The Little Story of Me Moving to London: Part 3

Posted on 06. Feb, 2011 by in Europe Travel, expat UK

This chapter is the third of the series The Little Story of Me Moving to London – check out Part 1 and Part 2 and the final chapter.

***


So here I am, early Friday morning at Heathrow tube station.

Luckily, the whole ticket system was pretty easy to handle and I bought my first Oyster card like a breeze.  Like a true Londoner, I thought.

 

Heathrow Station

I stood on the platform and waited to hear the famous words “Please mind the gap between the train and the platform“. After grinning like a three year old in front of a chocolate fountain, I processed to enter in the train with my two suitcases and my backpack, instructions in one hand, holding my boyfriend’s hand with the other, beaming at the view of padded seats (take that Montreal metro). I was a bit surprised that the tube was actually outside for most of my ride -  I mean, it is after all called the underground. Surprisingly, the journey was uneventful (except for the thousands of steps we had to climb up, not so easy with luggage), thanks to my TFL Itinerary. I checked in Travelodge Southwark (hello £29 rooms), took a mandatory post-flight shower and went off to sleep, facing the beautiful St.Paul’s Cathedral. I was finally there, at last.

I would wake up much later that day, so late in fact that the sun had already set. What woke me up? The crying sound from my stomach. I went out in search of a place to eat, excited to experience my first pub dinner. I quickly realised that at 10PM, most kitchens were closed as the pubs filled with the party crowd. The more I walked, the more I became desperate (and lost). I somehow ended up crossing Blackfriars Bridge and later on Fleet St. Same scenario there. The few establishments open were either about to close or not serving food. I only had one option left. The unmistakable smell and the golden arch tipped me off : McDonald’s. How’s that for a first British dining experience? I was so hungry I wasn’t able to clearly say McNuggets and I basically had to mime them to the clueless clerk (who spoke a limited Hindi-English dialect). And I’m happy to confirm that yes, all McDonald’s in the world taste exactly the same. Luckily, the restaurant was wi-fi equipped so I was able to let me family know I had survived (well, sort of) the flight and that I was safe and sound. After getting back to the hotel and watching a bit of Brit tv, I soon drifted off to sleep again.

 

The following day was moving day. I gathered all my suitcases once again and headed to Southwark station. Direction: Camden Town. I soon got at Green Park station, where I was supposed to alight and hop on an eastbound Victoria train. Did you notice the “suppose” word there? As in that was the plan, and it totally failed. Instead, I somehow ended up on a Piccadilly train, completely lost. I switched directions and got even more lost - did I mention I had a bunch of suitcase to carry around? At that point, I decided I had enough - we had been in the tube for over an hour and I couldn’t take it anymore. We went up the station and crossed the turnstiles with our luggage. A TFL employee looked as us, amused, and said:

“You most certainly aren’t light travellers!”
“I’m not travelling, sir. I’m moving here! This is all I own!”

I hopped on the first black cab we saw and asked him to drive us to our flat on Camden Road. The ride was spectacular, as we drove around Regent’s Park and saw beautiful houses, flowers and trees. I was smitten. This was my first sight of London in the daylight, and I was so touched I almost cried - although I quickly came to my senses when I saw the cab meter. After signing a couple of papers and introducing myself to the people running the student residence, I was handed the keys to what would be my home for the next ten months: a beautiful top-floor studio. I was ecstatic when I saw that I had my own kitchen and bathroom, as I wasn’t too keen on sharing my amenities with 20 other people. The place was in very good shape, with a completely refurbished kitchen, although on the small side. But at that point, it didn’t matter - I have no words to describe how I felt at that moment.

 

My studio flat in Ifor Evan Halls

That evening, after storing some of our luggage, we decided to go for a walk. We hopped on the 29 bus that took us to Trafalgar Square - and by the way, London buses don’t stop at every stop, you have to hail them, just like you would hail a cab. I didn’t know my way around at all, and much less where I was located in the city. And then it hit me. That shiny thing at the end of the road. My boyfriend and I looked at each other and both said: “Is that Big Ben? Can it be? Oh my God, it is!” We almost ran down Whitehall, as if it was a hologram that was about to fade. It took a while before we said anything - no words were needed to know how we felt, both towards ourselves individually and each other.

Big Ben at dawn

I knew that was the start of the most amazing year of my life. If only I knew just how much!

