This is how we felt at our first breakfast out of the country at the beginning of our year long adventure – our first morning in England.
After a week long stay with my Mom, in Flourtown (where I grew up in PA), we got back onto the commuter train to the Philadelphia airport – to board a plane bound for London. That was 13 years ago today!
After a series of delays (bomb scare at Heathrow that delayed our incoming plane; no gate for the plane when it finally arrived; flat nose tire as the plane finally backed away from the gate) that left us wondering if we should even be flying, we finally got off to London…and arrived mid-afternoon on a Friday (rather than first thing in the morning when the flight was originally supposed to arrive).
Planning via the internet was not so common in 2000, so we landed with no reservations and only our Lonely Planet book in hand. We thought landing in the morning would make it relatively easy to find decent backpacker ‘budget’ accommodations, but since it was Friday afternoon this turned out not to be true. Our first taste of figuring out how to go with the flow…
We finally found a room near Paddington Station at the Heritage House…a divey, somewhat dodgy sort of place where we got a shoebox room with only space for a bed and a sink, and it was five flights up steep skinny stairs. I recall it was not inexpensive either, and it immediately blew our ‘budget’ for the day. (I know that maybe our expectations were not realistic:)
Bonus: breakfast the next morning was included!
And for breakfast we descended the five flights, and then another – to the dank, dark basement. Our one slice of white bread; a small white roll; one pad of butter and a skimpy dollop of jam, made us feel we were Oliver in the scene where he screws up his courage to say ‘Please Sir, I want some more…”
“What!” “What?” “What!?” was the response he received.
We didn’t even bother to ask…we just went on our merry way to Paddington Station with plans to leave the city for the weekend.
We only had a few days in England, we had a train pass, and we figured we’d find a better value out of the city – especially since it was a holiday (Easter) weekend. We hopped on a train heading south to Exeter, in hopes of visiting Dartmoor National Park.
As luck would have it, we found a cute little room in Exeter – it served proper English breakfast, and cost less than our room in London. The bus to the Park was easy, and we spent a fun few days exploring Exeter, the Park – and an overnight at the Youth Hostel in Salisbury where we were treated to fireworks – before heading back to London to fly to Africa.
Before embarking on an overnight plane to Windhoek, Namibia we spent a pleasant day hiking all over London capped with dinner and a fun farewell from Gavin (my brother-in-law’s cousin) & Sheila.
It’s interesting the little memory points that rise to the surface as I go back through my journal writings, trip journal postings (we only have print outs from this, the online version no longer exists), and photos. I’m bringing Tim into the journey, too – he always has different details stuck in his head.
We both still giggle over the Oliver Twist memory.
I remember how heavy my pack felt at this point in the journey.
I remember Tim, the non-watch wearer, losing the new Timex Expedition watch he had bought for the trip – on the very first day!
Tim always seems to recall names of places without looking them up.
I think of the photos the me today might have taken, and well, I would have a lot more storage space if I were living this today.
And last night as I was thinking about this posting we had fun looking at the map of England to remember where we traveled on that short stint in the UK.
Next up on the Around the World in 365 adventure is Africa! I hope you’ll come along!
Lisa, aka the mountain mermaid