I arrived in London at Stansted airport around 23:45. After making it through customs, which are much more stringent in the UK, it was getting quite late. I grabbed my bag and headed to the train station only to be informed that the train was leaving at 00:30. It was now 00:27… I ran with the attendant yelling after me, “Hurry! It’s just downstairs! Run quickly!” So run I did. I seem to be doing quite a bit of that on this trip. I made it onto the train just as the doors were closing, stowed my bag on the luggage rack, and took my seat for the long trip into the city.
I tried to sleep but adrenaline was rushing through my veins and there were several American girls sitting a few seats forward. They were chatting quite animatedly, the loudest of whom was in possession of one of the most annoying Jersey accents I’ve heard. She was regaling her comrades with her drunken escapades, not exactly ingratiating herself with the British people around her. I believe there was a reference to a blackout she had experienced in which she had written “Return to sender” upon her forehead.
The train pulled into Liverpool Street Station just before 01:30. With relief, I disembarked and made my way through the station to the entrance. Pulling out my handy iPhone, now iBrick, I consulted the London map app I had downloaded and proceeded to make my way towards the hostel for the night. Being the cheapskate I am, I forewent taxis and buses and walked the streets of London for half an hour before arriving. I checked into the hostel and crashed quite readily onto the bed I had been assigned.
When I awoke in the morning, I headed for the café in the hostel. There I was able to get the full English breakfast of toast, baked beans, fried eggs, bacon, and tea. It was quite welcome on my rather empty and travel-weary stomach. Continuing to rest up for a bit, I made ample use of the hostel’s Wi-Fi services, waiting for the check in time at the flats. As two o’clock approached, I made my way to Stamford Street Apartments and settled into my flat. I unpacked my bag, which by this point included a carrier bag containing some very foul smelling socks. You don’t walk around for more twelve hours a day without receiving such a gift.
I went down to the grocery store around the corner to stock my mini-fridge with the essentials: milk, yoghurt, bread, jam, and the ever important Twining’s English Breakfast tea. After dropping off my supplies, I realized that, in my pre-departure travels, I had quite forgotten to make a photocopy of my passport and visa letter. This was a rather large oversight on my part as both were necessary for my enrolment at King’s College London the next morning. I immediately set out on a quest to find a copy center. It being Sunday evening, it was extremely difficult. I wandered around Waterloo and the South Bank for more than an hour before finally stumbling upon a rather dodgy internet café. Having made my photocopies, a wave of relief spread over me and I decided to treat myself.
So I went to the pub. It had been almost a year since I last had a pint of cider, so I sat down at the bar and ordered a Strongbow. This is one of the drier ciders available and, in my opinion, quite good. After my pint, I realized I had not eaten since breakfast. On my trek back to the flat, I came across a restaurant that I had seen the previous year but at which I had never eaten. Tas Restaurant is a Greek food chain in the UK serving a varied and a bit pricier menu. However, the quality of the food is well worth the price. To start, I was provided with bread and olive oil, to which I added an order of hummus. This was followed by a pan-fried halibut filet. It was served on a bed of sautéed red and green peppers, onions, and potatoes with a side of steamed broccoli. The entire meal was fantastic and I walked away quite satiated.
Wending my way through the security systems at the flat’s entrance, I finally managed to make it back to my room. I went to bed, ready for the morning and the beginning of my time at King’s.