had been in that very building just a day earlier. I feel sorry for royals though, all the rubbish they have to put up with and the responsibility. But the property was really nice, very secluded and a lovely taste of British countryside. We ended up getting home at about 7pm and of course it was still light. Pizza was on the menu for dinner and I was able to have a lengthy discussion with Sam about why game design is an awesome course to do; he wants to, when he finishes high school, also go into a course very similar to mine which is pretty cool.

The next morning Sue and I went and had a look at those local shops we never got a chance to get to. I was interested in the cheap shops where everything was either 99p or 1 pound or less, but it didn’t seem any different to somewhere like Crazy Clarks or Overflow. In fact it even had that same discount store smell… haha. I then boarded my bus and said a warm farewell to Sue, and the journey back begun. It had been really nice to see Sue and it was lovely to have a mother figure around to give me a hug or two, because I really needed that. I hadn’t gotten upset though since my first day in England which I was happy about. The homesickness had passed, or so I thought. I eventually, after a roughly 1 hour bus trip, then 1 hour train trip, then swapping to the tube to get to my hostel, arrived at my new hostel St. Christopher’s in Hammersmith. In total I think I left at 12:20, and arrived at 3:30pm. I was tired, but it didn’t take me long to find the place. The bar was really nice, so I checked in and went upstairs. These bunks seemed not as classy but a similar design to my first hostel. They’re called pod beds, where they’re fairly self contained like a bit of a box, and  then the side of the bed has a curtain so you can have quite a lot of privacy. I was able to store my suitcase, my huge backpack and my handbag in the under-bed storage and I locked it up and skyped my parents.  I didn’t particularly do much that afternoon but I did end up going out to dinner after sitting on the computer for a little while in the bar. This hostel didn’t have a common room; the wifi was accessible in the bar which late at night wasn’t the most pleasant experience. So about 7pm I decided to go out for dinner in Covent Garden. It was where I went with Krystal and Emma the week before and I have no trouble now going around on the tube. It’s simple and easy, and just took some getting used to it all being different. I walked around for quite a while deciding on what I wanted to eat, before finally settling on a little Thai restaurant. It was sweet, very small, and I got sweet and sour chicken and fried rice. Not anything different to what I would normally order at home. I didn’t need to wait long but I didn’t even finish my meal there either. It got to me quite a bit, being out to dinner by myself. It’s one thing to choose to be alone and have a night out on your own if you want, but when you don’t have a choice and you are very lonely, it’s not the nicest thing. I ate a bit but packed the rest up in a takeaway container and started walking back to the tube, making my way home. I couldn’t help but get a bit teary, and by now it was 9:30pm (still light outside). I had arranged to call Mum & Dad, it was about 6:30am there and they had been getting up early just so I could contact them before Mum left for work. I talked to them for a bit, choking up often. I then got rather upset and as the reception cuts out when I had to go into the tube, I arranged to skype them when I got back. I went back to the hostel and grabbed my laptop and went downstairs to the now rather roudy bar.  I spent quite a while talking to them and eventually finished my dinner as I started to feel better. I hoped that this unsettling feeling I got in this hostel would disappear and I would be alright. My parents assured me that it would, and I started to feel a little more comfortable with the area I was in.  It was getting quite late, and knowing I wanted to make the most of my days, I decided to go to sleep. I had hoped that, despite being in an 18 bed mixed dorm, things would be fine. I have no issue with guys, I can deal with their mess. I realised it’s not the guys that are the issue, it’s the combination of guys and girls together.

