Thursday, August 17, 2006

London, Baby!

It's been a little over two days since we landed at Gatwick Airport and both Jeremy and I are still exhausted and trying to get our bearings. London is a very interesting city with lots to do and see - but everybody was right when they said it's expensive. Since I won't be getting a paycheck until mid-September we're trying to keep things as cheap as possible, which defnitely isn't easy. But we're managing - and it's definitely an adventure.

The flight here was uneventful, in fact we got through checking our bags and the security in 35 minutes at Pearson Airport. Fortunately people are not as stringent with security in Canadian airports and I was allowed to bring both my laptop and my cell phone onto the plane. After a 7 hour flight (way too long) we landed in London, grabbed our 5 suitcases and jumped on the train into the city. The only unfortunate part of the whole journey was trying to get our luggage on and off the trains. Luckily the British are incredibly helpful, friendly people - we actually had two different strangers help us move our luggage around. Try to imagine that happening in Toronto or New York.

So far we've survived on and off rain every day, a ride across the city in the Underground (much nicer than Toronto's subway system), getting mobile phone numbers set up, and a general feeling of unease that I expect will last until we get a place of our own and have regular paychecks coming in. I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being wildly homesick (so much so that part of me wanted to turn right around and get on the plane again - and i hate planes) and missing things I used to take for granted.

We've met some really nice people already and have been offered to visit a couple from Salisbury - right near Stonehenge. They seemed to love the idea of playing tour guide for us so I'm sure we'll wind up visiting there sometime soon. I can't imagine seeing something like Stonehenge in real life...

There are still a lot of obstacles to be faced: getting a flat, getting a bank account, Jeremy finding a job, learning our way around the city, finding foods in grocery stores that we already know taste good (had a bad experience with "real English mustard" - very spicy and wierd). The good news is that the company I'm employed with provides letters to help smooth over the bank and tenany stuff, which is often very difficult for foreigners to get straightened out. Apparently you need a tenancy history and British bank account in order to get a flat. Sounds easy? The catch is that you need an address in the UK in order to get a British bank account. This causes a lot of headaches for people just entering the country - hopefully my letters will help ease this process a little because we really need to find a place to live (currently our room is about 10 by 12 feet) so we can settle in a bit more.

All of these things aside, I feel a little more confident that things will be okay now. It'll probably get more exciting once we get explore the city more - been trying to sleep off the jet lag. So here's to the first weekend in London, England - I'll raise a glass to you all in the pubs!


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