We made it to London! Hooray! And after some initial disasters we are well on our way to having an excellent time!
The flight, although long, was pretty good. Emirates is a pretty good airline in my experience, the food is unusually tasty and plentiful for airline food, there is plenty of leg room and the hosties were all really nice. It turned out to be the best time to fly, as well: leaving Sydney at 9.45pm meant there were no screaming children at all, and it was easier to sleep on the plane which Mads and I both miraculously managed to. It also made the change in time zones seem more natural: in the morning we landed in Dubai, ready for our next flight in to London which would arrive in the afternoon. Due to fog the flight was delayed, we sat in the plane at the gate for nearly two hours, but it didn’t seem to matter. Generally speaking I don’t like flying, but there are some amazing things to see: the sun rising over the horizon at 25,000 ft was incredible; sand dunes in the Middle East; the snow-capped Austrian Alps; wind turbines in the English Channel; the patchwork fields of England and finally the London Eye by the Thames were highlights.
We found our driver at the airport easily, however disaster struck when we arrived at the holiday flat in which we’re staying in Walthamstow: the owner was not there, and her phone was switched off. So after 24 hours on the plane and a desperate need for a shower, we were homeless and had no idea where to go. Calling a cab is impossible in London unless you have a destination, so asking a driver to take us to a hotel anywhere was not an option. I left Mads with our tonne of luggage to try and find a black cab on the main road, to no avail, however I was spied by a nice fellow and his wife at the petrol station who took pity on my ‘what the heck do I do now?’ expression and gave me the number of a good cab company and even let me use their mobile. We decided to head to Hampstead, and a hotel we will stay in later in the trip, however on calling from the taxi they had no accommodation for the night. After another desperate call to the directory number 118118, we found a room at the Holiday Inn at Brent’s Cross – a dilemma for the taxi driver as it was not our original destination and he would have to call the cab company to figure out how much he would need to charge us. Anyway we made it, it was a nice hotel and we got to have room service for dinner and crash, and figure out what to do for the next day.
At Brent Cross Station
Saturday was rather better, although I felt pretty homesick due to the fact that in London we didn’t have a home yet. We had a huge, delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel, then decided to leave our bags there and explore the city. We’d gotten in touch with the owner of the flat and agreed to meet her in the afternoon, so we headed to the local tube station and went to the Museum of London. Wandering along in the city we came across the ruins of the Wall of London – damn I love this city and it’s history!
The ruins of the old London City wall
The museum was good – there was a Charles Dickens exhibition on which included the handwritten manuscripts of Bleak House, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and a number of other books, as well as his writing desk, chair, quill and ink pot. The museum also has a section set out like a Victorian street, and a pleasure garden that has dresses from the 18th and 19th centuries.
We wandered the city after this, into the garden of St Paul’s to watch some squirrels running around, and completely tripping out as there are heaps of flowers around, but it’s really cold and rainy. I kept trying to figure out how that worked, then remembered it’s actually spring here, not the middle of winter. We wandered over the Millennium Bridge, purchasing a cup of caramelised nuts on the way, and strolled down the Thames to Waterloo Station before heading back to Brent’s Cross. London is just so pretty! It’s beauty actually took me by surprise the first time I came here, and I still think it is absolutely stunning.
At St Paul's Cathedral
Caramelised Nuts on the Millennium Bridge, looking towards Tower Bridge.
We finally made it in to the flat! It’s really nice in here, a one-bedroom place with TV and wi-fi, and a shower and a bed and a kitchen and what more could you want? Pizza for dinner, which I pretty much ate single handedly I was so hungry! So NOW I’m super excited to be in London and ready to see what the rest of this trip brings!