LONDON TRAVEL BLOG: First Impressions of a First Timer
Air Frog landed me safely back on South African soil in April after spending an eventful twelve days in London. This spelled my first time in the northern hemisphere! It’s going to be tough trying to condense everything into one report-back, but here goes!
The journey to London involved three plane rides with an 8 hour overlay in Paris. It was strange not having access to my luggage until arriving in London. I hadn’t thought to pack my toothbrush and some deo into my hand luggage and I was sure that the airport staff would have tucked into my secret bag of Doritos by the time I landed.
I was sat between three middle-aged Italian birds who spoke over me. I attempted to commune / flirt with the sexy one on my good hearing side, but she spoke no more than two words of English. The one on my left turned out to be South African and was quite chatty. At the end of the flight she sweetly gave me her spare travel toothpaste and brush. We got fed well on the flight and I got to watch that film about Steven Hawkins called “The Theory of Nearly Everything” (brilliant).
I love being in the International parts of airports… I got to Paris in time to nab an airport lounger and watched the sunrise. I caught a bit of what one can only described as micro-sleep. There seemed to be some kind of strike on the go. There were some pommes in tears as I heard the French airport staff explain the situation as calmly as they could.
Not having slept on any of my flights (or the night before departure), I seemed to be operating on auto-pilot. I took comfort in watching the full diaspora of faces with varying melanin counts: young, old, grumpy, smiling, and considering that everyone has their own stories and issues. The most profound realisation is that we are all One…
I found myself speaking in broken (yet confident) French when I got to Paris airport: “Excusi Mwa, parlay vous Engles?” Well-versed American accents generally followed.
LONDON FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
I found the London tubes intimidating at first. There was a frantic rush of people, but once I knew I was en route, I had a fixed grin on my face. Fortunately my journey to Camden Town (where I would be staying) was very straight forward.
We passed a lot of ‘slums’ when we were above ground and I found the whole experience to be a lot dingier than expected. The tube wobbled and screeched – giving off quite a sooty and metallic smell, but my smile remained as I thought about what experiences lay ahead.
Walking out of the station into the street felt like walking onto a movie set! As my eyes adjusted to the sunlight I saw brightly coloured punks walking passed; a couple of goths were getting a photoshoot; a red double-decker bus drove past, and a band was busking nearby. I had to stand there for a good while just to contemplate where the hell I was!
I needed to access WiFi in order to contact my friends (and hosts). I found such at the nearby Jazz café as the make-up –clad local flirted her arse off with me. Mates found, we managed to visit no less than 5 pubs (including one that had a live musical duo playing the guitar and washboard) before calling it a night.
My friends stay in a small flat beneath a dry cleaners with wooden floors. They have affectionately named their above-ground neighbour (and landlord) “Stompie.” People often drink and chatted loudly near their front door into the early hours, but I found this far more bearable that Cape Town street noise!
This post is effing long so it is to be continued …