sunday, september 9: i arrived. 9am london time, 4am new york time. my dear husband sent me to england with £200 so i could hit the ground running. my first goal was to secure a sim card for my unlocked phone so after moving through customs i found a vodaphone machine. unfortunately the sim card i purchased did not work (or i was doing something completely wrong). i fiddled with it for awhile before calling my husband via a payphone. good thing i came into a few £1 coins from the sim card machine. though it was an expensive call i was able to talk to my husband (after waking him up of course). next step was figure out how to get to london from heathrow. option 1: subway/tube with a transfer somewhere–not expensive, 45-minute ride. or option 2: heathrow express train to paddington station–more costly, 15-minute ride. i decided i had wasted enough time at the airport and needed to make the most my time in london before taking a train to manchester to meet with my tour group. it was simple to get a ticket from the machine. thank goodness for fellow american travelers. we helped each other maneuver which way to go. at paddington station i switched to the tube to euston square. there i went to euston station to purchase my train ticket for manchester for later in the afternoon. to get there i had to cross/maneuver a few streets. fellow traveler please note that you must be careful crossing streets. streets were marked on the ground with “look left” or “look right” to remind tourists like myself that they drive on the other side of the road. it took my brain awhile to process this important difference. thank goodness at euston station there was a place to leave luggage while i walked around. i was growing quite tired of traveling with my luggage and bonnet box.
onward to the british museum. i was tired. was i really in london or was this a dream? i was half-awake at this point. this is what i saw, or so i took pictures of:
after the british museum and realizing there were no bus tours near me due to the paralympics marathon, i continued to my other quest: liberty of london on marlborough street. i was still phone-less with no access to money and half awake. push forward!
liberty of london was quite fancy. i made my way to the fourth floor to discover the crafty area and search the remnant fabric section. in the end i purchased a handkerchief/scarf for myself. i would have purchased more, but i only had a bit of cash to spare. what a bummer. they had their christmas display on the fifth floor that just opened. english christmas! very cute.
on my walk back to euston station i stopped into mark & spencer for a sandwich and drink to take on my train ride. i also stopped to purchase an inexpensive vodaphone from a lovely young lady named nicole at a vodaphone store on oxford street. it was £25 for a simple phone and £10 credit for calls. i called my family on my walk back to euston station. it cheered me up to hear their happy voices.
back at euston station with my luggage i stood where people watched the schedule board where the train platform numbers are displayed. the moment the 16:00 manchester train came up on the board, people rushed to platform 15. i was swept up with crowd and started moving fast too with luggage in tow and my bonnet box dragging on the ground. past the first class cars, people started popping into the train cars. i followed a group of people and placed my luggage in the luggage section near the entrance/exit. i plopped down a few seats away and made sure my seat was not reserved. i thought to myself: don’t sleep yet. almost in manchester. i ate my sandwich (one of many during this trip) and watched outside the window. we passed towns like stoke-on-tent and stockton (there’s a hat museum there). it was nice to just sit and ride after a busy day walking in london. this is where i’d like to note that it is not a good idea to wear any sort of heels for travel. this made for an even more tiring day.
in retrospect i wish i had more time to explore london. i would have gone to the v&a (victoria and albert museum), spitafields (the flea market), bric lane (for indian food), and see all the usual london sites. this will have to suffice for now. i was on my way to manchester to start my tour adventure.