I’ve been in London for around two years now, but I remember my arrival here clear as day. While I’m in the process of catching up with my backlog of travel posts, I thought it would be good to write about my current home and the very first European city I ever visited.
The Fiancé picked me up at Heathrow after an hour or so of nervous waiting, as my ride from the relocation company never showed up. We took a black cab to Citadines Barbican, a serviced apartment where I would stay for my first month. I remember passing by the Big Ben, all lit up in the evening, and thinking to myself it was shorter than I expected.
Since I arrived quite late most of the stores were already closed. (Another thing to get used to, coming from Makati where the malls close 10PM on weekends!) There was a Tesco Express near the apartment so we went there to stock my tiny fridge for the next few days. My very first purchases: a carton of Tesco chocolate milk, a jug of Cravendale whole milk, Yakult (only because it reminded me of home), a Lindt orange dark chocolate bar, a bottle of Evian, and a box of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Clusters. I also bought a tray of juicy Sweetheart cherries–it was my first time to see cherries that didn’t come in a jar.
The apartment was 10 minutes from the office. I arrived a few days before starting work to allow myself time to settle down and recover from the jetlag.
The Fiancé walked me to the office so I would know where to go, and we went for a stroll around the immediate neighborhood while at it. It was the perfect introduction to London weather: a nippy “summer” day, complete with rain.
I found it fascinating that there were plaques commemorating most anything all over the city. It was like a mini-History lesson wherever I went.
Maybe it’s because I grew up with reading so many British authors–Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Jane Austen, etc etc–I felt like the city was foreign yet familiar.
Since then, whenever I feel stressed from work I always remind myself how absolutely lucky I am to be working in London, surrounded by so much beauty and history.
I’ve taken thousands of photos, been to many more places since then. There are still some days though, when I remember that first week when the City and I were both new to each other. And I just can’t shake off a strange melancholy.