A Foggy Day In London Town

London Travel Blog

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Aaron, Steph, Jordana, Me, Diane, Rowan, Jamie, Di, and Terry trying to squeeze into a phone booth

I arrived in London around 8:30 a.m.  Baggage arrived without a problem, which I was obviously very happy about.  Customs wasn't much of a problem, except the kid I met at the airport and I both decided to go to the same customs stand.  Technically, we had traveled together, but our destinations were completely different, as he was on a different Contiki tour.  We confused the customs agent a bit, but we got it all straightened out in the end.  Took the Gatwick Express train from the airport to Victoria Station.  It's about an hour-long ride, but the seats are comfortable, and there's much more leg room than on the plane, so it was a relaxing ride.

Diane and Steph at the Royal National Hotel.
  We took a cab from Victoria Station to the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square.  This is where the Contiki basement is located, and all people taking a contiki tour have to sign in here.  It has a snack bar and an internet cafe, and you can store your luggage there for a pound each until you can check into your hotel around 2 p.m.  We stored our bags and decided to walk around Russell Square for a while to find some lunch.

Went to a little deli and got a corned beef sandwich.  The whole thing tasted like fat, as they use butter instead of mayonaise on sandwiches in England.  I could only eat about 1/3 of it.  I had spoken to several of my tourmates on the contiki.com message boards, so I was supposed to meet up with them around 1:30.

Me and Jamie making a fake phone call (we're such tourists).
  There were plenty of couches in the contiki basement, so I just took a cat nap while I waited for them. 

They all arrived eventually, and at 2 p.m., we checked into our hotel rooms.  At the Royal national, you don't get to choose your hotel roommates unless you request someone when you book your trip.  I got to my room before my roommate, set my stuff down, and decided to go back out with my tourmates (and a few new ones we'd met already) to see London.  I was absolutely exhausted at this point, but I sucked it up and went out... if you want to get to know your tourmates, it's probably not a great idea to skip the first group outing.  We took all sorts of typical tourist pictures, and several of us stuffed ourselves into one of those red london phone booths.  The locals weren't thrilled with us, but they were kind enough to stop walking so as not to get in the way of our photos.  We had dinner at garfunkel's, which was supposed to be famous for its fish and chips.  The chips were fantastic french fries, but the fish was just ok.  On the plus side, it was only 10 pounds, so I can't complain about the price.  We all headed back to the hotel for our pre-tour meeting, where we would meet the rest of our tourmates as well as our tour manager (TM) and bus driver.

Dom was our TM, and Barry (Baz) was the bus driver.  I could tell right away that these guys would be great and a lot of fun.  As the tour went on, I found out I was absolutely right about them.  After the meeting, we decided that we were going to go out to see the London Bridge.  I stopped back at my room to get a jacket (it was getting pretty cold out), and my door wouldn't open even with my key.  I figured my roommate was in there, so I knocked.  She asked who it was, and I said "your roommate."  She replied, "A name please?"  Weird girl.  So I told her my name, and she let me in, saying "OK, just making sure."  Found out she wasn't on my tour, and I was relieved.  I knew these trips had a reputation for being kinda wild, and this girl would not have handled it well. 

As soon as we started heading to the London Bridge, it started pouring down rain, so we ran to a local food mart, picked up a few bottles of water (which we were told we would need on the bus ride), and then ran back to the pub just outside of the hotel.  We had a few drinks and snacks with some new tourmate friends, and went to bed around 11.   I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

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Aaron, Steph, Jordana, Me, Diane, …
Aaron, Steph, Jordana, Me, Diane,…
Diane and Steph at the Royal Natio…
Diane and Steph at the Royal Nati…
Me and Jamie making a fake phone c…
Me and Jamie making a fake phone …
photo by: ulysses