I am alive.
I have been in London for 4 or 5 days and I'm finally starting to get over the jetlag and learn my way around the city. It was overwhelming at first, especially the first day:
I landed at Heathrow at noon on Tuesday, with no idea where I was going to stay. I found my way to the tube in the airport, got a week oyster pass for the public transportation and hopped on the Cockfosters into the city. I was sitting near some people from my flight on the tube and we got to talking. I explained my situation and that my plan was to find an internet cafe in the city where I could contact some friends and couch surfing hosts and if worse comes to worse, find the nearest hostel to stay at. They recommended I get off at Piccadilly Circus and that it should be easy to find some wifi in that area. Since the tube station is connected to the airport, my first experience walking out into the London air was exiting the tube station in the middle of central London.
It was glorious. Like a miniature times square, there were hundreds of people out, giant digital billboards on the buildings, and black cabs and double decker busses buzzing up and down the streets. With a big backpack and my messenger bag, I set out looking for a starbucks for wifi like a true American tourist. I realized something was wrong with my iphone, it wasn’t picking up wifi as it should, but it wasn’t long before I passed an internet cafe and ducked in. I didn’t have any couch surfing responses but I found a backpackers hostel right around the corner so I reserved a bed for the night and headed out to drop off my bags. What should have been a 5 minute walk turned into a 25 minute walk when I realized what I thought was north was really south and instead of the hostel, I ended up at Trafalgar square. I asked a police officer for directions, a couple times, and eventually made it to the hostel after a good mile of tromping around with all my stuff. I hate not knowing where I am. But thanks to Jon (and my brother Andrew who bought it for me) I picked up a little compass before I left the US and it was a God send. I've been using that thing every day. I am finally starting to get it right when I guess which way is north, so I'm starting to feel more at home.
Long story short, I got to the hostel, completely exhausted, passed out for a few hours, then hit the town. I headed out toward Old St. / Shoreditch where I found the hipsters coming out of the woodwork. It was the Silverlake / Capitol Hill scene, and although hipsters aren't the easiest crowds to crack as a random American guy strolling in alone, it was strangely comforting to have them around. I had a beer at the Old Blue Last then spent some time walking around, exploring the rest of the neighbourhood before heading back to the hostel.
I got back to the hostel to find the two Germans and one other American guy in my room all passed out and snoring already. I crawled into my bunk and ended my first day in London sleeping like a brick. A brick with earplugs.
There is so much more that has happened since that first day, but its 11am down in Clapham North, and it’s a beautiful day outside. I'll update more when I get a good chance to waste away in front of a computer.