If I’ve had a concern about this trip, it was the anticipation that I would feel like a Neanderthal walking into a village of Homo Sapiens for the first time.
I’ve traveled a bit within the U.S. and don’t always feel comfortable in parts of my own country. I once worked for a company that was headquartered in Oregon and on each visit, a “y’all” would slip and I’d immediately be surrounded by a small group of folks asking me to “say something else.” Just give me an organ grinder why don’t you.
How in the world would I handle a land where people drive on the opposite side of the road and don’t pronounce the letter “R”? The media tells me everyone hates Americans. What’s the best way to hold my luggage if I need use it for self-defense?
The answer is that Londoners really, really don’t care. Diversity is the rule here. With so many cultures and accents, everyone is doing his or her best to understand one other and get through the day. At no time have I been received with anything but a desire to help, no matter how obviously clueless I am. Even when I’m abusing the Wi-Fi at McDonald’s to write this blog!
And I have to say–addressing another misconception–I’ve been graced with a lot of beautiful, genuine smiles this trip.
After finally tracking down a ticket agent and getting my oyster card, it was off to the tube, Picadilly Line to Knightsbridge. The ride is about 45 minutes, with stovepipes and roofs flashing by. Emerging from the station at Knightsbridge is like walking into a Harry Potter movie. The energy really is magical for someone who rarely explores big cities. Adding to this is the fact that Herrod’s is right next to the station gate and boy is it massive. Tons of people from every nationality. Wherever I look, EVERYTHING is impressive and obviously very old.
For some reason, the trip made me ravenous. Stepping out of Knightsbridge, what should I see, but a McDonald’s sign. A very sensible British license plate version of it, mind you, but a McDonald’s sign nonetheless. Yes, my first meal in London is at McDonald’s (they have free WiFi, even). What an American I am!
Now that my cholesterol about four points higher, I’m about to take the advice of Norman Weiss (hmm, N.W. should start a conservation blog with that title). There’s a Carphone store across the street, so my plan is to buy the cheapest phone they have and get it “topped up” with however many minutes 15 pounds gets you. I need to call ElizaBeth to tell her I made it, and Nadina to find out where they heck her flat is.