I made it......
17.07.2010 - 18.07.2010 29 °C
Well, I headed off just as scheduled on "Thomas Cook" airlines (I know, I'd never heard of it either) at 6pm Toronto time. It had a lot of leg room but was freezing cold and didn't have personal t.v. screens, we had to all look at the same ones. The horror!
Straight away, (sounds very Britishy and posh, eh?) I met Eileen and Jeff. They were a lovey couple from Essex, England who had been on vacation in Canada and New York for two weeks and were just heading home. Eileen and I chatted away....I know, me chatting away, who would of thought it?! I was very greatful that I met them because they sort of took me under their wings and helped me in the Gatwick airport. We arrived about 15 minutes early in London and had to wait until another plane had pulled out until we could unload. I flew through customs and baggage claim.
I found the little man holding my name on a sign, but it was a lot less thrilling then I thought it was going to be. It was about an hour drive from the airport to my hotel. I got to see a lot of little "boroughs" that were very quaint. Each one had something in common with the other, a gas station and a pub!
I arrived at the hotel, which is MASSIVE, (I'm in room 6217, just to give you an idea of the size) only to find that there was not much open. I checked my luggage for the day and tried to call home. Apparently I have some difficulty with English phones, so I just used my cell phone - looking forward to the bill for that! I found a little coffee shop, ate and called home.
Once the desk for CONTIKI opened I went down and purchased a "hop on, hop off" sightseeing bus pass. It has a lot of different routes throughout the city with guided commentary either through headphones or a live person. At the first "hop off" I met an Australian girl who was trying to find the same route as I was. Her name is Paula and she is on a different contiki tour than I am. See is from Melbourne, which is one of my favourite cities in Australia! We laughed and joked about each other's acents and took pictures for each other in front of buildings and in red phone booths.
Paula and I really enjoyed ourselves seeing all of the sights. The bus pass also included a boat tour down the Thames with commentary on the buildings surrounding it. We saw the "Changing of the Guard" at Buckingham Palace....kinda boring. Saw the London Eye, London Bridge, London Tower, Westminster Abbey etc. etc.
I finally got to check into my room at about 2:30. I'm in a double room which means I will have a roomate I expect, but there wasn't anyone there yet. I'm meeting Paula and her roommate (another Aussie) for dinner at a Pub at 6pm and then I meet my Contiki group at 7pm.
I'm only just starting to feel quite tired and I expect I'll sleep well tonight. Thanks so much for all your well wishes. I'll try to keep updating as often as possible.
Love and hugs,