First Day!

Save your pence, it really makes sense. Night one in London town.

So it didn’t take long for us to realize a sad, sad, fact.  Scratch that. It didn’t take us long for us two realize two sad facts.  One, this city is expensive.  People kill from all over the world to be in this place- and rightfully so. We are lucky to be walking the streets of Shakespeare, cheering on David Beckham amidst his most adoring fans, and spending our days lounging not on the Francis quad, but in Trafalgar Square or Hyde Park.  But because every one is willing to pick up their things and move to this beautiful and unexpected place it also means that we will pay the price.  Toto, we are not in Kansas (forget I ever mentioned that name) Missouri anymore, and therefore we cannot expect to pay less than double in pounds than we would in dollars from anything to bottled water to postcards for friends back home to a pint of my Strongbow. This leads me to my second disturbing fact: the dollar to pound ratio. It didn’t take me long to stop converting the amounts in my head, and I advise anyone visiting to do the same.  If it’s thirty pounds to go somewhere and do something, tell yourself it is just that.  It’s 30 pounds. It’s not 45 dollars… What are dollars? Just leave it at pounds and call it a day, or it will drive you mad.  It is no secret that the dollar is much depreciated against.  Therefore, not only is this city expensive, but handing away a 20 pound bill is like sending a 10 dollar bill down the toilet, too.  However, it’s worth it, and luckily there is something in this city for everyone, including poor college students.  I’m here to tell you about those things, how to do them, and where to find them.

Let’s start with something completely free.  It’s something that I did one of my first nights in London and it still is one of my trip’s highlights.  It requires nothing but good company (which I hope you find yourself in), a camera (even a less adequate one such as mine will suffice) and the ability to walk around for about 30 minutes.  Take the district line to Embankment and simply get off the tube.  You’ll find yourself strolling out from the underground and into a postcard or a post on pinterest.  In front of you is the London Eye and right around the corner is the iconic Parliament and Big Ben.  I advise you to just walk towards these two monuments and snap some photos along the way.  From one point to the next you’ll find hidden treasures, some rotating, some permanent. You’ll discover a skate park right before you hit the London Eye once you cross the bridge over from Embankment.  This skate park is splashed with every color and every style of painting that only hundreds of art students and graffiti artists combined could imagine.  If it’s not too busy with the local skaters, go take a few shots with your camera.  The rotating acts are the street artists that play their music for free in hopes that someone will listen. Sometimes jazz, sometimes contemporary, and sometimes, well… sometimes you don’t know what it is.  However, no matter what the pace of beat or length of chord, it’s the soundtrack to your night.  I advise you to take this walk, as it won’t cost you a pence, and simply take it in. It’s a great first night out, as you can explore the city, give your wallet a rest, and let it hit you like a ton of bricks… You are in London.  You have arrived.

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