My first week in London proved to be a lot easier than I thought it would. Being a bit of a lone soldier by default, the idea of travelling solo didn’t bother me that much. Still, I was interested to see just how long I’d be able to cope on my own. This became instantly irrelevant as I met new people at the hostel every day, and spent most of my time wandering around London with them – exploring the sights and chilling out all night. Since then a lot of people have commented on how difficult it must be to travel alone, and I completely disagree. Everyone’s in the same boat; the majority of people in hostels are very open and happy to chat and hang out with new people. Travelling solo pushes you out there to talk to people and make new friends (or in my case, solve rubiks cubes until people come and talk to you). And they do. Sometimes you make friends just for the day, sometimes you make life-long friendships. But it’s a very rare case if you don’t meet people while travelling.
I must admit, I had a really weird feeling about London. The more I wandered around, the more it felt like a second home. I became comfortable with the tube and was flying across the city in no time. While looking for food, I noticed that pre-packaged sandwiches/meals were covering the shelves of Tescos/Sainsburys/etc. You wouldn’t dare eat a pre-packaged sandwich from a 7/11 back home, but here it seemed to be the norm – and cheap for £3 in the meal deal. Then I got addicted to them. Every way I turned, I saw amazing fashion. Everyone looked good.
I started noticing differences in culture, shopping, and the like. People say you should embrace cultures – and I do – but it’s still interesting to note how things change. The notes are paper, and massive. A £20 note doesn’t even fit in my wallet. You can’t order a small meal at McDonalds, and you can’t order a double quarter pounder. Damn. KFC is rubbish (especially the chips), and you can get better tasting chicken from one of your 30 local bargain chicken chain stores (£2.50 for a burger, chips, and drink). As a bonus it probably causes cancer too. Hungry Jacks is pretty much the same, but it’s not Hungry Jacks – it’s Burger King. Pizza Hut still have sit-down restaurants, and their pizzas actually taste good. Drinks are cheap – £4 ($6) for a pint would be expensive. Cheap clothes are everywhere; Primark and H&M sell clothes at big-w prices that actually look good. You can ride bikes without helmets, so the bike hire scheme actually works. Parks are everywhere. Around every corner you’ll find a public park, and they’re fucking amazing. They make you forget you’re in a big & otherwise cold feeling city. The UK does parks really well.
So I spent a lot of time riding bikes, chilling out in parks, and buying clothes & shoes that I soon realised I couldn’t carry. I’ve shipped so much stuff home it’s ridiculous.
I guess people who’ve travelled a lot get used to things like this, but London smelled different. Every day I woke up and it got me excited. I felt more alive. It pushed me out the door to get exploring. And luckily I landed in the hottest week of Summer – a few days of 30 degree weather felt amazing coming out of Melbourne’s winter. I laughed as I got sunburnt.
Time absolutely flew by, and before I knew it I already had to extend my stay at Monkeys for another week. I continued exploring as the weather gradually got worse, and I learnt that a week of high twenties is record-breaking weather. Overcast & average weather ensued as I decided it was time to move on. Next stop: Bath.