Day 4 – London and Beata

London Travel Blog

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Sept. 14, 2007:  Day 4 • London and Beata


            My first day exploring London!  I was pumped to get out of the hostel and get into town.  I was very lucky to have found a place to stay for the night in London with a friend of a friend.  Beata was friends with my friend Sebastian.  They are both from Poland, and met while working as au pairs (nanny) in the US about four years ago.

  Beata had spent a year in the states as an au pair before moving to London about four years ago.  Sebastian decided to stay in the states.

            Beata was kind enough to let me drop my bags off at her work while I walked around London.  She text me and let me know her address.  So I bought a one-day, after peak hours (after 9:30am) pass covering Zones 1-4 (Zone 1 is downtown London, with increasing numbers indicating further distance away from London) for 5.70£ since Beata lives in Zone 3 and you can’t buy just a Zone 1-3 pass.  I took the Underground to Piccadilly Circus.

            When I got out of the Underground and onto the street I was amazed at the architecture and bustle of London.

  The architecture was much different than Bath, being more gray and gothic/classic (I am not familiar with architecture and so I could be completely wrong.  I would normally check the internet for this information, but have no access to it). 

            Her work was right across the street from the tube.  It was a tall building with pillars in front and looked very important.  Inside the front door were a door-man, staircase and two elevators.  I asked the door-man for Beata, and he asked in a thick British accent “Are you Mr. Cliss?”  I said “Yes”, not bothering to correct him.  He replied “Would you like me to page her?”  I said sure. 

            Beata was dressed very professional and took me up to the 1st floor where she let me put my large bag inside a closet.

  I could tell right away she was a very nice person.  She offered me tea or juice and I politely declined.  I would find out over the coming days that this would be only one of many times where she would offer me drink or food.

            I gave her one of my cards and said my goodbye as I took off to Monument station, where I would be catching a free walking tour of London that started at 11am.  The tour is given by Sandemans.  They offer similar tours throughout Europe’s major cities.  More information can be found at

            I got to Monument early and bought peanut butter (for the smelly garlic pita bread I bought at the hostel the night prior), an apple and a donut at a nearby grocery store.

  The tour started on time and I quickly met a few people from Canada; Randy, and two girls.

            Our tour guide was very funny in a dirty humor kind of way.  His potty humor history facts were hilarious.  He mentioned an art exhibit which contained a canvas of smeared poo, and thankfully told us how he thought it was “a piece of s&%t.”  He also told us how the old telephone booths (see my photos) are now used as toilets; so mind what you touch inside them.

            The architecture and history of London amazed me.  I always knew there was a lot of history in Europe, especially London, but actually being there was incredible.

  We got to see Big Ben (which is actually the large bell inside the huge Houses of Parliament Building), London Bridge (which has been re-built many times and is not that breathtaking), Tower Bridge (which is breathtaking), St. Paul Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and many more.

            For lunch we stopped at a pub and most people had a burger and a pint.  I chose to save money and just drank my water from my CamelBak and ate peanut butter on garlic pita bread.  I sat at a table full of American and Canadian college students and the conversation mostly revolved around beer and partying.  I’ve noticed a lot of young Americans over here just focus on drinking since they might not be able to do it legally at home yet.  I can see where they are coming from, and to each his own.

  But my trip is not about drinking and partying and I found the conversation rather boring.

            After the tour, our tour guide collected tips, and a few of us went with him to a nearby pub where I bought him a drink.  I met an Australian and a Canadian at the bar; remnants of our tour.  We all decided to explore a little more.  We went past Buckingham Palace and the National Art Gallery.  I said my goodbyes so I could meet Beata at her work.

            A new doorman was at the front desk and asked, “Are you Mr. Cliff?”  He said this with a not-so-good-as-the-first-doorman-but-still-a-decent-sounding British accent.

  After I said yes he directed me upstairs where Beata was ready and waiting to get out of the office for the weekend.

            Beata and I took a bus back to her place which is in Zone 3.  We talked a lot and I got to know her a lot better. 

            I heard a song on the bus that brought me back to the period 2000-2002 when I was dating a girl named Steph.  She had made me a tape of songs; each one corresponding to our relationship in a different way.  I had listened to that tape a lot.  She was my first love, and so when I hear any of those songs I feel a distinct pinch in my heart. 

            Beata place is a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment on the third and top floor of a complex.

  She has four other roommates, one of which is her boyfriend, Wojtek.  All of her roommates, her included, are from Poland originally and speak Polish predominantly in the flat.

            Beata was very accommodating and let me wash my clothes.  It was so nice to know that my clothes were going to be fresh again.  I have only packed the following for clothing:  two wicking T-shirts, one cotton T-shirt, one pair of jeans, two shorts (one of which can be converted to pants and the other can be used for swimming), five pairs of boxers, three pairs of short socks, one pair of wool long socks, and one pair of black cotton long socks. 

            I was ready to sleep on the floor in the living room, but Beata said no.

  She split her and her boyfriend’s bed into two (they use to single mattresses pushed together) and gave me one with sheets, blanket and pillow.  I was in shock.  “How are you and your boyfriend going to fit on just one of these?”  I asked.  “Don’t worry about it!” She replied.  After trying a little more to persuade her otherwise I gave up, realizing she wasn’t budging from her hospitality. 

            Wojtek came home a little later with KFC for all of us.  I hadn’t had KFC in years, and it tasted very good.  I was again very grateful to them for buying me dinner.  There were a lot of left-overs and they told me to eat it, but I said, “Can’t you eat them as left-overs tomorrow?”  Beata said they probably wouldn’t.

  I knew she was just saying that and so declined to eat the rest.  But Beata could tell I was being polite and tried to get me to eat it.  Eventually I convinced them I was full, and I really was telling the truth. 

            We said goodnight and thus ends my first full day in London.

AtlantaBelle says:
Wow, sounds like you had quite a trip (and you got some great pics too!). Glad you had fun! :)

In case you go back, there are a lot of great tours worth checking out here: and this travel blog has a lot of info on travel in general:

Posted on: Dec 03, 2008
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photo by: ulysses