Touchdown at Heathrow was painless but as we walked into customs the tides changed. As we worked our way through a thousand person queue, we were met by some very aggressive customs agents. Now, I know they were just doing there jobs and protecting Mother England from people overstaying their keep… but wow. I didn’t expect the shake down. The questions went as far as how much money I had access too, who paid for the trip, and pulling up emails with official flight info about when we would be leaving. No stone was left unturned.
After they officially let me into the country, it was off to downtown London via the tube. The system can certainly feel intimidating at first, but after a bit its amazingness was shining through. We got off the tube in Green Park and sat in the grass as it fully set in that we were finally in London. A quick stroll led us right to Buckingham Palace. I really had no idea what I was in for. It was an amazing site. Little did we know that we arrived just in time to watch the changing of the guard with about 10,000 other tourists.
We then continued our walk closer to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. They were grander that I thought they would be but the hoards of people around made it a bit less pleasant. Also, walking around downtown London with our backpacks on was less than ideal.
We had yet to book a place to stay for the night so finding wifi was our next adventure. We landed at what I would call the Applebee’s of British food. Underwhelming and over-priced but got the job done. Now that a room was booked we trekked off to toss our bags down and take a quick nap. When we arrived we found that our room was very nice but had a strange feature. You actually went down a cave/dungeon like set of steps where the bathroom and kitchen were. A very strange setup but worked none-the-less.
After a rest, our bodies were ready for a some dinner and a little nightlife. We found the best English Pub food down in Soho and enjoyed a few classic dishes. The pig’s belly over mashed potatoes was awesome. We also asked for the dessert menu and proceeded to order one of everything. The plates were actually licked clean.
We finished up the night with a final ride on the tube and headed to bed. The jet-lag really set in… but more on that tomorrow.