About 4 in the morning I got woken up by some quite rude people. My sleep had already been restless because you can hear everyone downstairs in the bar til at least 3-4am and people come in and out every few hours. That, is something I can deal with. What I don’t want to have to bother to deal with, is people bringing other people home to their beds and doing what they want with them, with 17 other people in the room. The next morning I was quite disgruntled from being kept awake for such a long time. I just wanted to be out of there and away from those party people because I really didn’t care for what they were doing. It’s not generally something a person wants to be exposed to.  I was still rather homesick and first thing I did was skype Mum and Dad again. Yeah I am skyping them a lot, or was, but I really needed to.  I wanted to be home in my bed, I didn’t need to be alone, I just wanted to be with nice, friendly people in a comfortable place. I didn’t find where I was that comfortable at all. I didn’t skype them for long and decided on going to the Aquarium for something to cheer me up; I knew there were penguins there and that it was a new exhibit at the aquarium. I was looking forward to it. When I left, I went to the post office, sent off a few more letters and postcards and called Seph. We ended up talking for a couple of hours as I sat along Southbank just outside the aquarium and enjoyed the somewhat cold air along the River Thames. It eventually got quite late for Australians and he had to leave which I was okay with at the time. I went through the aquarium, and bought my tickets for a discounted price when I bought the London Dungeon, London Eye, and Madam Tussauds in a bundle. I enjoyed the aquarium but there were far too many people. A few school groups and a lot of tourists. A lot of parents with prams in a very small area. I made my way through and gawked at the penguins for quite a while; I finally felt happy sitting there watching them but also quite sad because they honestly didn’t look like they were enjoying their time in the plastic ice box behind the glass, with kids and adults alike squealing, and yelling at them to move or do something exciting. I had worked my way through the entire aquarium within an hour and wasn’t sure what to do afterwards. I knew I had to keep myself distracted from thinking about just how alone I was. I walked further up the bank and found the Film and Television museum. I had no idea what I would find in there, but I bought a ticket and went for a look. I saw the dinosaur from Night at the Museum, and he also moved just like he does during the daytime in the movie too. I didn’t stay long enough til nightfall to find out if he came to life. There were lots of cool exhibits within the first few meters. After my first five minutes though, I had walked right into the Harry Potter exhibit. This utterly delighted me because I had no idea that it even existed. They have the actual props from some of the movies, including most of the text books from the forth movie, the Nimbus 2001 and the Firebolt (for those of you who don’t know, they’re brands of broomsticks), they had robes from a few different moments including Harry’s first task with the dragon in Goblet of Fire, mini models of a lot of the animals in the films, Hermione’s time turner, as well as huge posters of the last film up around the walls. I took heaps of photos which are of course in their respective folder on Facebook J.  They also had a green screen there, where you could get your photo taken on a broomstick. There was no way I was missing that, and I donned my Gryffindor robe and hoped on. That was really cool. Things are expensive but that’s one of the expenses of London I classify as “necessary”. Perhaps essential, or mandatory works too. The museum kept my occupied in the HP exhibit for quite some time as they were playing the first soundtrack too which made me feel very safe and comfortable. As I thought about having to return to that hostel, and thought about leaving the HP exhibit, I started crying again. I had gotten a couple of minutes further into the museum before I even returned to the HP area just because I felt safe there. It’s stupid, but you cannot explain homesickness any other way than when you experience it yourself. It’s not as simple as “Oh get over it, you’re in England,”. When you get that mindset, nothing can get you out of it. It’s a looming feeling of sadness and it’s simply overwhelming. I know it’s like this because I’ve talked to quite a few other people who understand and have experienced the exact same thing. I went and found a chair in the museum and sat down. It was 5pm in London which meant 2am at home, but just that morning Mum & Dad had said I can call any time, and they were honestly so legitimate about that too when they said it, I had to take them up on that offer. I called, and the phone was rather quickly answered by Mum and I just started talking to them both (phone always ends up on speaker phone at my place, haha). Talking about how I didn’t want to go back there, how I didn’t feel comfortable, how I’m just lonely and these museum exhibits didn’t seem to mean a single thing when I was by myself not experiencing anything with another person. They were just things, and I was there alone looking at them.  Why did it have any meaning? I had just gotten into quite a sad place. It fluctuated so frequently it surprised me. Some days I’d be fantastic and absolutely loving being there, other day’s I honestly didn’t give a hoot that I was in London and just wanted to be with someone, specifically my parents or Seph. Perhaps both would be nice. I missed my family, my friends and my boyfriend. Mum and Dad then actually turned their computer on and started looking for new accommodation for me. We knew I wouldn’t be able to get in anywhere that night, but hopefully I would be able to move elsewhere for the next night. Nowhere was available for the remainder of the nights I had at St. Christopher’s, as I was there a total of five nights, until the Sunday. But one hostel had the Thursday and Saturday free, I hoped that if I went to go talk to them I’d be able to fit somewhere for the Friday. I did, I went and tracked them down but within the hour that Mum had seen the vacancies and when I got there, they had filled up. They couldn’t do anything for me and I walked out. I sat on a seat and just cried and cried. Honestly I think because I had gotten my hopes up about moving to a new area. It was near Victoria, a little way out of the city but it was such a pretty looking area, right across the road from the river and I had gotten excited about a fresh start. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I had to pick myself up and I really did have to get over it, at least on the outside, and head back home because it was getting late. I got back and talked to my parents a little more and they settled me down. I went to bed, hoping for a better night’s sleep. I did get a better sleep that night.

