London – Week One

I am writing this on day 6 in London which is not really week 1 but I had free time so it seemed a good time to write it. This will also include my last day in NYC so I think the post is due anyway.

So I made it to JFK airport 5 hours early which worked out pretty good as I went to a restaurant and ate and charged my laptop/iPod which took a good 2-3 hours. I was rather worried about my backpack being to heavy for Virgin Atlantic’s weight restriction which it was but they didn’t seem to care at all and never even mentioned it. The flight was 6+ hours but it went by really fast with lots of movies and stuff to watch on the plane and a decent meal as well. The plane was actually packed and it was a 747 I believe with a full bar up front in first class.

My next worry was getting through UK border control with a one-way ticket and no proof that I was leave, even though I am eventually. But when I finally made it to the end of the 2 hour line of people waiting it ended up being no problem at all, I showed the guy how much money I had and told him I would be going to France soon and he stamped me in for 180 days in the UK.

BOnce I got done with border control I tried to take some money out of the free ATM’s all around but none would work sadly so I ended up using my VISA to buy a paper ticket from LHR to Picadilly Circus which was the only place I actually knew and I figured it would have a working ATM. I actually was trying to buy an Oyster card and put 5-10 GBP on it but the guy misunderstood me so I got a paper ticket which cost more than I wanted but still only 5 GBP. I found a ATM from a company called NatWest which is a rather large bank here and was able to take out money without any charges which is weird that a lot of the banks here do not charge for using ATM’s, kinda of like how it should be in Canada because it’s automated.

After that I walked around Picadilly Circus and worked my way to Big Ben and the London Eye which were easy to spot from far away, well the London Eye was. Once there I spent most of my time at a McDonald’s using there WiFi as I tried to figure out were my host lived and how to get there. Once I figured it out I purchased an Oyster card and put a 7-day Travelcard on it to Zones 1 & 2 which is most of central London. I don’t think I will get a Travelcard again as I have found it rather easy to walk around Zone 1-2 and I will just put 10 GBP on the Oyster card once this Travelcard expires.

PI stayed with my first host William for 2 days and we walked all around his area of London which is near the Westbourne Park underground station. I also met a few CS’ers that were staying with him but we didn’t really hang out much. I also saw the British Museum while staying with him, it is a very well built and organized museum and probably my favorite one so far on my trip, also it had the Rosetta Stone which I have wanted to see for a while.

My next host and current host is a girl named Isona and her flatmate Laura. They are very nice girls but I did not see much of them during the week as they are busy with work and studies. Last night we all went to a classic London rave which was a good time and how I imagined it would be. I will be leaving her flat on Sunday and going to my next host for 2 days, his name is Richard and I have not met him yet. Once those 2 days are up my CS friend that I hosted in Saskatoon named Thom will be back in London and I will have a place to stay for a bit longer than these 2-4 day hosts I have been with, which I still very much appreciate.

HDuring all my time in London I have also been going to the CS meetings whenever I see one that interests me. There was a board game night on Monday where I learned to play a game called Jungle Speed which is rather fun. Then on Tuesday was a weekly meeting that had about 40-75 people and I met a lot of interesting people. Then yesterday on Friday there was a language exchange type of meeting which is mostly just an excuse to hang out, it had about 40-75 people as well. Both meetings I met a Canadian or 2 but they were not from SK which does not surprise me, if I meet a single person from SK on my trip I will be really surprised.

One final note is that I now have a cell phone from T-Mobile UK, my # is 011-44-7944692334 if calling from Canada. Feel free to call me as I do not pay for receiving calls from anywhere, another thing I think Canada should adopt as standard procedure. I paid 40 GBP and for that I got a phone called a Pulse Mini which has Android 2.1 on it and this phone is mine to keep, I also got 10 GBP credit on my pay as you go SIM which is good for about 50 minutes of talk and the thing that sold me on this phone is 6 months of free 3G internet on the phone. So I use it for GMail, MSN and Google Maps and it has a digital compass so I can actually tell which direction I am facing on the map which is huge when trying to walk around London or anywhere really. Sadly this phone has made my iPod that I JUST bought in NYC kinda useless as it does everything I need, so I am trying to sell it on Gumtree which is like there Kijiji but it has even more scammers than Kijiji. Also note if you intend to call me, our timezone is 0 right now and will be +1 in a day or so with DST so I will be 7 hours ahead of Saskatoon.

On Friday before the meeting I did a lot of walking around and sightseeing so I will post those pictures on my Flickr page and probably to Facebook as well, along with all other pictures I have taken so far that are worth viewing.

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