(A little note: most of the time I am going to try to stay faithful to my entries in my travel journal. I won’t include every single thing; after all I am a human who needs some privacy. I will, however, want to insert my opinions on things, extra little tidbits, etc. and those inserts/edits will be in italics. Everything else will be as I wrote it at the time)
We were supposed to depart at 18:05 and connect in Montreal at 18:45 to depart for London at 19:50. Our flight was delayed by 20 minutes and the agent said we might cutting it too close in YUL, especially if it was delayed further. We opted to be re-booked on a direct flight from YHZ to LHR at 23:45.
I said goodbye to Mom at the airport and Jacinda’s Mom and Step-dad stayed for a little while and we had strawberry daiquiris at the bar. We had 7 hours to kill. After finally being allowed to go through security, we had three hours until boarding and got some food at the pub in departures.
We arrived at LHR at 9:30. Our flight was uneventful. Due to our change in flight, Jacinda and I were not seated next to each other. I was seated in the middle between a married couple. The wife was extremely unimpressed that I was there, so that was kind of awkward. I offered to switch seats with her in case she wanted to sit next to her husband (I mean, I know I was offering the middle seat, but hey, I tried) and I got a resounding “Hell no!” I didn’t speak for the rest of the flight.
Anyway, I slept for parts of the flight but it was a light sleep. We got through customs and got our bags quickly. We had to navigate through several trains and stations (more than anticipated due to closures) and it took about two hours to get from Heathrow to Canary Wharf where our hotel, the Marriott Canary Wharf was located.
(Side note: we planned and experienced London on our own. London, though the starting point, was not a part of our Contiki tour. We had three days on our own in London. We booked our hotel, which was 5 stars through expedia and got an amazing deal. Canary Wharf is a business district and it was Easter weekend, so hardly any business people were traveling, hence the amazing price for a wonderful hotel)
Using the tube has been easy so far. (We bought day passes–seemed to be the most economical choice for our short stay) I’m glad I had prior experience with it and recently used the subway in Toronto. We checked in to the hotel around 1pm, got settled and freshened up and left for Oxford Street at 2pm.
We shopped at Primark, which was pandemonium, walked around and then headed to Covent Garden. We ate supper at an Indian place called Masala Zone. It was delicious. Jacinda and I both got the Grand Thali, kind of like a sampler platter. It had butter chicken, 2 Indian breads (one being naan, I’m pretty sure), salad, mustard leaves with spinach and paneer, a black bean dish, potatoes with cabbage, yogurt sauce, pineapple jelly and a chickpea coriander dish. It was amazing!
Then we headed to the Salisbury Pub. It was crowded with a mix of young and old people. We felt a little awkward standing with our drinks (cider for me, beer for Jacinda), but after a while we sat down. An older man named Ray sat and talked with us about London and asked us about Canada. Then a group of six older men and women sat near us and took pictures.
We had a few more ciders and beers, then headed across the street to another pub called the Bear and Staff. We both got a beer called “very cherry pale ale,” but I didn’t like it much. We quickly liked our bartender, a red haired Italian named Oliver. We talked about Canada, and how excited we were to visit Italy in a few weeks. We talked to some guys from Albania and then somehow met a group of English guys and an Aussie girl named Eddie and we went to a gay bar with them. The guys were a bit much, so we left with Eddie in a rickshaw to a different bar called Heaven where we got one drink and danced for a bit. They confiscated our sealed packages of gum there, and we were pretty confused and annoyed.
Jacinda and I had to catch the tube back to the hotel before it stopped running. This was around midnight. We went back to the hotel and checked out the bar there, but it was lame. Then we went to bed.