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Camden Town, Camden Markets…

Day 3

As I had slept so late I really didn’t have many plans for today. I knew I wanted to go to the Camden Markets, as every tourist has heard of them, so that was my new destination. I caught a bus to Camden Town and went exploring, all the while on the phone to Seph. I had already called Mum and Dad that morning as they like to hear from me just as much as Seph does, and I ended up on the phone to him for quite a while as I browsed through the markets. I found them very characteristic and wonderful; full of personality in my opinion. It was a different kind of town, perhaps not somewhere I’d feel entirely safe at night, but certainly somewhere I enjoyed exploring in the daylight hours. With tangents and alleyways of all different sorts of stalls with the owners all trying to push a sale to you, even while I was on the phone, I quickly learnt they’re pretty desperate to make a sale.  After finishing my phone call to Seph and grabbing an awesomely full chicken wrap from one of the many market stalls,  I continued browsing my way through the markets. On the sides of the buildings along the main streets, the signs for the shops are very visual; for shoe stores they have huge sneakers stuck on the shop front high up to display, or a furniture shop had a giant rocking chair stuck to the front of it. The whole street was decorated like this with all sorts of people, market stalls, shops and interactions going on. I found it full of life and personality and just a different place to go. Honestly, I really didn’t buy a thing other than food. It was just a lot of fun browsing and walking through the place. Oh wait, I did buy a pair of grey leopard print pants. Don’t worry, they’re not horrendous in fact they’re quite subtle. I am in need of a new pair of pants I seem to be living in mine and not keeping up with the washing haha.

Harry Potter Premiere, an interesting title.

Day 2

HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER! Enough said? I think so. By this point, I know it’s only my second full day in London, but I was desperate to be in contact with home and I had had enough of stuffing around with the wifi connection at the hostel. Krystal had told me about the phone plan she was on, which gave me 3000 minutes to call 5 certain numbers. I only needed to nominate two: Home, and Seph. Simple enough, so I went to Charing Cross and found the 02 store, bought a sim card, and instantly called my parents as I made my way to the premiere. Of course it starts pouring but no matter. I get to the gates of Trafalgar Square (they had put gates up to um, contain the madness?) they are shutting them saying there are no more tickets left. I was quite distressed at this but it was my own fault for being homesick and needing that phone. I don’t regret it, but there are some sacrifices I wish I had have made.

I went wondering around in the rain, knowing full well they had to make their way to the Odeon theatre in Leicester Square to watch the film. I was able to call Seph for a while and enjoy talking to him until the rain eased off, and I went and found a good spot to stand. Conveniently enough, literally outside the doors of the theatre. I wasn’t front row but I was damn close to it. The wait was painful. Any wait is painful but the wait for them was horrendous. So many no-name people walked up that red carpet before there was any sign of anyone famous at all. It was difficult because we were all tired, getting rained on, and waiting for a glimpse of our favourite people. Let’s not go into how I was stuck behind some fat mother with her 9 year old in front of her, with her 14 year old daughter behind her stuck next to me, and I swear to God, the only thing they did the whole time was complain. They expected it to be a kid friendly event. Well I am sorry lady but when you go into a crowd waiting to see Harry Potter stars at THE last premiere ever, you are not going to get a crowd willing to stand around and back off just because your fat arse is taking up the space.

