Saturday, September 20, 2014

First week in London

So, after my incredible time in Belgrade, I was off again in Business class to London this time. By the way, I think I hadn't mentioned that while in Istanbul, Alejandro dropped the bomb that he had already payed his rent for the next two weeks and there would be no place for me in his flat, leaving me to fend for myself (putting it in pretty words since I don't want to write all the curses and dirty names that I wanted to call him at the moment). I searched on Couchsurfing and sent requests to like two people. The next day I got an answer from one of them. She was a German girl studying medicine and had a place for me for a couple of nights. That was good enough and I could figure things out later. I arrived at Heathrow Airport where Alejandro was to pick me up (late as customary). He was considerate enough to let me stay at his place the first night, before going to my host's place. Next morning he had to work on a project, so we went to the British Library, which was just a few blocks from King's Cross Station. Those of you who know me well enough will guess my drive to see this place. The library was huge, beautiful and classically modern. Too many floors to explore, and I only ever did an overview despite the many times I would visit it afterwards. We had breakfast in the library and I headed for King's Cross on my own. Once there, I rushed to find Platform 9 3/4 to have my picture taken! I went into the store and gaped at all the very cool (and very pricey) HP gear and books.To avoid getting depressed for not being able to buy everything in the store, I headed to Camden town, which Alejo had recommended. I decided to walk, not knowing my way around the Underground or the double decker buses.

So neglecting to give my new Oyster card the privilege to be used, I walked there. It was a very nice walk and I got to see some churches and interesting buildings on the way. Camden Town is a world of it's own and I loved it. Shops with crafted products and displays of every subculture imaginable. I walked around, bought a few things and then headed back. On the way I found Russell Square which was the area where my host's apartment was. I hadn't come to terms with just how central it was until that moment. Damn lucky once more. After spotting what I thought was her place, I headed back to fetch Alejo and then back to his place to get my bag and head to my host's flat. Once back in Russell Square, Julia opened her door to her flat where I also got to meet her boyfriend Jürgen who is a Surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital or what my mom likes to call Peter Pan Hospital. Both are German and have one of the cutest most honest relationships I've ever seen.

They took me out to walk that evening and we walked to the Thames river and reached Saint Paul's Cathedral. We went to a nice pub on the river where I had my most delicious (and later to discover, only good and non disappointing) dark beer.The next day Julia got up early for school and Jürgen left later in the afternoon for Germany for a week. I, having bought a London book the previous day with tourist information, decided to go to the British Museum which was just a few blocks away. As much as I tried to get organized to take advantage of as many free tours as I could. There was no way I was going to get to see a significant fraction of this place. It was Huge. Yes, with capital H.

After a tour and a few pictures, I was starving. I discovered a convenience store called Sainsbury where I got myself a roll, cookies and an awesome Belgium chocolate milkshake. I had found the place I would be surviving off of for the better part of my UK trip. To not make the story boring, I walked a lot! And despite Julia's busy schedule, she took me to some awesome places, from the must see Tower Bridge, Tower of London and Albert Hall to the small coffee shops and pubs she liked. We were having a great time together, to the degree that on Wednesday when I was considering to search for a new host, since we had only agreed on a couple of days, Julia said we would be going to the Opera on Friday.

So it seemed I would be sticking around a little longer, I was thrilled! The opera was to be performed at the Royal Opera House. Julia was doing an exceptional hosting job despite her busy schedule. So on Thursday we got organized to get the tickets the next day in the morning. After planning everything, Julia told me that a friend of hers was having a Mexican themed birthday party and in her words 'what better than to take a Mexican to a Mexican party'. There I was with plans all the way up to Sunday. This was turning into a very productive and fun first week. So, Friday we went to the opera to see The Barber of Seville which was impressive and very funny. 

After our glamorous evening, except for my green tennis shoes since I didn't have high heels, we headed to one of Julia's favorite French pubs where we had a beer and talked to some random drunk birthday celebrators. After that, we headed to a few clubs and danced with some Irish and English weird fellas we just happened to start talking to randomly on the street and that took us to our last club of the night. Free styling was taking on a whole new meaning. On Saturday morning Julia had business to manage, so I met up with Alejo to have lunch together at the Borough Market. Only that finding Alejo wasn't so easy. There were like 5 exits to the station we had agreed to meet up at and I didn't have a cellphone. While trying to find WiFi so I could message him, this very kind fellow on his bike came up to me and asked me if I was lost and needed to find something, I said that it was more like I was trying to find someone. To that he said 'I can't help you out much with that'. I told him I was looking for exit 2 but didn't see any numbering. We asked a man in charge and he told us that there was no numbering to the exits. Palm-face! He asked me if I had a number and offered me his cellphone. Extremely thankful, I called Alejo and he told me where he was. Still feeling lost, my new friend said he would stick with me until I found Alejo. We started talking and he was very excited to learn that I came from the Yucatan close to Cancun. He asked me where I was staying and I said I was Couchsurfing. He told me that he also did Coushsurfing and that if I needed anywhere to stay later on, his place was available. Can you believe my luck? In London, one of the most expensive and demanded places for couches, I was being offered a place to crash!!! I discovered his name was Bassey and we exchanged contact info.

We found Alejo, who he was also pleased to meet, and after a few more comments and plans on meeting up later on, he was off once more on his bike. Borough Market is a very beautiful, crowded, diverse, and sinful place for those who love to eat, better said, everyone. Breads, juices, and typical dishes from every corner of the world were united in this tiny two-block market. We started with a cheese olive bread then a German hot-dog, then Japanese Dumpling, Melted cheese on potatoes and Scottish meatballs with egg. All of these accompanied by orange juice, berry smoothies and sangria. And to wrap it up, a slice of blueberry cheesecake! I said it before, a sinful place. Barely being able to walk, Alejo headed back home and I headed for Victoria Station where I was to meet Julia to catch the bus to Birmingham for her friend's Mexican birthday party. Another adventure was awaiting us there.         
Here is the link to the pictures of my First Week in London

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