Yesterday, I arrived in London. Ready for my first day of work in the UK, I had called in the hotel’s concierge for a prompt 7am wake up call. Somewhere along the line, they decided I had no idea what I was talking about and I really should wake up at 4am. And boy did they follow through. This was no “automatic wake up call” from some computer script. No, sir. They called three times, determined I would be ready for the day ahead.
An hour or so later, I gave up my futile hope I might actually get some more sleep and decided to be productive. By productive, of course, I meant trying out video chat with people back home, for whom it wasn’t even bedtime yet.
Afterwards, determined to be ready for work on time, I stopped by the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Unsure of the normal procedure here, I assumed it was “complimentary” like back home and nothing challenged that perception. They did ask for my room number, for sure, but otherwise it was a normal, however very English, buffet style hotel breakfast of eggs, meat, breads, cereals and fruit.
I left for work feeling good. I’d been awake for quite a while, the hotel provided a shuttle (avoiding the aimless wandering of the day before) and I was well ahead of schedule. Honestly, work went quite well also. Everyone I met was competent (!!!), we outlined what needed to happen and the day ended productively.
Leaving work, however, I realized how amazingly tired I was. At this point I felt like it was at least four hours later than it actually was and by the time I got back to my hotel I was almost ready for bed. Freezing cold, by the way, because I’d decided to walk and save money. At least this time I made it in one go.
Hanging around the hotel, I decided to relax for a while and mess around on the internet. I checked into all the normal social media sites I couldn’t access while at work and finally realized, an hour or two later, that playing on the internet is not the same as sleep and I was not getting any less tired. Also, the hotel room, while not exactly “cold”, was not warm despite setting the thermostat to 24C/75F degrees.
The day before I had stumbled back into town, gotten food and stumbled home. That wasn’t going to fly tonight. After all, I was in London! This was not a time to “hang out” at the hotel. After some quick internet research, I was going to Leicester Square!
Not wanting to be any colder than I already was, I caught a cab to the tube station. When I got to Leicester Square… it was awesome! Bright lights, dozens of restaurants, theaters, musicals and more (much more) lit up the streets. I walked for a while, enjoying everything despite the cold when I decided to check out the Trocadero.
The Trocadero is an interesting thing. It’s like an arcade, casino and carnival thrown together in a labyrinthian architecture with a few bars and a bowling alley thrown in. It spans a city block or so, mostly underground and goes up and down at least five stories. The use of escalators and displaced stairways meant that however you got up to a level would not be the same way you got back down. Also, there was an entire area that looked like a parking garage dedicated to break dancing. It took me at least an hour to find my way back out to the street.
Having escaped The Labyrinth, I needed some food. I found a pub, distinguishable by the exact same architecture, paint and sign font that every other tourist pub in London uses. After debating hanging out in the bar first, I headed upstairs to the dining area and immediately ordered some bangers and mash. I was slightly disappointed that the menu didn’t call them bangers and mash, but what can you do?
My lust for adventure momentarily satiated and realizing that now I was falling-asleep-tired, I headed back to the hotel. The entire trip one-way took about a half hour on the tube and I caught a cab at the end. At last, sleep.
Oh, and that breakfast? 17 pounds. Yeah.