Day 1: March 1st, 2015 – London, UK
Hello again! I’m back to blogging as we’ve just embarked on another adventure. Not that our lives haven’t been very interesting since our big road trip ended last January, but it’s been more interesting in terms of work life than travel life.
Leah and I have both been working as new grad nurses for the past year, her in Halifax, Nova Scotia as a pediatric nurse, and me in Creston, British Columbia as an ER/med/surg/home health nurse. As a rural nurse, you kind of get to do it all, whether you want to or not! It’s been a very fun and challenging year though and I know we’ve both learned a lot as nurses and as people. With all that new grad stress though, it is time for another adventure…. London, Turkey, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates!
We selected these countries because a) neither of us have been before b) they’d be warmed than Canada at this time of year! c) the amazing history, culture, and foods to be explored and d) when you want to visit every country in the world, you just have to pick a place and get on with it! Many friends had recommended these three places, so we are eager to see what all the fuss is about!
My trip started in London, a short stop-over to visit with friends, and my FIRST time into Europe! Flights are cheaper from here to Turkey, so this also played into the choice. I started out from Vancouver at 1830 on the last day of February in beautifully clear blue skies. A stunner of a sendoff to be sure! I’ve always wanted to say “I’m catching the red eye to London” as I reckon it sounds rather glamourous, and this was my chance. In fact, it was a rather nice flight – while I can’t ever give kudos to the comfort of economy class seats, I CAN give a huge shout-out to the in-flight service and entertainment system of Air Canada. It was really top-notch. Plus, the option of wine included with dinner? Heck yes! They even got my vegetarian meal correctly, and let me tell you, the bonust to ordering a “special meal” is that you always get fed first!
Sidenote – I was reminded again of just how small our world is now. Sitting just kitty corner in front of me was Darren and his girlfriend Ann. Darren and I were RA’s together at UNBC during my first degree, and I haven’t seen him in years. What a neat little reminisce that was.
Anyways, after a seemingly quick 8h 45m flight, we arrived to beautiful sunny skies at Heathrow. I’m told this doesn’t often happen. Our plane was held up at the gate briefly, which has never happened to me before, for a “medical issue” with one of the other passengers. They hadn’t called for a doctor or a nurse during the flight however, so as far as this nurse is concerned, they couldn’t have been that direly ill! I’m sure most people would think me rather grim for saying that though. 😉 The border line was quick, and I got a giggle after passing by the ebola warning sign when the guy behind me began to cough.
I began my London experience on the tube, where I was treated to the usually parade of interesting folks. My favourite was the old man who swanned into the train car singing, ‘I did it myyyyy wayyyyy’, with his bike, and then proceeded through monologue of songs and lamentations over how he had the dropsies that day. Ah big city, how I’ve missed you!
I was greeted by the lovely Shamsa at my destination. We taught in Korea in the same town, and became good friends there and have stayed in touch over the years. It’s one of those friendships that you can just pick up where you left off kind of thing. She has a beautiful flat with a great view of the O2 across the Thames so I feel most lucky.
We set off to explore in the sun, grabbing a coffee, where the Starbucks barista was most impressed with my gold card, and then encountering my first UK telephone booth. I was going to get a picture in it, but we soon realized someone may have been living in it! Shamsa had never been on the London Eye, so we decided to give that a go. It really is a great view of London, especially on a relatively sunny day. It’s really amazing how sturdy it is as it was quite a windy day and we could hear the wind whistling at the top. Crazy! We experimented with the selfie stick, where I realized that I need to really read instructions prior to use (see first selfie stick photos for reference).
From there, we walked across the Thames on the Hungerford Bridge to Trafalgar Square where we saw a crazy person performing a trick that consisted of lying on a bunch of nails then laying a sheet with nails in it on his chest, then having a full grown man stand on that sheet for 10 seconds. Clearly either one of those that doesn’t feel pain or high as a kite. From there we continued our wee walking tour, with a visit to Leicester Square. All of London has such a historical feel to it, it’s wonderful to walk through. Once through Leicester, we meandered through to Chinatown where we ended up having dimsum supper at Plum Valley. Can’t say dimsum is my favourite, but it was pretty decent.
For dessert I reunited with my fave – egg tarts from one of the bakeries. NOMNOM! Lastly, a special treat to end a long day with warm Taro milk bubble tea from Yao Yao Cha near Covent Gardens. Truly an excellent start!