Hello from London, England!
As we were getting ready to exit our seats on the plane I looked over at the boys in front of me and noticed that one of them had a Contiki packet. For those who do not know what Contiki is, it is a tour company for 18-35 year olds. I myself was flying to London to start a Contiki tour that was scheduled to last 21 days and it was to commence in London and finish in Athens, Greece. I thought to myself that already things were looking up. So I turned to the guy holding the packet and asked him what tour he was doing. He said that they were doing the Explorer (not mine, darn!) As I prepared myself to chat with them while we waited to exit our seats, the guys turned around and snubbed me. What the hell? No one snubs me. Needless to say their attractiveness diminished dramatically.
We exited the plane and I went in search of my backpack. Yes, I am literally backpacking across Europe. The only problem is that this backpack is huge and almost my height (from here on forward the backpack will be referred to as the “Beast”). I was able to find my bag easily and began to search for the train that I was supposed to take to my hotel. I walked around aimlessly for maybe 10 minutes, but I managed to find the entrance to the train station. When I walked into the area where you purchase your ticket, I was dismayed by the long line-ups. Then I remembered that I had purchased an Oyster card when I ordered my train ticket and I had 10 pounds on it. So I searched for a staff member to get assistance in using it. I was told that I did not have to get in line since I had the card, and this card allowed me to just scan it through to the other side (very much like a metropass). As I scanned my card I turned back to look at the boys standing at the back of the line. I gave them my lovely smile and walked towards the train. Once on the metro I got comfortable with the Beast in front of me blocking the entire isle. I sat on the train for a few minutes and at one point I saw the boys running towards the train. I know I should not have such thoughts but my mind kept saying “come on doors, close!” I am not exaggerating when I tell you that they were one step away from getting on the train when the doors closed in their faces. They were so rude and snobby to me, so my thoughts were well founded. Right?
When I walked into my hotel room I felt like I had walked into a motel not a hotel. There were two single beds, a TV, a phone and it had the view of another buildings ceiling. Just lovely! But I had wanted to spend one day exploring London on my own before my tour started the following day. Arriving one day earlier allowed me the opportunity to explore. It was now 2pm and I felt tired from my flight (I know, I slept through most of my flight). So I figured a short nap would invigorate me. So I crawled into my dinky bed and fell asleep. Some time later I woke up feeling much better and figured it was a good time to go get some food. What time was it? Maybe I could get an early dinner I thought. I searched for my watch and it read 10:30pm. Obviously my watch was wrong so I turned on the TV and searched through the 5 channels that were somewhat clear and luckily one showed the news and yep, it was 10:30pm! So much for my short nap and my free time to explore London. Crap. So I did what anyone would do in this situation. I went on Facebook.
As I cyber-stalked and bitched about my day someone knocked on my door. Who the hell knocks at this hour? It was 12:00am. I opened the door ready to snap to find a girl standing there with luggage looking confused. This is my room she said. Ahh, I don’t think so! This is my room. She stood there looking tired with a heap of bags and luggage. Where were my manners? Please come in I said. She walked in and I cleared the second bed that I was already using as storage and asked her to explain to me how she booked this room.
I am doing the Contiki tour she said and I wanted to come a day early so that I could get some sightseeing done before we were scheduled to meet the tour group. Me too! I told her, but no offence, I specifically booked a room just for myself because I know that for the entire tour I will be sharing with others. Same here she said. I was told I was getting my own room so I do not know what is going on. Okay we agreed, we should call Contiki to get this matter rectified. She picked up the phone and the person on the other end said that we are not allowed to make outgoing calls. If you are part of Contiki you are not allowed to call out they said. Are you serious? Wow, this day just kept getting better and better. Just stay here I told her and I promise to stay quiet since you are probably jetlagged. I told her how I slept through the day and planned to get up at 8am, but not to worry, I would try hard not to wake her.
In the morning I heard my new roommate (from here on she will be referred to as my roomy) walking to the washroom. How odd I thought, she got up really early today. Oh well, now I can get ready and not worry about waking her. I got out of bed and she stormed out of the washroom to tell me that it was 10:30am! Grrrrr! I did it again! I slept in! I rushed to get dressed and we went on a search for breakfast. At breakfast we went through our options. We had to meet our tour group at 7pm that day, so we technically only had about 7 hours left in London. So we did the one thing I swore I would never do. The one tour I make fun of when I see them in Toronto. Yes, we purchased a tour bus pass. We sat at the second level of the two level bus with our cameras and looking very much like a tourist. If I had a mask I would have used it. So for the next 6.5 hours we rode a bus across London taking pictures. So much for wanting to blend in with the Londoners.
The tour bus had different path options and we needed to switch to a blue bus to take us back to our hotel at the end of our day, so we got off at a stop where the blue bus was scheduled to do a pick-up. It was 6:08pm by the time we got to the stop. At the bus stop we asked the bus staff member how long we would have to wait for the next bus. I am sorry he said, the last bus just left. Darn I thought, we just missed one and we will have to wait about 20 minutes for the next one. It’s okay we told him, we will wait. No he said, the last bus of the day just left.
This man was hilarious. The bus ticket is a 24 hour ticket and there was nothing on the ticket that said that the last bus we needed stopped running at 6pm. I mean seriously, why do you sell and advertise a ticket that is good for 24 hours when in fact it stops being valid half-way through! Well, I would like to say that I took these news graciously, but I did not. I was tired, hungry and now I felt fooled. For these legitimate reasons I told him exactly how I felt about false advertising, etc. Thanks to this experience/confrontation my roomy now learned that when warranted, I can have a bit of a temper.
Off we went on foot to our hotel with me bitching about the stupid tour bus. I know the thought of me complaining comes as a shock to those who know me, but I could not help it. Well, at least I got some pictures!
Stay tuned to France! Oh oui!