That sounds harsh, I realise it. But every time people would lean forward to get an autograph, or just a better look, she would get the security guards over, who would then have to yell at us to all “take a step back please there are children getting squashed,”.  The kid didn’t seem to give a hoot that they were getting squashed, it was more the daughter: “Ewwww mummmyyy they’re touching me, why are they touching me! Get offff me, eww why are they TOUCHING me, MUMMYYY!!”
Stupid brat.

She was not happy to be there, kept complaining about a headache, and wanted to get Daniel Radcliffe’s autograph (and she didn’t even know who Daniel was, just “I want ‘Arry Potter’s autograph, I bet I could sell THAT for a lot of money!”). It really got to me, being such a dedicated fan, rage!

Ignoring that little interruption throughout the evening, it was amazing. First person that I got all hot and flustered about, was Tony from Skins. I screamed like a little fan girl but he didn’t stop to sign anything I assume because he thought he was just someone attending as opposed to someone people wanted to see in his own right. But he is amazingly gorgeous in real life too! Got to see Kingsly, Tonks, Lupin, Fred & George (Phelps twins are gorgeous), Luna, Neville, Dean, Seamus, Bellatrix, Lucious, Draco (Tom was even spunkier looking than when I met him!), Hagrid, Voldemort himself (good old Ralph Fiennes), Professor Sprout, Professor Slughorn, and I am sure I’m missing someone. Oh that’s right, Ronald Weasley. I was so happy that Rupert came and signed for us, I even got his autograph. Though when it ended and cars drove past us on the carpet, and we realised Emma and Dan weren’t making an appearance in Leicester Square, because they were so behind schedule from being in Trafalgar Square too long, I could have burst into tears. Dan I admire and well Emma, Em, I adore and idolise her. Basically to meet her I would do anything, anything at all. I was devastated. Looking back on it I realise how fortunate I was to get to see everyone else, but wow, I could not believe Em and Dan didn’t make an appearance. That was my reason for being there, if I had to give one. But the day was amazing.

A little forlorn, I walked around Leicester Square a bit, or tried to there were road blocks everywhere because of it and it was a little chaotic just trying to get to the Maccas just down the road, and went in to grab something from the McDonald’s. Where I sat, for some reason was where some French guys also wanted to sit. It was one of those bench tables along the windows, so they asked me to shuffle down so there would be enough room for all five of them. I did, and then one comes and sits next to me, attempting to chat me up, asking my age, whether or not I had a boyfriend, and when I said I did telling me how I should have two or three boyfriends instead. Another guy was coming to join their group so I shuffled along again, second last seat from the end, and the guy who was next to me followed suit and the next friend sat on his right. I ended up next to a middle aged looking man sitting alone eating his meal. I sort of whispered subtly to him “Oh no…” when this French guy kept talking to me in a somewhat forcefully suggestive manner, and it was then he said “just ignore them,”. I picked up on what I thought was an Aussie accent, and I then started talking to him. After a while the Frenchman gave up and kept shovelling chips into his mouth. Don’t get me wrong they weren’t bad looking and they weren’t fat, but they seemed like jocks who got their way whenever they wanted it, and did whatever they wanted. After talking a little about what I was doing and what degree I was studying I established the man was infact from New Zealand. He then informed me he had to run, as he had a train to catch. It was then I asked if I could leave with him, because I still didn’t trust these other guys near me. He was kind enough to agree and then when we got out of Maccas I said thanks, we concluded our conversation and he went his direction and I went mine. I felt very… secure that whole time. I had established an escape route as soon as I felt threatened and it made me realise how content it made me feel, having someone who’s practically from home, help me out of an uncomfortable situation. I was thoroughly grateful.

