This morning I woke up in London for the last time in a while. I checked out of the Astor Museum Hostel around 10am, got breakfast in the basement for £1, then headed over to St. Pancras Station to catch the Eurostar train to Brussels. Much of my day was spent in transit, but it gave me a fair amount of time to reflect on my time in London.
I feel like I experienced a decent balance of touristy and non-touristy activities. I was able to see a lot of the sights I was really looking forward to, from seeing the super touristy things like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to the super nerdy things like seeing the actual place 221B Baker Street is based in the BBC Sherlock series. I still have some things left over for the next time I find myself on this side of the pond. I’d like to experience a proper English High Tea, but perhaps that’s for another time in the semi-distant future when I can afford to splurge a bit more.
The hostel itself was nice, the location was great (right across from the British Museum, a short walk to SoHo, and very close to an Underground station!), and the staff were all super friendly. The showers were very small and at times a little bit questionable but honestly I’d seen worse after being in college and having to shower on the weekends when the cleaning crew had the day off. The room was small but functional, and it had a lot of natural lighting and was cleaned once a day by staff. It served its purpose and ultimately I’m glad that I decided to stay at that particular location.
My experience in London was overwhelmingly positive as I got to befriend a bunch of really nice people from all over the world and exchange really interesting cultural information. I sincerely hope that I will be able to cross paths again with the people I’ve gotten to spend time with so far.
My interpersonal experiences today were rather limited however. On the Eurostar, I was seated next to a French guy who couldn’t be bothered to make eye contact let alone respond to a simple greeting. In my hostel, out of the three girls already in the room, only one acknowledged my presence. It’s not even like there’s a language barrier, they were talking on the phone in English with American/Canadian accents. I’m not taking it personally, I guess statistically I can’t expect to have super positive experiences with every roommate I come across.
I ventured out into central Brussels soon after arriving and got a big platter of Greek food and a goblet of Leffe for €13. I experienced a bit of culture shock after being approached several times by people speaking French and/or Dutch and having to piece together every bit of French I’ve ever heard in my life and hope it made some bit of sense. After I got my food I tried to echo what an actual French person had said (“Merci beaucoup!”) after they got their food to express thanks and I think it may have even been a little too convincing because when I tried to pay the waiter seemed to think I actually spoke French. It all worked out, I got food, and I didn’t seem to offend anyone.
After dinner, I watched some Argentinian tango performances accompanied by a live orchestra in the middle of Grote Markt. It was pretty cool to just stumble upon that kind of entertainment, but I left after about an hour because it was getting late and I didn’t want to risk getting lost in the city after dark.