Sunday, June 17, 2007

First London days - part one

Arrived in London late on Wednesday. Nearly didn’t get into the country because the customs official I met up with decided that I really was some ancient terrorist (something that I felt my passport photo made me look like) and questioned me pretty thoroughly about what I was going to be doing, whether I had any money, how long I was staying, whether I’d be working, whether I’d be bleeding the country dry or not and so on. Celia had gone through customs with ease, and we only found out later that I should have gone through with her. Instead I started out in a queue of some 200 people. After she got through (in the British line) she waved at me to move into another lane, and, after I’d finally figured out what she was on about, I got into a lane with no one in it!
Anyway, we got out of there, found our bags without any problem (which I regarded as a miracle in itself), and didn’t even have to go through any bag search or whatever. But then the fun started. Remember that we now carrying: a lap-top in a case with umpteen cords for cellphones, lap-top, Ipod and so on; Celia’s handbag; her backpack; my backpack (full of books and such); and pulling two suitcases which between them weighed 40 kg.
We discovered that it was better and cheaper to get the ordinary underground (from Heathrow) directly through to Kentish Town (where we were going) rather than the ‘Express’. This meant changing at Bank (if I remember rightly – things are getting hazy by this stage) and going onto the Northern Line. That would have been okay, except that at the changeover of lines we found we had to climb up two flights of stairs because there was no escalator!
Anyway, we got to Kentish Town and I pulled out my instructions for finding our friend’s flat. Somehow I missed the fact that it was only two blocks away from the station (at least we were going in the right direction) and as a result we were still trying to find the street several blocks later. Someone took pity on us and re-directed us back along the road, by which time we were at a point of exhaustion. It was very muggy (and remained so during our three days in London) so we were sweating profusely.
But! We finally got to the flat, dragged our bags down the stairs to the doorway, and voila! our friend’s son greeted us with great friendliness, even though the last time he saw us he was only four…

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