Day 1 Continued
Escape to Palmer’s Lodge
I walked back to the tram station I had come from. This is when I started realizing how tired I truly was. Despite grabbing a few zzzz’s on the flight over, I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in a few days from sheer excitement and anticipation. My backpack weighs about 40 pounds and my gear bag was about 30. I eventually lugged myself into the tram and plopped down. Rush hour must have ended because it was largely empty. The trip was faster than I thought. This wasn’t lost on me given how tired and agitated I was at this point.
The printer was broken (surprise surprise) at No 8 so I couldn’t get directions. According to the website the hostel is down the street from the station exit.
TIP: ALWAYS CARRY A NOTEPAD. In my travels my notepad has saved my ass more than my passport, wallet, or cell. It never runs out of power or out of range of internet. I use it too remember names, locations, and keep the address of where I am staying. All very important things on the road.
A funny thing about London train stations. For some magical reason they have more than one exit. I blame Harry Potter. The stop was called Swiss Cottage, same as the hostel so I figure it can’t be that far. I walk up the stairs leading out and find myself on a busy London street. I have been in London before and have NEVER gotten used to the traffic. This was no different. I know I looked like a fool with these two huge bags playing Frogger in British traffic.
Not far from the train station I see a cottage looking establishment that says Ye Olde Swiss Cottage. Looks like an Inn so I head over. And this is where the fun starts. So I walk in with all of my American backpacker swag. As if a scene from a movie, it seemed like the music stopped, conversations ended, and all eyes were on me. It would appear I happened into a local pub. Thoroughly embarrassed and totally confused I walked up to the bar without a bartender. There were about 20 people there when one older gentleman approached me. “HEY. You American”? To which I replied yes. “Coming or going”? I told him I just arrived. “Well I’m buying your first pint”. And BOOM. I’m drinking my first beer with a bar full of British locals. The room welcomed me with open arms asking me questions and giving me advice. Apparently our beer in America “is for shyt” and I was drinking good beer finally. At one point they actually took me half way to the hostel.
It turned out I went out of the opposite exit I was supposed to. Possibly the one sober person in the bar, Laura walked me halfway to my hostel and pointed the rest of the way. It was only about a 10 minute walk, tops.
From the outside Palmers Lodge doesn’t look like a hostel. It looks like someone’s home. When I walked in I was greeted by a great desk clerk from Argentina. I can’t remember ANYONES name that worked at Palmers and I deeply regret not writing them down because every single person there was amazing. I have a terrible memory when it comes to names because I meet so many people. My apologies to any of them that read this.
It was about 1:30pm and check in isn’t until 2pm so I had to wait. We did all the payment (you pay for your days upfront) and stuff and I waited in the common room. Palmers Lodge has a very young vibe to it. Not TOO young but mid 20’s I would say is the average. We had people that were under 18 (students from around Europe on field trips and exchange tours) and people over 50. Regardless of this fact the feel was laid back and relaxed. As the days went on Palmer’s would become home to quite a few of us.
Now I had a plan. I was going to get some sleep since I really hadn’t slept in two days and then go out and explore a bit. I asked the Argentinian desk clerk about what was going on later. I said, well there is a free walking tour of Buckingham Palace and that area in about an hour. I informed him of my sleep plan and he looked at me like I’m crazy. He then proceeded to berate me and call me out in front of three gorgeous Scandinavian women and they started in on me as well. Being who I am I couldn’t let that slide so I agree to go. Enter my home girl Suolan.
Suolan came in shortly after I did. She was asking about the tours as well. Suolan seemed cautious about going alone so I invited her with me. I honestly have zero idea why I did it. I didn’t know her, never seen her, and wasn’t hitting on her. Thank god I did. And so began the adventures of Erick and Suolan getting lost in London, finding out why the rest of the world thinks American’s are arrogant douchebags, and having one of the best first days in a new country in my life.