Hello London: Sleepy Eyes + Achey Feet

Now that I have 7 hours of sleep behind me I am coherent enough to try and share the first leg of our adventure.  Traveling from YVR to LHR was relativity painless – that is if you can discount the lack of sleep.  We left Sunday evening, just before 8pm and landed the next day in London at noon – to bright skies and a full day ahead.  Most of the group got little to no sleep on the plane.  Not everyone finds planes easy or comfortable to sleep on, or at least not without the beds you get with a $5000 first first first class ticket (it just wasn’t in the budget).  So everyone arrived tired, and excited, and adrenaline got us through for the first part of the day.

We passed through customs without a problem, retrieved our luggage (all arrived safely), and headed for our first experience on the Tube.  We are able use group tube tickets – which are a fraction of the cost of regular Oyster Cards or travel cards – and purchasing them was easier than I thought it would be – so that was a relief.  This was one of the few tube journeys that would involve a couple train changes, and as you can imagine with all our luggage, that was a lot of heavy lifting and hassle (and of course we may have gone up and down the wrong set of stairs once or twice while trying to get oriented).  But all in all we arrived safely.

Janey & Shelby heading into and waiting for the Tube at Bond street; Mr. Becker showing proper tube riding technique

The Ibis that we are staying at is in a super cute neighbourhood.  Lots of local shops, and right next to a huge mall.  There is a beautiful park across the street, with grass and trees and a nice mini-escape from the urban.  The rooms are clean and modern, though small, but that is true of most hotel rooms in Europe.  They staff have been incredibly kind and accommodating and were very organized.  I hope all the students have gotten a good night sleep and that there won’t be any concerns for our time here.

We settled into our rooms, and just the process of slowing down began to bring in the sleepiness accumulating – but in order to beat the jet lag we wanted to avoid afternoon naps – so after a quick lunch break we headed out for our afternoon Harry Potter/Overview tour.  We were a little behind schedule, so we didn’t get through all we have planned.  A great part of this is due to the fact that…LONDON IS HUGE.  Ms. Beyer, our VP told me a while back “do not be deceived in London – things look close on a map, but in fact, they are further away than they look.”  I now know this is true.

Headed out for our first adventure – just leaving the hotel

We took the tube down to Bank station and started our walk at Leadenhall market – also known as “Diagon Alley” to Harry Potter Fans.  We also found the original entrance to the Leaky Cauldron – now just an optometrists office.  We had this moment, walking out of the train station that came with a “Wow…now THIS is London….everything is so old….” type commentary from the kids.  Because we had lots to cover we power walked (not kidding about the power part) down to the Thames, and towards the Millennium Bridge.  We walked across, looking back at the view of St. Paul’s cathedral for the first time, and then across to the south bank and the Globe Theatre.  We then walked along the south bank past the London Eye towards Westminster Bridge, where we crossed back over, look a good look at parliament and the tower holding Ben Ben (the Bell), before finally hauling ourselves to Porters for our first traditional British dinner of Shepherd’s Pie, and Steak and Cheddar Pie, and Bangers and Mash, and Toad in a Hole and many others of the liking.  Food was great, portions were huge and everyone was satisfied.

Janey & Shelby in front of the Bank Building; 450 year old church, complete with vicar who came out and waved to us as we walked by
Leadenhall Market (“Diagon Alley”) with students out front, as well as group in front of the now blue door to the ‘Leaky Cauldon”
Simran, Harleen, Suesha, Rene, Harsimran, Harjot, Qudrat, Kimmi and Manroop on the Millennium Bridge.
Various view of and from the Millennium Bridge – including looking at if from the ground, towards St. Paul’s, and at Ms. Garr
Bell tour containing Big Ben (left) and look from Westminster Bridge towards the London Eye (looks smaller here than in real life – 30 people fit in each of those capsules)
Parlaiment, as seen while walking across the Westminster Bridge

We were going to head straight home, as exhaustion had set in, but the Covent Garden tube station was closed, so we took advantage and walked through Leicester Square to Piccadilly Circus to see the lights, before finally heading home.  Students could barely keep their eyes open on the train!

Left, Harsimran & Qudrat in front of the lights, Right, Harpreet, Rene, Simran and Suesha with Ripley’s Believe it or not in the background, both in Piccadilly Circus.
Girls on the Tube ride home, looking tired and struggling to stay awake.  Been a long and fulfilling day.

Tuesday will be a lighter (and shorter) day – less walking, more busing, and early night.  Hopefully the long walk and push forward helped lead students to a good nights sleep and overcome the jet lag (then again – i am writing this at 6 AM London time because I woke early….so that’s not a good sign).  Looking forward to another great day ahead!!  We have such a great group of students and I know without a doubt that we have 9 wonderful days awaiting us.

2 thoughts on “Hello London: Sleepy Eyes + Achey Feet

  1. This is SO wonderful; thank you so much for sharing this adventure with all of us! I absolutely LOVE London and need to get back someday. Are you going to Borough Market? Check out the site and see if you can squeeze it in: http://boroughmarket.org.uk/. They have the best meat sandwiches EVER for lunch. And I'm desperate for a new market/shopping bag (it's made out of burlap sack material and has great long handles) so help a girl out, will ya?

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