Day Three – Piccadilly Circus

Remember how I said the other day that I couldn’t find Piccadilly Circus? I was there the whole time and didn’t know. If I’d had just turned around and walked in the opposite direction I would have seen what I was looking for!!! *sigh*

Anyway, pictures are posted on facebook now. Yesterday was a day of getting things done – had my BUNAC orientation, went to the bank to set up a bank account, and went to speed flatmating. 

Getting a bank account here is different than in Canada. It’s not like you can just walk in, set up an account, get a card, and start using it automatically. Here you have to wait 7-10 business days to receive your bank card and my draft of money I brought form Canada will take 5 business days to clear. Good thing I brought cash and a credit card!

Speed flatmating wasn’t fruitful. I guess I’ll just have to keep looking. I also managed to get a few more nights in the hostel, but I do have to move down the street again. So now I have until Wendesday night, instead of tomorrow.

Today I tried to contact more people about flats but didn’t hear anything back. So I went in search of Piccadilly Circus again and found it! I also had to call to start the process of getting a National Insurance Number, which is like your SIN in Canada. I also tried to go to Kings Cross and find platform 9 and 3/4 but I think you actually have to have a train ticket to get in there. Bummer. Another time I guess!



6 Things I’ve Discovered In London

It’s been a long day, so today you get a short version of six things I’ve discovered so far in London:

  1. Escalators. They move freaking fast here – you gotta pay attention or you’re definitely potentially falling down 5 stories of escalator.
  2. Underground Depth. Yes, you heard me, 5 stories. That’s what it looks like on some of them. The height of the escalators is sometimes dizzying. Certain tube lines are ridiculously far underground.
  3. Lord of the Rings. I’m convinced that London Transport has given a code name to MORDOR and you can get there via the Northern Line. Morden Station = Mordor. 
  4. Smoking. Londoners must die young or have a high rate of lung cancer, cause there are so many smokers here! No smoking in pubs and restauarnts, just like in Canada. This means you see a crapload of people standing outside the front door of all the pubs with a beer in one hand and a ciggarette in the other.
  5. Street Crossings. I’m slowly but surely getting used to this whole “look the opposite way” thing before crossing the street. It’s more of a turn-360-degrees-and-make-sure-nothing-is-coming-at-you kind of thing. Or you just follow everyone else and hope you don’t die because they didn’t see a car racing down the street.
  6. Phone Data. Guess what? Today I bought a pre-paid sim card for £15. That gets me something reasonable for calls, something like 1000 texts, and UNLIMITED DATA. Yeah. I KNOW. IT’S AMAZING.


Day One – Trafalgar Square

Today was a day of exploration mixed with house hounting duties. I was up and down at the main hostel for free breakfast by 9:30 where I enjoyed toast and a glass of milk. I also confirmed to myself that the tap water in London tastes absolutely disgusting. Perhaps I’m just spoiled by good water in Chilliwack and BC in general! Even the bottled water from Starbucks isn’t great and Evian isn’t much better, but at least it’s drinkable. Gerrod says he’ll fill me on the good brands.

After that I headed on down to the BUNAC office, which is the partner of SWAP, the program I came through. Used the computers there and got oriented a bit – tried searching for more flat ads. Getting a bit stressed about finding a place to live but hopefully tomorrow night’s “Speed Flatmating” will be fruitful. 

After that I tried to find Piccadilly Circus, and failed. I think I was in the area but somehow got lost amongst all the construction and shops. I ended up at Trafalgar Square where I took lots of photos and kind of wished I’d had someone with me to take photos of me with things! I’m a little sceptical of handing over my camera to a stranger, but I may need to get over that. Also checked out the National Gallery since it’s free to go in. Loads of cool old paintings there.

Tonight I went with my new Australian friends, Rhianna and Caitlin, for dinner at a pizzeria italian place across from the hostel and then to a place called Slug and Lettuce for a cup of tea and some amazing dessert. I think I’m already planning my next visit to Slug and Lettuce for that dessert again – it was pretty epic.

Now I’ve just finished sorting all my things again as in the morning, by 10am, I have to check OUT of the hostel (a sub-hostel of St. Christophers, the all girls “The Oasis”) and get all my luggage over to the main part of the Hostel down the road where I have to put everything into storage until I can check back IN to that location at 2pm. 

SWAP/BUNAC orientation tomorrow so I can set up my bank account and all and then Speed Flatmating tomorrow evening. Another full day tomorrow!


Day Zero – It All Begins

So, all is fine and dandy, right? Flight begins boarding and is scheduled to leave on time. 

I’m seated in the middle of the row. Ugh… oh well. Plane takes off, usual procedures take place. My touchscreen monitor for choosing and watching movies etc? Doesn’t work. 7 hours on this plane and I have no in-flight entertainment?!

Okay… moving on! I’ll read my book. I’ll watch a movie I have on my phone. I’ll listen to some music. Still bored with half the flight left to go… I know! I’ll write in my journal about the events so far. Oh, but wait, my PEN JUST EXPLODED INK ALL OVER MY HAND.

That flight felt way too long.

Reykjavik. There’s really not much to see in terms of landscape. Looks pretty lifeless actually.  We get off the plane and we have to go through security again, because apparently the EU has different safety regulations than North America. How annoying. They stamp my passport that I’m in the county, then they stamp my passport that I’m out of the country. Was two stamps really necessary for my total time of 60 minutes in Iceland?

Alright, whatever. Second flight I have the window seat and my TV screen works. Woot! By half way through the 2.5 hour flight I’m starting to get excited cause I should start to be able to see land. (By the way… there is a LOT of water in the ocean, just FYI). I think about how this land has been occupied for ssssooooo long!

We finally get close to London and I’m trying to catch a glimpse of anything on the ground, my neck hurting from craning it to the side to look out the tiny window. Clouds. We circle for a bit above the clouds,  which is making me antsy cause I wanna see the stuff below the clouds!

The pilot starts to circle lower and lower… the white mist thins a bit, but there’s still too many ruddy clouds to see anything. I start getting antsy again and think “come on dude – just give me a land mark!!!”…. and then there it was. So amazing that I forgot to get a picture. The London Eye. Tower Bridge. THEY’RE REAL GUYS. You know, not just photoshopped pictures and stories.

And I don’t really wanna talk about my journey from arrivals at Heathrow to the Hostel. It was painful. Note to self: PACK LIGHTER YOU FRIGGEN IDIOT.

P.S. If you actually read this far then you are rewarded with the knowledge that I will upload some photos tomorrow – when I’m not falling asleep standing up. 🙂