After many cocktails, laughter, tears, Facebook pictures with family and friends reality hits, final farewells, in 24 hours I’ll be gone, a little dramatic, jetting off. I awake feeling anxious and teary eyed as I kiss my dog Harry for the final time. My eyes swell with tears once again, damn allergies. My fiancée Sarah and I board our 10.30am flight with 52kg of luggage ($50 excess mainly Sarah’s clothes and shoes) from Cairns with stopovers via Sydney, Hong Kong and eventually Heathrow. Don’t you just love long haul flights, cramped seats, turbulence and no sleep? Although the food aboard my $3000 one-way Cathay flight was quite good; go the beef.
Feeling jet-lagged, tired and a little irritable I arrive into Heathrow at 4.30pm, pass through customs and skip duty free. I’m incapable of carrying one more item (I groan as I pass the alcohol) and board the underground destination, central London. If you’ve been fortunate to visit London you’ll appreciate the chaos involving the underground during peak hour. Quite stressful when you have four suitcases, two pillows, two backpacks and a large carry bag.
To reach my hotel in Bloomsbury I needed to switch three trains. From Heathrow I caught the express to Paddington for £25 (clean and leaves every 15 minutes). At Paddington, I purchased a 7 day Qyster Card (zones 1-2) for £25. Great value and you’re able to travel unlimited times around these zones and buses are free (zones 1-6).
Here I go: Jubilee line, Central line and finally the Piccadilly line to Russell Square. For the faint hearted, the tube (an excellent mode of transport around London) is a jungle during peak hours and no one offers you assistance as you climb the stairs like a Sherpa carrying your whole life (which converts to 52kg). I arrive in Russell Square lathered in sweat, hungry and tired, two hours later. I check in; shower, brush my teeth and head out.
Time to explore Bloomsbury, one of London’s best areas for green space, beautiful statues and lovely gardens. Also known for famous writers Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, the free British Museum (www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk) and actor Ricky Gervias is known to frequent the local pubs and Indian restaurants.
Designer stores, swanky and not so swanky restaurants and your never ending supply of fast food outlets are in abundance at Brunswick Park. Pubs are popular in England (average meal from £8 and around £2.80 for a pint) and you’ll find large groups of people outside the pub drinking, talking and smoking. I like that part of the culture, except the smoking.
I grab a quick £2 meal deal from Tesco express (located all over England) which includes a salad sandwich, drink and a packet of chips or Kit Kat, done. Time for bed even though it doesn’t get dark in summer until 9pm. Tomorrow I’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on London. Bugger, I wake up at 11.30pm and stare at the ceiling, darn time difference. Sarah are you awake? lol