London 2011!

June 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm 7 comments

Perhaps it’s not as fun of a catchphrase as London 2012 (especially for an Olympiholic like me), but I’m happy to be here for my own London 2011. I arrived bright and early this morning, and I’ll be spending 12 days here as the second half of my “Writing the City” course. For the first half of the course, 5 students from London Metropolitan University joined my class at Roosevelt University in Chicago; now, we’re returning the favour.

I don’t have much to report yet, at least not without sounding cranky because of the jet lag, but I’ve been mostly successful in staying awake for the majority of the last 48 hours. It’s 8.30pm here (or 20.30, if we’re doing the Europe thing), and I’m almost ready to crash.

Our group flew Virgin Atlantic out of O’Hare’s International Terminal today, which was an odd experience. It’s been a while since I’ve flown out of Terminal 5, but I swear, they used to have food inside! Now, they do not, other than a couple of sparse snack stands. So I got on the plane hungry, but dinner came around quickly and it was good by airplane standards. I was also impressed with Virgin’s in-flight entertainment. They had a huge selection of movies, TV, music, and even games. I watched The King’s Speech, which Jules has been on me to see since it came out. It was worth the wait! Sleeping didn’t happen so much, due to a in front of me, along with the most uncomfortable seats I think I’ve ever experienced on a plane. Certainly on an international flight, their seats were the worst. But I didn’t expect to get much sleep on the plane anyway, so it wasn’t devastating.

It took a looooong time to get our Travel Cards sorted out, and then it’s quite a ride into central London, so we arrived at our B&B a little after noon. The rooms weren’t ready yet, but we were allowed to drop off our bags and we headed back to the train station for lunch and drinks. I was elated to see a London 2012 store in the station, but the stuff really isn’t too attractive. I’ll probably get a mug, though, and some pins, of course. The London 2012 shop is directly above a Krispy Kreme…yeah, I don’t understand that one either. I picked up a smoothie at M&S, then went upstairs to a pub for a cider with the group. Thumbs up for Strongbow cider. I also got my first European macaron! (Not in the pub, but in a bakery next to it.) It was pistachio and at least 3x the size of a regular macaron and so much fluffier, too. Best part of the trip so far!

We headed back to our hotel for settling into our rooms and napping, but I didn’t want to nap too long. I discovered that my converter didn’t work, so I researched online and discovered that the pharmacy supposedly carried converters. Well, they carry plug converters for folks whose electronics already operate at 220v, but not voltage adapters for those across the pond. So instead of heading right back, I went on this giant adventure downtown that including walking the length of 5 tube stops, all in the rain, and stopping in 8 different stores before I finally found one. Thanks to the cute guy at some phone place for suggesting Curry’s PC World and thanks to Curry’s for stocking converters for tourists from Americas.

After a salmon sammie at Pret à Manger and one of their yummy cappuccinos, I was done with the rain and the slow-moving people who kept hitting me in the head with their umbrellas. Why do people walk so slowly when it rains? Don’t they want to spend less time getting pelted with cold water droplets?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to tomorrow as the first “real” day in the city. I can’t decide what I want to do first, but I’m hoping for better weather so I can take photos, whatever it is that I do!


Entry filed under: England, Europe, London, United Kingdom.

New England 2010 Monsooned in London

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erica  |  June 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    What were you trying to plug in electronics-wise? I’m a bit geeky when it comes to the ins and outs of converting!

    • 2. Mel  |  June 18, 2011 at 1:56 am

      Camera battery charger! Kind of essential. 😉 Doesn’t say it has a 100-240 voltage range.

      • 3. Erica  |  June 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm

        That’s so odd that it wouldn’t have a built in converter! Most of them do! And yes, definitely very very very essential!!!

  • 4. Julie Christine Huff  |  June 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I can’t even imagine how elated you must have been to walk 5 tube stops in the rain.*

    Hope things clear up tomorrow! Have fun!

    • 5. Mel  |  June 18, 2011 at 1:56 am

      You know it! I also got to walk through a flooded intersection when I got back to the hotel, but I just kept telling myself, “it’s not as bad as Boston!”

  • 6. Michelle W  |  June 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    First trip to Helsinki for Worlds and I brought a plug adapter that turned my two flat prongs into two round ones. Go to freshen up in the hotel. Plug in curling iron with plug adapter. Couple minutes later, I have a Dali painting in my sink that resembles a melted curling iron. Oh wait! It IS my curling iron. Or was. Wound up buying a European one (combo brush and iron and is awesome).

    Not sure why, but it took me a couple years to figure out that I needed a voltage converter PLUS the plug adapter. Laptop does the auto convert thing and I had my spiffy new curling iron. Plus my hair dryer has a switch that flips it over to 240.

    Hope my stupidity is mildly comforting.

    • 7. Mel  |  June 18, 2011 at 1:59 am

      I only know about the voltage thing because I witnessed a similar occurrence with my roommate on my last trip, don’t worry!


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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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