What do you mean you don't know where you're staying?

London Travel Blog

 › entry 7 of 15 › view all entries
Evan and I got off the plane in London at 11:30pm local time, mind you we got on the plane at 7:30 AM our time, so we're a bit out of sorts.  We get to the Immigration officer and the conversation went something like this:
Immigration officer: And where are you going to stay in London?
Us: We honestly have no idea, do we need to fill that in?
officer: And how do you expect to find a place at this hour?
Us: right, that is going to be a bit of a problem, do you have any suggestions?  We're supposed to get ahold of our friends, we might stay with them.
officer: well what's their number, you can just write that down.

Us: well actually that's in our email, do you know where we can find internet access?

And so it went for about five minutes until she reluctantly let us in.  Lesson learned, know where you're staying before you travel 7 hours over the Atlantic Ocean and arrive after dark.

Luckily the Heathrow Airport had internet terminals, unfortunately they took pounds.  We tried to exchange $7 for pounds, and the lady kindly explained that $7 was the fee, we would need to exchange a lot more to make it worth the cost.  Not to worry, we found an ATM machine and got a few pounds, then exchanged some notes for coins so we could use the internet and phone terminals.  We got our friend's number and gave her a call, she then informed us that she's 2 hours away by bus in Oxford and gave us the number of our friend in London, and let us know that the subway was closing at 12:30am (this is an important point to note for later).
  Unfortunately our friend in London didn't answer, so we hopped to first subway on the Underground headed towards London.

On the way to London, we asked a few people where to get off to be near a hostel, and they recommended a stop for us near a YMCA.  We ended up missing the stop they suggested, but no worries, we'll just jump back on and head back the other way.  But wait, it's now 12:20 and the last car just left the station, so I guess we better head upstairs and figure out where we're at.  It's important to note at this point that we've just arrived to a city we've never been to, at 12:30am, and gotten off the subway at a random station (Russel Square), let the adventure begin.

Luckily things looked alive still, there was a 24 hour convenience store across the street, so we went in and asked around for the location of a hostel.
  Not too far down the street was The Generator hostel, a fairly large, trendy youth hostel that would have been perfect if they had any rooms left.  They pointed us down the street to some bed and breakfasts, so off we went.  The first 3 or 4 doors we came to had "no vacancy" signs hanging in the windows, but luckily the 5th did not and we checked into the St. Athens hotel.  We were greeted by an eccentric older British man that was a bit of a talker, and must have repeated himself ten times over, "breakfast is at 9, but take your time checkout's at noon".  We stayed in single rooms with a bed, dresser, table and sink that was probably no bigger than 5x10 for 32 pounds each.  This was a bit more than we wanted to pay, but at 1:30am our other options were nearby parks and doorsteps.

All in all, it was an appropriate beginning to our random adventure.
Eric says:
Lucky you, beat the new security restrictions :) I flew out of London on the morning of August 11th, was terrible.
Posted on: Aug 13, 2006
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The entrance to the Generator Host…
The entrance to the Generator Hos…
photo by: ulysses