Arriving in London

Published: May 20th 2009
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Written May 19, 2009
Well, yesterday, the 18th, I arrived in London. I didn’t realize you had to sign some immigration form on the plane and turn it in at the airport. I think it was in case you got into legal trouble over here while you’re visiting. Not planning to do that! Note to everyone: My blog entries are bound to be long…I want to write a lot because I want to remember everything.

Yesterday (Monday), I was pretty tired. I don’t know whether to attribute that to jet lag or just to the fact that I didn’t get much sleep at all the night before coming to London. I think it’s a mixture of both. In any case, I didn’t get much accomplished. At the airport (Heathrow), I bought an Oyster card, which is a travel card with money on it that you can use on the “tube”, which is an underground train. By using the Oyster card, I’m only paying about half of what it would be if I paid in cash. When I bought it, she asked how much money I wanted to put onto it, and I was like, “Hmm…I guess $20 dollars.” She
Clouds from the planeClouds from the planeClouds from the plane

I just like to take pictures from the plane!
said to me with a smile, “We use pounds here.” Yeah, I couldn’t believe I did that. So I got it for 20 pounds (need to figure out how to put the pounds symbol), and then I realized that I just bought it for about $35, but that’s ok because I’ll definitely be using it anyway. I felt kind of clueless about the tube, and because I didn’t feel like I understood the first answer well enough, I asked a second person which train to get on. They ended up telling me two different routes, but upon looking at my handy little tube map, I figured it out. It’s really not difficult at all. New York City was excellent practice for the tube. It’s just like the subway. The underground stations even look similar. The train itself looks pretty much just like the subway, too. Man, thank goodness I went to NYC!

I was a little curious on my way into the center of London (on the tube), because for the majority of the time, we weren’t underground. The tube is supposed to be an underground system, so I was a bit confused. On the way into central London, we went past what looked to me as half jungle/half village. There were lots of trees and outside had a sort of jungle feel to it, but there were old, English, village-looking houses with graffiti on them, too. Oh, and so most of the tube stations were outside! It was weird.

I arrived at “my” tube station, which is called Queensway. It’s the closest one to my hostel. I was pretty sure I was on the correct street - Bayswater -, but I wasn’t seeing the hostel, so I asked a construction worker. All I wanted to know was, “Do the numbers get smaller or larger going ‘that’ way?” He didn’t know that or where the hostel was, but an old man walks up and says he’s from here, he can help. So he said no, he thought the Royal Bayswater Hotel was on such and such street or square or something, so I was like, “Really? I thought it was on Bayswater.” I wasn’t thinking clearly, obviously, so I took his advice and went down a different street, knowing full and well that the hostel address was 121 Bayswater. Ha. I went around the block, got some exercise, and then when I approached Queensway station again, I realized the mistake I had made. I turned right instead of left when I exited the tube station. Now I know! It’s actually really close to the hostel.

I walked into the hostel, left my luggage there, and went to find an ATM. I wasn’t going to pay an extra 5% just so I could use my credit card. I found a bank with an ATM outside, so I withdrew some cash...I now had some British pounds! I checked into the hostel, and began lugging my 60-pound suitcase up the stairs, one step at a time. I was about half-way up when a guy offered to help; that was nice of him! I walked into my room, and no one was there…well actually I guess one guy was in the shower. There are 4 beds, then you walk down a few steps and there are 16 more. There looked to be many empty beds, and I decided to choose one right there where the biggest cluster of beds were. I figured I’d meet some more people like that and not be so isolated.

That plan backfired on me a little bit. Shortly after I arrived, one of my new roommates walks out in a towel after taking a shower, and decides to chat. We exchanged names, found out where each other was from (he’s from Slovakia), etc., etc., and eventually, he started asking if I wanted to go somewhere for coffee. I didn’t really want to…I don’t like doing that sort of thing with people I don’t know; if they’re good friends, that would be a different story. Anyway, I took a shower, and I knew he was waiting for me so we could go get some coffee. Haha. I had already told him that I had to go use the internet, that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do that day, etc. So then when I was ready to go (not with him, mind you), I told him that I was going to go use the internet…what was he going to do for the day? Hint hint. He still wanted to go for coffee, and I told him that I had stuff to do. That sounds mean I guess, but hey, I just met the guy.

