Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Great Escape!

That's right, I'm here! London is busy, smells kind of like diesel all the time and has beautiful architecture that ranges from your standard old fashioned buildings like Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey right up to their super modern bee-hive city hall. I am also impressed at how far my £'s are going to get me. Food is so inexpensive here! Even with the exchange rate I got lunch today for super cheap, £2.27. Wow, awesome, I am impressed. The fruit is still pricey, but fruit's expensive everywhere so we'll just ignore that.
On Wednesday evening I was dropped off at the airport and made my way through security nice and early. The gate wasn't terribly full of people, so the flight wasn't crowded. Even though I didn't sleep it didn't feel like it was terribly long. I had two empty seats next to me and I was in the middle aisle so there was plenty of room to spread out. The food was impressive too! Admittedly I was surprised when they served beans with their eggs for breakfast but it was all hot and it was all real-tasting. Thomas Cook airlines has put Air Canada to shame. I don't think they were quite excellent enough to beat Air New Zealand, but Thomas Cook is a close second, I'd fly with them again in a heartbeat.
We had a one hour stopover in Glasgow, Scotland and I had a good time chatting with a mother and son who were headed home from a trip to visit family in Saskatchewan. I couldn't help but giggle at some of the things they were surprised at. No, you can't buy liquor everywhere. It's in special stores (he does have a point though, with the barred windows, they do look a bit like jails). There isn't a lot to do during the day in Sask unless you happen to be working. We do call it a trunk, not a boot. We do say 'eh' more often than I think we realise.
But at the same time, I've been doing the same thing over here all day. It still makes me smile when I think of the 'bins' on the streets marked 'rubbish'. Or when you hear someone Scottish say 'aye'. Or when the police officers on the street have on a standard looking uniform with a bulletproof vest but added the helmet-like Scotland Yard caps. There are still portly fellows at the train platforms with whistles that hold up some sort of small round plastic sign - white on one side, black on the other. Even just how often they use phrases like 'top up', 'mind the gap' and 'bits' makes me happy.
Anyway. I arrived at Gatwick and got off the plane to find myself in a horrifically long customs line. I had not encountered the likes of this for a good while. One of the guys on the flight who stayed through until Gatwick (TJ) and I were next to eachother in line, so we took turns bettering on how long it would take us to work our way through. Initially I guessed 27min and 30 sec, and TJ guessed 47 min. Now, in all fairness we only saw half of the line when we took our guesses. For the portion of the line we could see, my guess was only a minute off. For the portion we could not see...
1 hour and 57 minutes later we had cleared customs and gone on to find our checked bags. It was TJ's first time out of the country, so he brought a lot, but after tramping around London with me for the better part of the day I don't know that he'll be travelling with that much again next time.
Once we had our luggage we purchased some postcards and some 'quid' (£'s, I don't know where the nickname 'quid' came from) and caught the gatwick express into town. We walked from London Bridge Station down to Tower Bridge, and promptly napped on the grass because we were both exhausted. Then there was some debate about how he was going to get to Edinbourgh, so we cleared that up with several of the no-nonsense train station attendents and I decided to work my way towards Big Ben.
I had a classic tourist moment, when you emerge from the Westminster station Big Ben is litterally right on top of you. I did the classic lost tourist thing and looked all over the sky line except above me. It made for some fun times when I did finally ask someone where the elusive clock tower was.
Aside from being crowded, London has a very clean, prompt train system. It's wonderful. With it I've also seen Trafalgar Square today, and tried my hand at oil pastelling Big Ben, but I'm not fine enough with them yet to take on complicated structures with little details like Ben.
Even though it's only 7:30pm here, I think my day will end soon if I can manage to track down the boys. I'm hoping to catch some sleep before I train it back out to Heathrow and leave for Amsterdam. As it is, I keep nodding off in front of the monitor.


  1. I love it, you are being intrepedatious! No doubt you will have an incredible journey and memories to last a lifetime. Go Kenna.

  2. sounds like you are having a ton of fun!! love you Mom