Sunday Sofa Sojourns #18: London, UK (The First Day)

I dug in my archives for this one. I wrote it back when we lived in London. Homesickness hit hard back then.   

I’ve been in London for around two years now, but I remember my arrival here clear as day. While I’m in the process of catching up with my backlog of travel posts, I thought it would be good to write about my current home and the very first European city I ever visited.

The Hub (then the Fiancé) picked me up at Heathrow after an hour or so of nervous waiting, because my scheduled ride from the relocation company never showed up. We took a black cab to Citadines Barbican, the serviced apartment where I would stay for my first month. I remember passing by the Big Ben, all lit up in the evening, and thinking to myself it was shorter than I expected.

Citadines Barbican, my first home in the UK

Since I arrived quite late, most of the nearby stores were already closed. (Another thing to get used to, coming from Makati where the malls close 10pm on weekends!) There was a Tesco Express near the apartment so we went there to stock my tiny fridge for the next few days. My very first purchases were a carton of Tesco chocolate milk, a jug of Cravendale whole milk, Yakult (only because it reminded me of home), a Lindt orange dark chocolate bar, a bottle of Evian, and a box of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Clusters. I also bought a tray of juicy Sweetheart cherries — it was my first time to see fresh cherries that didn’t come in a jar.

The apartment was 10 minutes from the office. I arrived a few days before starting work to allow myself time to settle down and recover from the jetlag.

The Hub walked me to the office so I would know where to go. Afterward, we went for a stroll around the immediate neighbourhood.

A glimpse of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a short walk from the office

It was the perfect introduction to London weather: a grey “summer” day, complete with rain.

The streets around Barbican

I found it fascinating that there were plaques commemorating most anything all over the city. It was like a mini-history lesson wherever I went.

Maybe it’s because I grew up with reading so many British authors–Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Jane Austen, etc – I felt like the city was foreign yet familiar.

Street art around the Barbican
My first time to encounter the concept of cycle hires. In my time, these were Barclays bikes a.k.a. Boris bikes — and they had just been introduced. I think they’re now called Santander Cycles, and they changed the colour scheme to red.
Street art around the Barbican


Since then, whenever I feel stressed from work, I always remind myself how absolutely lucky I am to be working in London, surrounded by so much beauty and history.

I’ve taken thousands of photos, been to many more places since then. There are still some days though, when I remember that first week when the City and I were both new to each other. And I just can’t shake off a strange melancholy.

Think critically dear readers,