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Honeymoon: Day One

April 11th, 2009

Sachi and I just flew in to London, and have at least partially decompressed after our first night’s sleep. The flight over was on British Airways, which has no better leg room than any other airline, it seems, but was not particularly bad, either. Surprisingly, it was the rowdiest flight crew I have ever seen–when we were locked down for landing, the attendants were quite loud in chatting and laughing in their area, and during the flight seemed a cross between casual and frantic.

One nice thing about the seats on the plane was that the headrests had “wings” that folded down to brace your head–a brilliant idea which should be executed on every airplane. That helped me actually get to sleep–maybe the first time I have ever done that on a plane. At least, the kind of sleep that feels like it could be for several hours. I was therefore greatly annoyed when our attendant, for some reason, felt the need to access the overhead bins right above me, but was far too short to do so–so she leaned in and pushed heavily against me for a minute or so, ending it with her cardigan wiping across my face. Hard to sleep through that, and I was incredibly annoyed, having been woken up and unable to get back to sleep again. Sleeping on an airplane is quite an accomplishment for me, and this person completely destroyed that experience. Yargh.

Still, we got to the airport intact and not too wiped out, took the Piccadilly Line to Holborn and transferred to the Central Line. At Heathrow, the Underground station was less than impressive–there were only two ticket machines and neither worked properly (the first had a broken touchscreen, the second refused to accept paper money), and the single manned ticket window took literally two minutes or more to sell each ticket to each customer–no exaggeration. We missed one train while waiting on line and just caught the second before it left.

The trains are smaller than Tokyo train cars; in Tokyo, there is enough room between seats so that two or even three rows of people can stand between seated passengers; in London train cars, there’s room enough only for one person between seat rows.

It was at the stations that Sachi and I noted a few things about Londoners, though: first, there is no shortage of gentlemen. Twice, when we had to lug our suitcases up or down stairs, men easily volunteered to help Sachi with her suitcase, carrying it for her. Second, London escalator protocols are similar to Tokyo, in that people who do not walk up or down the escalators move to one side to allow passage for those who do walk. Interestingly, Londoners line up opposite Tokyoites–Tokyo lines up on the left to allow passage on the right, London lines up on the right.

From St. Paul’s Station, it was an easy walk to the hotel. What helped was being able to use Google Street View in advance–I was able to familiarize myself with the area, which helped a lot. We noted three Starbucks along the way–and it was a short way. Yikes.

We are staying at a hotel literally a few steps away from St. Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London Borough and the heart of the city. Not a long walk from here to most of the stuff we will want to see in the city. Here is the view right outside our hotel room:


They say that this St. Paul’s is the fifth. I suppose the first on sank in to the swamp. But the fifth one stood up! (Sorry, Python & the Holy Grail joke.)

The room is right over street traffic, and it’s certainly noticeable, but not terrible–and we’re fairly sensitive to that. The cathedral’s clock tolls every fifteen minutes, we can tell you. But the noise is charming in a way. And there’s no doubt we’re in London–these things pass by outside all the time:


The hotel is nice–cheap at about 75 pounds a night for a hotel this central, and the room, if not spacious, is not small either. Free high-speed WiFi, too!

So we plan to just go out and walk around today, with more structured stuff later on. Alas, we’ve hit rain–maybe our last full day here will be partly sunny, but otherwise we’re in for wet and grey–which, perhaps, is authentic London I suppose.

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  1. April 11th, 2009 at 19:42 | #1


  2. Karen Poza
    April 11th, 2009 at 23:35 | #2

    Wow, looks like you guys found a fabulous place to stay! Hope you have a wonderful honeymoon.

  3. Tim Kane
    April 12th, 2009 at 12:50 | #3

    Might you indulge in some pub grub? Shepard’s pie and a pint of ale? Not exactly healthy but fun.

    For sleeping on the plane – I found noise canceling headphones very helpful.

  4. Brad
    April 24th, 2009 at 21:36 | #4

    Ah, these photographs bring back memories of the 2.5 years I lived in the UK.

    > Interestingly, Londoners line up opposite Tokyoites–Tokyo lines up on the left to allow passage on the right, London lines up on the right.

    I’ve never understood why that is … why not line up in accordance with the rules for vehicular traffic? Drive on the left, the faster traffic/lanes on the right? Why the difference between these two countries (Japan drives on the left, don’t they?)

    Enjoy your honeymoon!

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