London, Day 1

13 Dec

London. I don’t even know how to begin. This trip was such a blessing. The planning stages were slightly stressful- I didn’t figure out what I was doing for the puente, or the bridge week between the last full week of classes and exam week in Spain, until about a month ago. A lot of people had already booked flights and hostels. I was sort of getting worried that I would have to travel alone or not have enough time to plan. I am so thankful that everything worked out as it did- this past week was the trip of a lifetime. 
I got to go with my friend Taryn, who I don’t get to see that often during the week because we go to different schools in Sevilla. We met up at around 11:00am at the bus stop so we would be sure to make it for our 1:00 flight. We got there, checked in, and got through security with at least an hour to spare. And then, we saw it. Our delayed flight. It kept being delayed more and more, I think eventually we left around 3ish. Our flight was pretty good… Short. I read Taryn’s guide she brought on London.

We got to the airport, and got our passports stamped. Our first encounter with the British customs workers went something like this:

Worker #1: Where are you going to be staying while you’re here?
Me: Uhmm I’m not quite sure, I don’t remember the name of the hotel.
Worker #2 (Who had just stamped Taryn’s passport): They’re staying at the Waldorf.
Worker #1: Oh… how much is that costing you?
Me: Uhm I’m not sure really, my friend’s parents were nice enough to get us the hotel for the week we’re staying here.
Worker #1: Oh. Mummy and Daddy are paying for it… Hmm.

Oy. What a way to start the trip. I did really hate being judged like that- we are both students paying to study abroad, traveling a bit before we head home and her parents were so good to help us out with our hotel and they judged us for it. It was a mildly bothersome encounter, but absolutely no indication of how our trip was going to turn out.

After getting our passports stamped, we found our way to the trains. We hopped on the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station, and it was here we made our first mistakes.

Train ride!

Mistake #1) Taryn bought a drink on the train, us being under the impression that the train took an hour and a half or so. Turns out, it only takes half an hour. Noted.

Mistake #2) I got caught in the train doors. I figured out how they worked in Portugal, but apparently I forgot. My backpack held me to the door until Taryn let me out. Sigh.

Mistake #3) Upon our arrival in Victoria Station, we decided not to wait in the extremely long line for the elevators, so instead we took the stairs. Too bad we didn’t realize the warning was real:

193 steps. Mistake #3. I felt like I had just run a marathon after those stairs with my backpack. Perhaps I should start running again...

We made it out and, being the tourists that we were, pulled out the map to figure out where our hotel was. We made our first journey to the beautifully decorated Covent Garden.

Covent Garden!

It was almost scary how fast people moved here, especially coming out of the underground station. After living in a relatively slow-paced country for a few months, the speed with which these people moved from place to place was astonishing, and something we had to get used to. We almost got swept away a few times that first night into the crowd of people.

After maneuvering our way across a couple of different underground lines, a couple of turns and some miraculous map reading, we found our hotel, right in the heart of London’s West End theatre district. *Squeal.*

I want to take this time to thank Taryn’s parents five hundred times over for getting us a hotel room for our stay in London. It was the most amazing thing. The hotel was beautiful. The service was magnificent. The food was a life-saver. Here is a peek into our home from the last week:

Love the lit mirror and closet. Gorgeous.

Super modern chandelier. Love.

Our closet!! It came with an umbrella we could use. Seriously, this hotel had everything!

Our beautiful bathroom! The one thing I will never understand about European showers- the swivel-y glass half-door. Why?

We even got fuzzy bath robes!

The rest of the night was spent exploring the Executive Lounge, a magical wonderland of food, coffee, and internet that we had access to thanks to Taryn’s dad’s Diamond membership. When we first checked in, they apologized for not having a room upgrade for us, and in apology sent us a free bottle of wine. There was always coffee and tea in the lounge, and there were appetizers and assorted cheeses close to dinner time. Amazing.

I don’t know if I’ve ever stayed somewhere quite like this hotel. I can’t explain how thankful I am that we had a nice place to come back to and fall into squishy beds every night. It made running around London easier for sure, and helped out my budget substantially.

After grabbing some snacks, we headed back to the room and brought the maps back out, made lists of everything we wanted to see, and grouped them by each area of London. We decided to buy a week long tube pass, which was quite possibly our best investment, and then figured out what sights we would see each day. We were extremely tired, so after our planning we watched a bit of tv-  there was a channel devoted entirely to the West End shows that were playing- and went to bed.

Tune in for some serious sight-seeing on day 2.  I can’t wait to tell you and show you all the things!

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4 Responses to “London, Day 1”

  1. Emily H. December 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    THE WALDORF?!? Holy moly, girl!! Let me travel with your friends next time!

    Glad you had such an awesome time in London! Can’t wait to hear more.

    • Jess December 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      Ha deals!
      London has been my dream for a while now… It is the perfect combination of nerd love, history, and amazing sights. Love it. 🙂 More posts coming soon!

  2. Meg December 14, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Love! I lol’d many times!!!!

    • Jess December 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      Good, glad to hear it 🙂

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