Jet lag is a bitch. Night three and I’m staring at the ceiling of Kelsey’s flat in a half drugged daze, unable to fall asleep. My eyes sting. My stomach is uneasy. The 8-hour time difference has wreaked havoc on my body’s inner clock. The air mattress makes a rubbery squeak as I roll over for the umpteenth time. Jodon is just as restless, creaking on the cot above me. Welcome to London.It’s been nearly two years since I’ve written a post. It’s embarrassing really. But life has its ways of tearing you away from the things that matter, and this blog has been left to collect cyber dust for the last 22 months. I have no excuses.
But the road was calling, and the bug has caught up to me once again. And so here I am, jet lagged in London with my partner in crime, Jodon. We plan on spending the next few months exploring Europe, marvelling at its history, and learning how to travel as a couple… without killing each other.
London has been a whirlwind. I don’t know how we would have made it through the days without Kelsey’s Grade-A guidance. I’ve never met anyone more organized than Kelsey. A plan, a list of directions, busses, trains, prices and must-stop food places were left neatly on the dining room table for us when we woke. We followed the directions like zombies fumbling toward living meat: dazed, half dead, unthinkingly.
Camden, Soho, Westminster, the Thames, Borough market, Tower of London: each neighbourhood offering layers upon layers of history.
I find it difficult to fully grasp the history that Europe has. Most buildings are older than the existence of Canada. The cobblestone streets we walk on, the buildings that now house H&M and Starbucks are older than the history of our entire country. The Tower of London has been a fortress, a palace, and a prison. It’s walls have held the kings and queens we learn about in school. William the Conqueror fortified it 900 years ago. 400 years later, Henry VIII beheaded his wives. The streets of London house the real life fairy tales of human history: even if they now lead to a McDonalds. It’s unfathomable to me.
And yet, through all the history, I still fall in love with the here and now of London: the bustling English-style pubs, the riverside restaurants and the hidden food markets that scatter the city.
Borough Market. My new happy place. I dragged Jodon, a non-market lover, to it two days in a row. Food stalls, cheese shops, wine and beer sellers, pastries, butchers, fish mongers: this place has it all. From Spanish tapas to Ethiopian cuisine. Life changing coffees to fresh baked baguettes. I got lost in the aroma of a stinky French cheese stand, smelling the molds, dying to try them all. My mouth salivated at the Pieminister stand; we bought a tarragon chicken pot pie and savoured in the flaky crust. Food markets are where I thrive. We splurged and picked up enough food for a charcuterie dinner, complete with French cheeses and chocolate truffles for dessert. Needless to say, it was sensational. Borough Market does not disappoint. And what’s more, the Market has been around since 1014AD… Just a casual 853 years longer than Canada. Mind blown.
So maybe it’s the time change, or maybe it’s the kilo of cheese I ate minutes before turning out the lights. Whatever the case, I’ve been carefully counting sheep for hours now without any progress. But the price to pay is small. The journey ahead is worth the week of restlessness I’m feeling now. And I’m already looking forward to our next stop: Paris.