It was up with the alarm today as Daniel and I bid farewell to Norway and headed off to the UK. We finally ate the free breakfast at the hotel and it was surprisingly good! I had the usual overcooked eggs and bacon with some bread, and Daniel stuck to a hard boiled egg and some bacon with a bit of pineapple and bread for good measure. Confusingly, in Norway, Orange juice is actually Apfel juice, but still tasty.
We checked out of the hotel and headed off to the airport. I was a bit stressed out because we missed one train and the train we were on had difficulty with the signal system and was going very slow. Arriving at the IKEA inspired airport, we did the kiosk check-in for British Airways and halfway through printing the machine broke and we were sent to go wait in the long check in line. I was amazed at how many people ignored the kiosks and just went to the line. I guess e-ticket easy check-in has a way to go. Passing through the security check, my backpack was thoroughly searched, but I remained cheerful and silently hoped that I didn’t forget a water bottle in the bag.
After some souvenir shopping, I realized we were a bit behind and then had to go through passport control at the gate. There were a lot of non-EU people on this flight so it took an incredibly long time to get though the queue, but alas we made it onto the flight. It was a nice change from the one going to Norway as it was in a much nicer A-321. After nodding off and on we finally arrived at London Heathrow.
We breezed through customs, but I was nagged by the fact we needed to meet our contact for the apartment and it was taking forever to get to the train. Also, I fretted about the fact we needed to come up with 320 pounds to pay the man for his apartment. My bank would not allow me to take out that much. I cashed in all of my traveler’s checks and then Daniel tried the ATM and to my surprise we were able to get the remaining money out.
Finally on the Heathrow express, I received a call from Phillipe and he was concerned that he had not heard from us and he had stuff to do and was going to leave if he had not heard from us. I called him in a panic after struggling to get the phone to dial his number. For some odd reason I can call Nathan with the full +44 extension, but not Phillipe. I finally cleared everything up and he was set to meet us at the Euston Sq. Station.
It took us some time to figure out in Paddington Station how to get to the correct Tube line. We also had issues buying tickets since my credit cards do not have the authentication chip, I have to use my ATM card with a pin to get the cards. After much swearing and sweating and trauma, we finally made it to the tube station where we waited for Phillipe. We had just missed him and came out the opposite exit that he was at so we had to lug our bags down and up the stairs one last time. I took an immediate liking to Phillipe and his daughter and chatted up with him on the way to the apartment.
Our apartment in London is amazing with a great view and perfect for us. We exchanged money with Phillipe and he showed us around and gave us the keys. We truly lucked out in finding this great place. After resting we phoned Nathan and arranged to meet up with him at his apartment in SoHo. We walked to his apartment which was only a 20 minute walk and I was reminded that I really only walk places when I am overseas. Along the way, I found a power adapter for my laptop so I can’t wait to get it back to the apartment to see if it works. Nathan has a great apartment in SoHo that has a wonderful 11th floor view with Parliament, St. Paul’s and the Tower Bridge all within view.
We then had a nice night out on the town with Nathan reminiscing about the good old days and also getting caught up on each other’s lives. We walked around to find a good Italian place to eat and eventually ended up in this bizarre place where the wait staff looked like recovering Eastern European drug addicts and transvestites. I enjoyed the food, but couldn’t help but think what the owner of the restaurant does to get the waitresss. “I promise you a new start with a job in London, come with me” and then they all end up working as slave labor in this little hole in the wall.
After dinner we went to a few places to scope them out but ended up at this club with a couple of floors (Nathan will remember and I will revise this later). I had an excellent Cosmo and we chatted some more before it was time to move on. We all wanted dessert and we trekked down to Leicester Square and enjoyed some Hagen Daas. It was packed in the square with tons of people out for drinking parties and Hen’s Nights, but everyone was in a good mood and it was early enough no one was puking on the streets.
We headed back towards Nathan’s and made arrangements to meet up tomorrow afternoon and head off to the Tower of London. Daniel and I hiked back to the apartment and immediately tried the power connector. It works so I was back in business writing. I was a bit sad that there was no Internet to leach from the neighbors, but I know there are several cafes close by that I can upload all my photos and diaries.