Posted on 06-07-2007
Filed Under (People, Adventure, London) by admin

We’ve arrived in London, but certainly haven’t had a smooth ride since getting to the airport yesterday afternoon. We’re quickly stopped at a Starbuck’s and mooching off their WiFi internet to figure some things out, so I figure I’ll run through everything now.

First, some official looking woman at the Virgin Airways check-in line at JFK informs me I needed to print out the email that said “YOU DO NOT NEED TO PRINT THIS”… So after waiting a few minutes on one line, I had to go to wait on a different line where they would print a ticket out for me that says I can get a ticket from the check-in line. It wasn’t a huge deal, but seemed a bit unnecessary and perhaps a sign of things to come.

So, our plane took off at 10:30 last night; it was supposed to take off at 7:50. I realized it was bad when the first in-plane movie finished before we took off.

The plane was a 747, but the seats were crammed in there and it was incredibly tight. We got a decent dinner, which included wine for pretty much everyone which was a nice touch. But, they apparently decided that since the flight was 2 and a half hours late, they didn’t need to feed us the breakfast they’d promised, which I was craving towards the end of the flight.

We stepped off the plane, went through immigration and customs with no problems… Though the officer was confused by the “TBD” I had written under “Location staying in London” on the landing card… A step outside of baggage claim an old woman at a Duty Free shop was providing free samples of Pimm’s Liquor with lemonade… Imagine that! Not only are we not carded, but old polite ladies are happily urging seconds on free samples and offering serving suggestions. Despite the issues so far, we fell in love with Europe at this moment.

We left the airport and wandered around confused for a few moments when an employee came over and offered us some help. We told him we were trying to get to Central London, and he asked if we wanted to fly there, or take a bus. After a moment of confusion, he told us the best way to get there was the Tube, the London Underground and assured us it was still safe. I told him that I trusted him and he replied “Well if you trust me you’ve got some fuckin’ problems!”

The few people we’d encountered in London so far were really friendly, helpful and funny; things were looking great.

We headed to the Tube with our huge backpacks on, definitely standing out in the crowd, and got in-line to purchase tickets. We saw a woman at a booth who made free hostel reservations, and quickly learned that due to the Wimbledon and Tour de France, nothing in London was available…nothing. The only thing available for 2 nights was something outside of London for 125 Pounds a night (A hostel, keep in mind…) and we could only put 2 of our 4 people in a room.

We decided we had to get out of London ASAP. So, we’ll just speed up our journey to Paris, perhaps? Take the train tonight instead. “Oh, my sister had to book a train to Paris 3 weeks in advance,” the woman behind the booth replied.

This woman was clearly no good for us, so we took the Tube to Central London, wandered around trying to find food for about an hour (these backpacks really are huge…) and finally find a nice little pub with a sign outside that read “THOSE WEARING SOILED OR DIRTY CLOTHES ARE NOT WELCOME INSIDE.”

Luckily, we weren’t too soiled just yet, and had a nice fish & chips meal for just about $80… This price was for just 2 orders of Fish & Chips and a pitcher of Pimm’s (That old woman got us!). The prices in London are truly absurd… If we stayed here we’d be done in a few days.

So, we made our way here… To this wonderful little US Embassy, Starbucks.

From Starbucks, we’ve found that we can take a train to Paris tonight, and we have a hostel booked for $25 a night. The difficult part will be staying up from 12am until check-in at 1pm… But I’m sure Mike & I can handle it, polyphasic training has its benefits. :)

Anyway, we’ll get our train tickets, wander London awhile and then get onto Paris! The adventure has begun in full force.

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