2:30 am Panic.
4:00 am Panic. Also, sneezing.
9:00 am Marco has to go to work. I must run errands by myself. As the door closes behind him, I am suddenly gripped by fear (a.k.a. panic). I am somewhat familiar with the feeling after previous visit. The only thing to be done is to push through the terror. I shower, get dressed, chuck my umbrella and A-Z of London into my backpack. I feel remarkable sense of achievement about simply walking out of the front door. Don't laugh. Wait until you've tried to move to a foreign country. Getting out of bed alone is exhausting.
later I am inordinately proud of having successfully navigated my way to Boots (a pharmacy) and Woolworth's to purchase hangers and other sundry items. Flushed with the success of my first solo venture outside the house, I unpack my suitcases and arrange all my things inside the bedroom closet.
Then I am at a loss about what to do next.
Eventually, I decide that trying to take the bus all by myself should be the next step. The problem is, where should I go? Marco solves this problem by texting me to ask me to meet him for coffee. I think I will be clever and go down there early to do a bit of shopping before I meet him. I hop on the correct bus at around 3 pm.
Now, there is a reason why the tourists mostly use the tube and not the buses. The buses don't have maps posted inside them, although the bus stops do have nice route maps, and the bus drivers don't talk to the passengers. Most notably, they utterly fail to announce the stops, most of which you cannot see until you are within perhaps a hundred feet of them. If you don't know where you're going, it can be very intimidating to take the bus. You also have to vie for seats in which you can actually see the road ahead. The tube is much more convenient. The tube is expensive, however. A week-long tube pass is 20 quid (about 38 dollars). A week-long bus pass is 9.50 (about 17 dollars). That is why most residents use the bus.
I watch the stops anxiously. I end up getting off the bus too early, but I figure that if I follow Shaftesbury Avenue, eventually it will intersect with New Oxford Street, which will intersect with Drury Lane. Naturally, I go the wrong way down Shaftesbury. I don't figure this out until I get to Piccadilly Circus. Realizing that my sense of direction is pretty much non-existent in this town, I get out my street atlas and navigate my way back with it directly in front of my nose. The end result is that the journey takes 50 minutes instead of the twenty that it should have taken. I am just in time for coffee.
We get coffee at the Monmouth Coffee Company, which has pretty, pretty waitstaff and organic, free-range, grain-fed, all that feelgoodstuff, beans. There's no seating available so we wander around the streets. Marco shows me the sundial that, while rarely capable of performing its primary function, makes it easier to navigate the area. I pick up some tasty unpasteurized goats milk cheese and a loaf of hazelnut and raisin bread at Neal's Yard. We have it for dinner. Yum.