And the trip begins… My 10-hour layover in London, England

So Canada Day weekend came and went in what felt like an instant and now I’m sitting at a bar in London, England!

I had the pleasure of spending Canada 150 weekend with my friends as my sublet guest moved into my apartment on June 29th. My girlfriend and I crashed at our friend’s place for the weekend and they had a house party to celebrate the nation’s birthday. Overall it was a fun and busy weekend with last minute chores and client work before leaving the country.

I’m already slightly disoriented with my sense of time and date.

I hopped on my outgoing flight from Ottawa to London at about 11pm on July 3rd, and luckily I managed to sleep through most of the flight. When I arrived in London at ~10am local time on July 4th, I was more or less rested from a night of sleep on the plane.

I had a 10-hour layover ahead so I decided to take the tube downtown and explore a few of the low-hanging touristy sightseeing fruits. I took a tube to Westminster station.

I had a pretty quick glance at Buckingham Palace and flowed with a wave of people in an unknown direction. Spoiler alert: I didn’t do much in the way of activities so excuse my potentially unnecessary descriptive language to compensate for my lack of content.

I walked across the bridge and veered onto a side street as the mass of tourists taking selfies was overwhelming me. My immediate impression of London was: this place looks expensive.

Every retail sign looked so swanky and the architecture screamed class. Very nice looking city – it almost reminds me a bit of Old Montreal.

I needed a coffee so I stepped into a random coffee shop in a strip next to a bunch of restaurants and tourist souvenir shops. I asked the barista for a coffee, to which she responded:

“Black or white?”

I gave no response and probably looked like a deer caught in headlights.

She tried again: “With or without milk?”

“Oh, with milk, please…,” I scurried away with my tail between my legs and my face blushing maple-leaf red.

Cool slang though. I dig it!

Upon leaving the coffee shop, I continued walking in a mysterious direction.

I was on a quest for some intangible “London-esque” vibes and I just so happen to know nothing about London, which made that quest a bit tricky.

I stumbled upon a cool-looking street market with a ton of street food vendors, coffee shops and book stores. Given my time constraints and desire to write this blog post before heading back to the airport, I decided that this street market would be sufficiently “London” for my brief visit.

(To any London locals reading this: I can only imagine how much you’re cringing!)

I stepped into a second hand bookstore and overheard the cashier flirting with a Brazilian customer. I hope she comes back to the store and they fall in love and get married. Some lucky mutual friend deserves to hear that musical blend of accents for the rest of time.

I proceeded to check out all of the street food trucks outside. What a diverse selection! Unfortunately, none of the trucks accepted credit card so I couldn’t indulge (wow, did I just type that..?) I grabbed a Turkish sausage sandwich with fried egg, tomato and hummus at a nearby restaurant instead. It was delicious!

Fast-forward to now. I’m sitting in a bar and hostel called The Walrus. I’m sipping on a pint of Foster’s blond beer. I’m listening to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” album. I can certainly say that I’ve been more stressed than this in the past.

Quick observation: Is tipping for drinks not a thing in London? Or am I just being terribly rude? I ordered a pint and the bartender took my credit card and tapped it on the pin pad on my behalf, without giving me the option to tip… I vaguely recall having heard about this standard in the past, but had forgotten what was the proper etiquette.

I need to hop on the tube again within the next hour or so. My flight for Delhi departs at 9:31pm tonight. I’ll arrive in Delhi at about 10:30am local time on July 5th.

I’m too impressionable for all this: I left Ottawa at 11pm on July 3rd and I’m due to arrive in Delhi at 10am on July 5th. Or, as my brother so astutely joked: “I leave Canada this evening and get to India yesterday morning.”

I’m already feeling tickles of culture shock… I can’t imagine what’s in store for me in India.

I’m so excited.

Anyways, time to go navigate my way back to Heathrow. Wish me luck!




2 thoughts on “And the trip begins… My 10-hour layover in London, England

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