Coffee…. Coffeeeee…. I need a coffee IV please! After staying up way too late I had to get up relatively early (in tour time)… meaning before 10am. I had booked a train to London and had to head to the train station in Lincoln (about 30 minutes away). Laura so kindly drove me to the station and Brad tagged along – she taught us this game she plays in the car with her kids where you have to spot Mini Coopers, VW bugs, and yellow cars. Different cars mean either a pinch, punch, tickle, pat on the head…or a combination (I STILL, after playing the game the rest of tour in the van, don’t have all the details sorted. At least it gave us something to do on the drives!)
Anywho… I got to the station and grabbed a quick smoothie drink and Glamour magazine before having to board my train. The journey would take about 3-4 hours with having to change trains one time. I checked in with Mark, the person I was staying with in London, to let him know I was on my way. I can only use my phone when I’m connected to wifi… so usually when I am out and about I don’t have service. When I reached the point where I needed to change trains I found out that the second train to London was running about 30 minutes late! AHHHH – when I tried to find wifi at the station I couldn’t connect anywhere so I had no way of letting Mark know I was going to be late… awesome. I arrived in London and found my way to where we were going to meet… of course I didn’t know what I had to do to be let out of the train station and put in the wrong ticket and had to go find someone to tell me which of the THREE tickets I had that would work to let me out. Just a note as a traveler… you just have to be willing to look dumb and ask questions sometimes – something as simple as a train ticket or toilet can become an adventure!
I got out of the station and walked towards where Mark said he would be. He had said he would be in an Audi and gave me the license place #. As I walked towards the car and identified it as his I was like WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT – he said an Audi…. what he didn’t mention was that it was an Audi R8 (A super sexy sports car.. for all you 50 Shades of Grey readers out there it’s the car Christian Grey drove! It was also used in Iron Man (which I didn’t see but so was told)). Awesome!
I didn’t know much about Mark aside from that he knew someone my friend knew… we had chatted on Facebook a bit and I did see that he was a psychiatrist. I did do a quick google search so I could get some contact information to give to Brad “just in case” haha. The night before at the pub all the guys were teasing my saying I was going to get tied up and so on and so forth – how kind of them haha! I got in the car and immediately we had good banter and conversation. He gave me several options of how we could spend the day and given I didn’t have much time I opted for a drive around town to see the sights. I had my backpack on my lap since the car didn’t have much storage so we headed back to his house to drop off my stuff – along the way we drove through Camden Market, which is this bustling indoor/outdoor market with food, souvenirs, pubs etc.. It was quite entertaining driving around in the Audi because people would just stare and snap photos.
We got back to his house in Primrose Hill, which I believe is much like the Beverly Hills of London. We sat and chatted for a bit before heading out on our driving tour. NOW – I have a touch of car anxiety and hate when other people drive anything remotely crazy/fast… call me a wimp but thanks to a car accident 13 years ago I have been a super freak in cars ever since. He pushed the gas quite a few times and we took off. I get the need for speed in open space but we were driving on these small roads in London. I had to nerd out and ask him not to drive crazy (which he really wasn’t but I just pictured myself flying through the windshield and splattered on the road). He obliged and we had a delightful ride by Abbey Road (The Beetles cover photo), Regent Street, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The London Eye.. most of the touristy sights. The streets were SO freaking crowded with tourists!!
We reached an area called Covent Garden and found a sweet parking spot so we snagged it and got out to walk around a bit. Even though we had dinner plans in a few hours we decided to grab a snack – and low and behold we ended up eating Shake Shack! I come to London and the first thing I eat is at an American chain lol! I never ate it in the states but the burger was super delicious. We took a wander about and saw some street performers before heading to this place to grab a cocktail (I forget the name of it but it reminded me of the bar in Moulin Rouge (the one with Christina Aquilera – I have no shame in liking that film haha!).
After our cocktail we went back to his house to relax for a bit and get ready for dinner. He had made plans to meet up with this American family he had met in Florida who were in London for a few days. We enjoyed a glass of red wine and he showed me a few card tricks – of course I was like WHAAAAAAAAAT? (Note to Mark – you still have to tell me how you did it you punk!). I quickly got ready for dinner and was able to pull off a half decent outfit with this silk blouse I had, dark skinny jeans, and flats. Although I didn’t have a hairbrush at this point since I broke it a week before so I just hairsprayed the shit out of my hair and did my best to pin it and make it look presentable… sometimes you just gotta work with what you have!
We arrived to the restaurant just on time… the JW Steakhouse inside the JW Marriot – a fancy shancy hotel in London. The hostess let us know the others had not arrived so we decided to head to the bar and grab a glass of wine while we waited. WELL – we waited… and waited… and they still hadn’t arrived. Mark took a look around the hotel and had the front desk ring their room and still nothing. Mark’s phone had died so he left it at home to charge… and I left my phone in his car given I wasn’t going to use it. The plan was to meet at 8 and yet at 8:45 they were still M.I.A. Mark and I decided to get a table for two and we ordered a delicious salad, ribs, and potatoes – it was SOO freaking delicious! Because his back was towards the entrance he kept turning around to look to see if they had arrived. Of course in my blunt manner I told him to stop and I bet him that he couldn’t do it – and said I would tell him if a family walked in the door…. Which they did… while we were eating. Turns out they had told the hostess for us to meet them at this other hotel bar but the hostess never relayed the message… and since Mark didn’t have his phone we didn’t get their texts.
It all ended up working out in the end… we finished dinner then joined them at their table for dessert and wine. Ironically the family was from Erie, Pennsylvania!! They were in town because it was their son’s 21st birthday and he had just finished a semester at sea. We had some nice convo, Mark took the son for a drive in his car, then we headed back to his house… an awesome first day in London! Thanks again Mark for your hospitality!