A Canadian Girl in London

As promised… part 1 of my Euro-trip!

On Thursday, May 31st, Vegas’ mom and I set out to Montreal where I would catch my AirTransat flight to Gatwick, London at 10:10pm.  I had packed my bags and rolled my suitcase down my street to my office, and much to the dismay of my co-workers I had a measely 13 pounds in my suitcase to speak of.  Clearly my co-workers had forgotten where I was headed – simply put the less I take the more I can bring back!  (Twice, to be exact, but I am getting ahead of myself)  Anyway after a lovely goodbye to my office and friends, I rolled my little black suitcase down 2 blocks and started my journey across the ocean.

The drive to Montreal went better than I thought: I mean, I was going to spend the next 2, maybe 3 hours with the mother of my boyfriend (read-lover) to meet my boyfriend (read-lover) for a whirlwind tour of Europe (read-lots o lovin’… at least I am sure this MUST have passed through her mind).  Anyway the conversation ebbed and weaved as best it could, but was more disturbing is that even halfway to Montreal, I still didn’t really believe that I was going. 

That is, until I hit the outrageous line up at the AirTransat kiosks.  And then, of course, the usual delay I encountered after I had placed all of my liquids in a clear government of Canada issued Ziploc bag at the security check in.  Seriously- as IF a .50z a tube of DiorShow mascara or Make Up Forever concelear would pose a threat.   Anyway after all the formalities of flying had been cleared through, I walked my way down the terminal to my gate and took a first glance at the plane that would soon be departing on our way to jolly ole London!

Except for, of course, that the flight ended up leaving close to 3 hours later than the time printed on the ticket.  Now I don’t know if anyone has flown out of Dorval but the lounge chairs, unlike the ones in Toronto, have the arm rests on them that you can’t lift up – so napping in the terminal was completely out of the question.  The excuse for the delay? Luggage problems.  Or, something like that.  Anyway the 3 hour delay turned out to be advantageous for yours truly.  After the flight attendant made the delay announcement, he started to fiddle with the computer and began calling out names.  Naturally I ignored him, too upset that every hour spend on the ground in Montreal was an hour lost in London.  Until…

“Would passenger Miss. Carrie ____ please present herself to the desk.  Passenger Miss. Carrie ____ please present herself to the desk.”

Startled out of my semi-sleep, I picked up my little black back-pack and slung it over my white coat and walked my way up to the counter.  I smiled as I took out my passport and my boarding pass, as my first thought was, of course “Oh my God what did I do?”

“Are you travelling alone?”

Ah yes… one of those questions where the answer is ‘just me’.  What a horribly awkward beginning of my trip, no?

“Yes. Just me.”

“Ok – we are bumping you up to first class.  Here you go mademoiselle!”

Startled and shocked and overall pleased, I replied, “Oh… thank you!” , and handed over my economy pass in exchange for the second row, aisle seat in first class.  And man OH man is it EVER worth the extra….whatever it is.  As SOON as I stepped onto the plane alcohol was offered – which was fabulous, because I had not taken any anti-anxiety pills yet and really who could resist a little champagne in a leather seat with pillow, blanket, eye cover and National Post?  Certainly not me!  And did you know that there is actually a menu?  I got to choose what I ate instead of having to pick around the omelettes that are normally mass-produced and mass-distributed.

But I digress.

I arrived safe and sound in Gatwick close to noon – and was instantly greeted by that glorious British charm.  IE the security guard at the airport asked, not to anyone in particular, why we were visiting, and told us that we ‘should all just go home’ in that fabulous British accent.  Being Canadian I politely ignored his strife, presented my papers and purchased a train ticket from Gatwick to Victoria station where Vegas would be waiting for me with coffee in hand.

Now the exchange rate for the Loonie to the Pound is pretty weak – 2:1 to be exact, so everything in London was literally twice as much as it is in Canada.  So my 8 quid train ticket was 16 CDN – and my advice to any travellers to London, DON’T think of it that way, otherwise you’ll find yourself pinching every pence you get your hand on.

Back to my point – I ran into 2 other Canadian travellers, Montrealers, who were heading in the same direction as I was.  So we stepped onto the first train that came barreling down the tracks in excitement and a bit of confusion and started our journey to downtown London.

Except…. I got on the wrong train!  Thankfully this was pointed out to me by a friendly Bajan in the car we were in… but I was still WAY off track.  I ended up having to get off at a station, turn around, go back one stop and wait for the next Victoria Station train to come by, which luckily was maybe a 10 minute wait for me, all while dragging my suitcase and carry on AND my rain jacket, because apparently it decided to be sunny and glorious on my first day in London where I had already lost 3 hours of time flying and now even more trying to get to Victoria Station.

I sat down on the train I KNEW was going to Vic and I first thought of Vegas.  I had hoped he had received the message that my train was delayed, and now… well, now thanks to my over-eagerness and lack of reading ability, I was taking the milk run (so to speak) that was supposed to take no more than 45 minutes.  And as the train started with the friendly overhead voice announcing all the stops before Vic station (I counted 14… yes 14!!) I resigned myself to enjoying the otherwise unseen sights of London from the inside of a train for the next hour.

2:40 I arrive in Victoria, and 3:00 Vegas and I finally link up.  He’s smiling at me, no coffee in his hand but instead a shower of strawberry-flavoured kiss that for the past 4 days I had missed just as much, if not more.  He snatched my suitcase out of my hand and lead me down the street, reminding me that the Brits enjoyed driving on the wrong side of the road, and said that the walk to his friend’s apartment in the Financial district was a good 45 minutes away, and if I was up for it we could do it otherwise we would take the Tube.

