After a deep, long, and chiropractically gainful two-hour sleep on our flight, we arrived safely in London. Functioning as cognitive infants and looking perhaps like we came from zombie-prom, we were especially thankful for the help of a very accommodating front desk attendant upon arrival. England was already fairing quite well in our book. Even with the strikes against them brought on by the "Harry Potter Enterprise". So, at the kind advice of our friendly airport staff, we purchased our Travel Card day passes, and were on our way to our new and exciting hostel experience.
We took the Jubilee line towards the city, and exited at the Willesden Green stop to try and locate our lodging. Of course we got ourselves a bit lost in our wandering and curiosity, but eventually fell upon (almost literally) the resplendent Hillspring Lodge. This establishment was heads and shoulders above any other hostel I had ever stayed at. I honestly couldn’t believe that we were getting bunks for as cheaply as we were here. There was a beautiful lobby, big, beautiful windows everywhere - drawing attention to the delightful greenery surrounding this little inn, and the nicest staff anyone could ever ask for. As we exhaustingly shuffled our way to the front desk, the lovely receptionist gave us the "new camper" schpeal, but really all we could think about was finding some sort of surface to collapse on as soon as possible. An entire night filled with flights, transfers, customs, and security checks had left our brains just a couple of notches above Waffle House grits, and we were ready for some circadian rhythm.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to check into our room for another two hours, so we had to try and come up with something to occupy ourselves in the meantime, without passing out in some public location.
Because this hostel had a great little kitchen for it’s residents to use, we decided to venture out to our local grocery store to pick up some supplies in an effort to save some money on food during our stay in London. See how responsible we can be? I know you’re proud of us already.
We made it to the grocery store and began to saunter through the isles, trying desperately to not only stay awake, but to make some semi-intelligent purchases in the process. We debated over price and substance, over taste and usefulness, and eventually settled on a good collection of items. It had been almost two hours by the time we returned, but we decided that we better power-through and eat something at this now, because the tiny kitchen was likely to be busy by the time we woke up if we were to indulge in a nap at this point. Look at us –two wise decisions in only one afternoon.
And so we cooked and feasted on whole grain pasta, grilled chicken, mixed veggies, garlic herb tomato sauce, and wheat bread. So very tasty. You would be proud, Ma. As soon as we were done, we cleaned our dishes, and headed straight to our room for a quick nap before heading out on the great town of London.
After a few hours of the first truly horizontal sleep we had seen in quite some time, we each awoke, a little unsure of where we even were. We eventually got our bearings, suited up, and began making our way to The Big Smoke –the great city of London.
We took the tube toward the city center, and exiting at an area that we thought would be interesting. We meandered up and down the city blocks taking in all of the sites, sounds, smells, and of course, brilliant accents. We walked past the Sherlock Holmes Hotel, and Zach took a picture for Anne. We admired the brilliant architecture, and the eclectic storefront displays. Our first impression of the people was that they weren’t nearly as sociable or welcoming as those from Ireland, but appeared to be friendly nonetheless. We eventually stumbled upon an adorable little pizza place that also happened to be playing live jazz as well. Both the pizza and music was fantastic. I kicked myself for not speaking up while the singer quizzed the audience on some Duke Wellington trivia, and missed out on a free CD, but I was sure to tell them how much I enjoyed their set before we left. After giving it some thought since then, I've come to the conclusion that I think I’d like to have soulful live jazz playing every time I eat pizza from here on out. It was truly a winning combo.
We made it back to our lodge safely and decided to hop on the computers in the lobby to construct some sort of plan for the next day. About twenty-minutes in however, we were treated to some delightfully disgruntled theater for a segment I’d like to call “Hostile Hostel”.
The story is actually much funnier when told in person, but the long and short of it is that a petulant would-be patron of this fine hostelry was quite upset with the arrangements of his stay, and a comically pugnacious encounter ensued. When he first walked in, we saw that he too was in a suit and thought that we were kindred spirits, but it become clear rather quickly that such was not the case.
He began ranting and raving (loudly, and with great fervor, mind you) about the type of room he had demanded, postulating justice, or at the very least, his money back. The attendant was calm and collected, but the habitué was growing more and more vocal with every passing moment. The man eventually ended up calling the police, claiming that the employee stood towards him with the intent to push him, and that he was physically frightened and worried for his safety. This went back and forth for about thirty minutes, and I was happy to have the butter popcorn handy for this entertaining display.
Eventually the angry man left, but with the wonderful power of surveillance, we were able to watch him pace back and forth in front of the hostel awaiting the arrival of the police (who never came to avenge this great injustice. After sitting on the curb for a bit, he finally decided to leave and try to find another local hostel that would take him in at two in the morning.
We, of course, joked about it in the lobby for a while with our new friends who had also observed this absurd display, and then eventually were off to bed to prepare for day six.