Every relationship has milestones. Like the first time you spend the night at your boyfriends/girlfriends place, or when you decide to move in together or even the first time you fart in front of your partner. All these milestones usually signify a progression in the relationship. Moving, for example, presents a lot of challenges and stressful situations. Everything from all the planning necessary to the physical effort and team work needed to make it work. These situations can expose a flawed relationship like a referee on a foul play. Traveling together, I feel, is one of these milestones. Traveling tells you a lot about your partner. How proactive are they, how well are they at planning, handling failed plans, adapting, coping changing. These are all traits that are needed for a relationship to be successful and are all put to the test when traveling which makes it a good time to appraise your partners virtues or lack off therein.
Our maiden voyage together was to London and on to Paris and I must admit I was very anxious. Not only was it our first time traveling together but it was also my first time traveling to Europe. I mean, I had been to Europe before but only on layovers on my yearly pilgrimages to Kenya but I had never actually left the airport. And, on top of all these, I was going to meet John’s Mother for the first time! I was overwrought by it all. He did not share in my fears however, he had been to Europe many times, in fact he had lived there for most of his formative years and viewed it as a second home. As for his Mother, he didn’t see what all the fuss was about since as he said, “She is a sweetheart.” I actually considered getting anti anxiety pills from the doctor but decided I would cope the old-fashioned way…with whiskey.
So we were off! I must say I was pleasantly relieved when I got to London and breezed through immigration and customs without a hitch thanks to my newly acquired American Passport and were met on the other side by John’s younger brother Stephen smiling reassuringly and handing each of us a beer to cheers to the moment. This was my first culture shock. Unlike the states, the UK does not demonize drinking in public or drinking at all for that matter. No one frowns at you for ordering a beer with your lunch in fact all throughout my stay I noticed people in the trains going home from work and in the parks popping adult beverages with no ambivalence what so ever. I was also surprised at how full the pubs were all throughout the day (with pensioners mostly). I liked London already. I self-consciously sipped on my beer as we got into the train headed to Cockfosters, a name that made me chuckle every time the posh sounding woman announced the trains destination. The train station seemed very quiet despite it being 6pm and very busy with people headed home from work. There was no singing, yelling or panhandling as is often the case with the LA metro I usually employ on my commute to and from work. It felt, well, sophisticated, grown up even. Everybody was business like trying very hard not to make eye contact. The journey from Heathrow to Kings Cross Station took about a beer long. Once at Kings Cross I mentioned that I was famished and Stephen lit up while suggesting we dine at Great Norther Hotel Bar (GNH Bar), one of his favorite establishments he declared. Kings Cross Station is a great introduction to London. The buildings are majestic, prestigious, Victorian looking, I was awed. Once inside GNH Bar the decor was exquisite, tasteful with an old world feel to it, I felt under-dressed in my yoga pants and sneakers. I was amazed by how elegant everything looked. Well here I was, in England finally!
Check in next week for more of my London trip including meeting my mother in law!