After sitting for so long? You bet I was up for it!  And those 4 days I remained up for it – we walked all day every day with the exception of the last day where we took the tube… 5 times?  It was a busy day.  Not only did it suffice my usual gym routine (not to mention aiding Vegas in his attempts to shape up) it also saved me quite a bit of quids.  Thankfully Vegas’ friends apartment was right in the heart of a busy district so it could be done.  I mean, why spend money on transportation when you can buy clothes – AND fit into them?

We walked everywhere – Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Canada House, the British Museum, every British war memorial within walking distance, Red Telephone Booths, Millenium Bridge, over the Thames, the theatre… Apparently I brought good weather to London as it was 20-something degrees (70s-80s for my American friends), sunny with only a few hints of rainclouds.  And the sights – incredible.  I mean, you see them in pictures but in person, they truly are phenomenal.

And the SHOPPING!! I was saving myself for Paris but I got lured into some lovely shops in London (notably Mango; sigh! AND a sample sale at All Saints;what luck!).  I made a promise to myself that I would only buy something that I absolutely could NOT live without… and apparently that was a lot harder than I had expected!  I also succeeded in taking Vegas’ out for a bit of a wardrobe re-mix; as we were watching the Changing of the Guards walk by, Vegas’ got a call from his employer giving him the great news – he has been assigned to a major brand to market.  However, that means starting almost a month earlier – which is why the call was made to make sure this was acceptable.  Of course it was – but that meant I had very little time for my own influence courtesy of “What Not To Wear” to be sewn.

But I digress, again.  London was spectacular.  I felt very much at home in London – in fact, I hardly felt as if I was in another country… except for the human traffic accidents I seemed to run into – horrible pun intended.  It seems to me that Brits in London and touri in London just don’t look where they are going.  I was, no word of a lie, walked into at least 10 times; 2 with such force to knock me off of my feet!  Particularily while crossing the street.

Allow me to explain – Vegas’ and I were crossing the street.. crowded as usual.  Anyway this one woman on her cell phone decided that it was a good idea to weave in and out of her lane of traffic in order to get to the other side faster – and doing so popped out right in front of me.  Seeing how she was in no way going to move or notice me ( you know, it being MY lane to walk in) her bony shoulder instantaneously connected with my bony shoulder.  By this point I had had enough: I was so angry that for some reason everyone decided that I was a free-hit that in that split second that our shoulders met, I shoulder checked her back.  Hard.  Enough that she a)noticed that she had walked into someone and b) had been hit by said someone. Not bad for a 5’2 124lb little girl, no?  Anyway according to Vegas she turned around and gave me the dirtiest look, and it took all of my discipline NOT to turn around and scream “That was a clean play.  Ref didn’t call it. That’s a great Canadian shoulder check, EH??”

But besides that – London was lovely.  Just lovely.  You ought to go.  I only spent 4 days in London, well 3.5, and I couldn’t get enough.  I simply must go back…

Paris to follow.

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~ by Carrie on June 17, 2007.

12 Responses to “A Canadian Girl in London”

  1. Simply knew you would want to go back. It really is hard to get enough of it. And 4 days really doesn’t even scratch the surface.

  2. I’ve always wanted to visit London and after reading this post, it sealed the deal for me. Can’t wait to read Part Two. =)

  3. I just got a flyer saying I could go to London for $589 return. That, plus your post has made me seriously consider booking a trip. Glad it was fun. And bumped to first class? Lucky girl!! (And I too have problems with lipgloss/mascara being viewed as dangerous. Why is it my mac lipglass poses a serious threat, but I can board with 10 sharpened pencils in my bag and no one takes a second glance? What poses the bigger threat?)

  4. I am so glad that you had such a lovely time. (Glad the weather held for you as well). Can’t wait to read about Paris!

  5. Sounds like it was such a great time and nicely done with the shoulder check! I’m glad you took the extra care in making sure your makeup was safely stored and wasn’t going to be able to cause harm to anyone else, mascara tubes can be so vicious when let out on their own! Can’t wait for the rest!

  6. It sounds like SO MUCH FUN!
    So, I realize that I’m still a relative newcomer to your blog — but Vegas… he’s a brit? I guess I thought that you must have met him in Vegas…

    Oh, and I am COMPLETELY with you on LOVING first class flying. I remember my first time — I was flying by myself down to Mexico to meet up with friends and alcohol on an airplane was such a new experience for me. Unfortunately because I wasn’t really talking to anyone or moving around, I didn’t realize the true effects of 6 mimosas until I was leaving and… FELL DOWN THE STEPS OFF THE PLANE — yes. Two baggage boys caught me at the bottom. Not my finest moment. But funny.

  7. Jealous! Totally freaking jealous! But so happy that it all happened to you….except for…you know…the mishaps. Thanks for the pleasant read…

  8. Great read Carrie … loved the shoulder check and the ref not calling it. With the exchange rate of 2:1 would that have been a 4 minute penalty if it had been called?

  9. First class! What a great way to start the trip!

    I have been guilty of doing the shoulder check in the past, too. But, hey, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. Sounds like she deserved that one big time.

    Looking forward to hearing the rest!

  10. Fun! Looking forward to Paris…

  11. Oooh so exciting! I LOVE LOVE LOVE London and I’m glad to know that you’re enjoying yourself. Europe is so different… in a very nice way! Haha getting bumped to first class is always a sweet deal eh? Nothing better but to travel in style 😉 Where’s your next stop! Can’t wait to read about it…

  12. I’ll swap you, London for Canada?

    AMC

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