My first trip to London was indescribable, but I'll try my best. I didn't manage to do half of the things I'd planned to, despite accidentally having to stay another night. I arrived at Kings Cross late Wednesday night, jumped in a black cab and headed off to my hotel which was pretty much across the road from Spitalfields market. The next day, I braved the London Underground and hopped on the central line to Bond Street where I was overwhelmed by designer boutiques and important looking people in suits. I traipsed around Mayfair feeling sorely out of place in my scruffy jeans and baggy hoodie, but it was snowing and miserable so I was more concerned about that. I spent around 40 minutes trying to navigate my way to the US Embassy, which was the primary reason for my trip to London. Around 30 minutes later, I emerged from the embassy having been officially granted a US visa for the summer - cue one very happy, if slightly bedraggled from the weather, Scottish girl dancing her way on to the tube at Green Park station.
I headed back to the hotel and was all set to take a nap, but I decided instead to jump back on the tube and head down to Oxford Street. I was feeling all pro with this tube business, I even managed to help a woman catch the right one! I think I've managed to perfect my "I'm not a tourist, I get these trains all the time" non-expressive face whilst being squashed like a sardine in the tiny capsule trains. Although, it was clear that I was indeed a tourist since I must have squealed 'sorry, excuse me' around 10 times every journey. People in London seem to find it strange if a stranger acknowledges them, everyone appears to be in their own little bubble and I couldn't quite grasp that concept.
I only spent around 2 hours shopping, by which time I'd had enough of the bustling streets, queues and being shoved out of the way everywhere I went. Having grown up in a rural area, I'm not exactly used to seeing famous people, like ever. So when Scott from last year's Big Brother walked past me on Regent Street, I had to try my absolute hardest not to scream. I phoned my mum squealing down the phone that I'd just seen a 'celebrity', and she didn't exactly sound impressed when I revealed said celebrity was an ex-BB contestant. It was a big deal, alright!
One of the main things I wanted to see when I was in London was the famous Tower Bridge, but I stupidly got mixed up between that and London Bridge. I made my way down there on Friday evening just as the sun was going down, and I ended up at London Bridge. It didn't take me long to realise that I was in fact at the wrong bridge, but at least it gave me an opportunity to take some photos of Tower Bridge. I also kept catching glimpses of the 'pickle' as I had been affectionately referring to it as, until I was eventually corrected (rather embarrassing) and informed that it was the Gherkin. Tourists, eh...
I was supposed to head home at lunch time on Saturday, but I missed my train by about 10 seconds. I ran around Kings Cross like a headless chicken for a bit, trying not to cry or have a meltdown. I eventually ended up staying an extra night at a Premier Inn in North London (was cheaper than staying another night in central!) and catching an 8am train the next day. I can honestly say that I didn't want to leave. Despite the crowds, the complete culture shock and the city stress, I think London has stolen a little piece of my heart. I'm so, so excited to be moving closer this year and even more excited at the prospect of eventually working and living in this city. I only wish I'd had more time there last week to do more exploring and adventuring. There is so much to see and I don't think I'll ever have enough time.