You might also like:

  1. The Little Story of Me Moving to London: Part 2
  2. The Little Story of Me Moving to London: Part 1
  3. My 10 Favourite Things About London
  4. 5 Reasons Why I Love London Double Decker Bus
  5. Recommended Reading: Walking in London by AA Travel

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17 Responses to “The Little Story of Me Moving to London: Part 3”

  1. melodie

    06. Feb, 2011

    Trop mignon! Je ressens vraiment ta fébrilité en lisant ton billet :-)

    On a utilisé les bons prix du Travelodge à quelques reprises au UK. Je me souviens d’une nuit à 7 livres à Bristol. Yé!

    J’ai aussi vécu le ventre vide à 10 PM dans la City. Il n’y a rien d’ouvert! As-tu vu le McCurry au McDo? C’est un McPoulet mais avec une sauce au curry! Je n’aime pas vraiment le McDo mais j’adore regarder leurs menus dans les différents pays européens. Il y a toujours des trucs locaux.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      06. Feb, 2011

      C’est du commentaire instantané, ça! ;)

      Un peu comme le McLobster en Nouvelle-Écosse! Je ne me souviens pas du McCurry, malheureusement. J’y porterai attention la prochaine fois. Merci !

      Reply to this comment
  2. Spencer Spellman

    06. Feb, 2011

    Love the narrative here Marie! Have enjoyed reading and excited for my first visit to London this summer!

    Reply to this comment
  3. melodie

    07. Feb, 2011

    Oui! J’ai vu ton message sur Twitter en me connectant ;-)

    En Espagne, j’ai vu de la gaspacho au McDo!

    Reply to this comment
  4. anonymous

    07. Feb, 2011

    C’est vraiment le fun de lire tout cela. Tellement de souvenirs :)

    Reply to this comment
  5. Lauren

    08. Feb, 2011

    This made me so nostalgic to return to England. I love reading your narratives, Marie!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      08. Feb, 2011

      Thank you very much Lauren. Good luck with the counter culture shock, it’ll get better :)

      Reply to this comment
  6. sgs

    08. Feb, 2011

    Thanks for adding my image and link, good luck with your time in London!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Annie

    08. Feb, 2011

    This made me miss London and I was only there for 2 days! It sounds like you had an amazing experience even if it was rough the first couple of days. It always seem to be that way.

    BTW McDonald’s was my first meal in Italy too!!! The shame! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get yourself fed, haha!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      08. Feb, 2011

      Haha if I can get you to return to London, I’ll have achieved something! ;)

      Reply to this comment
  8. Matt Rhys-Davies

    17. Apr, 2011

    Hello,

    I fell across your blog earlier today and have been happily reading of your move to London and the journey - you’ve a fantastic way of capturing emotion in words, and as a current Londoner made me smile!

    About 5 months ago I wrote about my feelings and experiences of London, thought you may find it interesting, http://www.mattrhysdavies.com/life-in-london/ - I’d be really grateful to know what you think.

    Cheers,
    Matt

    Reply to this comment
  9. Anthony

    25. May, 2011

    Wonderfully wrote, Marie! Welcome to England :)

    Reply to this comment
  10. Jools

    25. May, 2011

    Lovely account Marie Eve! London’s my home town so I always love reading other people’s first impressions of it. The outside sections of the tube are prob the best thing about it, but Montreal’s gloomy concrete metro is no better I agree! Finding good, authentic, affordable food in central London is not as easy as you might think, but better luck next time resisting those golden arches!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. May, 2011

      Thanks Jools!
      I think my dinner problem was not so much about quality and authentic food… but finding a kitchen at 11PM in the City! I’m sure it would’ve been much easier elsewhere in London, though.

      And indeed, few things are more gloomy and sweaty than Montreal’s metro. That’s something I won’t miss about my hometown!

      Reply to this comment

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Little Story of Me Moving to London: Part 1 « Eurotrip Tips - February 6, 2011

    [...] This chapter is the first of the series The Little Story of Me Moving to London - check out Part 2 and Part 3. [...]

  2. The Little Story of Me Moving to London: Part 2 « Eurotrip Tips - February 6, 2011

    [...] This chapter is the second of the series The Little Story of Me Moving to London – check out Part 1 and Part 3. [...]

  3. The Little Story of Me Moving to London: The Retrospective « Eurotrip Tips - April 5, 2011

    [...] This chapter is the third of the series The Little Story of Me Moving to London – check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. [...]

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