London front view

Go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over

At the Philadelphia airport, I had a little extra time so I sat down and ordered a $9.25 Yuengling and watched half of a women’s college basketball game.  What was the worst hour of your life? That was mine. Just two days ago I purchased a $6 pitcher of Yuengling and was able to drink it without being affronted by such atrociousness.

Then I boarded my flight from Philadelphia to London at about 10:35pm. And they started by serving dinner. Who eats dinner at 11pm? So I just had wine for “dinner”.

The nice part was the plane was fairly empty, so I got two seats to myself. Or you’d think that would be pretty comfortable, but that just isn’t the case. It’s actually even worse because suddenly you expect to be comfortable, but instead, it’s just cramped and uncomfortable still. I didn’t sleep much.

So after a lovely 7 hour flight over the Atlantic, I finally make it to the UK Border Control.

Lady: “How long will you be in the UK?”
Me: “6 weeks”
Lady: “Where will you be staying?”
Me: “I’m traveling around. I just know where I’m staying for the first 3 days.”
Lady: “Ok what is the address? We need to write it on your Landing Card.”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Lady: “You don’t know where you’re going right now?”
Me: “No. I figured I’d look it up after this.”
Lady: “Ok. Look it up now then come back up to the window.”

Luckily London has free Wifi so I fire up my computer and get the address. Which, by the way, I received right before I boarded my flight to London. So that worked out well. I’m such a good planner. But this time in line I didn’t even get that lady. I got the guy being trained. I gave him my unimpressive plan as well. Which was followed by this general nonsense:

Him: “Are you traveling alone?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Him: “Do you know anyone here?”
Me: “No.”
Him: “So what exactly is your travel plan?”
Me: “I don’t know. I’m staying in London for like 3 days. Then traveling around to Ireland for a while. Then back to London for a month.”
Him: “When is your return flight?”
Me: “April 23 or 24 I think.”
* he makes me get my computer out and look it up again

This continued in a circular fashion for a while longer. I’m just glad I’m not middle-eastern or I probably would have been put right back on the plane. Thankfully, eventually the passport got stamped.

It probably didn’t help that this was all I packed for my 6 week trip:

All of the things
All of my things

And my London stop was at Paddington Station, which was infested by bears dressed for rainy weather.

Paddington Station
Paddington Bear Stuff

From there I walked around lost for a while until I finally stumbled upon the apartment I was looking for.  So anyways, this is my home for the next 3 days, and maybe the month I get back from Ireland as well.

London front view
This is a street

From my window I can see 3 BMW’s, 2 VW’s, 1 Porsche, 2 Audis, 2 Mercedes, and 2 people riding horses (it’s actually right across the street from “Hyde Park Stables” so they’re around all the time). I think I’ve seen more expensive cars on this block than just about anywhere in my life. I’m right by Hyde Park, so I guess that’s why.  I didn’t know I’d be living so lavishly.

And the back. Yes, that’s a Porsche parked there.

back view
Old British things

I exchanged some money and then got some coffee to see how money works here.  Pretty much the same.  Except instead of “to go” they ask you if it’s “to take with”.  I like most British phrases, but that one is stupid.

And then I walked through Hyde Park for a while.  These were things in it:

Italian Gardens – Gardens made of pizza

Peter Pan Statue – This was similar to the Alice in Wonderland bronze statue in Central Park in NYC, except not as cool.

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain – I saw like 6 signs for it but I think I must have missed it.  I assume water comes out of it.

Serpentine Gallery – Ok I even had trouble appreciating the art in here.  It was basically a bunch of salt and pepper shakers arranged on unexpected things.  Thus, art.

Albert Statue/Hall – I played some soccer (or football) with this little boy who could barely walk.  Like, he could walk but couldn’t talk yet, but when I walked by he kicked this tiny soccer ball at me.  I only kicked it back once because the US is already years behind in talent development and the last thing we need if we want to close the gap is me encouraging British youngsters.

The Serpentine – It’s a lake with ducks in it.  The ducks had slightly different patterns than I’m used to seeing.  The pigeons I saw in the park were like pigeons I’ve seen elsewhere, though.

I of course got some work done, and I walked around to get dinner, but ultimately skipped it because eating dinner would mean facing a combination of all my greatest fears: eating alone, lack of vegetarian options, paying too much for food I didn’t want, being under-dressed, the possibility of people trying to talk to me, and looking like an idiot.  Not to mention getting lost.  Plus I don’t know the silverware situation with the place I’m staying so I don’t really know how to handle take-out.  So starvation was the easy choice on that one and I have no regrets.

Now I’m forcing myself to stay up until 10pm so I can get on the proper sleep schedule.

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