One Day in London!

August 4, 2015

Getting off the airplane, going through customs, finding my luggage seemed like I was in a dream or maybe it was the jet lag kicking in or that fact I was really sleepy but it finally hit me that I'm OFFICIALLY in Europe... by myself.. OHMYGOD!


For a NYC girl traveling anywhere by herself for the first time I was pretty much lost, confused, scared, and anxious on a whole other level. So many things were going through my mind that I basically had to sit down and calm myself down. The first thing I did was text my worried parents that I arrived safely to Heathrow airport and now contemplating how to get to the hotel. I didn't want to exchange money because I was only there for a day and had a travel credit card ready to use. But the first thing that came to mind was do the taxi cabs here have a credit card slot? As a New Yorker, I'm use to just swiping away with my credit card especially for cabs and now that I'm in a foreign country I didn't know how things worked around here. 

For maybe around 20 minutes of contemplating should I get a taxi, get an uber, or attempt to take the tube (train), I finally decided just to get a car service. My dad of course watched the movie Taken precisely right before my trip and just wasn't thrilled by the idea of his only daughter taking a cab in foreign country by herself (lol). My mother didn't want me to get lost on the tube on my first day so they suggested to get a car service from the airport. To put my parents at ease I paid for a car service which was 70 pounds (aka $115 USD) which later looking backing I would've took the tube which was 5 pounds (you live and you learn lol).

My driver came and collected my luggage and brought me to the car. The weather felt like fall weather in New York, windy and around 65 degrees. I tried to keep my eyes open for the 40 minute drive from the airport to the hotel but I was just too exhausted. I finally arrived to the hotel and was told I could not check in till 1 pm. I was told I could hang out at the Contiki basement which was around the corner, down a flight stairs. I found it and dragged my heavy suitcase down the flight of stairs to be greeted with contiki workers at the front desk. There was free wifi and people just hanging out and talking to each other. I sat down and used the wifi to talk to my family and friends back home till I waited to check in. More people started to arrive and having conversations with each other. I overheard many conversations to realize we were all in different trips. I couldn't find anyone who was on specific trip so I chatted with a few girls till a lady with a notepad was calling our name for check in.

My room was ready and I was so excited to see what it looked like. It was a nice sized room, with a nice view, and double beds. My room mate wasn't there yet so I just started to unpack and relax. I wanted to do a little sight seeing before the contiki meeting which started at 7pm.

*TIP* If you want to explore London, you should come a few days earlier before the trip starts. We don't do any sightseeing with the group at all and the next day we leave at the crack of dawn for Paris.

I went to sight see a little by myself, walked by Hyde Park, saw Big Ben, and the London Eye from a distance. I went back to the hotel to find my roommate already there. To our surprise, she was also a New Yorker! We clicked very quickly and asked if I wanted to hang out with her and some girls she met earlier. We went to their rooms and I met a whole bunch of Australians. They were a group 7 and wanted to go to an ice bar. another group of girls wanted to join us so we were a big group of 13. So we all decided to walk there thinking it was a 5 minute walk but it was much further but it was nice walking around and seeing all the stores and cafes. We finally get to the ice bar but it was a 5 hour wait since we were a big group. We couldn't really wait there since we were cutting it close for the contiki meeting so we went to a nearby bar. We had some drinks and danced before catching a cab back to the hotel. Our driver was so funny and chatty, we had amazing conversation and couldn't stop laughing.

My roommate and I changed very quickly before going to the contiki meeting where more than 300 people were waiting. I felt like we were in camp/. There were different tables for the different trips. I realized London was the meeting point for most European trips. We were told the rules and introduced to our tour managers and drivers. We checked in to our designated trips and they gave us a colored stickers. The colored sticker represented who was on your tour. This was meant for us to get to know each other before the trip actually started. It was chill environment at the hotel's outdoor bar with music and cheap drink.s I was sad to realize my New Yorker friend and the Australians I met earlier weren't on my trip. One girl approached me and we started talking and we got to know each other over eating some fish and chips. We then found the rest of our tour sitting at a long table and we all introduced ourselves. After 2 hours most people dispersed or started hanging out with other people from different tours. I found my roommate and we went for a walk around the hotel to buy some snacks. We called it an early night since we had to wake up  and ready by 7am.

(The few of us walking to Ice Bar)

The next day walking up was torture but everyone was ready to depart and start this European adventure. We all had to get our luggage weighed before getting on the bus. When Contiki tells you there is a luggage weight limit. THEY WEREN'T KIDDING. I obviously over packed like what girl wouldn't for a month long trip? They only allow you to bring one luggage and small backpack. Clearly I didn't think they would actually enforce this rule. They wouldn't let me get in the bus unless it was 20 kilos. The girl I met yesterday let me stuff some of my clothes into her suitcase for them to put a sticker on my suitcase and let me on the bus. So please be aware of this before over packing like
I did. We finally get on the bus and the tour manager introduces himself and the bus driver and gave us an overview of what to expect on the trip and so on. It was way too early to hear and absorb all this information. He would also talk about any historic information of any monuments or buildings when we passed by them. I fell asleep after awhile so I don't remember how long the bus ride from London to Paris was. But I'm awakened by tour manager telling us were near the hotel.

(My London room mate and fellow New Yorker)

Stay tuned for my Paris posts!
If you want to read my FULL review about my Contiki experience (click here)

Comment below,
What's is your favorite thing to do in London?

Until the next post!
-WanderlustBeautyDreams ♡ 

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