After so much traveling this past year, I’ve gained a little confidence in navigating unfamiliar territories; and, therefore, wasn’t too concerned about my arrival in London. However, it was interesting having to navigate the London Underground with my nine-year-old daughter, Sydney, and three suitcases in stow. Thankfully, many a kind stranger stopped and offered help, getting my luggage on and off the trains as well as up and down stairs. It was a beautiful introduction to what would become my home for the next 3 months.
Sydney and I made our way home, well past midnight, by foot from the underground. It wasn’t until well into our walk that I thought it might not be all to safe to be walking to our new home, dragging our luggage behind us, so late into the night. The reality was, I didn’t know the conditions or safety of our new neighborhood.
Yet, the streets were quiet and clean and I felt safe. We made it home with no problems, ready to sleep and rest after a 24 hour trip from the states. Sydney and I decided that after the busyness of our last couple months, we would take some time to recuperate and do our exploring later. So, instead of going out and about, we made a list of things we would like to see and do and made a plan for our upcoming weekends. We focused our time and attention on getting to know our own neighborhood and learning how to navigate public transportation, rather than exploring all of London.
It turns out, London transportation is quite confusing! There are different rates for buses, the underground, and the national railway. To add to the confusion, the underground has different rates depending on which zone you are traveling in and the time of day you use the card. All of the transportation is paperless, so you have to put money on your “oyster card” before you can take any trips. I tried figuring it out online, but once again had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get me through the task.
Also, figuring out the best way to do things is tough. I’ve had to go to a variety of different stores to try to find the most affordable one. Without any previous shopping experience here, it is hard to know what a reasonable price is. It has really made me aware of how much I rely on a variety of previous experiences to make everyday decisions. Without any background knowledge, even the most mundane activities take on a certain level of challenge. I am looking forward for the day that my activities are more second nature and I will be able to spend my energy doing more of the things I like to do.