After such a long day I then headed home and went straight to sleep, and slept right through ‘til about 10:30am the next morning.

London, the start of my journey…

Day 1

This blog wasn’t written to please anybody, the detail may be boring, too intricate to be interesting reading. Point is, I am writing this for myself and myself only, so I can keep track of my travels and what happened day to day. If you find it boring, it doesn’t phase me, it’s a personal recount. If you want to read, feel free to. There’s more than enough to read.

Finding time to write a journal can be a feat within itself. The days fly by so quickly, the experiences all meld into one, and there are lots of little things that get forgotten along the way. So many feelings, emotions, thoughts about an experience, place or person that should be documented just so you can remember how far you came when you look back on the memories. That’s exactly why I intend on writing an entry for every day of my trip, regardless of how small or large. It’s day 10, and I’ve been quite productive so far…

But I will go back and fill in the blanks, because there are a lot of blanks to fill.

Arriving in London on the 5th of July, was an interesting experience. My choice of words are so because I wouldn’t say my experiences were bad, or good, perhaps a bit of both.  Security was amiss at Heathrow Airport which was quite a surprise.  We never got our bags checked again or anything. Not that it mattered for me; I have nothing to hide, but I am sure there were people there who did and they didn’t get even a once-over. My flight wasn’t bad but as long flights go it was just quite long and uneventful. I was restless as usual and quite impatient. I found myself contemplating the invention of teleportation multiple times on the way over, but then again I regularly do that when I’m only two hours away from people. Actually I would prefer it if I could apparate but that’s another issue entirely…

When I left home, I wasn’t upset. I’m generally a very emotional person and didn’t want to be upset. I surprised myself by not even crying once as a left my parents, boyfriend, and family behind.  They were, I wasn’t. I was excited to take on everything and experience the good and the bad. I was even pretty okay as I arrived in London, and made my way to the tube station to get to my hostel.  Of course, my train was delayed half way through the journey, just my luck of course… bringing some of the faults of Brisbane transport with me to the UK.  But through the trip, I suddenly felt quite alone. I was okay though until I got to my station, lugging my huge 29kg suitcase up the stairwell, because of course there were no lifts, and trying to orientate myself.  I never had any trouble finding where to go, and I found my hostel easily.  I immediately tried to contact my mum & dad, and then my boyfriend when I arrived. The hostel was a nice place, but I really wasn’t taking much of it in, often on the verge of tears. I wondered where my fearless attitude had disappeared to, and how I could get it back.  I didn’t really let anyone know how isolated and alone I felt, and by 4pm British time (which happened to be about 2am Australian time) I went and crashed in my bed. Which, by the way, was very nice with curtains, a light and under-bed lockers. It’s practically the same as the one I’m in now, just this one isn’t as nice. I love having the privacy of curtains it makes a huge difference .

I woke up at 4am the next morning. A twelve hour sleep wasn’t too bad for me, but it was such an inconvenient time to wake up. I wandered to the lobby where there were computers for me to access the internet without any connection problems, and sat on Facebook for a while, quite easily getting upset at seeing all my friends online.  It took a bit for me to pull myself together – in fact, I don’t think I really did. By 7am I was back in my little bunk crying about being all by my lonesome, when I heard two Australian voices. I had an instant thought; I could lie here and continue moping and accomplish nothing, unsure whether I even had the nerve to go to the Harry Potter premiere the following day, or  I could talk to them and hopefully make a friend. Poking my head out from behind the curtain, I started to talk to the girls. They were getting ready to go out for the day and I was curious about how they were so freely going between places without a worry. It sounds silly now, but back then I was terrified to even take a step outside my hostel. I hadn’t planned to go alone, and I hadn’t intended to either but here I was.  One of the girls, Emma, had offered for me to go along with them for the day sight seeing. It was then I thought “if I don’t do this, I’ll never get the guts to alone”. It was just what I needed.

