Sunday, October 03, 2010

Touching Down in London

Well, I guess this is the start of my new life; I am in London. I had a surprisingly easy time getting through customs. I guess I arrived late enough to miss the really long lines. Once the border agent saw my visa and verified my fingerprints to the ones I had done earlier in his computer he waved me through. I did get a chuckle though that there are enough U.S. tourists that think they should get their own line like the European line that they had to make a sign.

While walking to collect my luggage there was a SIM card vending machine. I was quite relieved since I knew I would have to call the housing office to get my key and my phone still was not showing any signal. It cost £10 for a SIM with credit already on it. I used my credit card since I had not changed any money yet. While waiting for my luggage I asked the woman at the American Express booth for a paper clip which she asked, "For your phone?" Apparently she gives out a lot of paper clips.
All the luggage came up the belt soaking wet, I guess it was pouring outside. I locked all my bags together and started to head out when the bag handle holding my bike ripped totally off. I just wanted to get on the tube and I didn't feel like dealing with it right now so I just dragged my bike with one arm and the other 3 suitcases with the other.
I thought I should get off on the right foot so I bought an oyster card, I was so out of it that the cashier laughed that I had such a long flight I couldn't remember which stop I was getting off at. Heathrow Airport was the end of the line so I didn't have trouble getting got all my suitcases onto the train car but realized it wouldn't be the same case at my stop. While riding I asked other riders which side of the car was going to open for my stop and they helped get my stuff onto the platform when the stop did arrive.
I had planned to unfold the bike so I could walk it along, instead since it was pouring rain and the bag the bike was in was the only waterproof thing I just laid it on top of the other three suitcases that were locked together and walked down the platform. There was a taxi station at the stop but when I talked to the dispatch he said no taxis were within an hour radius. Instead I walked the half mile dragging my train of luggage behind me. I knew my way to the housing because at some point while bored I had walked through the trip using "Google Street-View". It was weird having a very déjà vu moment for a place I had never been to before.
By the time I arrived I was so soaking wet I couldn't make a phone call because my iPhone kept registering the water droplets as fingers. Luckily I had brought along a cheap backup phone so I was able to call and get the keys to my new home for the next year. It was furnished but there was no bedding and blankets were one of the things I had to eliminate because of the space contraints on my luggage. So I laid out a bunch of T-shirts on the bed, rolled up one of my dry jackets as a pillow got all the wet stuff out of my suitcases and laid them out to dry. For all the things that could have gone wrong I think I lucked out with only a wet walk home. None of my luggage was lost of damaged, I didn't get lost, or exit at the wrong tube station, breezed right through customs, and there was someone there to give me a key when I arrived. I passed out as soon as I laid down.

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