And that was just the start. When I woke in the morning, I realised that I had locked my key in my locker and have no money to do anything. Normally, I would associate this little dilemma with a day to relax and save some money, but not today. Today I have planned to meet my cousin and her husband for the first time in London and I had not a pound to spare. I ring management and explain my predicament, but as it is a weekend, they will not send anyone to cut my locker open until Monday. My weekend plan is ruined and in desperation I resort to plan B – beg! I ask one of my roommates for a loan. Claire kindly lends me twenty pounds and although that will not get me far in a city such as London, it will at least buy me a return train ticket to meet my cousin.
My cousin Julie and I made plans to meet at 3 pm at Piccadilly Circus. I arrive early to get a little sight-seeing done and love the city instantly. Well almost, if you forget about the weather. The home of theatres, glittering lights, China Town and wonderful restaurants and at the moment some maintenance. By the appointed meeting time, I am back waiting at the fountain at trying to spot my cousin among the masses. Finally she arrives with her husband Anton and we immediately get acquainted. They are a beautiful couple and only recently wed. I am at their mercy and let them lead the way down to the Thames and on a boat or floating restaurant/bar. I wish I can write and say that the Thames river is beautiful and exciting and if I can put aside its once ugly industrial past and focus on it from a tourists perspective, I need a huge imagination. I would be lying if I wrote and described it as anything but a river used for transport and not much else. But it does have a nice view of the city and sipping a glass of white wine and talking with my cousins on a boat on the Thames, is very special.
I never learn! To drink wine on an empty stomach always gets me into trouble and it does not help when the boats sways from the rough weather. But I managed with dignity to get off the boat and walk in a straight line to China Town for some much-needed food. I love China Town. Busy, noisy, crowded and full with amazing restaurants, the problem is to decided which one. We choose buffet style and are very lucky to get a table. It is something that I learn very quickly here in London, that restaurants fill up very early here and even though there are many to choose from, there is no guarantee of success. The city is amazing! Dinner was delicious and although I cannot remember the names of the dishes, I can write that I left the restaurant happy and full (two plates of food can do that).
Not far from China Town, is Convent Garden. Now I have heard Convent Garden mentioned many times and yet I had no idea what it was. Probably not what I expected when we arrived, but it was alive with musicians and performers and they offered a wonderful comic show free. What is not to like about that? I especially liked the male singer, who had a great operatic voice, but he also performed his act with humour and cheek and I love talent that can take an act to a different and more enjoyable level. It shows love and skill from the performer. There is an Italian café nearby and we stop for a coffee and a final chat before we end the night. I loved the evening and although my journey has given me chances to explore new and different countries, it is the very special part of meeting my family and discovering family treasures/secrets that makes my journey even more precious.