Maps and cider

June 18th, 2014

After securing a student visa at customs and the tube’s “oyster card”, I borded the Picadilly line straight from the Airport to literally a block away from my hostel. Ahhh, seamless public transportation, I really had arrived in Europe.

The hostel was a maze of crowded rooms. The kitchen and lounge areas were huge and inviting with flat screens along the wall playing either BBC news or a live football game from the World Cup in Brazil. My room, though, was five, three-story bunkbeads crammed together with a small U-shaped aisle surrounding them. There was one main light, a tiny sink, dozens of backpacks in various stages of unpacking on the floor, and a very loud door into the hallway that creaked when opened and slammed deafly shut. At one point I saw a tiny mouse scurry out from under a bed and slide underneath the door. I chose a middle bunk. We were given two flat sheets, a pillow, and a comforter, but no towel so I tried to use one of my shirts. (Ironically, I have “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” with me, and really should have known better than to forget my towel). I tucked one of the flat sheets into the plastic mattress, closed the curtain shutting my bunk off from the rest of the world, and promptly fell asleep at 2pm GMT/9am EST.

At 6pm (GMT) I thought I would try and find Nadia, another girl from Virginia Tech in my program who had arrived in London a couple days earlier. The search was quick, however, as within 5 minutes of me waking up, she walked into the room, having just moved from her old hostel to check in here. We walked around the hostel’s neighborhood a little before settling into a wooden booth in the back of a pub. The place was packed with groups socializing after work. She talked about all she had seen the past few days, pointing along her tattered map of the city; I admired my crisp one, planning all that I could go see, nibbling on ‘chips and cheese’. At dusk (9 or 10pm here, isn’t that crazy?) we took a double-decker bus to the Westminster Bridge and admired Big Ben, the London eye, and everything else lit up spectacularly at night.

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