London Missives I

The first days in a new city, when traveling, are all about ‘Getting Your Bearings’.
I had taken a few ‘Google street view’ walks, virtually, around all the hotels in which I am staying, so I had a general lay of the land in Notting Hill. What I neglected to do, was take into account the 1. weight of my luggage, 2. time to reorient (jetlag, etc.), 3. actual distance to sites, and 4. time of day upon arrival.
When I arrived in London, I had a very aggressive itinerary – to say the least. I would post it here, but so many would say, “you are crazy, you’ll never get that all in”. But that’s what travel is about too – learning the lessons by even ‘failing’.
So I left Heathrow knowing I needed to get to Leicester (Lester) square before 4:30p to pick up my London Pass. On a side note, I would highly recommend anyone doing this and get a travel card (Oyster card) with it. One thing to note: The London Eye is NOT on this, but there are so many other sites and museums and deals that I think it is well worth the purchase.
The National Portrait Gallery

I arrived at the Hotel Blue Bells around 4:20pm and there was NO WAY I was going to make my timeline, so I casually changed and freshened up to make a trip to the area where I would start my first day in London. I got rather lost, but did venture into Trafalgar Square and even checked off the National Portrait Gallery from my list (by the way, many of the galleries and museums are free and only ask for donation).
Pembridge Square

By this time (7pm), I was ready to head back to the hotel and find some good Pub fare – See The Prince Edward, London cuisine posts to come.

With so much that had happened a couple things I learned: pack less, no matter if you think you have, pack less than that. Also, try to adjust your sleeping on the plane (I fell asleep as soon as possible, which made my jetlag much less). Being over-prepared by doing your research will save you time and money – I still find this THE most helpful tip. Some more stories to come, stay tuned!

Here’s what I am packing…

        I was able to pack for 2.5 weeks, 5 cities, 4 countries with a small checked suitcase, briefcase/bag and backpack carry-on. This was most difficult, but it can be done. I will be shedding some older clothes along the way – I have a feeling.

Packing and Repacking, then Packing again

One of the most frustrating things I have found in my travels is my ability to have all the ‘just in cases’ and carrying them around the whole time – only not to need them. I decided this trip was going to be different….

I packed (too many options), pared down (still too many) and repacked. For two and a half weeks, I have plenty of clothes, but I am not going to be in any one city for more than 4 days – this means I will probably have to do laundry.
I also want to make sure to have the right apparel for some of the culinary adventures I have planned – so dressing up is going to be a necessity.

First I made a list of all the ‘layer-able’ clothing I would need for 5 days (including my flight over). I narrowed it down to 3 pairs of crop pants, 1 pair of shorts, 3 dresses, and multiple tops/tank tops (3 tanks, 4 shirts, 3 t-shirts). I am also taking 1 pair of jeans in case of inclimate weather. Extra clothing was eliminated – like the additional 2 dresses, 3 t-shirts, and 2 shorts.

Now I am going to be near a beach at the end of my trip, so a bathing suit is necessary, and I suggest packing extra night clothes, socks, and undergarments if you aren’t doing laundry (but I am, so I limited it to a week’s worth).

I have had to pack and re-pack about 5-7 times to get it right – and I probably have at least one more time before leaving – I did put my journals, books and maps in my checked bag (other than the first city’s), and packed extra clothes in my carry-on.
My toiletry bag is also in my checked bag – it’s kind of big, and I may rethink that as well – I will keep you all up to date on if this works and take some photos of the packing final too!

Practicing the Languages

No matter where I travel, I like to learn some of the language of the countries to which I visit – a great friend recommended ‘Duolingo’ to brush up on my Spanish and French. 

I more than wholeheartedly recommend this app to get acquainted with the languages. It has a really easy and interactive interface.

If only to say ‘please, thank you, order a drink, ask directions, and tell time and prices’ – I always try to speak the native tongue (and it helps to understand directions, too).