So I’m back to living in a small town.
Small towns suck. Everyone I meet including the pharmacist tells my family how they think they can fix my life, even when I’m standing right there. I’m supposed to smile and say hello to everyone even when I’m channeling my inner Swede and don’t want to interact with anybody. I also live in a house that makes me feel like I’m in the 1840s when there is no hot water in the kitchen, no heat when I wake up in the morning, the microwave sometimes quits in the middle of heating up my meal, and my room isn’t insulated. But hey, at least I have a place to live, which is more than I can say for my time in London.
London was much more enjoyable once I decided I was going back to Germany. The last three days I didn’t spend erratically, but I also didn’t sweat every time I pulled out my debit card to pay for a £3 lunch from Tesco Express. I still have a long list of things I want to do in the city, to which I am continually adding more as I hear stories and see photos from my friends that are still there, so I know I will be back soon. But while I’m living day-to-day without much to tell in this tiny town, I thought I’d reminisce a bit on my time in London.
Things started out less than ideally. For the first time I had sent out a request on Couchsurfing to people in the area saying that I was just looking for a place to rent and needed somewhere to stay for a few days, and that I’d be able to feed and clean up after myself and try not to be in the way too much. I had one guy message me with an offer to stay on his couch. I thought about it while waiting for other messages, but when none came I accepted the offer after quickly checking his (mostly positive) reviews. It turned out we could not have been a worse match. Having travelled around London by myself for almost two weeks in other trips, I already knew how to use the tube, had seen plenty of sights, knew there was a wide variety of relatively cheap ready-to-go meals at multiple grocery stores, and was really only planning on viewing rooms all day so I could get settled in and start applying for jobs as soon as possible. My Couchsurfing host was super rich, living in an apartment hotel, and keen to do all the touristy things in London while also going out to eat for every meal. After a couple of days of me tagging along to things he wanted to do and only finally getting a phone number (key to booking room viewings) an hour before the stores closed on the second day, an awkward situation (which was probably a blessing in disguise) arose that gave me an excuse to pack up everything and leave. At 6 in the morning on my third day in London I found myself on the tube to London Bridge where I knew there was a hostel from a company I’d stayed with before, St. Christopher’s Inns. That was where I spent most of the next two weeks, booking one or two nights at a time, hoping every day that the next room I would see would be the one that made me say I’d take it immediately. But of course, that never happened.
On my first day alone I walked everywhere, through streets I knew and along sights I was familiar with. I just wanted to be reminded how lovely the city was. I walked along the South Bank, crossed to St. Paul’s, walked up (down?) the Strand to Trafalgar Square, along the Mall to Buckingham Palace, through Green Park and Hyde Park and past Kensington Gardens. I spent an hour looking at dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. At night I went to see the Tower Poppies for the second time. London is beautiful.