For the past two days I’ve been hungry every three hours. They only fed us twice on the Thomas Cook flight from Vancouver to London, so by the time we got here in London we were famished and hadn’t slept all night. I could tell this was going to be one of the longer days of my life.
We landed at Gatwick Airport, which is a good 40 minutes away from the center of London. After a few minutes of confusion trying to buy a train ticket in a country where they speak the same language as us, we couldn’t help but chuckle at our rusty travel skills and the thought of doing the same thing in Turkey or India. 24 pounds later we were on the train. 40 minutes later we were at Victoria train station in London.
We started walking in the direction of our hostel and the first thing we saw was something that looked like a festival. It turned out to be a market, and buried within was a restaurant called “The Laughing Haddock” with the subtitle, “The Best traditional English Fish and Chips”. The line wove within the restaurant, out the door and down the sidewalk. We figured if the locals will line up for it, then it’s definitely something not to be missed. So, we waited in line, ordered two haddock and a large chips and left the cramped restaurant and were back on the London streets looking for a wet London bench to sit on.
Before we found our wet London bench, we stumbled accross the first political protest of our trip. A mob of protestors had signs that said “Bliar” (in a not-so subtle reference to Tony Blair) and then words of hurt and hate listed below which were separated by what looked like a “SPLAT” of blood. The mob of protestors had a leader with a megaphone (some things never change) and they chanted back whatever he yelled. Police, in their classic Bobby British styled helmets, were all around.
As we passed the protestors, the police, and the media, on our right was Westminister Abby and ahead, as we came around a bend in the road was Big Ben. He looked a lot smaller than I remembered. In the same square as Big Ben, next to a statue of Lincoln–which Chris educated me was most likely there in memory of the American civil war when the British supported Lincoln–and in front of the most ornately decorated court building, we found a wet London bench to eat our lunch. Or perhaps it was brunch. I couldn’t tell you what meal this was suppose to be because all standard order of the day was lost in the void of travel.
We began to eat the greasiest meal of my life: British fish and chips. It was a classic and iconic way for Chris and I to fill our bellies with London. The next day we planned on filling our minds with it.