I made it safely to London, after what was probably a 30-hour journey (I'm too scared to count). Both my flights were 100% full - and I'm quite surprised to say I actually got about 7 hours sleep en route to London, which wasn't too bad really.
Singapore's Changi airport was lovely and I had a delicious pad thai and a couple of beers while waiting for my connecting flight. I also enjoyed a complimentary foot & calf massage in one of those automatic machine thingies that I love. Of course there was a massage parlour (for want of a better expression) and I could have paid a human being to massage me, but given my strict 'no touch' policy, the chair was always the only choice!
When I finally arrived at Heathrow, the immigration & customs experiences were fairly uneventful. I breezed through actually - and I was really pleasant to everyone, which is a miracle given that I hadn't had any coffee whatsoever since Australia!
The tube from Heathrow to Bayswater was a bit of an adventure, simply because rather than reading the instructions on the tube ticket machine, I just started pushing buttons. What zone are you in? What zone are you going to? ARGH - menace. Anyway, I bought a ticket for zones I had no interest in going to, consequently overpaid for the ticket and then took a rather creative route to the tube station I actually needed. I was never actually lost per se, rather I was just over-complicating things and so ultimately the journey took longer than it had to. All good.
I had done some Googlemapping (from the verb to googlemap) before I got to London so I knew where my Bayswater hotel was, and in retrospect I was really grateful for that. I exited the Bayswater tube stop, turned left, walked a couple of blocks, turned right and VOILA. Hotel found. Also working in my favour at that point was the fact that hotel reception had a room available for me then and there, so I didn't even need to come back at the usual check-in time. I headed straight upstairs, took a lukewarm shower (hot is not an option at my hotel), and I got changed and headed straight back outside again. I did not even sit down on the bed, because I knew that if I did, I'd never get back up again.
Bayswater is a lovely neighbourhood - my hairdresser back at home used to live in London and he lived in this area for about 3 years and obviously loved it. Now that I'm here I can see why. There are plenty of coffee options, the houses/flats are gorgeous; the area is literally in the centre of things; and the shopping/food/entertainment precincts seem really great too. I just wish I could afford to live here...maybe I should look into that a little more closely now that I'm here....
I did a bit of shopping in Bayswater too, picking up some bathroom/toiletry essentials at the chemist and then I headed back to the tube station to rehearse my commute to work. That journey actually went very smoothly and I found my office in no time flat.
After this bit of reconnaissance, I walked down (or up?) The Strand and into Trafalgar Square. I paused for a cup of tea at the Square cafe, and watched the tourists and school kids take photos of each other and goof off around the fountains and Nelson's Column. It was a gorgeous day with some lovely sun, so I was quite spoiled rotten.
I wanted to call my family to let them know that I was doing so well (geographically I mean) and I stepped into a phone booth - and almost stepped ON some poo. Human poo. Or else it was from some giant animal like a rhino or something, but then how would a rhino open a phone booth door? Or more importantly, what would a rhino be doing in Central London (and who would he be calling?!). Anyway the point of the story is, somebody did a poo in a public phone booth? Gross. I gagged. But of course this is all part of the experience. And if poop in a phone booth is the worst thing that happens to me, I'll be okay.
Today was Day 1 at the office and I have to tell you, I was really nervous. Or maybe I was just excited. Who knows. In any case, I was in bed at 7pm last night, and wide awake at 5am today, so I stayed in bed watching TV for a couple of hours before getting up at 7am to face my day.
Again, the tube commute into work went well and only took 20 minutes, which was really great as far as I was concerned. The walk uphill to my office just about killed me - and made me immediately regret the fact that I wore heels today. This regret was further reinforced throughout the day as I realised that my office building - while beautiful - is one spiral staircase after another, and all my travelling up & down them played havoc with my poor feet. At this moment I'm trying to ignore the weeping blister on my 2nd toe. So tomorrow it's definitely ballet flats all the way, baby.
I won't bore you with the details of my work, suffice to say that my colleagues seem lovely and I met so many new people whose names all ran in together. I am sure things will settle down once I start working on projects and collaborate properly with people in real time.
At the moment however, the focus is on finding somewhere to live. I check out of my hotel tomorrow and relocate temporarily to a friend's couch. She has lived in London for about 5 years and she's offered to help me look for places to live, which is such a blessing. Hopefully the apartment hunt won't be as arduous as I fear, and things will settle down (literally) soon. I just want to unpack these stinking suitcases...how nice THAT will be!
More news to follow...