It is August 20, 2017 and I am officially in London, England, UK. I have never in my life been outside of North America and the feeling of being here was priceless. It was completely unreal to be in London awaiting the upcoming experience and memories that I would achieve in the following upcoming hours, days, and weeks. I was completely excited for what I would be feeling and doing in the next couple of days. All I could think about while I was in London was I cannot stay inside without roaming around and exploring London for myself. The feeling of excitement was overwhelming and powerful that I have to admit I actually shed a tear of joy because I was celebrating my birthday like no other way I have had, enjoying myself. I appreciate all the previous birthday experiences I have previously had, but one of my life goals had always been to travel around the world and become a polyglot. I was achieving one of these goals on my birthday by flying to London. It was technically still my birthday when I had landed in London since it was a little before midnight in California, however, I did not step off the plane until 10 after midnight.
On my first day in London I basically waited to be taken to my hotel. My flight was originally scheduled to arrive at 7:23 a.m..; however, due to my flight being delayed 2 hours I arrived in London at 7:56 a.m.. The captain of the flight did mention to us before we departed for London that he would do his best to go as fast as he could to make sure we would arrive close to our intended arrival time in case anyone had a layover in London. My neighbor on the plane actually had a layover to Germany and was worried throughout the trip that she would miss it. She had actually visited San Francisco to visit her boyfriend; although, she is originally from California just currently living in Germany. She seemed like a sweet gal and her backpack was absolutely amazing with all the patches she had of the places she had travel to. Now that I think about it I wish I had purchased patches throughout my stay at these locations. Once I got off the plane I went through customs and it was my first experience going through customs outside of the U.S.. I was exhilarated at this point partially due to the agent whom assisted me was quite delightful. I have to admit I just wanted to continue listening to him since I just adored his accent. Once the agent stamped my passport, my first stamp ever to be exact, I was on my way to pick up my luggage and headed to terminal 3 for my transportation meet up. On my way to terminal 3 I just loved looking at the walls of the terminal because they had facts in this universe/space theme about London. For example; did you know that The Who arrived in London at LHR back in 1967? I sure did not know this and yes I am aware of The Who. For starters my High School AP Art history teacher, King Harold, was a big The Who fan. Till this day I remember entering his class and a song of The Who was on or something related to The Who would be mentioned. He would actually encourage his students to travel the world and see art in person because he stated that art is not meant to be read about but seen and felt in person. 2) My father would listen to The Who but he was more into The Beatles and Eric Clapton.
Once I arrived at terminal 3 for TriStar meetup I had to wait what seemed like forever just to be taken to the hotel. I met my first group and what seemed like the people I would hangout with throughout my trip. I met a girl, Jasmine, 28 from Oakland whom we actually traveled on the same flight to London. Actually, we both saw each other while waiting to board the plane in SFO. Afterwards, I saw two guys, Andrew & Ricky, that looked familiar thanks to the Facebook group for the trip from Phoenix/Scottsdale. Afterwards, I saw another person who looked familiar and indeed they where part of my group, Rana from Utah. Before meeting my group we were advise by our Tour director to download the App WhatsApp. So, before I actually left SAN I actually downloaded the app and had been in contact with my tour director as well as the group. The five of us departed around 10 A.M.-ish to the hotel. Arrived at the hotel, Ibis London Euston St Pancreas, and had to wait until 2 P.M. to check into my room when the room would be ready. In the meantime I met with my tour director, Antonio, and got acquainted with some of the people in my group. While speaking with Antonio I signed up for additional excursions in London, Paris, & Barcelona. For London I chose to do the Pub Crawl for £15 and the Harry Potter Walking Tour £10. If you did not know or assumed by now I am definitely a Harry Potter fan and am proud to state that I am part of the Ravenclaw house. At this point Antonio also gave us our metro pass to use for the next three nights. After paying extra for additional excursions throughout my trip I met up with four other girls in the group and headed out to explore Euston Station. We where hungry at this point and I was a bit tired; therefore, I needed some form of energy
Euston station was actually down the street from my hotel, so it was a quick walk. In front of Euston Station there are several restaurants to choose from. We stopped by and checked them out. Some of the girls opted for “mexican” food from Mi Casa Burritos and I personally opted for English cuisine from Upper Crust restaurant. Thereafter, we headed back to the hotel since it was getting close to 2 p.m.. I found out that my roommate was already inside the room and had my room key. Therefore, I got my luggage from the luggage room and headed to the fourth floor. I was ready to relax and take a cold shower by this point because I was sweaty from traveling and my choice of outfit was no help. We had to be ready by 3:30 P.M. since we would have a tour of London with the group directed by our tour director, Antonio. I found out that my roommate was a girl by the name of Alyssa, 28, from New Jersey. We got acquainted and she was ready to do some exploring of her own before the tour, so I stayed in the hotel to enjoy the room all to myself. I turned the tv on and while skimming through the channels I heard Tony DiNozzo from NCIS voice and I left it there.
