Yesterday was a long travel day after a night of far too little sleep. My bus picked me up from my hostel in Reykjavik at 4 AM on the dot, and I flew out around 8:00 AM, arriving at my hostel in London some time between 2 and 3 PM. Navigating the underground seemed daunting at first- especially after the ease of Iceland where you either get around on foot, or your bus for your tour is waiting there to pick you up at the door where you are staying.
But then I realized- I have a fucking smart phone. That’s like having a magical tour guide in your pocket and effectively ruins all hope of getting lost in an unfamiliar place. Getting lost, feeling vulnerable in that way- is something I try to avoid at all costs. I am not the most directionally competent human. I recall being brought to tears many times because of getting lost- on my college campus, out in the cornfields of Illinois where street signs don’t really exist, in new places and in places I’ve lived in for years. I hate getting lost.
At least this time, everything was really easy and straightforward. The subway here is easier than in New York- all of the stops are listed in order on the walls before you even get out onto the platform, and the different trains actually have names that make sense depending on where you are going.
Maybe eventually on this trip, I will challenge myself to get lost- to discover something new and unexpected and maybe have to ask for directions from a stranger. Until then, I’m feeling good in the comfort of being able to get myself around easily.
I went out for the evening with one of my roommates, and was greeted by my favorite weather ever.
After feeling like I was back in Seattle, I was cheered up when I saw these adorable people on the street:
After arriving in London, I effectively started freaking out about money and how much everything costs here- the pound system is deceptive, because you want to believe everything is in dollars. I’m challenging myself to not eat out while I am here and to have a few days where I purposefully occupy myself with things that are free. I went to Tesco and bought groceries that I can live off of for at least a few days, and today I spent most of the day in the Tate Modern (free!) and then took a (free!) ghosts of London walking tour.
The Tate was lovely- I forgot how much I enjoy going to art museums by myself. It becomes such a meditative experience, weaving in and out of things that interest you the most, taking time where you want to take time without pressure from anyone else. My favorite exhibits were a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit featuring a room of his amazing self portraits and an exhibit of drawings by Louise Bourgeois.
A short list of things that are annoying me:
-My hostel was supposed to have free internet, yet it only has free internet in the very small, very uncomfortable lobby downstairs.
-Sleeping in a room with 15 other people.
-The fact that I’ve been warned not to keep food in the room because one of the other girls had a mouse (!) chew through her canvas backpack and eat her trail mix.
-People getting in my physical personal space.
-stressing about money.
I think I’m having a sort of travelers malaise not having true alone time or feeling like myself. Even when you think the entire goal of your traveling is to NOT be yourself- is to decide, finally- who and what you want to be outside of your ordinary life- you can start to feel completely and utterly lost if you don’t have some form of connection to who you actually are. For me, this means I need to make art and take some dance classes. Tomorrow morning I’m going to venture off and take a modern class and then I’m going to give myself some down time and work on some Photoshop extensive images I’ve been ignoring since January. I think it’s also important when traveling over longer periods of time to remember to give yourself days off from being a tourist- to have days where maybe you just sleep in, sit, rest, and read a book.
I’ve been traveling for roughly a month now and I feel like it’s already been a lifetime. And I have two more months to go.