An American in London

Current Location: London, United Kingdom

Flying into London I made a cardinal error, one that I was well aware of before entering the country.  This goes for entering any country really, but when it asks for an address where you’ll be staying always fill it out.  I left it blank this time for whatever reason, mostly because I was tired after the 13hr flight on which I didn’t get much sleep and probably more than a little lazy and cocky that I hadn’t been denied entry anywhere else before.  On getting to the border agent his first question is if I had an address where I’d be staying to which I said I was planning on getting a hostel somewhere in London, strike one.  He next asked if I had a job to which I replied I hadn’t had one for 2 years, strike 2.  He then asked if I knew anyone in London and I said I did and he asked where this person lived to which I didn’t exactly know, strike 3.  I gave him my story about  cycling my way to Italy and around Europe but he wasn’t very keen on hearing this story, he looked at me grimly and told me they would be watching me as he stamped my passport for 6 months.  I was genuinely grateful to him for letting me in the country after all the wrong answers and more than a little stressed out just entering the country.   Add to this the fact that the temperature is hovering around 8degrees and the tube was closed where I was trying to get to it was easy to feel a little discouraged.

After a few hours I made it to the hostel and dropped off my big bag and decided to wander around the city since I didn’t want to take a nap in order to kick start my body clock.  I ended up wandering upon Buckingham Palace and getting there in time for the changing of the guard (this meant waiting in the freezing cold for 2 hours in order to see it, but I toughed it out.)  After wandering around the rest of the city for the day I passed out on my bed around 7pm and woke up early the next morning at 6.

Meeting Alastair (for those that don’t remember he was the bloke I cycled with for a majority of the Pacific Coast) for dinner the following day turned out to be more exciting than either of us could have imagined.  He decided to welcome me to London in true fashion by taking me to a bar/restaurant called Rules, it being the oldest restaurant in London.  We had a couple of Gin and Tonics, the most British drink I can think of, and while reminiscing about the pacific coast Alastair starts staring at people over my shoulder.  I glance over and don’t recognize anyone and continue chatting on.  This goes on for a while until Alastair stops me and asks me if I know who Ben Elton is to which I respond that I had seen the name in association with music somehow.  He tells me I’m correct and that he’s responsible for We Will Rock You, a theater production tied to Queen.  This is then followed by another guy entering the bar and Alastair breaks into a laughing fit after which he asks me if I’m familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber.  We then both break into a minor fit of hysterics.  So for the record, I’ve had drinks with Andrew Lloyd Webber… if you define having drinks loosely as being in the same room as the guy.  Alastair pointed out to me the following day why the two were meeting for drinks, it turns out theres a sequel to Phantom of the Opera called Love Never Dies that was just opened.

I’ve bought another second hand bicycle and am waiting for my panniers to arrive to set off for France.  Alastair and Sarah were nice enough to put me up for a few days.  I’m pretty stoked about the bike, it’s got every bell and whistle I could wish for and should hopefully be fairly bomb-proof.