While I was still rummaging through my luggage and searching for camera batteries, he started talking about like going for drinks and having a good time or something. However he worded it, it was clear what he had in mind. Ha…no. I don’t know what his problem was, but he kept asking me again and again, like it was a game or something. He must have thought I would change my mind, and I assured him I wouldn’t. I told him we needed to find him a girlfriend. But he was like, “I don’t need a girlfriend when there’s a girl I like already at the hostel.” This went on for however long I was searching through my suitcase, and I was remaining nice about it all. It’s not like he wasn’t still being nice, but he was for sure being pester-some. (Mom, don't worry about him; he's harmless. He's a nice guy who's just annoying. Plus, he's very short, and I'm fairly strong.) I told him he was very forward (not sure if he knew what that meant), and that he was asking the wrong person. It’s weird…I think (many) foreign guys are very bold, just based on my experiences with meeting them and becoming friends with them.
London 013London 013London 013

more clouds

So those were some of my first experiences in London! Haha. I strolled through Hyde Park later that day (Monday), and took some pictures. There were some pretty flowers, and there were swans in what they call the “Round Pond” inside of Hyde Park. I then tried to find the Science Museum, which took a long time. I looked around for a little while inside the museum, and then sat down on a bench. I could have fallen asleep right there and thought to myself, “Maybe I should just go back to the hostel and go to sleep for the night.” I looked at my watch and saw that it was 3:30 in the afternoon. Maybe not such a good idea. I have read that you should really try to stay awake during your first day overseas, to help with jetlag. I figured I could go take a nap for a little while at least. Luckily, that museum is free, so I can go back whenever.

I tried to use my new alarm clock that was sent to me from Hong Kong (bought it on Ebay) by setting the alarm for about 2 hours later. It worked! I

I think this was probably Ireland
stayed up for a few hours, then slept through the night. Unfortunately, I somehow broke my alarm clock, as it is no longer working, so I just got up whenever. I was thinking maybe I could use my cell phone as my alarm, but it won’t even let me do that overseas. I didn’t expect that!
Two of my roommates were trying to be really quiet…I could tell because sometimes I was awake and could hear them whispering when they thought I was asleep. They’re always trying to be quiet, which is sweet. I haven’t actually met them, but I did meet two Asian girls - Irene and Sherry. They’re nice, and speak English pretty well. Another roommate I met last night is - what else? - Australian! I meet so many Australians. She’s from Sydney and is really nice. She’s actually going to Michigan soon to work at a summer camp. She’s excited to be going to America. I believe it was a choccie (spelling??) that she offered me - aka a piece of chocolate. Ferrero Rochet, too!

I guess I was so preoccupied with other things- and tired- on Monday that I actually didn’t eat OR drink anything after getting off the plane at 7:30 am. They gave us a small breakfast on the plane, too, which I was not expecting! Ok, this entry may have sounded a bit dreary -sorry- it actually gets better because I did some exciting things on Tuesday! Bye for now.

Additional photos below
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The Thames River

I still don't know what building this is, but it looked important, so I figured I'd look into it later! :)
Kensington PalaceKensington Palace
Kensington Palace

This is where Princess Diana used to live. It's on the edge of Hyde Park.
inside Hyde Parkinside Hyde Park
inside Hyde Park

I think this might have been Kensington Gardens..not sure though.

20th May 2009

Your posts are great!
Hi honey! I've enjoyed reading your posts so much! I don't know much about this yet - should I call them blogs? Did you get my first private message? This is now my 2nd public message to you but I don't see my 1st one yet. Your descriptions and pictures bring back a lot of memories! I hope you are having a fantastic time!!! Love, Mom
21st May 2009

Hi, Courtney! I didn't find the entry dreary at all. I enjoyed reading it and looking at the pictures. Will be checking back for an update soon. Joyce

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