Saturday, June 28, 2008

Letters from London, No. 1

Well folks, after a very rough first 48 hours, I'm comfortably settled in at the B&B I'll be staying at until Wednesday. The flight over was pretty good; with several glasses of wine and some self-medication, I had no problem going to sleep. I only got about five hours, but it was enough. When I woke up, they were announcing that we'd arrive in Heathrow in an hour. I grabbed the tube to the first B&B, only to arrive and discover that there had been a mix-up in the booking (their fault). They quickly made other arrangements for me to stay with a good friend of theirs who lets out rooms once a month, and they personally drove me to her house.

It turns out, she was an absolutely lovely lady! Half French and half Hungarian, and wonderfully helpful and pleasant; it was like staying with a distant European relative. Thursday afternoon went okay, as I took care of getting my reader card at the British Library, and then I headed to Brick Lane for what turned out to be The. Best. Middle Eastern Food. Ever!! It was a place called Tayyab's, and I'd read about it online. It was everything the reviews claimed it would be, maybe even better. I had starters, a lassi, garlic naan, and karahi dahl gosht (lamb) for under 13 quid!! The only problem? I was still wearing the flip-flops I'd worn on the plane, and my feet and legs were killing me!

Yesterday, everything - I mean everything - went downhill. My pull at the library was delayed by an hour, throwing my schedule off. Then I got rained on (yes, I know it's London, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky!). And, I figured I could pop in anywhere to grab an umbrella....which I eventually did, then promptly left it in the tube immediately after buying it! At this point, I just needed to find an Orange store to top up my phone. Long story short? I walked around London for 2 straight hours in peep toe pumps that eventually gave me gigantic (as in 1-inch long) blood blisters on my left foot. At one point, I finally broke down, and there I was: crying in the middle of somewhere near Piccadilly station. Literally standing on the sidewalk having an ugly cry! No tissues. No help. Nobody cared. My fucking arms and legs were hurting so bad from trying to carry all my luggage around the tube stations, each of which include two sets of escalators and one flight of stairs (minimum). I finally gave up because I needed to get back to the train station and catch my train to the town where the conference is being held. I got maybe 20 feet into the station, and what do I see on one of the storefront walls? A fucking top up sign!! As if it could get any worse, I barely make the train, and there are no seats left, so I stand for the entire one-hour trip.

The Friday battle goes to London. It thoroughly kicked my ass.

Today, however, another story. Great conference - the panels and my own presentation went really well - and I ran into quite a number of people who were good friends with faculty at my home department. I had no qualms about paying for a taxi to take me to the train station when the conference was over, as well as when I needed to get from to my B&B in London (despite the 12 pound cost). Once I settled in, I grabbed comfortable shoes, blue jeans, and headed out for dinner at an Italian place just down the road. I touched base with Hubby, got wi-fi access from the host, and I'm thinking - maybe idealistically - I'll do just fine from here on out.


supadiscomama said...

Hang in there, lady :) I'd stick to comfy shoes from here on out, though!

Amy Reads said...

Hi Academama,
*hugs* Keep at it! It will get easier, I promise! I think the crying fit is also due to jet lag; I did the same thing when I arrived!

Mana G said...

Don't worry, London seems to kick EVERYONE'S butt every once in a while. (It kicked mine and my husband's all the way to to the curb on our last night there. We loved the city, but that last night was a NIGHTMARE in the extreme.) Nonetheless, the place owns a little piece of my heart, and I am extremely envious that you are there!

M said...

I hope things improve for the rest of your stay--and I'd follow supa's advice and stick to comfy shoes considering how much walking you'll be doing!