By the time you read this I’ll have been in London for about six hours. I have no idea what my actual London experience will have been by this point. I don’t plan on updating this blog with actual London anecdotes until Tuesday at the earliest. But I can talk about all my prep!
The last time I was in London was with a school trip over Easter break. We flew out of
ReaganNational Airport on the day I turned 18; I bought a pack of cigarettes for an underage classmate in the airport lounge*. We flew to Ireland first, touring the Ring of Kerry, then passed through Wales on our way to London. I recall Westminster Abbey and the Changing of the Guard, though I know we saw more than that. We ate lunch at the original Hard Rock Cafe. We also saw a production of Miss Saigon on Drury Lane that, for whatever reason, cut the final song of the show. Up until Tuesday afternoon I was convinced that Miss Saigon ended with Kim shooting herself and Chris finding her body. He groans, curtain falls. I couldn’t tell what all the fuss was about.
The chaperones kept a really tight eye on us on that trip, so I didn’t get to do any (PERFECTLY LEGAL) drinking. I don’t even know why they let us explore Piccadilly Circus. All I remember seeing was a bunch of very entertaining pubs from the outside (where I could have LEGALLY IMBIBED alcohol), a billboard for the forgettable film Plunkett and Macleane, and the aftermath of a stabbing. A pair of feet poked out of a circle of cops; the ground was stained dark red.
Google tells me that the dollar buys 0.675 GBP as of Tuesday. To put it another way, 1 GBP equals about $1.50. It’s like I’ll be giving the UK a really generous tip.
When I went on that high school trip, I remember the hassle involved in securing American Express travelers cheques before hand, then converting them to GBP every few days. This was the safest way for a teenager to transport large sums of money in 1999. Well, perhaps not the safest: if I’d had a credit card then, as I do now, it wouldn’t be an issue. But giving a teenager a credit card opens up its own dangers.
I’m deliberately resisting my urge to over plan. I spent thirty minutes flipping between a GIF of the London Underground and a Google Map of London to make sure I had the most direct route from Heathrow to our hotel. Then I remembered that London’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Northern hemisphere. Its economy hinges on gently guiding tourists from point A to point B. And everyone there speaks a corrupted pidgin English anyway. I should be fine.
* I hope the statute of limitations on this sort of thing is shorter than 11 years.