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First Night in London

Just when we thought there would be no culture shock...

View Post-College Eurotrip on atbrady's travel map.

No sooner had Hunter mentioned his surprise at feeling a lack of culture shock that we headed off to dinner and had a few interesting incidents. First, we should have expected trouble when we planned to hit Porter's English Restaurant, Nag's Head Pub and the Red Lion in Covent Garden and halfway into our walk there we realized that we remembered the names of both pubs but could not remember the name of the restaurant we wanted to go to. We decided to wing it and had an interesting time zig-zaging the streets of Covent Garden which turned out to be chock-full of restaurants, pubs, shopping and theaters. It reminded me of what I expected Paris to look like, with a huge cobblestone square surrounded by patio restaurants and plenty of shopping. I was able to recall the name Porter's, but couldn't remember the street it was on, so we eventually settled on The Sussex that boasted traditional English Pub food, which was essentially what we were after.

We stood at the entrance for about 10 minutes waiting for a hostess before deciding to ask the bartender if we could still order food. Apparently the way that it works here is that you order your food at the bar and tell them your table number to bring it out to. Hunter paid the bill in advance at the bar and because of the unfamiliarity of the situation didn't tip. We left a small tip on the table when we left, but we were pretty sure that we contributed to European's distaste for Americans. Hunter felt compelled to get fish and chips, which had an interesting side that he determined to be mashed peas. I had blackened salmon which came with a mysterious brown sauce that was fantastic and made the dish. I was immediately struck by the size of the portions compared to our Americanized versions (the salmon was about half the size I was expecting). Afterward, we decided to go to a traditional pub mentioned in the guidebook, the Nag's head. We ordered a couple pints of "bitter" which I had heard was a common type of English beer. It was definitely bitter and took getting used to, but it was fun to try. We were surprised to see how many people were out on a Saturday night, many of them locals as this was not a touristy pub.

We then headed home and thought we were we could make it back without maps. We were clearly looking lost and pulled out our maps when a nice English guy came up to help us with his iPhone. He gave us a hard time for calling streets by their first names only "typical Americans" since our hostel is off Tavistock Place and apparently there is also a Tavistock Ave. and Tavistock Street all in completely different places in the city (go figure-I guess they ran out of ideas?). We stopped at the bar in our hostel which we ultimately decided we didn't have energy for. We went back to our room to grab our computers to plan the day tomorrow and had our first experience trying to go in our rooms without waking our roommates. Makes me glad I brought earplugs and kept the sleep mask from the plane (you can also kind of hear the bar/club downstairs). We'll be buying a ticket for the bus tours which are cool because they run continuously throughout the day and you can hop on and off at the various sights along the way. It seems like the quickest way to hit all the major stops (Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard, the tower of London and the crown jewels, Parliament, Big Ben, etc.) Hopefully this will give us freedom for our third and final full day in London to be doing less touristy things. Hunter is in the shower now, and now that I'm done with this, I'll be doing the same before heading to sleep. The mattresses are about an inch thick, but weren't too bad during my nap. Usually I can sleep on anything so we'll see. We'll be up at 8am to take advantage of our free continental breakfast before the tour tomorrow. Can't wait! Even after just a day, I can tell that this trip is going to be everything I dreamed of and more. We had so much fun today despite a relatively calm agenda and I can't wait for all that lies ahead!

Posted by atbrady 16:38 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites

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