It was close to 3:40 p.m. and the whole group was finally walking through London. We went to Euston Station to get on the Victoria line heading to Brixton to transfer on to the Jubilee line heading to Greenwich. We got off at Westminster Station and headed to the Palace of Westminster. In doing so I passed by Westminster Abbey and I was so excited to be so close to it. I had made a mental note to make sure I came back here while I was here. Unfortunately, that mental note somehow got drafted instead of posted because I completely forgot about it until the morning that I had to depart for Paris. Oh, because I am from Southern California, Inland Empire to be exact, I never had the pleasure of ever riding on a metro before this trip. This was a new experience for me that completely made me squeal of pure joy and excitement inside. We stayed in Westminster for a good amount of time since there was so much to see. Afterwards, we got on the tube and headed to Leicester Square and it was delightful to explore. I have never been to NYC but both of these two locations gave me that vibe and I enjoyed them both very much.
Throughout the walking tour I came across so much sight seeing that I knew for a fact that London was going to be one of my favorite locations on this trip. I was living my own Spice Girl’s dream trip. I saw Pikachu, two golden living statues, and so much architecture & art throughout the city. I was excited to have seen Ripley’s Believe it or Not, M&Ms store, Nickelodeon, etc.. My inner child was screaming with excitement while at Piccadilly circus. I told myself that I will definitely have to come back to London in the future because 3 days will simply not be enough for me to explore.
Once the walking tour was done we headed back to the hotel for a quick freshen up before our “welcome mixer”. I got my coat only because it was a bit chilly but decided to leave my flip flops on(can you tell I am a Socal chica?). We headed to our destination, The Marquis Cornwalls, which was a traditional pub about 10 minutes from the hotel. While heading to the welcome mixer we passed by Mary Ward House. I do not know if anyone else in the group noticed it or not but I was stoked as soon as I saw the name. I passed several times through this area while in London in hopes of going in but when I finally could it was time for me to leave London. At the welcome mixer we just sat down and start to chit chat a bit with the people we already knew. I sat with Jasmine, Hannah, Rachel, Tyler, and Rana. Hannah actually works with EF College Break and was on this trip to see the good, the bad, and the ugly about it. I will be honest at first glance Hannah gave me this vibe that I was not about to have it with her. Glad my first thoughts about her were not completely true. Rachel was this cute, free spirited chica, and Tyler was the quirky down to earth gal. One of the girls on the trip, Danielle, actually was thoughtful and gave me a birthday present since she knew that it was my birthday during this trip. I liked everything she had given me. When it finally came to enjoy the mixer we were given appetizers that was meant for either 4 or 5 people to share and well most of our table had either 6 to 8 people. So, we cut some of our appetizers into smaller quantities so we could share. Hannah actually had requested more fries and the waiter actually denied her for any more since it was not part of the mixer. We understood that part but we had money to pay for any extras. We all were given two little stub tickets to use for free beer at the mixer. I only used one for a pint.
Once we were done with the welcome mixer we decided to head back to the hotel. Myself and several other gals(Heidy, Andrea, & Jasmine) decided to go out for more food since literally the welcome mixer was appetizers and not a “dinner” as we assumed it would be. We headed out about 15 minutes from our hotel to a restaurant we found, Honest Burgers, which served some delicious burgers inspired by British produce. I order the BBQ chicken wings, fritter burger along with a Paloma, and a margarita. We had to leave since it was a little past closing time but I sure enjoyed myself. We headed back to the hotel and it was drizzling at this point so we got a tad bit wet. Before I actually went back to the hotel I went with Jasmine to the Sainsbury’s local convenience store which was literally down the street from the hotel. I wanted something just didn’t know what so I ended up not buying anything. Walked back to the hotel and called it a night since we had to be up early in the morning for our tour of the city.
So, that is how my first day and night in London went. Check back to read and see how my second day in London went in part 3.