London, here I come

London Travel Blog

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Hello everyone! I’m in London, the night before the morning my mom flies in with Lori! I came down on a National Express train this morning at 11:40…Peter was nice enough to send me off J. Anyway, once I got into Kings Cross I went to the tube to get to my hostel. I was supposed to take the District line all the way to my stop, only they were doing work on that part of the line and so I had to take the Hammersmith & City line instead…all the way to Hammersmith, where there was supposed to be a replacement bus service. We waited for over ½ an hour for the bus to show up! However, once it finally came, it took me to the stop, and I walked a couple hundred meters and found the Hostel easily. Man this place is huge: The Globetrotter Inn. It’s nice enough I guess…when I arrived I liked it very much. The reception was helpful, gave me my sheets and whatnot, and I headed up to my room to put my sheets on the bed, empty my bag and go to Birkbeck Library. By the way, I left my London map back in Durham, so I was doing this all only with a tube station print out…hehe. Anyway, when I got up to the room, this nice French girl was unpacking her things, and we chatted for a few minutes before I left. The receptionist was kind enough to guide me as to the best way to get to a functioning tube station (i.e. a hand-drawn map showing me how to walk to Hammersmith). Remember…this hand drawn map has no street names on it whatsoever. Silly me thought that when I came back from the library I’d be able to follow the map backwards….not so. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Ahem…I walked to the Hammersmith line, and passed a beautiful house with an amazing garden and cherry blossom trees and everything (no photo though…maybe I’ll get one tomorrow morning).

I took the tube to Euston Square and asked two very clever looking ladies (carrying Proust and Nietzsche) the location of the library. Thankfully it was only a few beautiful blocks away. I went in, showed them my SCONL card, and was told I needed a passport sized photo to get a visitor library card (ugh). So I walked around the block, went to a nice little Passport Photo booth, walked back to the library, filled out a form and got my card. I found a bunch of relatively helpful books, but sadly, the book I went there for, had between yesterday and today been checked out!!!! Grr…ah well…I guess I just have to inter-library loan it when I get back from Germany. Anyway, I was at the library until it closed at 8. That’s when the real adventure started. My phone ran out of minutes, so I had to get a top-up, I got off the train at Hammersmith and proceeded to walk toward, what I thought was the way to the Hostel. Somewhere I guess I took the wrong fork in the road, and ended up in an entirely different district. So I stopped and had a late dinner. I got outside, hoping to find my bearings, to find instead that it was pouring rain outside. Good thing I’m a prepared British resident and had a handy umbrella with me…only problem is that umbrellas do not protect you from horizontal rain and giant puddles. I continued to walk (in the wrong direction) for a good 10 min or so before finding a Petrol Station…thinking that they’d have a map, I went inside.

They did indeed have a map…I purchased the small pocket one, and asked the man at the register if he could tell me where I was. He said “go ask the guy at the other window, he knows” and shoved the map I had just purchased IN MY FACE and shook it at me as I put my change in my wallet (RUDE!!!) I’m one of those people who hates it when people take forever to put stuff in their purses/wallets/etc. so I’m ALWAYS quick to put it away and YET this man was shoving my purchases in my face as though I was dilly-dallying. THERE WASN’T EVEN A LINE! (queue for you Brits). Anyway…I remained calm and went to the other, much nicer and slightly more helpful man. I unfolded my map and asked if he could show me where I was, and we then realized that I was off the central London map (niiiice) regardless, he asked where I was going “Ravenscourt Gardens” I replied…he looked confused and said, “lets wait for that man to come inside, he’s a local, he’ll know where it is.” At which point I thought to myself….you work here….are you not a local? Anyway, the guy comes in, and the window-cashier-man asks him how to get to Ravenscourt Gardens “down the road there ‘til you get to the second exit, go to the roundabout and it’ll be there” Oh so helpful. Well, at least I knew the general direction.

As I kept going though, I thought, maybe Peter can google-maps me there. I call him, I have a low battery, he got me on the map, and we sort of figured out the right direction and then my phone died. This was going to be peeeeeachy. I asked a couple random strangers, none of which knew where Kings Street was (which was the main road I needed). FINALLY (as I was going in the wrong direction again) I asked this guy if he knew how to get to Ravenscourt Gardens. He said “Is it by Ravenscourt Park?” “yes! Yes it is…” “well, it’s a bit of a walk, but if you cross the parking lot, and get on Kings Street, you keep left and you’ll see it. Are you meeting people? What’s the building?” “Yeah, meeting friends, Globetrotter Inn…it’s huge” “Did you tell them you were lost?” “Well, I was getting directions earlier when my phone died on me, so they know I’ll be a bit late, hehe” “Here, use my phone, I’ve got lots of minutes, tell them you’ll be there and ask if it’s by the park” “no, no, it’s fine, I can just get there” “No, just call them [hands me phone]” Now, I don’t know people’s phone numbers…and they’re on my battery dead phone, so I pretended to call, and said thanks. He proceeded to say “I don’t feel right letting you wander there on your own, here, I’ll walk with you to Kings Street” He walked with me, told me about his friend he was meeting who was starting a Ph.D at Cambridge in the fall…lots of other things. We got to Kings Street, and got to a building I recognized….right across from the park!! He walked me all the way there, not wanting something to happen to me. When I pointed out the building, he finally thought I’d be safe, pressed the walk button for me and headed off. I didn’t even get his name, but he was really really nice!

Anyway, so I got to the Inn, jeans SOAKED, shoes SOAKED, bag wet and jacket wet…but dry hair! Haha. I just wanted some dry clothes and some internet and some quiet. Dry clothes, check. I hope my shoes dry by tomorrow!!! Internet…well, I went down to the first floor where the wifi is, but I have to pay…so I’m typing this before I pay for the minutes, because I have to check where the hotel is that I’m meeting mom and Lori at tomorrow. Quiet….now that’s hard to come by. Two Chinese girls in my room talking talking talking talking talking talking. Out in the hall are young teenage boys running around and screaming….oh in their underwear….yeah. I had to walk through a whole line of them to get to my all girls room…just imagine being on the streets in Spain with cat-calls and sexual harassment like looks from 17 year old boys in their underwear. NOT FUN IN ANY WAY. Now they have their lady friends screaming in the hall too. Nice. No quiet room, no quiet downstairs (bar, movie, tvs, etc). Sad. Ahh well….suck it up Meghan. You have to get up early tomorrow anyway. So that was my lame first day in London. I liked it well enough I guess, I’m sure tomorrow will be better :) Ciao for now!

sarahelaine says:
London's one of these cities where almost no-one is a local, I guess!
Posted on: Mar 18, 2008
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London Hostels review
Quiet Please!
Globetrotter Inn: The inn was alright. As you can probably tell by my rant in the entry above, I did not have the quietest experience…but then again… read entire review
photo by: ulysses