DAY 1: Arrival & Canterbury

Finally back! Sorry for being late… Been asleep for almost 24 hours and decided it’d be enough for today… So here we go.

The waiting room for British Airways… It’s almost like Delta, but with more fancy seats and no special internet lol. By the way the internet sucks at Toronto airport…

About 40 minutes before boarding I was called to the front desk and given a different boarding pass. Then I was sent to the lounge for dinner as “no dinner is provided on the flight”. It took me about 20 minutes to find the lounge, which happens to be upstairs… Grabbed a couple of infamous posh cucumber sandwiches and called it a day – I’d left all my stuff downstairs!

Surprise surprise! They gave me a different boarding pass to upgrade me! So I spent the next seven hours in the World Traveller class, whatever that means. I had coffee before I got on board so I didn’t end up sleeping much, but being able to lie down is good enough! No food though… I’d fancied some breakfast but there wasn’t even a bread crumble served

Arrived at Heathrow… Took me a while to understand that different colours mean different things, not different languages… I keep expecting to see things in both English and French – though St Pancras doesn’t disappoint…

Another perk of being upgraded: fast tracked border control. The lady spoke so quietly that I was embarrassed for saying “sorry” all the time… And then I forgot what degree I’m gonna get in three years but fortunately the lady was patient enough to wait instead of deporting me right away lol. I also wasn’t asked whether I have fruits/meat with me… Not even on cards!

They have really magical colours and uniforms at Heathrow that I had to take a picture XD. The lady was extremely helpful with getting a day pass and things, though since I ordered my tickets to be picked up at the wrong station, the one I bought with Virgin beforehand wasn’t going to work… Gotta remember to phone them sometime…

One-Day travel card for London. I wasn’t aware that it’s only 12 pounds and paid a 17 pound one when I booked tickets for Canterbury. Alas, if I can’t get it back from Virgin, I’ll still survive. To be honest, £17 here is sort of like a lot of money lol

I wanted to snap a pic of the streets, but sadly the tube was going too fast and I was left with this… London has very interesting signs though… “Keep feet off the seats”, I wonder if people actually consider that as a kindly reminder.

Another surprise that made me feel glad on not nodding off on the tube… The Kite Runner is on! I’ll see if I can make it later!

Another snap of the streets. Before this point I honestly felt I was still in North America where nothing happens… The “culture shock” is a really strange one because I feel so at home and most of the time don’t realize I’m on an entirely different continent but then when I try to do daily things like walking upstairs or washing hands I marvel at how narrow the staircases are and how there are separate taps for hot and cold water…

This is about 1pm near my friend’s place. With such amazing sun, it’s so pitiful to have it set by 4pm… But I guess I should simply accept it… I chose this wee island even North of Montreal myself, after all.

Another one on London streets. For some reason I never feel like they drive on the wrong side of the road, either…. It just feels like a load of one-way streets everywhere, and I’m always confused where to look when I cross the road. Luckily, the city of London decided to help me by printing “LOOK LEFT” and “LOOK RIGHT” on  the road. They also have fancy buttons to press for pedestrians, too, unlike the ones who look like they don’t even work in Canada.

I must say that with just a few hours of stay (most of which were spent waiting in line/queue), I’ve already come to admiration with the urban planning of London. It’s a giant, compact city, and it’s really busy. But you still get a sense of quietness and orderness here, despite everything.

After dropping my suit case at my friend’s place, I headed to Cambden Town to get my phone fixed. A very nice lady at EE helped me with a brilliant plan… It’s not as perfect as Giffgaff, but good enough that I can use data safely for this month-long adventure. While setting it up, though, I noticed her strong Cockney… Saying “beha” instead of “better” was nothing… Can you guess what “ferty-free pounds” mean? It took me saying “three-three” to know that it’s 33 not 43 lol

Some random street in Cambden Town… I heard they have a good market and I’ll give it a try when I’m back… Another little surprise here as I went for the tube station: a duet of girls were singing for poverty, and they were featuring Zaz’s Si jaimais j’oublie… Their voice are not angelic but they sounded so happy and into it! I should’ve dropped a few pence though… Sorry about that, girls…

This! I walked into the tube station and saw “Northern Line”, so I immediately started looking for a “Southern Line” because I knew I’d be heading south… Turns out the line itself is called Northern… It makes me think of the most “confusing” station name in Beijing: 北京西站南广场东 (East side of the Southern Square in Beijing West Station – the syllable Bei also means North in Mandarin)

Food! Food here is amazingly cheap… I spent less than 20 pounds on food yesterday, covering yesterday’s lunch, dinner, and today’s breakfast and lunch. And I wasn’t really buying from cheap stores either… The sandwich on the left is from M&S which I think is the equivalent of IGA in Montreal, and the one on the right is from Costa Coffee. They cost about £5 when combined, so about $8-10, which is hard to get even from Provigo! And Costa has brilliant shrimp sandwiches too! Mine was as good as the ones I used to get from White Spot!

Now thinking back, I have no idea where this picture was taken… I know it was on the train, but I have no idea whether that was leaving London or somewhere along the route… I was basically dead asleep from the moment I got onto the train…

Well I planned to catch up on some sleep in the train station… Fantastic choice, really, as I realized my timbits-/maple syrup-/poutine fuelled fat layer was, after all, not enough to sleep in an unheated train station at 1 degree C without a real winter coat. I moved into a cafe later to warm up and catch some more sleep but a ruined nap is ruined nap is a ruined nap… And I chose to board the train an hour early because I was so fed up by the time the cafe got cold too

British trains are just like metros with fancy seats… Now I get why it’s not a big deal here. Canada, that’s a very important lesson for you to learn! Time to convert all your cars into trams and trains!

The key to my room at my first host’s. I wasn’t expecting something this old fashioned at all! The lock is a bit tricky to work out, probably because of the key… But hey it’s an old fashioned key, and it already scores higher than a normal key XD

I’ll end this with the inside of my room. It’s smaller than an average room in Canada, but it’s cozy and homey, and I like it, especially the writing on the wall.

36 hours, from Toronto to London and then to Canterbury… Looks like a fantastic time ahead!

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