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  • Writer's pictureMaria Vandenburg

Week One - London Town

I used to start off my first travel blog with "Item's I have learned today"

After spending a week with Reyana (a good friend whom I met travelling NZ) - I have decided to bring this back. SO:

socket = electrical outlet. Also outlet's in bathrooms just don't EXIST over here. It's physically impossible to straighten your hair in front of a mirror in the bathroom. So far I've managed to do it over the kitchen counter and the sofa.

hanging = hungover

Kettle = well it's the same as back home, however if you manage to call it "the hot water thing" expect to get made fun of HEAVILY

Brolly = umbrella's. And they are used over here (unlike Seattle, where we pride ourselves in getting soaked in the rain if only to prove that we are actual Seattlelites, strange I know).

So it's been an eventful first week. Although I seem to be currently in the throws of jet lag, where I am exhausted by pretty much anything - a serious thought, brushing my teeth, etc.

I arrived Thursday afternoon (August 3rd), successfully managing to get all of luggage over without an excess baggage fee (a feat in and of itself). I can't sleep on planes, so I only get about an hour in. I arrive, step outside, and consider it way too much effort to figure out how to use uber (which would have been the more cost effective option). The guy at the taxi stand had me at "Let Patrick take care of you." Done! So 60-year-old Patrick hauls all of my luggage over and off I go. I try to engage in conversation, but really all I can think about at this point is sleep.

An hour(ish) or so later, I get to Reyana's. We say our hellos and then I crawl into bed.

Friday, I head over to meet the new flatmate. We are still working through all of the red tape (checking references, providing pay stubs, etc...), however things are looking good. She's great! I knew we would get along when we had a 30 minute chat via skype a few months ago (something that just doesn't happen for me, I don't really talk on the phone/skype - I am more of a face-to-face person). Anyway, she's fantastic. We talk about possibly getting a dog (not joking, although I don't think we actually will as neither one of us I think has the lifestyle/time for a dog), and decide that we want to be flatmates. Plus, the place is adorable and literally about a block away from Lambeth Palace and the Thames River. It also supposedly (I take this with a grain of salt as it came from the Property Manager) has some story related to the Queen's Mum. How cool would that be though if it was actually true?

I then did my whole "I can't believe I'm in London - therefore I need to walk everywhere just to prove it." I started off walking the Thames to get to Cleopatra's needle to take a picture for my mother (it was her favorite walk when she lived here years and years ago). Then it was over to the flat that I lived in the first four years of my life. Let me just say, I LOVE GOOGLE MAPS, seriously.

Then it's back to Reyanas for dinner at her local pub and bed... and also apparently English lessons :)

Saturday is HEN day. To back up, the whole reason I am over here so early (I start an MBA

program at the University of Westminster in the fall) is because Bekah (another really good friend whom I met from travelling around New Zealand) is getting married on the 12th of August. Her hen (Bachelorette) was on Saturday the 5th. So it's up and early to head to King's Cross at the Harry Potter Platform.

From there we went to a pub to play a series of games (all of them appropriate of course, and none of them involving carving out items that will remain nameless out of Play-doh). Then it was off to Drink, Shop and Do - to embroider some underwear. Where I may or may not have spent AGES sewing in an "M" with a star around it, only to remove it and find that i loaded it incorrectly and I now have an "E." Le sigh. But I have two middle names, Elizabeth and Khadija. So maybe I just wanted to make sure I was honoring the Elizabeth piece?? Who knows.

Then it was off to the Black Cat Caberet and finally Shoreditch for some dancing. I managed to make it out to Shoreditch, something that I hadn't committed to because I wasn't sure where my energy levels were going to be. I sang, I danced, I came home and went to bed.

Sunday was my birthday. How did I spend it? By doing absolutely nothing, and it was exactly as I wanted it. I eventually made it to a coffee shop to plug in and connect, but it was mainly a day of just relaxing and taking it easy.

Which brings us to this week. Reyana and Gary's (her husband) one year wedding anniversary was on Tuesday, so they flew to Italy on Sunday, allowing me free reign of their place (mwahaha... kidding). I have mainly spent the last few days exploring their neighbourhood, running errands and trying to get adjusted to the local time. I also managed to sleep through an appointment with my MBA director (a fact that I still feel bad about) and started working remotely for my advertising agency back at home.

And yesterday, I went and visited a friend from Seattle who is actually working on a Masters here in London as well. It was so great to see her. Granted her tour guide skills could definitely use a bit of improvement - i.e. "she thinks this might be important, but she doesn't know why." I still loved being able to spend time with her. She lives in Greenwich (as in Greenwich Mean Time). The area is so cool! I saw Cutty Sark,

The Old Royal Navy Building where Tudor Queen's Mary I and Elizabeth I were born (and they were currently filming something and yelling at us to get out of the shot), the Queens House (pictured in the middle below - not the current Queen however)

Final stops were a walk through Greenwich Park, The Royal Maritime Museum, and Melly's Place. The Old Royal Naval College was especially cool, it had crazy energy. It was insane to think about the history of the place that I was able to walk through.

I ended up purchasing a moon stone ring at Greenwich Market and then headed to Melly's flat - which was literally incredible. Top floor, 2 year old building which this amazing view of London. We even had a military helicopter fly by which I may or may not have waved at lol.

And that brings us more or less to the present time where I was exhausted at 9:00pm, fell asleep and have now re-awoken at 10:30pm. I'm really hoping I can work through this and get a normal sleeping cycle soon. It's OK at the moment because I don't have any 8-5 commitments yet, but I will shortly, and the last thing I want to be is zombie Maria.

Anyway, week one in London (despite my tiredness) has been incredible. I am so happy/appreciative of the opportunity to be here. To walk around and see things with new eyes. There are so many treasures here. It's such a fantastic place and I'm just really grateful (I know I said that twice but it's very true) to be a part of it all.


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