We went to St. Paul’s Cathedral for the morning, and that helped me get adjusted even to simple things such as using the tube. I quickly figured out how London really is a town for tourists, with everything sign-posted and plenty of maps around the place even if you do get lost. We went into the cathedral which of course was 13 pounds; nothing is cheap in London especially if it’s a tourist destination.  After admiring it, we decided to go to what they call the Golden Gallery which is the climb right to the top of the cathedral with amazing views of the city. 528 steps to be exact, all twisting and winding their way through the cathedral. But it was worth it, we really did get the best view of the city.

After that, we went to grab some lunch at a little cafe called Apostrophe’s which was nice. My first real experience of London food, nothing special but still good. By this point I still didn’t have any confidence, quite easily breaking into tears and I am quite appreciative that the girls didn’t leave me behind somewhere or get sick of me following them around.  But after lunch, they were to split ways, with Emma having already seen the Tower of London and Krystal wanting to do just that. I did too, so I went with Krystal and we went exploring the other side of London. At first it was a bit daunting, but once we got into the tower grounds it was really nice. Spending a few hours exploring and chatting, we left the castle and walked over to the tower bridge, being lucky enough to see it open for an incoming ship. We then ventured over the bridge and walked up South Bank along the Thames River.  Just the experience of having to find our way around, figure out where we were, catching different trains to different parts of the city, was such a good thing for me. I was scared at the start but by the end of the day I felt I was a lot more confident with the whole transport system and the city in general. I really liked walking up South Bank and exploring that area there as well.  By the end of the walk we walked past the London Eye, and up to Parliament and Big Ben. Crossing the bridge and getting some cool photos we then walked around a bit further and caught the train up to Camden Town. Krystal had told me about a phone plan she was on which was super handy for international people needing to call home. I was desperate to have some sort of contact, so we went to find  a store. We got there five minutes late but then tried to walk back to our hostel at Swiss Cottage from there. It’s not too far away, but at least a half hour walk. This was the first time I saw Camden Town and from then was quite interested in coming back to explore the markets. Yes, I do quite like the word explore I feel it sums it up perfectly.

We got home, and sat in the common room for a bit worried that we were late to meet back with Emma, as we were supposed to be meeting at 5. It didn’t matter because she was late too and I was able to Skype my darling boyfriend who I am missing insanely, (hehe)… it was really great to get to talk a bit.

After a while of relaxing we decided it was time to get ready and go out. We returned to our rooms and quickly freshened up before heading out to Covent Garden. I was getting slowly more confident using the tube each time that I did. We explored the area a little; it was interesting, it wasn’t unfamiliar but it was new. After realising we were all just as indecisive as one another we settled on a pub-style restaurant, or at least that was how it appeared on the outside. On the inside it seemed more like a casual restaurant that was hidden by a pub-like facade. We had wanted to try something typically British but it didn’t turn out to be that way at all; the food was more general, the waitress was Italian and there was nothing stereotypically British about the place at all. I wasn’t critical though but I was so grateful to have some company. I swear they have no idea how appreciative I am of having company for that first day, I honestly don’t think I would have made it through without meeting them. Dinner wasn’t great, and from there we made our way to Soho. That’s what I’m loving about London; everything’s pretty much within walking distance.  Walking through the area, which I admit looked pretty incredible, with the broadway lights, flower baskets, and classic streetlamps, we ended up in an area that almost looked bordering on Chinatown. We found a little bar actually called Soho Bar, originally enough, and went in for a few drinks. The girls got a pitcher of Pimms and of course I tried some but after the previous week’s drinking antics I could barely stomach half a small glass, funnily enough. I wonder why… Maybe I should ask my friends why the idea of alcohol still makes my stomach turn? Haha.

I knew I had the Harry Potter premiere the next day but it didn’t matter – without this confidence I had gained from going out this first day, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go exploring around at the premiere either. Getting home about12:30, and mind you there are still plenty of tube services at this time of night unlike a certain other city I could name, we crashed and I was asleep pretty quickly that night.

An eventful first day, good and bad, but it’s not something I’m going to forget any time soon.