This week in Craig History – London!

Hi everyone!

A warm welcome to those who just joined my list! It warms my heart that people are reading my blogs!

So remember my last blog that I was flying to London, UK, in the summer of 2000? Alright…

Just a word of caution: I am not going to do a blog about EVERYDAY on my trip, I can’t remember everything! Just the highlights and anything DeafBlind related…

Upon arriving at Heathrow, I took the train to the city. Yeah, that is about right, haha! Blah…

In the weeks leading up to my trip, I had planned everything; where I was staying, how I would get there, including transit to the hostel. So, on the day I landed in Heathrow, I knew which way to go from that mega-airport to the hostel.

I took the Train to, I believe it was, Victoria Park, or whichever Tube station that airport shuttle arrive at, and then took the Tube (I LOVE the Tube, BTW) to my hostel! From the time I landed, around 7 AM, until I got to the hostel, at least two hours had passed, maybe three.

I found the hostel easily, without GPS or cellphone. Only to discover this was not the right hostel! The hostel had quite a few places throughout London! My careful planning had put me at the wrong hostel!

I can’t recall where I was, but my bed was at the hostel at Camden Town, which was close to the Camden station.

It took me another 2 hours to arrive at other hostel, which was above a pub! The pub was closed! So I sat out front, I was tired from the flight, carrying a huge backpack! I was also starving! Not eaten since I had something at the airport… ooh, I had some airline nuts… and two mini bottles of airline wine! (This trip took place in 2000, 15 months before 9/11 changed airline rules!).

If the Daily Mail had taken a picture of me sitting in front of a pub, with my white cane, a backpack, and open wine; The caption might be: Blind traveler seen drinking cheap wine in Camden! It was nigh 12:30 in the afternoon!

Yeah yeah! When the pub opened at 1 PM, I went in and got registered. The bloke (gotta talk like the Brits…) took me upstairs, showed me the bathroom, and the bedroom, which had at least 10 bunk beds. The bloke left me there, and I found an empty bed, an upper floor bed, and promptly crashed… I slept for about 3 hours!

I did not want to have a nap, as my good friend mentioned to try to stay awake until at least 10 PM, 9 at the earliest, local time. So that my body would align to local time. But I was so smashed from the flight, no food, and wine, that I simply could not nap!

When I woke up, the pub was busy, so I bellied up to the bar, had a pint of some amazing brew, ordered a huge dinner and ate and ate. Did I mention the Bar was BUSY? There were at least 75 people there, and three big TVs, one projection screen TV, can you guess what everyone was watching? Soccer! Or as Brits call it; Football. With all those people you’d expect the room to be noisy, alas, no! You could, hell, I could, hear the clink of mugs on the table… And then someone scored… The room erupted like a bunch of firecrackers going off in the loo! Ten seconds later, absolute silence! Did I venture into Football Frenzy town? You bet! When the match ended, I was not finished my first Brit Dinner, the pub emptied fast, like beer being emptied from half-drunk mugs, the room was almost empty within 3 minutes! Yes, I was in Football Frenzy!

I stayed at the pub, had a few more beers, chatted with a waitress who showed me the different coins! I walked around the block, to stretch my legs, but didn’t go far. When I got back to the hostel, I crashed again, into my upper bunk, fully clothed, quite early… only to wake up at 3 in the morning with the WORST headache I have every had!! Felt like four hammers, three vice grips and a lawnmower raving in my head! I had to do something or find someone for help. So, I walked around the, deserted but, strangely, fully-lit hostel, I went downstairs to a basement lounge, found the kitchen and a laundry room, but not a soul was awake!

Bemoaning my aching head, I finally made my way back upstairs to my bed and eventually fell alseep!

In the morning, I woke up with lingering headache, I got something to eat from the pub, and left by the side door. Incidentally, this side door was the right way to get into the hostel, had I known that when I arrived, I wouldn’t have been drunk on airplane wine on the street like a homeless bum! No offence to homeless bums… Winks!

My goal for the first day in London was to scout my area, but also, and more importantly, to find a pharmacy to get some Tylenol! I found one straightaway, both the store and the medicine! Phew! I also grabbed a Brit chocolate bar and a drink, maybe a bag of crisps (that’s chips in Brit-talk). I saw the amount due on the cash machine and tossed some money on the counter, thinking it was enough. But the storekeep didn’t collect it, and he was talking to me. My headache was a roaring freight engine, I didn’t have the patience to have him write anything, I was actually thinking of grabbing the meds and running!

News Alert! DeafBlind traveler steals Tylenol from Camden apothecary!

Luckily, that newsflash never happened! While the storekeep was shouting at, or talking politely to, me, a bystander fished out some coins from his pocket and topped up my funds! The storekeep was satisfied, and bagged my purchases! With a nod of thanks to the bystander, I took the bag and calmly left the shop, grateful for the kindness of strangers!

Outside, I wrestled off the protective wrappings of the Tylenol, dry swallowed two, drank some of the soda, ate the crisps, savouring te chocolate! For the rest of the day, I wandered around the neighborhood… not wanting to go far on first day! My headache slowly disappared, and by teatime, I was as good as Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor!

Was my headache the result of the time change? Or was it the cheap wine or good beer? Or maybe it was jetlag? Or maybe all the above. Whatever it was, I kept the Tylenol handy throughout the rest of my travels!

I’ll be back with my Europe adventures shortly!

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