London pt. 1: Lost in London

As with anything in life, things never go exactly as planned.

FullandFearless_London_bigbenMy roommate and I were beside ourselves with excitement for our trip to Europe. When we landed at Heathrow I quickly had to trade my schoolgirl giddiness for practicality as I pulled out the directions to our AirBnB. We’d done our research. We were prepared. Nothing would go wrong. I imagine at that point God smirked a little bit.

When we arrived to pick up the keys at the corner store, where our host assured us they would be, they were nowhere to be found. The shop owner, Hussain, said he had no idea there were supposed to be keys for two girls. He’d given the one set of apartment keys in his possession to a Danish couple the day before. And they were supposed to be staying there for two more days.

Getting to the bottom of the situation took hours. But let me sum it up by saying there was a lot of walking as we attempted to find Wifi to contact our host, who was in Australia, AirBnB, who were less than helpful {read: downright rude}, and find a place to stay, at least for that night.

God bless Hussain. He offered to let us keep our bags in a locked room in his shop while we were sorting out this debacle. I’d definitely overpacked for our little holiday {huge lesson learned there} and dragging that bag around would’ve been the worst. While leaving your things with a strange man probably sounds insane, I listened to my intuition and something told me he was a good one. We could trust him. Thank goodness it didn’t lead me astray. When we went back to pick up our bags and go to our hotel for the night Hussain kindly offered us tea and cookies. We stood in this tiny shop, warming up over snacks and beverages, while he told us about himself, his family, and how he came to be a shop owner in the U.K.

FullandFearless_London_streetviewThat experience, as scary and exhausting and overwhelming as it was, reminded me what a treasure travel is. Travel allows us to connect with others, weaving our stories together with theirs,  if only for a brief moment. If we can’t recognize that, even in the hard times, we miss out on a great gift.

I was also reminded, the hard way, that you can’t prepared for everything. I’ve done my fair share of traveling, both in groups and solo. By the book, Adrienne and I had done everything right. We knew we couldn’t depend on our trusty GoogleMaps, so we were prepared with directions. We’d read about the kind of public transportation passes we’d need, and when we still weren’t 100% sure, we knew who to ask for help. We did our research on our AirBnB. The neighborhood was safe and our host came highly reviewed. But you know what? None of it mattered. Despite the best of plans, we found ourselves standing on a street corner in Algate, desperate for a place to siphon Internet to keep from sleeping on the streets.

Mishaps are just part of traveling. A “good” traveler isn’t one who never finds themselves in a less than ideal situation. A good traveler is one who finds themselves in such a situation and can figure out a solution, preferably without biting the head off their travel companion. Half of my travel experiences with Adrienne have included some pretty significant mishaps. We haven’t killed each other, or really even exchanged too harsh of words, so I’d like to think we’re pretty good travelers. Either that or we should stop traveling together because this dynamic duo is actually double trouble.

Either way, we learned a couple lessons from the experience and we survived. And, as the good travelers we are, we didn’t let it ruin the rest of the trip. Join me in a couple days for London pt. 2.

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