The Airbus A380 is big! Room between the seats isn’t especially so, we had had more room on the flight from Melbourne. All night we had been flying ahead of the daylight, slowly I began to see the signs of sunrise catching up to us. I had hardly slept during the night (maybe the pork noodles at 1 am were a mistake, but the nice lady had seemed SO keen for me to eat them!), but this was a truly special moment for me.
It suddenly hit me, with the help of the flight data screen on the seat in front of me, that this sunrise I was watching through the window wasn’t over the River Derwent, New Town and Shag Bay, but over the Ukraine! And that I’d already flown over India, and probably Tajikistan.
I’ve never been to Europe before, this moment reminded me of the privilege that this trip is, and of the need to attend to each moment.
At the end of the first day (early morning of the second, actually, my brain was too fried to function last night, and I nearly did a face plant into my tapas), I’m very glad I came a day early before the business of the trip begins, just to absorb… And it’s been a very absorbing day.
Janine, Colin and I went out wandering. We had arrived at our hotel around.8 a.m. and weren’t able to check in till after 2.30 pm.
I was keen not to do a tourist ‘checklist, and yet such moments just seem to happen: “I’m crossing the Thames on a double-decker bus”… “Oh, there’s Westminster Abbey”… We had lunch in a pub, cod and chips: atmosphere nice, beer less so, fish & chips ummmmm…
Victoria Station was more impressive than when I last owned it on the Monopoly board. An announcement came over the PA, everyone had to leave because of a perceived possible threat. The crowd took it in its stride: we were wondering if it had anything to do with the security guy who’d told Colin to stop taking photos and asked if that unaccompanied bag over there was his.
Some random impressions:
- All set up at Vauxhall, very convenient, I’m glad we followed John’s suggestion on this.
- The woman at the Cornish pasty van explaining what beef and tribute pie is (beef and ale), and gracious when I handed her too few 10p pieces, because they’re the same size as an AUS 20 cent.
- I liked the motto on the Methodist Central Hall, (opposite Westminster Abbey, but without the tourist queues): “Good news for the heart of London”
- The people in the Vodaphone (sorry Andrew!) shop in Victoria Street: very helpful, informative, and interested in us.
- Wondering what other tourists were thinking as they wandered around: “What are they looking at, or for?” Lots of “Here’s me in front of Westminster Abbey” or “here’s me in front of a statue of some woman in a chariot” I don’t want to look at London through a view finder, but know that I’ll take lots of photos.
- Did the locals know what was going on for me? Do they just take it for granted that I’ll be impressed, or am I invisible?
- I’m interested in transport manner- polite and quiet.
- Yet again, I was reminded of what it might be like to be a refugee , making your home in a strange place. Here, that was even stronger, as I realised that in London, I have familiarity because of the place of London in Australian culture. Shipping at Sainsbury’s was a new thing but not really, what must shopping at Woolies New Town be like for someone from Sudan?
- A nice way to end the day: Tapas in South Lambeth Road. The plan was to stop at several of these places, which is how we understand tapas works. Sadly we didn’t make it past one, lack of sleep took over. We had a really nice conversation with the owner though, about Spain, London and Tasmania.