I left Memphis International Airport on 16 November. My first substantial flight, my first international flight. I nearly missed my connection in Detroit. They were looking for me at the gate there when I finally made it, said “Are you Amanda?” and informed someone on the plane that “Amanda’s here.” It made me feel strange but I was just glad I hadn’t missed my flight into Gatwick.
There’s not much to say about the flight itself, except that I didn’t sleep for the seven and a half hours we were in the air.
I arrived at London Gatwick on 17 November, a little worse for wear after the flight. The queue for foreigners coming through passport control was maddening to stand in when you haven’t slept in twenty-four hours.
The photo above is of me on my first ever train journey, from Gatwick to Victoria Station. Everything felt a bit surreal, because of the sleep deprivation and the disbelief that I was actually in England. I just kept looking out the windows at the overcast England day as the train made its way to Victoria, thinking “I’m in England, huh?” The rolling green hills and school children playing outside in their uniforms were my first real glimpses of the country.
Door to the Astor Museum Inn hostel
I arrived at the hostel, Astor Museum Inn, two hours before check-in. I felt half-dead at that point and was glad to be able to drop my things in the luggage room downstairs at the hostel. I asked the hostel manager, Liz, where I could grab a quick bite. So, my first meal in England was soup and bread at the Forum Cafe’, over on Great Russell Street. I was famished at that point and, so, I felt like a street urchin when I devoured the soup and bread they brought me. I didn’t even take the time to ask if it was vegetarian friendly!
To be honest with you, the first night I was in London was not fun-filled. I was exhausted and just wanted to stay in! So, I walked to a local Sainsbury’s, bought myself some bread, peanut butter, bananas, and Sainsbury’s own brand Jaffa Cakes, walked back in the rain, made a peanut butter and banana sandwich, was laughed at by one of the long-term Australians at the hostel, had to explain that I’m from Memphis and we eat those sandwiches here and chilled out for the evening.
So ended my arrival day in London.