January 7th, 6:15am
Here I was thinking I’d journal most everyday but obviously that didn’t work out so well. I still haven’t quite kicked the jet lag and by the time I get home and eat dinner all I want to do is sleep. But as I still can’t sleep all the way through until my alarm I thought I’d do something useful with my time.
I arrived at Heathrow and passed through customs relatively quickly and got my bags almost right away; followed all the yellow exit signs and found my name amid dozens of white signs, shook the driver’s hand and away we went. London drivers are mad. I could get used to the reverse direction but the weaving through lanes without a signal, literally driving down the middle of two lanes, and coming within centimeters of side-swiping every car on the road is a bit much. Part of me was gasping while the other was thoroughly enjoying the ride and my brief brush with death – sort of.
I live in a charming little flat with Katie, my host, and her house rabbit, Rodney. When I first learned that I’d be living alone with a single lady I was a bit nervous but we get on quite well (It’s inevitable that I’m going to be throwing in some British speech along the way, so may as well get used to it). At some point I’ll take pictures, but have yet to do so.
On Monday I met Heidi, another girl in the program, at the Eastcote tube station and after an encounter with a frustrated ticket man we eventually made our way down to the platform, onto the Piccadilly line, and 15 or so stops later to Russell Square. Apparently this is one of the deepest stations in London and our directions specifically said to take the lift but the stairs looked far more convenient as there was a giant mass of people surrounding the lifts and so we decided that 175 stairs couldn’t be that awful . . .
About 75 windy, steep steps later we were thinking that they put up the cautionary sign with the exact amount of steps for good reason.
But once reaching the top and stepping out onto the street all was worth it. I could definitely fall in love with this city. It’s massive and there are people everywhere, yet it doesn’t have an overwhelming quality. Maybe that’s because the streets twist and turn, so it’s impossible to see all the buildings in one go, but it’s also because there are hundreds of little shops, all individually owned, without any neon lights advertising the usual chains. You could spend an entire week with your head upward looking at the myriad of architecture. From 600-year-old buildings to modern skyscrapers to row houses with crooked doors and wonky steps all within yards of one another. The city exudes so much history I don’t know how I could possibly take it all in. I don’t know that anyone can, otherwise it’d be impossible to get anything done.
Yesterday we all took a boat ride down the Thames and froze our noses off. At some point in the day I lost my mittens which I was sorely regretting as I attempted to keep my hands out to take pictures. The life returned to them about an hour later. We went past the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, St. Pauls, and hundreds of other buildings that I’m sure are significant in some way before pulling in past London Bridge and up to the Tower of London. Unfortunately, my camera died somewhere in there and so I didn’t get all the pictures I would have liked.