London Day One: Exhausted Awe

Thursday, 4 Dec 2014:

12pm: Crossing the Canadian border.

4pm: Arriving in Toronto.

630pm: Checked in and through security.

830pm: Boarding the plan and waiting take off.

Friday, 5 Dec 2014:

9am: Landed.  London… (England, NOT Ontario.)

This place is beautiful.  As Americans we miss out being a newly established country with no original works of art, hand crafted and uniquely designed structures, or medieval ruins.  The alleys are skinny, the roads are cobblestone, and the food is fantastic.  I’m in love.  I’m in awe.  And I’m in total bliss.

Its a regular old melting pot itself.  So multicultural and tourist driven.  Its hard to tell the locals from the travelers and probably better that way – you’re always in the way but its always okay: the cabbies just honk at you and wait staff just moves around you.  Everyone’s used to it and everyone thrives off of it.  Tourism seems to drive this city and the city seems to cater to the tourist, but only in the most posh of ways.

Life is much different.  As I type I lay in a bed just larger than a full in a hotel room the size of a very small New York City flat that is actually located three buildings down from the lobby and is only neighbored by five other hotel rooms.  Small little brown stone (or town house) type buildings that line an entire block of the street have been renovated and broken up into rooms.  The buildings themselves are so old but the originality clashes with the modern decor with class and style.  And we have one hell of a view off our roof top balcony (more on that later).

The streets are lined with semi-tall buildings of original material and crowded with people, buses, and taxis.  The subway is my new favorite way to travel (or to keep it local… The Tube).  Trash is just thrown out on the streets in garbage bags in piles after closing for pick up.  Everything closes before nine except for pubs that close anywhere from 12-3am… which is odd for a bustling city, you’d think business after dark would be booming but it just goes to show how we work far too much to meet the needs of other’s in the US of A.  There isn’t a garbage can on the street.  Not.  One.  Have a traveling coffee?  Too bad, hold your cup until you venture in to another store or restaurant and don’t dare set it down… or else a 2500 pound fine will find its way to you.  The parks are spacious and kept.  Have to pee?  50 pence will get you into a public bathroom which doesn’t mean they’re cleaner because you pay it just means they are supposed to be cleaner because you pay.  The city itself for being so ancient isn’t in bad shape at all, but its not as clean as it could be either (I suggest putting out garbage cans) – yet cleaner than our city equivalent, New York (which ironically is street lined with trash cans).  And don’t even try getting a table at a pub after 1pm.  Everywhere is packed.  Food is hard to come by too, there are restaurants and pubs no doubt, but they are mysteriously hidden until every once in a while you’ll stumble upon one… and once you do, the food is divine and real and flavorful and is what food should taste like.

I am completely lost.  There is no rhyme or reason to the organization or pattern of the city.  Time is elusive.  We are only 5 hours ahead of the east coast but I feel like I’m in some weird time dimension where time is extremely important but there’s no way to keep track of it.

Exhaustion.  That’s the only way to describe the first day.  Up for 48 hours (in a 24 hour time period?!?) with a 2 hour nap somewhere thrown in.  Walked 500 miles in concentric circles with no real end or destination.  Saw everything but never quite enough. I never want to leave but wouldn’t ever be able to stay.

Hotel 43, 43 Queensway.  Mike says its the nicest and biggest hotel he’s ever stayed at here in London, and the nicest room for our price range.  If you want to shell out the big bucks (or big pounds rather… and we’re talking like a few hundred pounds per night) you’ll find yourself in an actual luxury, stand alone, building like modern hotels worldwide with more than 1.5 feet separating your bed from your toilet.

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Queensway.

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So much character…

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Brenda, Jason, Mike looking right like the cross walk is telling them to.

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Every crosswalk has this (or look left, or look both ways).

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Kensington Palace… We see many more iconic buildings and structures on Day 2.

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Just so much gorgeous.

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Waiting for The Tube. (and noting the time, but never really conceptualizing it)

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The city is decorated for Christmas.  There are many many groups of Santas on pub tours around the city. Drunk Santas are very polite.

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Oh my goodness, I wish I could take one of these phone booths home!  They are so great.  And they are everywhere!  And yes, working and used.

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Late night dinner and beer every night.  So much goodness!

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