“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford” – Samuel Johnson
Despite the exhausting travel day, we drop Mom back at the room and get our second wind and we’re back in the Tube. Thank goodness I was told about the Oyster Card, which is a pre-loadable card for the underground… with a lower rate per trip. We exit the Covent Garden stop and are dumped into a very crowded area. Similar to every other Tube stop, Londoners scatter around the road with no clear pattern of direction. This causes one to be constantly dodging people as they seem to aim right for you as though you’re invisible. Hmmm… this is what I hear about New Yorkers too. Geesh, sure your city is crowded, but c’mon, pick a side of the pathway to walk on.
Safely dodging the speeding bullets people, we attempt to make our way to the bar Kenia’s friend, Amit, told us about. It doesn’t take long for us to learn that he has given us the worst directions ever. They consisted of something like, “Exit the Tube and go straight until you see the bar with the blue lighting.”The first flaw is that when you exit the Tube, you must turn either left or right. “Straight” will faceplant you into a wall after about 15 steps.
Luckily, earlier in the day I had purchased a phone for my travels, so he could call me on a local number. I quickly learned something new… when he would call me, I was rushing him off the phone to preserve my handful of minutes. When we finally met him (after he just told us to stop and came to find us) he told me that in England (and probably many other countries) you are only charged for calls you make. If someone texts or calls you, it has no effect on your minutes. I quickly feel hosed in America! We get charged both ways. I picture the phone companies sitting together saying, if you charge both ways, we will too…. ultimately it’s a win-win for all of us. Amit is equally appalled at the silliness of the American mobile system. The point: I was rushing him off the phone for nothing.
Finally ready to begin our night, we grab a few drinks at the “hidden” bar and make our way to an Italian restaurant for dinner. Out the window is a long row of the red London telephone booths. I resist taking a picture. 🙂 After dinner, we meet two new friends, one nicknamed Smiley. We never learned Smiley’s real name, but I’ve never heard a better nickname. This guy is indeed a very smiley, cheerful guy! Amit proceeds to take us on an impromptu tour of Covent Garden, when we were all just following him on what we thought was a walk to another bar. The Covent Garden Square is deserted at this time of night, but I imagine how alive it must be in the daytime.
After wandering a bit, we settle at The Porterhouse, a 4-story Irish pub that is packed with loads of tall men. This is when I make the observation that Brits are generally taller than American men. It seems every man in the bar, is considered “tall” whereas here in the States, tall isn’t an obvious trait any more. I think men are getting shorter on average. Accents and height… chalk up another couple of points for my future husband. 😉 A few drinks, stories, and laughs later we move on to Leicester and are dropped at the worst club in history. We pay to get in, are served horrible drinks, while listening to horrible music in a practically deserted warehouse. About 10 minutes later, we’re out. This time we make our way closer to the hostel and randomly jump in a queue at a spot in Camdentown. We stand outside for ages, watching people exit with bare legs or arms. Don’t these girls know it is freezing out! Didn’t anyone tell them! One crazy girl comes out in a mini-dress with no shoes! I’m stunned. Completely stunned. She must be immune to hypothermia.
Once we finally get in, I can understand the line, there is a live band and people packed to the walls. We find a tiny bubble of breathing room and enjoy the rest of the night. Like any night out, we wrap it up with food… this time at a falafel stand across the street. Good times in London – Night 1.