Tuesday, August 13, 2013

London: Day 1

We left Taunton at noon yesterday. It was a bittersweet feeling. Even though we had been in Somerset for over a month, I was sad to leave.

I laughed seeing our luggage on the train platform in Taunton. We used to pride ourselves on travelling light. What the heck happened? Six stuffed bags for only two people!

We arrived in London mid-afternoon yesterday. We got into the apartment without a hitch (THANK GOD!) and it will be a great home-base for the next week. It is basically one big room with a Murphy bed in the middle and a small kitchen against one wall. What more do we need?

We are on Edgware Road in West London, just a couple blocks from Hyde Park. It is a noisy street with cars and buses going by constantly. We went to bed at midnight and the streets were still FULL of people. They sure weren't going to bed any time soon. We just shut the windows to mute the street sounds and cranked up the fan.

I can already tell I am going to love this city. It is only Day 1 and we are already planning a return trip.

After we dropped our bags in the apartment, we headed out on foot to wander through the neighbourhood. We walked the length of Oxford Street and strolled around Soho. Again, all that strolling made us thirsty so we stopped at the Blue Posts bar for a quick pint.

The minute we sat down, a fellow at the next table started up a conversation with us. Well, whaddaya know? He was from Dublin; one of our new favourite cities! He has lived in London for the past 24 years and was full of fun and Irish wit. We spent a very agreeable hour chatting with him.

Then it was time to find our way back the apartment for a good night's sleep.

Just before we reached our apartment, Joe said, "I want to stop at Tesco and get a calling card. My day's hip replacement surgery is tomorrow and I want to give him a quick call."

Since we don't have an English mobile phone and the apartment doesn't have a landline, we needed to find a phone booth. Now that is one thing this city has in spades! But do you think we could find a phone that would accept our calling card? We tried booth after booth after booth getting further and further down Edgware Road.

Finally Joe said, "Maybe this card wasn't activated properly. I'm going back to the store and get the guy to check it." So back we went to Tesco. The manager tried the calling card and it worked. But instead of having Joe go back out onto the street to look for pay phone, he let him call his dad right then and there from the store's phone!

The sweet kindness of strangers.

*As always, click on the photos for greater detail.

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